Part 3: Why do CRM's fail to deliver to the original objectives?


Over the past few months we have spoken with 20 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 third and final part of the series which focuses on the level of buy-in and the value CRM's are delivering for B2B companies.

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

There was a great disparity of the level of adoption of CRM's. Some companies achieved a good level of buy-in and adoption within months of implementing their CRM; whilst others are still struggling to get buy-in after several years.

Here are some of the comments made by those who have achieved a good level of adoption:

  • "We started the program with the senior managers to make sure they understood the value that we could receive from a CRM, and their role to use it and promote it internally."

  • "We spend a significant mount of time with the business stakeholders upfront, this helped us to configure the first pass that was seen as relevant to the sales people and the managers."

  • "We undertook stringent vetting of data before it was uploaded we started small and grew the functionality over time."

  • "Our approach was to keep it simple at first, we then added functionality as required."

  • "We reviewed and documented our business process and reporting requirements and worked with the implementer to customise reporting to eliminate all reporting outside of the CRM."

  • "We have worked had to make sure the CRM is seen as a tool we can't live without."

  • "We asked lots of questions of our implementation partner to gain a better understanding of the roadmap before we planned our approach."


Here are some of the comments made by those who are struggling to achieve a good level of adoption:

  • "We should have got better advice from the implementation partner to understand how to get greater buy-in and adoption, we thought the team would just use it, but we are not getting the buy-in we want."

  • "We should have put more focus on the managers initially, the issue appears to be that many of our managers don't understand what it will do for them (we've told many times, but it's not sinking in), maybe they don't want to change."

  • "In hindsight, it would have been better to have a gradual rollout throughout the business, we did too much too quickly."

  • "Given the complexity of the process we built too many functions too early and therefore they weren't taken up by the sales people (we created an overload of change) we should have undertaken less functionality and implemented each one at a deeper level."

  • "If we had our time again, we would focus on importing real data into the CRM before presenting it to the sales team."


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

Some of the B2B companies we spoke to are very happy with the value the CRM is delivering to their sales people, sales managers and senior managers; others are not receiving the value they expected.

Here are some of the areas of value being realised by CRM:

  • Increased the conversion rates of key opportunities (one improved from 25% to 50%)

  • Next actions set for all accounts and opportunities drives a more proactive approach

  • Improved the ramp up time of new people with clear direction and approach

  • Driving more discipline around the pipeline and assists the sales people to forecast more effectively

  • Having the one system drives more consistent behaviours

  • When people are away others can step in easily, so the customers continue to be looked after

  • Chatter function provides for collaboration on opportunities and sharing market and competitor insight

  • Data analytics improves targeting and drives a more strategic approach to customer engagement

  • Manages a consistent workflow, drives a more consistent approach

  • Better understanding of the behaviours that drive performance - good platform for coaching

  • Pipeline visibility and forecasting provides better communication to key contacts - it simplifies and speeds up communication

  • Good dashboards provide better business plaining and portfolio management, determines where to target and how to approach it

  • Determines the right time allocation on the right opportunities

  • Drives a stronger sales focus and where activity needs to increase - allows management to manage each team member around KPI's and activity levels


Here are some of the comments made by those who are not realising value from their CRM:

  • "The key is how we connect CRM data to actual results, we don't really know how to do this."

  • "We haven't been able to connect the CRM to actual results we are still missing some data."

  • "It's been a burden for some people, for others it runs their life; it's inconsistent across the teams."

  • "We need to have the ability to be more flexible and customise the CRM for our needs more easily."

  • "Some senior managers would see value, they all think it's required, but they don't see the full potential - maybe our senior execs don't login enough, maybe we need to push info to them."

  • "It should be easier to use, the team is struggling with it."

  • "Standardised dashboards and reports, should be out of the box, we have struggled to configure dashboard that people can use."

  • "Not putting enough information into the system and the sales people see it as a hindrance we need to change their perception."

  • "We still rely on financial reporting outside the CRM platform, we would get more value if it was integrated."

  • "It has ticked our internal boxes for workflow and reporting, but not for our customer facing objectives, this is where the real value will be."

In conclusion, CRM is an invaluable tool for all B2B businesses, however there are some fundamental requirements to ensure the implementation, adoption and ongoing use is well planned. 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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