Avoid CRM Failure
There is no one-size-fits-all CRM software system on the market today—and that's a good thing. Modern enterprises operate in such unique ways that it would be unreasonable to expect a silver bullet CRM that could be mapped onto any business and instantly improve sales processes. As such, when it comes to CRM strategy, it should always be about finding the right tool for the right job. In fact, mapping and understanding your specific business processes should take precedence in the implementation process. You need to comprehend your operations and workflows thoroughly before you can begin to select a software system that is supposed to support them.
However, the CRM software itself often becomes the subject of blame if the system falters or does not meet the vision of the company, and the application is used improperly or not at all. That means all that investment—both in time and money—goes down the drain.
We can usually attribute the majority of the CRM failures we see to five major CRM strategy pitfalls. It's best to keep all of these factors in mind as you begin planning your CRM project, rather than try to juggle them when you're in the thick of the implementation. Planning them into your CRM strategy roadmap will ensure your whole team is equipped to take on these tasks.
1. Lack of Engagement from Senior Managers
Like with any major, business-changing project, a senior manager must be fully engaged in a CRM implementation and involved in software selection, end-user training and advocating for the system inside the C-Suite. End-user abandonment of CRM systems often stems from managers who aren't engaging with the software themselves or effectively communicating the value of the solution to employees.
Leaders need to define the “why” behind the implementation to the end user and inspire employees to engage with the project from the onset. Mid-level managers cannot lead the charge when they are generally still learning about the new system and direction themselves and must focus on business process modeling. Top leaders will have the skill and influence to define the benefits and intention of the implementation to the organization and thus become involved in a successful change management process.
How does this happen? Many times a software proposal is signed off in the C-Suite and will proceed without any further engagement from the top-level leadership. As a result, visions for the project will become construed and the software will not be able to fully support your organization's processes. This lack of oversight can also cause dreaded scope creep, as your C-Suite continually raises expectations for a project without any basis in the reality of your implementation. This is one of the main killers of CRM strategy and can be largely offset by executive involvement.
2. Making Sales People Your Puppets
On this blog, we've previously discussed why sales teams distrust CRM and believe that they don't need it to succeed (and how wrong they are). There's no doubt that CRM systems can become bloated and unwieldy. Many end users may eventually view it as a tool used by their sales managers to track their daily tasks, Big Brother style. Complex sales engagement input becomes cumbersome, ultimately causing sales people to become disinterested in the system. When this happens, salespeople fail to take advantage of the many advantages of CRM and merely use it to enter redundant data rather than define quotas or create incentive modules.
What is the solution? Your project team needs to actively work to involve the sales team—your most important end users—in the selection, training and implementation process. Sales processes need to be relevant, not complex and unnecessary. Your CRM workflows, much like the sales process itself, need to have an initiation, a middle and a close—simple, done. Managers and project team members should be working closely with the main CRM end users, so that they understand the enormous capability of a CRM system and can contribute to the way the software is built and aligned with their unique business processes.
3. Bending Your Sales Processes Around CRM
You need to mold your CRM system around your pre-existing (or desired) business processes, not the other way around. Organizations will often rely on the generic processes highlighted by their CRM vendor or package without analyzing how it could work with their own sales processes. They may also set future goals based solely on the promises that the new CRM system makes.
While this is a tempting move to make, it will ultimately obscure your crucial business processes and restrict growth. During implementation, project teams will fail to engage end users to develop use cases that are unique to their business, leading to a massive misunderstanding as to how employees could best leverage the software to support existing workflows and elevate business processes to meet new goals.
What is the solution? When CRM strategy and tools are not integrated, users—particularly sales teams—hoard information in personal folders and neglect the powerful functionalities that CRM software can provide. This will erode the unique value that CRM can provide your sales teams and the necessity of closely integrating the system at every level of your business.
4. Poor Training
As mentioned briefly before, some sales people will quickly realize that CRM can also become a measuring device for their performance and a way for team managers to keep tabs on everyone's activity. This can be a good incentive for a sales team to stay competitive but can also quickly turn sour if users begin “gaming” the system or resenting the software as a means of micromanaging.
The key to avoiding this attitude is creating a strong training strategy. If users are not trained enough on the system, they will do their best to avoid using it and input their data and sales transactions only when necessary. This will create an agonizing relationship between the sales person and manager as the top level constantly puts pressure on their teams to just use the software. With relevant training, you can enjoy widespread user adoption after go live.
How does this happen? Comprehensive training at every level should occur from the top down beginning at the start of the project and going right through to post go-live. As your system evolves and your business grows, consistent training needs to remain at the top of your CRM strategy list. Business processing inside the system is often misunderstood, especially if initial training activities are insufficient and end users do not try to seek assistance out of fear of repercussion or time constraints.
5. No Expert Consultants
CRM systems can't just be installed out of the box by your IT team. Just as your business runs on unique processes, your CRM strategy will need to accommodate modifications and functionalities that simply don't exist in the package. An implementation of any size is an important project. Your IT team must be given time (and possibly outside help) to properly work through and deal with all of the twists and turns that can occur during an implementation.
How does this happen? IT teams can lose productivity when they are tasked with a major project. These individuals are often not business process modeling experts, so they can't thoroughly mold the CRM to every business process that it needs to support. The best way to mitigate this risk is to seek out a consulting partner to implement the software and get your entire organization on board. CRM consultants help businesses at every step of the project, from selection to user training.
CRM implementation success requires a sound strategy. Common pitfalls such as the five mentioned above should be actively planned around, so you don't risk your software investment. Don't make CRM implementation a thankless task—treat your software like a dynamic tool for transforming your business!
Our 20 years of experience as premier enterprise software solution providers makes Datix the go-to experts for CRM projects. We are certified partners with CRM leaders Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Salesforce. Plus, we built Unity, our integration solution, to connect CRM with Epicor ERP to streamline business processes. For more information about how to de-risk your own upcoming CRM implementation, or advice on how to save your struggling project, contact one of our CRM experts today!