How to avoid CRM implementation mistakes

Customer relationship management (CRM) has been available for so long that some end-users forget it’s just a tool. This means there can be business managers who use it as a cure-all, almost as an alternative to a business strategy.

The IT professional can rectify this by helping deploy a CRM system around a defined technology strategy.

Mistakes still happen though – and with that in mind, here are some with which the IT department can help.

1. Start from scratch

It isn’t actually possible to start all over again with a new CRM system without risking, alienating or losing some established clients. The IT department can make it clear that the legacy data will be protected. It will offer clear assurances as to how the legacy data and the new system can be integrated as seamlessly as possible from a service point of view.

>See also: Is the data in your CRM a ticking time bomb?

2. Overlook the user

The implementation of a CRM solution, or indeed any new technology, can overlook the one person who’s going to make it work – the user. Never forget that the experienced sales executive can also be the jaded sales executive, whose reaction when there is a new system can be “oh, they’re revamping the IT system again, what a pain”.

The IT professional is accustomed to communicating; explaining why there are benefits, what these benefits are and how the daily users’ lives will be made easier and more profitable with the new technology.

3. Overlooking the user, take two

Following investigation of the CRM market is the selection of the right system for your business and importation of all the information needed from your legacy systems. The IT director should look to delay the roll-out until it’s been tested with every laptop, tablet, smartphone and other device through which the end user might want to use it.

4. Assume all business will be ‘as usual’

There is no such thing as a steady state in most businesses and the switched-on technology professional will look for a CRM system that can be adapted as the size of the workforce grows or shrinks, as a major contract is taken on or falls through, or divisions get sold or acquired.

A CRM system needs to be open enough so that it can assimilate data from an outside source or export its data in the event of a merger. It also needs to be scalable in both directions. The IT strategy needs to be planned for the unexpected, both for the business and for the end user.

5. Innovate for innovation’s sake

There are three basic stakeholders to be served by a CRM system : two are human and one is more of a concept. The humans are the user (as discussed above) but more importantly the customer.

If the end-customer feels they have to jump through hoops to talk to someone who knows their business and their issues, the CRM system isn’t working.

The third entity, the IT department, must take into account the business’s bottom line, either by increasing profit on existing turnover or making the overall income higher – preferably both. If anything in a CRM system you are evaluating doesn’t push at least one of these stakeholders forward, questions need to be asked as to why it’s there.

6. Failing to measure

Failure to measure the performance of a CRM system is all too common and is something that can be addressed easily by the IT professional. It is often the result of a larger systemic problem in which a business has heard a system will work and has implemented it without proper regard for any sort of business strategy. This is an area in which the IT department can lead the way by correcting one of the two areas, and outlining the business benefits of doing so.

7. Bad information

Management needs up-to-date, clean information on its clients. Selling to people who have not worked at an organisation for months is never going to work. However the assumptions of your own business also need to be audited. If the CRM shows targets are being missed every month then this can perhaps be seen as something wrong with the target-setting or the business plan in its entirety.

>See also: Is your CRM data the elephant in the room?

8. Cart before the horse?

Many organisations look at the market, find a CRM system that appeals and start to implement it. This can be a disaster because the first “look” should have been at the business’s requirements with the IT department acting as a strategic enabler.

In this role, IT can consider what the organisation and its clients need from a CRM system and select vendors accordingly rather than opting for a generic system that is ill-aligned to business requirements.

9. Overcomplicate with too much customisation

Many CRM systems allow for individualisation and customisation. However, too much customisation can pose a business risk if not properly documented and if it is reliant on the knowledge of a single individual who may leave the organisation in the future. The sales field is littered with projects that have been scuppered because only one person in the business knew exactly what they’d done in terms of an “improved” Excel set-up.


Sourced from Billy Lyle, MD, Redspire CRM Consultancy

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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