5 Common CRM Pitfalls to Avoid

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Did you know that most enterprises will spend more time this year focused on customer experience, but will fail miserably to change and affect their business goals with their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system?

This was found in the disturbing report from Gartner analysts, revealed at their London Customer Strategies and Technologies Summit earlier this year.

By taking time to understand the following 5 ways businesses fail to capitalize on digital initiatives, you can set yourself apart and be part of those who successfully transform their business.

1. Enterprises fail by choosing homegrown, niche, or on-premise systems

Some companies that I have worked with, choice to use home grown or  “Freeware” as their CRM system. Most people will assume that Salesforce.com dominates the CRM landscape. While they are the single largest vendor, they are rally only 18-20% of the CRM market.

Believe it or not, many companies are still using SAP, Oracle, or some kind of homegrown or industry-specific CRM — and many of those are on-premise systems.

The truth is, none of these alternatives come close to Salesforce when it comes to third party integrations or connectivity. Currently, there are more than 3,500 apps in the Salesforce AppExchange, and thousands more connect through the open API. No other CRM can match the interoperability of Salesforce. Companies like Microsoft and SAP compete by providing monolithic stacks with incredible power, but without the ability to choose best-of breed vendors for individual capabilities.

The result is that most companies end up relying on a CRM merely to capture records, and don’t incorporate data from other systems of record. To make the most of your CRM investment, you want to seamlessly integrate other systems such as ERP, Contracts, Marketing, Tech Support and Operations, just to name a few.

2. Companies fail because they believe CRM is the ultimate goal

One popular CRM myth is that a company will achieve efficiency or revenue gains just because they digitally transformed their processes. It can be an intense and expensive transition to implement a CRM, and well worth celebrating once the system is in production. But according to Gartner analysts, there is no correlation between cloud CRM adoption and bottom-line metrics like growth, profit, or efficiency. How can this be?

CRM on its own doesn’t improve communication or processes. It doesn’t provide for data warehousing or reporting. CRMs typically do a poor job of tracking changes over time, which is critical for analysis.

So most companies quickly realize that they need to follow a CRM launch with initiatives to integrate other key apps, build a data warehouse, and adopt a visual analytics solution — all of which greatly expand the initial scope and cost of CRM adoption. These initiatives are expensive and risky, and if you haven’t prepared your board and leadership team ahead of time, it can be difficult to get the time and budget necessary to follow through.

3. Companies fail because user adoption is holding them back

Just because your company has made an investment in a CRM system, doesn’t automatically mean it’s meeting your needs of your sales team or enterprise. Making a commitment to a CRM requires much more than just paying for it. Getting the most out of it requires a clear understanding of your businesses processes, setting goals for how it will be used and most importantly, using it properly.

Customer Relationship Management is nothing new. Today, most small to medium-sized businesses are jumping on board and really making strong efforts to transition towards a more data-driven system. However, the reason CRM was traditionally so effective for the enterprise was because of one thing: access to resources. They had money, personnel, and the structure to support technology in ways that weren’t available to the average SMB. Today, thanks to cloud-based systems, it has become easier and more affordable than ever for any sized business to propel their businesses forward with technology like CRM and Marketing Automation.

That being said, one challenge remains: resources. While it’s cheaper and easier to access these systems, that doesn’t mean implementing them is any easier. Implementing CRM and Marketing Automation platforms takes strategic planning, team buy-in, training, and consistency. And, it certainly won’t happen overnight.

4. Lack of Formal Training

For many companies, assigning someone from IT or the Marketing department to the enterprise CRM implementation is the most logical choice. It may be, however, without formal training and certification, a company can easily go down the wrong path without awareness of the mistakes they are making, until they decide to utilize a feature set that was configured incorrectly. Or worse yet, they haven’t given any thought to what their reporting needs might be, or they have no structure to how and where data is captured and stored. This can be a huge mistake. Particularly when done on an unstructured, ill-conceived platform. Converting these data to a structured model will be impossible at best.

The person responsible for these tasks is your Salesforce CRM administrator. Because this person is one of the most important resources in making your implementation a success, it’s important to carefully choose your administrator and to continually invest in his or her professional development.

5. Understand the Purpose of each Object

Using the correct object to manage your data is essential to keeping your data clean and manageable. Each object (Contacts, Accounts, Tasks, Opportunities) is designed to address the specific individual nature of these data. For example, an opportunity should have a close date and a projected monetary value associated with it used for forecasting, while a task would not. Opportunities should only be recorded once they pass a predefined set of criteria. At the absolute very least, your company should have qualified the prospect enough to understand the needs and be able to develop a budget/proposal for this work. Additionally, opportunities will eventually be either won or lost, whereas tasks have a follow up date or subsequent action associated with it. Knowing the difference between these two objects and how your CRM deals with them can help to avoid having an inflated pipeline which will cause your sales team to chase tasks, thinking they are ready to purchase while overlooking the real, bonifide opportunities in your organization.

Here are some common issues we see with failed CRM implementations:
– Investing in a system for where you are now, not where you WANT to be.
– Lack of integration between platforms. Having multiple disparate systems requires more training, more money, custom integrations, and can cause lots of unnecessary waste and headaches.
– Not getting buy-in from the entire team, and yes, this means the C-suite.
– Avoiding or insufficiently training each member of your team to effectively use the system.
– Not providing your entire team access to the data they need to do their jobs more effectively.
– Keeping your team in siloed departments. This is a tragedy.
– Not understanding the total cost of ownership when investing in your CRM.


About the Author:

Experienced technical business analyst recognized for implementing cost-effective solutions, leveraging SFDC development with new and legacy data assets, and providing customized solutions for critical business requirements. Engages with executive leadership, sponsors, and end users to develop and deliver end-to-end enterprise solutions that expedite vital business functions and expand revenue growth. Orchestrates sales solutions with maximum economic impact for businesses; specializing in highly matrixed, global Clinical Research Organizations (CROs).
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