Entropy and the CRM – Executing with What Is

“We don’t have money to splurge on a ‘proper CRM’.” is the worst advice you will ever give yourself if you are a functional leader or a founder, if that is the answer is to “Why we don’t have enough data about our deals?”


More often than not – it all comes down to execution – the means may vary – and money makes it easy, sure – but then it all comes to how much you want it to happen really.

Tejeshwi Sharma (Growth Investing at Sequoia India) on Twitter

When I converse with early stage founders, my one advice, which almost sounds like a request is to capture important data and never miss it to the absence of a good CRM. What do I mean by that?

Let’s take an example.

Say you are an early stage startup building out with a few customers now. You don’t have the budget for the likes of HubSpot or Salesforce, so you do away with what you can – Google Sheets. But should that stop you from capturing important data like:

  • Why we lost a deal?
  • Who we lost to?
  • Why we won a deal?
  • Who we won it against?
  • How long it took to close?
  • Who’s the Executive Sponsor and Decision Maker on these deals?
Image result for google sheets illustrated gif

No nothing stops you from capturing that today! Nothing stops you from capturing that in the absence of a “proper CRM”!

Say you never captured this data coz hey no CRM dude. A year down the line your product’s a hit and you raise a funding round. Now you are flush with money and go buy yourself a “proper CRM” – say Salesforce.

You hire a SalesOps/RevOps person to structure the CRM, the processes and the insights that will churn out of it. A quarter into it, you ask your friendly-neighborhood-SalesOpsGuy:

“Yo! Can you give me YoY analysis of all deals we lost to our largest competitor and why?”

Your SalesOpsGuy: “Hmm. Well we never captured that data on those gsheets on why we won a deal and who we won against. So the only way I can answer that Q is to have all sales reps give me the data retrospectively which will be prone to a lot of biases and incorrect data owing to fallible human memory OR you have access to a time-travel suit that I can put on and go back in time when we were winning each of these deals and get the data. Sorry.”

The point I am trying to make is very simple: don’t overwhelm yourself with capturing too much data when your teams are small and you have to do with what you have. A two member sales team can stick to a process of updating above listed deal-level data on a gsheet. It is only when your teams start growing, you start adding chaos to the system, is when you really can justify ‘not having proper CRM’ led to absence of more data.

Individuals or Teams by Stanford

In their book “Collective Behavior” the authors make a very interesting comment you will relate to as your startup, as your team size increases:

“In collective behavior, the combined actions of the members of a group yield outcomes that differ from the sum of those same individuals acting alone—sometimes in desirable or dramatic ways.”

Basically “entropy”. Remember the second law of Thermodynamics my friends: The level of disorder in the universe is steadily increasing. Systems tend to move from ordered behavior to more random behavior.

Entropy by steemit

In a nutshell, every new person you add to the team brings with them chaos and unexpected behaviors. And that is exactly where you try to channel the team’s behavior to the expected outcomes via validation rules and the automations to trigger expected behavior – which is the USP of a “proper CRM”. It’s like building canals to channel the flow of the water from rivers to where you want the water to flow.

Until then, let the absence of a proper CRM be no excuse to not capturing those few important deal data points to build directional insights as you steer the course of your starship startup.

Image result for happily working illustration gif

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