Estimates of the rate of what is described as “CRM failure” range from 40 percent to 80 percent—and it’s generally not because CRM vendors create bad software. It’s because buyers make some crucial mistakes at the very outset. Those mistakes fall into several categories.
The first type of mistake is a failure to candidly examine the issues within a business that drive the need for a new CRM solution. Problems are by definition unpleasant, and exposing them to the light of day can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, especially for the executives under whose watch those problems have developed. Highlighting these issues is seen by many as a career-limiting move. For that reason, there can be a tendency to downplay, deflect or deny problems during the requirements gathering phase, and while that may temporarily assuage anxieties, it sows the seed for far greater problems in the future. Automating processes that don’t work is only going to get you to failure faster—and with a much higher price tag.
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The second common mistake is to put the priority on technology from the outset. Even if you clearly define the problems you need to address, you’ll have problems if the technology you choose cannot align to solutions those problems. If the team choosing a solution becomes enamored with a particular CRM feature, but that feature doesn’t map to a problem their company is suffering from, it shouldn’t be a major consideration in their choice. Worse yet is the solution that is impressive in its functionality, but which forces your employees to change the way they work—especially if they’re already successful. This almost guarantees a problem with user adoption, the major killer of CRM in the post-implementation phase, and can force management to employ heavy-handed tactics to force employees to use CRM.
The third common mistake is a failure to clearly define the goals of a CRM implementation, or to change goals as the decision and implementation processes are in progress. This is very common; often, the ideas built into CRM applications are new to buyers, especially small to medium-sized businesses. Exposure to sales and lead management ideas that form the basis of some CRM functionality can trigger new thinking about these aspects of the business, which is good, but that can also cause the goalposts to be moved when it comes to viewing how successful the CRM solution is, which is bad. The question, “why can’t my CRM do this?” is a painful thing to hear after the application has just gone live. The goals need to focus on today’s problems,
with consideration of problems that need to be tackled in the near future—but frequent re-prioritization of these goals will hurt your decision-making process and damage your perception of how successful your CRM solution is. A CRM application has no chance of real success if the objectives that led to its selection changed before it could be implemented.
Now that you’ve read the 3 most common mistakes to avoid, download the 10-step guide to buying the right CRM solution.