CRM and Sales Force Automation are often used interchangeably. However, I think they’re really two different software with different purposes.

Here, I’ll show you why CRM is NOT really helping sales team become more productive using 2 specific examples, based on my experience as a digital marketer at my current company.

Sales Leads from Web Forms are Automatically Synced. No Problem.

Part of my job is to work closely with our sales team. We use Salesforce as our CRM, and I acquire leads from various digital channels that automatically push these leads into Salesforce from landing pages.

Every now and then, I would make a request to add more “fields” into Salesforce, on top of the “campaign” field and “lead source” field. These additional fields will tell me how well a marketing campaign is doing.

Sample data fields in Salesforce. Image credit: Salesforce Success Community

For example, I recently added a field called “Campaign Ad”. When we run Salesforce reports, this field will tell me how well different ads WITHIN a specific campaign are performing, especially when I do A/B testing.

An ad can perform well and acquire 100 leads at a low cost, but sometimes those leads may not even convert to one sale. That’s the main reason for additional fields. It gives us detailed tracking so I can focus on the right ads and generate more revenue with our sales team.

That’s the digital part. These fields are usually filled automatically when a sales lead fills out a form on our landing page.

The Challenge: Incoming Phone Calls and Emails

Another part of my job is to increase call volume and incoming emails to our sales team through digital ads. Now, I want the same kind of “fields” to track my campaign and ad performances.

For calls, I use a call-tracking and forwarding service called CallRail. I would put numbers generated by CallRail to display on ads and landing pages. Calls to the numbers will be forwarded to our sales team, and the forwarding number will be displayed as caller-ID.

For emails, I use a pre-populated email subject line, sometimes accompanied with a forwarding email address.

To see which campaigns generated revenue, I needed the help of telesales. I needed them to input caller-ID and email subject line (and sometimes forwarding email address) into Salesforce whenever they take a call or reply to an email.

That was when I got pushback from our Sales Manager.

Manual Data Entries into CRM is Killing Productivity

“Do you know how much data they (telesales) have to enter into our CRM when they get a call or email?”

On top of the basic info such as first name, last name, email, there were about 6 additional fields. I was asking for a 10th blank data field (as opposed to a drop-down field) for telesales to input caller-ID or email subject line.

A typical process would go like this: (1) reps opens the email or answers the phone, (2) create a lead in CRM, (3) copy paste email info or manually ask for name, email address, etc… you know the rest.

If CRM is real “Sales Force Automation”, I really wonder about the “automation” part of it from a sales rep’s perspective. (Not to mention logging all the phone, meeting, and sales activities.)

In fact, according to, sales reps spent almost 4 hours every week updating their CRM. This is consistent with a sales productivity study from 2015 that showed reps spent 20% of their time on reporting, administrative, and CRM-related tasks.

Further, many sales activities are never updated inside the CRM. In fact, RingLead showed that only 40% of sales activities were updated in CRM. There were no records of the time where reps are actually working (or slacking off).

Sometimes, it feels like sales reps are required to do more manually entry and logging than selling, all because of CRM.

What Manual Data Entries Can Be Automated?

Well, I wouldn’t just rant about CRM being unproductive without providing any solutions. I found several solutions, but I’m only going to mention the noteworthy ones.

First, for capturing incoming calls, I found DialogTech.

It has our critical requirements: dynamic number insertion based on traffic source (or others) and integrates with Salesforce for caller profile data. It automates the manual data entry for reps when there are incoming calls. I’m not sure where they pull the caller profile data from, but I know CallRail was able to show me the caller’s first name, last name, city, and state information associated with the caller-ID.

What’s more, it also does campaign tracking. Meaning, I do not have to create a separate report that matches caller-ID from Salesforce with CallRail. That’s the main reason why I chose to mention DialogTech here.

However, because prices are not transparent, I just assumed that it’s beyond what we can spend for my small team. I’m sticking with our current manual tracking until it becomes unbearable. But if you have a chance to try it out, comment below and let me know how it goes!

As for capturing email information, I found ContextSmith.

It has our critical requirement – automatically syncing our incoming Outlook emails (also does Gmail and more) with Salesforce contacts, without reps doing anything manual or outside their normal workflow.

A lot of apps have a similar solution. However, the reason I chose to mention ContextSmith is because it has “bi-directional” sync with Salesforce. Meaning, I can update a sales lead’s phone number either in Outlook or in Salesforce, and the data in both apps will be synced.

This is unlike other vendors that just do a one-way sync with Salesforce using BCC emails. With ContextSmith, you have two sources of truths, and data in Salesforce won’t become a mess. Reps will never need to switch between their inbox and Salesforce.

On top of automating manual data entries, ContextSmith has Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help produce sales insights and automated reminders for reps to follow-up, whether that be for a new sale or upsell. For Sales Managers, it has analytics that show how your reps are spending time on the right deals.

Although the product is free for teams up to 5 and pricing is transparent, I couldn’t use it because our company deals with sensitive financial information. We couldn’t install any apps without going through an extensive audit process. But if you have a chance to try it out, comment below and let me know how it goes!


If you were curious, I didn’t get the 10th blank field added into our CRM. Our Sales Manager was too sensitive to the rep’s time spent on data entry.

I totally understand where he was coming from. More time spent on data-entry is less time spent on selling, and sometimes it can be a distraction for the sales reps. But if only we can automate the “Sales Force Automation”, I’d imagine that we have much more meaningful time for the analytics that both DialogTech and ContextSmith provide.

Again, if you have a chance to try them (or if you use other productive tools), let me know by commenting below!