Why do CRM implementations fail?

Why do CRM implementations fail?

A CRM is meant to make life easier. It’s designed to be one source of truth for your whole business, so anyone with access can update and be updated on all customer-related actions, such as conversations, contact changes, purchases, etc. Having an up-to-date CRM makes everything else work more efficiently. You can use Business Process Automation (BPA) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to streamline tasks, drawing information from the CRM into other tools and reducing the amount of manual labour involved in administrative work.

Unfortunately, the CRM can’t do everything for you. It’s a tool and it requires people to wield it. That right there is the number one reason why CRM implementations fail – through misuse or under-use. But let’s break down what typically causes these things to happen, with 10 reasons CRM implementation fails.

1. Users don’t understand why they need a CRM

As all good salespeople know, every sale should start with ‘Why’. It’s the same for rolling out – or reviving – a CRM. Users need to understand why it’s important, which means going back to the pain points and demonstrating how it solves them. For example, showing instances where lack of information in the CRM has caused miscommunication with a customer, or highlighting how much time is spent on manual tasks that could be automated. It’s worth taking the time to effectively communicate how the CRM will improve users’ working lives if you want to generate widespread appeal. You can also translate these improvements into goals or objectives, to measure the success of the tool.

2. Lack of user adoption

Lack of understanding often leads to lack of use. And the less people that use the CRM, the less useful it is. As soon as it becomes clear to users that they’re in the minority, they will also stop using the system – because it simply doesn’t work if it isn’t being used properly.

By establishing the ‘why’ from the outset and setting clear goals and objectives, as well as – when necessary – incentivising use, you can support more people to use the CRM and to adopt best practice use. If you are already in a situation where your CRM is underused, you don’t have to abandon it and bring in a new tool – you just need to refresh your approach.

3. Incomplete, outdated, or inaccurate data

Poor data quality has a significant negative impact on user experience – and on customer relationships. First, if the data is out of date or incomplete, it’s not useful and your salespeople will end up trying to correspond with people who have left the customer’s company, or trying to sell solutions that are no longer relevant. This obviously reflects poorly on your business. Furthermore, if your users can’t trust the information that’s in the CRM, they won’t use it. And then you end up back at problem no.2 again.

4. People don’t know how to use it

For many people, adopting a new piece of software can feel daunting. They’re used to one way of doing things, and suddenly they’re being asked to do things in an entirely new way. Of course, they should be trained on how to use the new system – but what does this training usually look like? A quick webinar and a PDF user guide? It’s not enough to engage people in the learning process.

We recommend a ‘little and often’ approach to training, understanding that people won’t be able to absorb a lot of information all in one go. Bite-size video demonstrations that are continuously available help people understand all the different capabilities of the CRM and prevent people feeling overwhelmed or self-conscious about asking for help. Holding regular sessions where you introduce people (or reintroduce them) to aspects of the tool – like a lunch and learn – also enables people to evolve their usage as they settle into the system.

Why do CRM implementations fail?

5. It doesn’t integrate with existing systems

To get the most from your CRM, it should work with other related tools, like your ERP or marketing automation tool. Automation across systems reduces workloads by enabling information to be automatically copied across to the relevant places with a couple of clicks, avoiding hours spent copying and pasting or reinputting information, where it’s easy for mistakes to be made.

For example, one of the ways in which your CRM can make your workflows more efficient is by automatically populating quotes with the relevant contact, product and pricing information. This is one of those tasks that can be time-consuming and cumbersome, so it’s an area where an advanced CRM can really save you time. If you’re not making the most of this, you’re not giving your users the chance to fully appreciate the benefits (the why) of the CRM and you end up with low user adoption.

6. People don’t like change

Change – even positive change – requires effort, and this can meet with pushback from people who are comfortable with the status quo. Resistance to change will reduce engagement with training and ultimately cause low user adoption, so it’s important to meet this challenge head-on with a good change management strategy. Ultimately this goes back to understanding and effectively communicating the why and supporting people through the transition with good training, encouragement and incentives.

7. Unsuitable or overly complex system

Your CRM has to be a good match for your business, your customer base, and your workflows. If your CRM is not able to flex to your needs, this will create a barrier to use that reduces adoption. Ideally, your CRM will be customised at least to the point that your users recognise its relevance to their needs. If your CRM has this flexibility but you aren’t using it, it’s time to talk to someone who can fix that for you. You want to make it as simple as possible for people to use the CRM in order to maximise its usefulness.

8. The CRM is out of date

Like any software, your CRM will need updating at intervals to maximise security and efficiency. It’s important that these updates are carried out when they’re needed, or you risk your system becoming unusable. Of course, for those using cloud-based CRMs such as Microsoft Dynamics this is an easy task. If you have a bespoke CRM that is not cloud-based, these updates may be more challenging – but no less important.

Business practices evolve, and if the CRM isn’t evolving with them, it loses relevance. It’s not just about security and day-to-day functionality – if your CRM requires you to fill in information that’s no longer relevant to the way you do things, it’s time for an update. Once again, we reiterate: the harder it is to use, the less people will use it.

9. Lack of encouragement and executive support

At the point of initial implementation, it’s really important that your CRM project has buy-in from the top and that everyone is onboard with the ‘why’ of the new system. Strong leadership increases engagement with any project, and it’s no different here. Though the ‘why’ may largely come from the ground floor, it’s management’s job to guide and reiterate goals and objectives, and to check on progress. Lack of leadership support will inevitably lead to a lack of momentum and, you guessed it, low adoption.

10. You chose the wrong system

Given how much effort is usually expended in choosing a suitable CRM, we’ve listed this last because it’s frankly less likely than all of the other potential problems listed above. But of course, not all CRMs are created equal – and not all are suitable for every business. If your CRM implementation has failed and you think this is the reason, give us a call.

All CRM problems are solvable. As stated earlier, just because something isn’t going well doesn’t mean you need to replace the whole system. A fresh approach that acknowledges and adjusts for the problems listed above can help you rescue your CRM from failure and recover your momentum. Contact us to get your CRM back on track!

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