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No doubt you’ve heard the statistics – 40% to 70% of CRM implementations fail. That means that it failed to meet objectives within 12 to 24 months. The CRM system either was not used or was relegated to providing functionality equivalent to your cell phone’s contact list.
The biggest loss experienced is NOT the money you invested in the system.
Yes, CRM can be an expensive investment. And it’s not like you can afford to throw away that kind of cash, especially as a small business owner. I’m a small business owner too; I know how that feels.
What moves a business owner to invest in CRM? More often than not, it is to counteract a threat, such as one of the “common business killers” I highlighted in a previous post.
The biggest loss in a failed CRM implementation is this: missed opportunity.
Failing to realize the potential of a CRM system over the course of 12 to 24 months can be deadly. Customers and prospects see no improvement in the level of customer service and begin to look elsewhere. Competitors are upping their game and going after them. The company just missed the boat, and being 1 to 2 years behind, may never recover.
Don’t let that happen to you. Instead, let’s identify those five common obstacles to a successful CRM implementation so that you won’t stumble over them like so many have.
- No Project Champion. Many projects fail because there is no clear leadership on the internal team charged with seeing it through to completion. A project champion must be selected. This person needs to have a vested interest in the project’s success and be given authority to carry it out. For example, in the realm of accounting software, the CFO, accounting manager, or controller reigns as king (or queen.) This person makes sure expenses aren’t documented on napkins, invoices written on the back of an envelope aren’t accepted, and inventory isn’t taken out of the warehouse without being tracked. Similarly, if there isn’t a champion for CRM, someone who won’t rest until it’s done right, your project will fall apart.
- No Roadmap to Success. CRM is not a magic bullet; you can’t simply install the software and expect sales to shoot through the roof. Every worthwhile project requires forethought and planning. Goals must be set, steps to accomplish those goals mapped out, and all of it must be put down in writing and followed.
- Too Much, Too Soon. After reading marketing material and becoming aware of the amazing potential in CRM, many decision-makers want to turn it all on right now. Recently I had a chat with a company that had already invested over $200,000 on CRM and had yet to see the gains they had hoped for. Why was that? Their CRM partner was more vendor than a consultant; they did everything they were asked to do, regardless of whether it was a good idea or not. Doing so much in the initial stages drives costs up and increases the risk of failure, as your people struggle to understand and adapt to the new system. Company culture and the ability of your users to adapt must be taken into account.
- Wrong (or no) Guidance. Clearly, I am a bit biased here because we specialize in CRM success, but to be successful, you need to have strong guidance. There are many organizations in the market for CRM that believe that implementation is as simple as putting in your payment information and activating “x” number of licenses. It’s not their fault; Salesforce is among those guilty of promoting such trickery to the masses. But it is simply not that easy. Are you beginning to see why the failure rates are so high?
- Not Enough Focus. CRM implementation must be taken seriously. It’s not a side project. Hopefully, the failure rates cited at the beginning of this article sufficiently emphasize the need for a tight grip on the reins. Everyone – from management to entry-level employees – needs to understand the need for change, how CRM will address that need, and be on board with that change.
Those are five mountain-like obstacles, but they can be overcome. You can be successful! I’ll tell you my top CRM implementation tips in the next post.
If you’re itching for a sneak peek, or if you’re already convinced of the benefit of expert guidance from an experienced partner, contact us online, or call 888.724.3999. We’ll be glad to start the conversation.
By Peter Wolf, Azamba Consulting Group, www.azamba.com
Peter Wolf is the president and founder of Azamba. He has spent the last 20 years focused on helping small and medium-sized businesses become more profitable through effective and efficient usage of CRM.
His passion is blending the promise of CRM with the realities of business needs to create successful outcomes.
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