Customers are the lifeblood of any business so it’s not surprising that CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems are seen as a business-critical tool in more than 90% of businesses with ten or more employees. But a huge percentage of CRM projects fail.

Common factors in 50-70% CRM failure rate

The reality is that getting CRM right isn’t easy. There are multiple traps that companies can fall into when trying to set up their systems and processes to better support their customers – and as a result as many as 50-70% of all CRM projects fail once they are implemented.

The vast majority of companies approaching Datacom to help them with their CRM journey are wanting us to course-correct or replace a CRM system they’ve previously implemented and that now isn’t meeting their needs.

Craig Skinner
Associate Director ANZ Salesforce Practice Craig Skinner says anyone looking at implementing CRM needs to understand the technology itself isn’t the golden ticket to success, it’s merely an enabler.

When we talk to these organisations there are common themes that emerge as major contributors to unsuccessful CRM implementations:

  • No clear CRM vision or strategy
  • Lack of executive buy-in and leadership
  • Ill-defined requirements and/or business processes
  • Organisations trying to do too much, too soon
  • Poor project management and communications
  • Scope creep
  • Unnecessary/ excessive customisation
  • Poor change management, training and adoption
  • Inability to track success
  • Lack of planned support and/or continuous improvement.

Looking at the common factors contributing to project failure, it becomes clear that CRM’s weak spot isn’t the technology: anyone looking at implementing CRM needs to understand the technology itself isn’t the golden ticket to success, it’s merely an enabler.

Success (and failure) starts at the top

There are multiple checks and balances that any good CRM project should factor in, but there are three critical steps that will give your project a much higher chance of success:

  • Set a clear vision and strategy for your CRM project
  • Ensure there is executive buy-in and leadership – from the outset
  • Focus on continuous improvement of your CRM post the initial implementation.

Have a clear vision and strategy

A CRM vision has two key outcomes – a desired end-state, and a clearly defined path to get there. Make sure that you define your business goals from an executive, management and end-user perspective. Your strategy should be about improving your sales and service processes and your customers’ and end-users’ experience and productivity, rather than just enabling inspection. Be clear about where your data will be mastered, how it will be shared and protected and think about your integrations strategy so that you can leverage data from other key business systems rather than having your CRM become yet another data silo.

Secure executive buy-in and leadership

It seems obvious, but many businesses implement CRM systems with the main sponsor or champion being a passionate stakeholder such as a head of sales or service vs having proper executive sponsorship. Without the support and keen interest of the executive team, businesses will always struggle to achieve the benefits that a CRM should be able to deliver.

If it’s not a priority for your executive team or leadership, it won’t be a priority for the users, and your CRM will realise little value and die a slow death. Healthy, meaningful executive sponsorship ensures that goals, objectives and plans for the CRM project are well established and communicated, it provides effective arbitration of significant issues or changes as they arise, and ultimately provides ongoing support and incentives to ensure the continued use and development of the system. If your CRM is set up correctly it should be your single source of truth and considered a business-critical tool by everyone.

Aim for continuous improvement after implementation

The mistake that a lot of businesses make when it comes to CRM is that they expect a system to solve their problems, or they focus primarily on the initial implementation rather than looking at CRM as an evolving set of business processes and systems. Customers’ needs are continually changing and if you’re not evolving the way that you use your CRM to meet those demands it is likely you’ll lose some of those customers. It is critical that you have an ongoing programme of work to improve and evolve the use of your CRM. It is also important to have feedback mechanisms in place to ensure that your CRM is meeting the needs of your end users, and to enable you to make changes if it isn’t working.

The other smart move to boost your chances of CRM success is to seek support from the experts. My team can set you up with Salesforce SmartStart GO and GROW packages which are designed to get customers up and running with Salesforce quickly and without risk or hidden costs.

CRM can deliver incredible long-term value for your business, but you have to get the foundations right.

Learn more about how we can help you with your CRM.

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