Customer Relationship Management Technology: Bridging the Gap Between Marketing Education and Practice

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The recent machine learning and analytics advances in customer relationship management (CRM) technologies place new demands on marketing education and practitioners to develop the skills needed to use the technology. Compounding the issue, research on the use of technology in sales curriculum is underdeveloped. In a comprehensive review of the sales education literature, one study identified that only six articles on sales technology were published in major marketing education journals from 1979 to 2013. In an effort to bridge the gap between critical industry competencies and marketing curriculum, understanding the impact of technology use and training is important for educational planning and student development. Using a survey of 82 salespeople in the United States, the current study empirically evaluates how use of technologically advanced CRM features influences self-perception of CRM knowledge, the perception that additional technology training would be beneficial, and adaptive selling performance of sales practitioners. A majority of survey respondents in the current study cited a need for college students to receive increased exposure to advanced CRM technology training and skill development. We propose an experiential learning approach to teach marketing college students advanced CRM features to help them bolster their effectiveness and value in the workplace.