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4 Overlooked reasons why CRM implementations fail

By Natasha Tollworth

4 CRM Failings to avoid..

So you've decided you need a CRM for Sales and Marketing - whether you are choosing to implement your first one or looking to switch from an existing one, there are common factors why your implementation will fail. Moreover, why merely using another one won't deliver the results you were hoping.

Before you spend any money or even start considering which CRM to use - go and grab a tea/coffee/water and learn about these four overlooked vital points.

1. Sales Process

Many companies believe that a CRM alone will bring the results they need - if you are implementing a CRM first time around or changing then understanding your sales process is crucial to success. Whether you are B2C or B2B, prospective buyers don't come and instantly buy your product or service, they take time to understand their challenge, research it and look at what options they have available, your competitors for example. At different stages of a sales cycle, your sales and marketing team need to understand what value they need to offer the prospective buyer. On the flip side if you already know your sales process you need to be aware of this when considering which CRM is most suitable - some CRM solutions have a fixed procedure for moving opportunities to close and aren't very flexible while some need to be built. If you aren't prepared to optimise your process then a reasonably rigid CRM won't work, likewise, if you don't have a defined sales process, then some CRM solutions will quickly fall apart. Understanding and establishing a sales process is key to not only helping your Sales and Marketing teams but also crucial to implementing any CRM solution.

2. Qualification Process

One of the critical purposes of having a CRM system is to bring structure, organisation and sanity to your sales and marketing efforts. A CRM can significantly reduce and help automate a lot of your team's efforts so they can focus on nurturing the right opportunities at the right time and close deals faster. By understanding and defining your qualification process upfront, you won't have to retrospectively change your CRM later down the line when your pipeline is packed full of prospects. You can also set up your CRM to better support your teams' efforts. If one of your salespeople has ten opportunities they are working on, how do they know which ones are likely to close sooner and which ones need more effort to move them along? If an opportunity they are working on has no budget, for example, is that going to be the best focus of their time when they need to meet their sales quota? In the same vein if you don't identify and track a prospect's challenges how will you be able to align an appropriate solution. One of the most significant failings of CRM (and sales teams) is the lack of any proven qualification process. Also, remember that marketing and sales qualification processes are often very different and Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) differ to Sales Qualified Leads (SQL).

3. Sales & Marketing Pipeline

A CRM introduces visibility into your sales forecasting, sometimes known as a sales funnel or pipeline if you don't have a defined pipeline, you won't get the best out of your CRM, and your team won't have an easy time understanding their opportunities of forecasting their sales. Ensuring your sales and marketing pipelines are set up correctly with various deal stages, and qualification processes are vital. If you implement a CRM for the first time and don't understand your sales pipeline all you have is a database of people and no way of understanding your sales forecast or future business. If your changing your CRM consider that your current pipeline might need optimising, often we see companies who over engineer and complicate the sales pipeline stages, changing your CRM without addressing this will still yield the same results!

4. User Adoption

The most significant contributor to the failure of any IT or transformative project is user adoption. Moreover, CRM is no exception, prepare everyone, create an understanding of why the change is happening, share the reasons and benefits of the CRM implementation, the messaging and benefits need to be tailored to each role or job so that everyone is onboard and will feel invested in the project. The more people who feel invested and take ownership the greater momentum for success. It is important to remember that user adoption is a continual process. Ensure people are prepared, understand any new procedures and have sufficient training on the CRM. Continue beyond the implementation to measure activity, get feedback and run workshops to ensure people make habitual use of the software. Ensure you drive this internally in tandem with your IT partner, without a suitable stakeholder internally that can help encourage the project and motivate the right people then you still run a high risk of failure. Remember your IT partner can only do so much and will need stakeholders and internal champions to continue driving the CRM implementation to success.

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