Why CRM Implementations Fail & How to Avoid It

This morning I thought I would write a blog about failure.  The reality is that CRM implementations fail over 70% of the time due to a number of reasons which I will be going over today.  As a CRM consultant I’ve come across a number of situations that could be completely avoidable and a lot of has to do with the prep work in advance of a CRM deployment.  What most organizations forget to understand is that when you implement a robust CRM solution you’re not only just purchasing software but you’re also changing the way your organization works.

This is a big change.  It impacts everybody across your organization.  It can either be the greatest thing you ever do or the greatest disaster you ever encounter.  Let’s go over a few points on why the latter tends to happen to most organizations.

Lack of Executive Involvement

The #1 reason that we run into in every organization’s that fail in their attempt at CRM, whether you’re small or medium or large, is that there is a severe lack of executive involvement.  When you implement a CRM product, the typical focus is on the sales teams.  This makes sense as you want to be able to track sales effectively.  Consider for a moment where the marketing team isn’t involved in a CRM deployment.  All of sudden you’ve implemented a CRM product without ANY marketing tools or information tied into the customers and prospects in your database.  Your sales people have to access another system.  We all know how much sales people like using systems in the first place.

Executive involvement allows you to start from the top down.  You engage your marketing teams, sales teams, operations teams and who ever else to get them all involved to ensure that everybody is able to share information appropriately.  Your CRM can be a one-stop shop for all information and if you do that, then people will use it.  You need the people at the top to all commit together to working together on bringing a system that works for everybody.

Documentation of Processes

I always tell our customers that we will likely spend around 70% – 80% of the time talking process.  Business process is the most critical stage to any CRM deployment.  How does information flow?  What are the steps required to complete a sales order?  Who needs to approve contracts?  How do we follow up on customer concerns?  There are so many questions that need to be answered before moving into deploying a piece of software.

I am always astounded when a customer tells us they will go ahead without any customization to their CRM system.  Products like SugarCRM and Salesforce.com have some incredible best practices built into them but by no means are they one size fits all.

Bring in the Experts

When I first started our company in 2008 I used to do everything.  I incorporated the company with a legal kit.  I purchased Quickbooks and did our own accounting.  I dealt with our tax agency for all tax related matters.  5 years later I can tell you a lot of those decisions ended up costing me a lot of money.  I should have just brought in the experts.

By bringing in an expert CRM consultant you are not only getting a head start on the pitfalls of an implementation but you’re getting someone who’s been through these implementations hundreds of times helping other organizations work against the challenges you’re facing.

Not talking to your…Staff

The biggest stakeholders in the whole CRM deployment is, you guessed it, your staff.  The people that will use the system day in and day out.  These people are the heartbeat of your organization and the key users of your CRM system.  The greatest failure is that organizations simply dump and leave a CRM in place.  What does this do?  Well, nobody uses the system.  If they do, they don’t use it right.  In fact, they may use it and you as the manager or executive do not get the information that you need or want.


Those are a few points on failures with CRM implementations.  I’m not kidding when I say that over 70% actually fail.  I’ve met very large customers who have had a CRM product purchased and paid for annually on a license without ever actually using it until we came in and consulted with them.

If you want to learn a bit more about how to avoid these pitfalls, give us a call today.


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