The Top 3 Reasons Why CRM Implementations Fail


Hey presto! A perfect CRM System

One sure sign that a sales team cannot be serious about winning new business is their lack of commitment to a credible CRM system. In other words they do not depend on CRM in the same way that they depend upon email or Word.

The acid test is this “if you removed CRM from the firm would anybody be banging on your door demanding its reinstatement”. If the answer is ‘not really’ then it probably isn’t deployed properly and if that’s the case your new business capability is almost certainly under-performing.

Well if CRM is so important why do so many firms fail to implement it successfully? Good question I think and one that needs some answers so here are Mikey’s Magic Three:-

1.  You train people how to use the system but not how to make use of the system.  They understand how to add and access data but cannot easily graft this onto their real-life business development activities.  In short they have a system but lack any credible BD processes to use it with so they can’t see the point of keeping it up to date and so they stop using it.

2.  You choose the wrong system Surely all CRM systems are pretty much the same aren’t they?  No they’re not and here are the key issues:

a)  You cannot change the system yourself, so you have to go back to the vendor to do it.  They charge £400 an hour so you don’t bother even though there is a real business need to make the changes.  After a time your system no longer supports the needs of its users so they find alternative ways to meet those needs usually involving Outlook or spreadsheets.

b)  It does not interface with your existing equipment.  If it doesn’t talk to Outlook or whatever enterprise software you use, forget it.  Even if it does can you access it from your smart phone or Blackberry because if you can’t the data will not be updated or used enough and people will find other ways to do what they need to do.

c)  It doesn’t actually do what you need because you didn’t write a detailed requirements document before you went to market.  You took the one that was cheapest/dearest/flashiest/sold by the most attractive sales person and not the one that best suited your needs.  Preparation prevents pi$$ poor performance and so does creating a requirements document.

3.  The data take-on project is way too ambitious so never gets completed.  People imagine that the system can’t go live until all relevant data is collected from Outlook, spreadsheets, old systems, marketing databases, the accounts package and people’s diaries and loaded onto the new system.  I spent 10 years in IT and here’s the thing:  this is an impossible dream and should absolutely, under no circumstances, be considered.

So there you have it. If you want a potent new business development capability in your firm implement a CRM system that works. If you want a CRM system that works focus more on making use of, and not just using, the system; choose a system that you can change, interfaces with Outlook (or similar) and specify your requirements before you buy and lastly be realistic with your data take-on expectations.

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Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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6 comments on “The Top 3 Reasons Why CRM Implementations Fail
  1. Hosk says:

    I was just thinking that many places just pop a new CRM system in front of the users and then are a bit dismayed when all they do is struggle with it and try to do exactly the same inefficient methods of working as before and don’t know how to do it.

    If they had some training then they would perhaps think about what they are trying to achieve and how they could do it easier using the new CRM system.

    I also think people need to be sold on the idea of CRM as a concept, the collaboration of a team of people sharing information and ideas in order to win sales, keep their clients happy and increase efficiency by using a system built to do just that. Also some of the users of the system don’t have an idea of the goal of the system and are basically following orders and doing the tasks they have been set rather than encouraging them to achieve the goal in the most efficient method

  2. […] Comments 0 There have been a few interesting blog posts on Mike Ames recently and today he has posted another interesting post about why CRM implementations fail. […]

  3. Mike Ames says:

    I absolutely agree with the choice of your words Ben “sold on the idea of CRM”. When it is forced on people they quite often don’t take to it especially well.

  4. Hi Mike,

    Good article on an important topic. Thanks for writing it! I’ll nominate another reason, which I think would be in my personal top three list now, although a year ago I don’t think I would have included it:

    Lack of management buy-in.

    I’ve seen several CRM implementations over the last year that have all kinds of problems: users didn’t get trained, customizations implemented poorly, etc., etc….yet still they are being used, pipelines are up to date, activities are being entered.

    On the other hand, I’ve seen implementations that seemed to have everything going for them: right product, users trained, nicely done customizations. Everything except users using them.

    The fault in cases like these usually lies with management. In my view, no matter how well a CRM is done, there will always be additional required of its users. And if an organization’s leaders don’t do a combination of leading by example or mandating its use, a CRM will be at risk. If an organization’s leaders communicate that CRM use is a lifestyle choice rather than a requirement for employment, a CRM is in trouble!

    • Mike Ames says:

      A great addition to the piece Richard and I entirely agree. Sometimes senior management thing that just buying the CRM system appears to be the answer when in fact it isn’t. I especially liked the bit about leading by example. Excellent thank you.

  5. […] business development tool leading to more revenue being brought into the firm and you have read my blog post on the most common reasons for failure. What should you […]

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Mike Ames

Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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