Customer Relationship Management CRM systems can be more human – Interview with Nikolaus Kimla, CEO of

The Last Day at ERHS.

Today’s interview is with Nikolaus KImla, CEO and partner of, about how they are trying to reinvent Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and his belief that sales people are the entrepreneurs of the corporate landscape.

This interview follows on from my recent interview: Customer Satisfaction Is On The Rise Globally – Interview with Sam Boonin, VP Products at Zendesk – and is number seventy one in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things and helping businesses innovate, become more social and deliver better service.

Here’s the highlights from the interview I did with Nikolaus:

  • All Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems in the world, according to their research, have the wrong approach.
  • Developed their Pipeliner Sales product after interviewing over 1,000 sales professionals around the world.
  • It took them 7 and 1/2 years to develop their product.
  • All Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems today have three major problems:
    • 1. They adopt a top-down approach, where they are structured for management monitoring and collection of data not to help sales people. Their research told them that sales people think that current Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems ‘suck’.
    • 2. Many new only cloud based systems don’t allow people to ‘work’ when they have no internet connectivity. Therefore, they developed their product using Adobe Air so that their system can be accessed by sales professionals across desktop and mobile platforms when they are online and offline.
    • 3. Sales people are a different kind of people in that many of them are rewarded via commission. That makes them more like an entrepreneur than an employee. Nikolaus believes that sales people are the entrepreneurs of the corporate landscape.
  • Therefore, Nikolaus believes that many Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems don’t help sales people understand, forecast and manage their ‘pipeline’.
  • So, to get the most out of our sales people we need to give them tools so that they can better manage their own work.
  • Sales forecasts shouldn’t be set top-down, which most of them are now, but should be set bottom-up with the help of the individual sales people.
  • A sales persons biggest asset is the ‘quality of his/her handshake’
  • Traditional Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have been guilty of dehumanising the ‘relationship’ part of the equation and what Pipeliner is aiming to do is to help sales people put the ‘human’ back into the relationship.
  • Pipeliner is completely aligned with the insight and approach propounded by Daniel Pink in his book: To Sell Is Human.
  • Nikolaus recently wrote about whether we should take a funnel or pipeline approach on his blog recently: A Funnel or a Pipeline?
  • Nikolaus believes that the pipeline concept works better as ‘gravity’ doesn’t work in sales….action does.
  • Nikolaus believes that most sales training courses and techniques are crap!
  • Sales is about trust, honesty and belief.
  • Pipeliner is targeted at the enterprise, particularly the mid-size enterprise, at the moment that deal with a complex, multi-stage sales process or customer buying process.
  • Nikolaus recently wrote a book (Salespeople Embracing It All), that is available on Kindle, that explains his philosophy and includes a number of theses that will help sales people and their managers think about how they should be responding to changes in their markets and how to best manage modern sales forces.

About Nikolaus (Adapted from his LinkedIn profile)

Nikolaus Kimla Pipeliner

Nikolaus is CEO and partner of and the uptime ITechnologies, which he founded in 1994.

pipeliner is the most innovative sales Customer Relationship Management (CRM) management solution on the market. pipeliner was designed by sales professionals for sales professionals and helps close the gap between the requirements of C-level executives for transparency and the day-to-day operational needs of field and inside sales.

He studied in Los Angeles and Vienna and received his Masters Degree in 1994. He is married and has 3 children.

You can connect with Nikolaus on LinkedIn and on Twitter @kimlanikolaus and do check out his blog ( and book (Salespeople Embracing It All).

Photo Credit: Spencer Finnley via Compfight cc


  1. Thanks for sharing this interview, Adrian. I’m definitely intrigued and will share with our sales team, too. I agree that existing CRM systems have a few issues!

    Good luck to Nikolaus and pipeliner.

    Annette :-)

  2. Adrian,

    I read this and my first reaction was, how can they all have the “wrong approach” and was a bit sceptical about the “research”

    But then it struck me that I see work around after work around put in place to gather “management information” that is invariably useless.

    Maybe designing the system with the user in mind isn’t such a bad idea. It seemed to work for Steve Jobs


  3. I’m really glad to see that someone else in the CRM industry understands some of the gaping flaws that have plagued businesses for years (often without them even knowing it). The ones he mentioned don’t even go beyond the tip of the iceberg and leave out perhaps the most important factors: lack of simplicity and lack of treating the customer as a human instead of a number.

    CRM needs a renaissance, and we’re glad to be working alongside CRM companies like Pipeliner Sales to make those changes happen.

    Brad Hodson

    • Brad,
      Thanks for dropping by, leaving a comment and adding your voice and efforts to the renaissance. Good luck with your efforts and work with Pipeliner. Do let me know how you get on. I’d be interested to hear more.


  4. CRM is becoming popular day by day because of its great sales management features.


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