Part 2: Why do CRMs fail to deliver to the original objectives?


Over the past few months we have spoken with twenty B2B companies that have a CRM in place (from 2 months to 8 years) to investigate how their CRM system is performing. We conducted a series of 1-on-1 interviews to get a deep understanding of the following five CRM topics:

  1. The reasons companies implemented their CRM

  2. The original objectives and expected outcomes

  3. The process they used to implement the CRM

  4. The level of buy-in and adoption of the sales team and senior management

  5. The value the CRM delivered to the sales team and senior management and how that compared to their original objectives

This is the second part of the series which focuses on the process the companies used to implement their CRM.

3. The process they used to implement the CRM
In 80% of cases the companies we interviewed were dissatisfied with the way their CRM was implemented, this was due to a variety of reasons.

Here are some of the comments they made that encapsulate their sentiment:

  • "There was way too much time taking sales people and managers out of the field to attend workshops that they were not well equipped to add real value to."

  • "The implementation partner was too focused on data, without a robust plan to gain buy in and support from the sales team."

  • "When the CRM was switched on the sales team were confused as to what it would do to assist them to make more sales."

  • "It took too long to get the CRM up and running."

  • "Too much functionality was switched on, that made it confusing and hard to figure out for the sales team."

  • "The training conducted for the sales team was too focused on the process and it seemed like they had to change their way of working to accommodate the requirements of the CRM, this seemed to be the wrong way around."

  • "The managers were not provided with enough information to assist them to be more effective by using the CRM, this had a very negative impact as they continued to ask the sales team for reports they could run themselves if they knew how to."

In most cases the process to implement the CRM was conducted in four stages:

  1. Run a series of workshops with the managers and selected sales team members to identify the requirements for the CRM

  2. Integrate the relevant data

  3. Pilot test group

  4. Role out to the full team

The feedback we received for each phase was:

Stage 1 - sales team workshops
The biggest issue identified was that the people in these workshops were not in a good position to assist as they had little knowledge of what the CRM should look like. The CRM demonstrations from the implementation partners tended to be short on relevant data so it was hard for the participants to interpret what they were looking at and therefore grasp how they would use the CRM in the field. Many couldn't articulate what value the CRM would be able to deliver to them.

At this very early stage some said their team were disengaged.

Stage 2 - data integration
This phase usually went pretty well, but always took longer than the initial proposals outlined. Most participants would have preferred for the data to be integrated prior to Stage 1 as this would have made it much easier for the sales teams to grasp the whole concept of CRM.

Stage 3 - pilot team trials
This seemed like a good approach to management, however there wasn't a robust approach for the testing. This caused adhoc feedback that lacked consistency across the pilot group. This caused issues on what to change and where the priorities were.

Stage 4 - full team implementation
The feedback we received was the the training was not conducted in a way that provided the sales team with a clear view on what to actually do in the field. There was too much on the process and not enough pragmatic examples of how the sales team would use the CRM each day and what value this would deliver to them at an individual level.
The managers were also left not really understanding how they could use the CRM to improve the performance of their team.

In Part 3 of this series we will reveal the level of buy-in and adoption of the sales team and senior management and the value the CRM delivered to the sales team and senior management and how that compared to their original objectives.

If you would like to have a chat about your CRM or you're planning to implement one soon, drop me a line at I would be happy to share with you some ideas that may assist you to improve your existing implementation or dodge some traps if you are implementing a new CRM.

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