Where Your CRM Implementation is Failing to Gain Traction and How to Fix It

May 13, 2015   //   Customer Relationship Management, ,

When we ask our customers why their CRM systems are largely unused by their marketing and sales teams, there is usually a long pause that follows. We’ve found that long pause represents uncertainty about the true reason why the team struggles with getting a CRM system that is used throughout the organization.

A recent study by Merkle Inc. backs up this point. Their study shows that “CRM success” fails due to the following reasons:

  1. CRM projects are failing the organization
  2. Lack of ownership of customer insights
  3. Lack of management availability
  4. Lack of executive sponsorship
  5. Not an IT priority

Let’s take these one at a time and talk about how to possibly remedy the issue.

1. CRM Projects are Failing the Organization

We see CRM projects not live up to the hype primarily because the system is built to solve the wrong problems or they don’t solve any big problems. The first time around, companies frequently want to spend the least amount of money and time to implement the system. The initial step of defining what’s important to your marketing and sales team is glossed over quickly so that the team can begin configuring the system. It’s a step that feels like a waste of time, but it is not. It’s actually the most important step! It requires getting decision makers in a room for a few hours a day over the course of a week. That’s a big commitment to many people. However, it is well worth it. Our Discovery sessions address this challenge.

2. Customer Insights are Lacking

CRM systems are built to hold information about your customers. When a CRM system can provide a 360 degree view of your customer base (both potential and existing), you have hit the jackpot. A common issue arises during the early stage of the project where leadership is not in the room to define how the company measures success. This would translate into reports that provide insight into how the business is doing. These reports show up in weekly and monthly meetings as the foundation for decision making. This usage pattern will then trickle down into influencing how your sales and marketing staff manage their customer data in the CRM system.

A common problem is that the project team settles for the native reporting that a CRM system provides. A common mistake is that the project team believes their company can get away with vanilla reports, when in fact, their business model is unique. The solution is to build reports that are used by the leadership team in their weekly and monthly meetings.

3 and 4. Lack of Management Availability and Executive Sponsorship

I lumped these two together because they are similar. If you’ve read points 1 and 2, you realize that this point has a major impact on the success of a CRM system. It is easy for somebody to say that a project fails because they don’t have management availability and/or executive sponsorship, but 8 out of 10 times this is due to the fact that the project team has not demonstrated value to management and leadership. They don’t see CRM as a game changer. It’s an IT project.

One scenario that we’ve found resonates with this group is the concept of Marketing and Sales Alignment. This is where the marketing and sales teams need to develop a business case for building a system that can measure marketing spend as it relates to sales. If a company can measure the value of their marketing spend, leadership will listen. Marketing automation and sales pipeline management systems are built to solve this problem. Some CRM systems do both. We’ll be spending more time in a future article on this concept because it deserves more attention.

5. Not an IT Priority

I put this last in the list for a reason. If you can put a plan in place to address items 1-4, this does not become an issue. It doesn’t become an issue because it will no longer be just another IT project that requires funding with no justifiable return on investment (ROI). It’s easy to move a project like this to the bottom. By defining the business value of a CRM project, the project will get funded by the business and naturally move up the project list. It will become an IT priority.

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