Is Your CRM Not Working For You?

I get a lot of inquiries which go something like this: “we implemented a CRM solution from Vendor X, and it doesn’t work. Nobody is using it, and when they are forced to use it, it is slowing them down instead of making their life easier.  Are there solutions from Vendor Y or Z that would do a better job for us?”

My answer goes something like this: "CRM solutions are mature. Most vendor solutions are chock full of features and functions – probably more than you would ever need. Your CRM is not supporting your needs, perhaps, because:

  1. You don't have crisp definitions of your processes, the stages within processes, and the exit criteria to move to the next stage (ex. what are your criteria to promote a lead to an opportunity? Are they the same for all business units?)
  2. You have implemented your CRM without doing any customization or configuration. As a result, your organizational processes are not well supported in your CRM
  3. You have not paid attention to your data quality. Users don't trust the data that they use.
  4. You haven't spent the time to integrate other systems to your CRM, so you cannot empower your customer facing personnel with all the information they need from your CRM. It's not helping them get their job done easier or faster.
  5. You don't have the right reports available to your end users to allow them to measure their performance.
  6. You haven't focused on usability or the user experience. The UI is probably not role based, or tailored to what your users need, and you haven’t thought though the actual data elements that are important to your users at the various stages of your processes.

.....Sound familiar?

Our research at Forrester backs up my generic answer to this question. In a survey, in partnership with CustomerThink of 650 business professionals and IT leaders who had been involved in a CRM technology project last year we found that:

  • Nearly half of survey respondents had faced problems grounded in poor or insufficient definition of business requirements, inadequate business process designs, and the need to customize solutions to fit unique organizational requirements.
  • More than two-fifths said that their problems were the result of people issues, such as slow user adoption, inadequate attention paid to change management and training, and difficulties in aligning the organizational culture with new ways of working.
  • Two-fifths had challenges related to their CRM strategy, such as a lack of clearly defined objectives, poor solution deployment practices, and insufficient solution governance practices.

What does this all mean? Choosing your CRM solution is an important step. But it is not enough to ensure success with your CRM project. You must pay attention to your CRM strategy, processes, and people factors to ensure success. You must take the time to understand how you will use your CRM to generate business value, and spend the time to ensure a perfect fit into your organization. You just can't shoehorn a vendor solution without configuration, customization or integration into your operations, and think that it is going to work.


Using automation in your business

Thanks for sharing this post Kate... I've been using a CRM/automation system in my business for over 6 years. During the early days, I had many challenges, but I think once I understood what it could do for me - THEN, I started to get excited about the benefits - autonomy, flexibility, control and most of all lifestyle.

It's often hard in the beginning to start with a new platform or integrate into something existing, but that's where I'd suggest that if you want people to buy from you, you've got to start buying from other people - spend the money and get a pro to set it up for you, then have them teach everyone how to use it...

Is your CRM working for customers?


May I be as bold as to suggest two additional items for your list of why CRM is not working for you:

1. It is built inside-out -process first, not outside-in, customer journey first.

2. You failed to ask what CRM can do for customers, focusing only on your needs and reporting.

I have a few others in a two part blog: What does the C in CRM stand for?


Your blog about CRM is

Your blog about CRM is adequately interesting and informative.

Modern CRM solutions can be

Modern CRM solutions can be very helpful if you know how to use them. I've encountered some people from software development companies who didn't spend much time getting aquainted with the solutions they used and thus complaining about not getting the expected results from using the software. And only after pointing out the fact that they need to spend some time to learn all the useful features, they admitted that the problem was their lack of knowledge rather than ineffective software.

Customization and once again Customization

Thanks for article, Kate. Here is our story about CRM.

We had implemented CRM in our company 3 years ago by ourselves, but then weren't using it.

In 2014 OCSICO offered for us free customization of our CRM as experiment. And we are still using it and we are really happy with this solution.

So you are really right.