CRM Fails and How to Avoid Them

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The difference between love and hate in the relationship that exists between sales organizations and the CRM tools designed to empower them comes down to planning, communications and implementation. CRMs like Salesforce, Sugar and ZoHo can generate a wealth of information to manage the business and build sustainable growth. These systems, however, are neither a trivial investment nor a magic cure to fix operational problems. Avoiding common pitfalls and getting the most out of your investment requires clearly articulated goals and strong user adoption. Most failed CRM implementations trace their woes to two broad categories: bad guidance and bad behavior.

Bad Guidance

Failed CRM implementations are often the result of organizational misalignment and misguided attempts to upgrade the sales experience without first addressing underlying problems.

  • Ambiguous Aspirations. One surefire way to fail is to start with vague, poorly articulated goals. Misunderstood objectives create friction, increase frustration and ultimately drive away customers and good employees. Be clear and concise on what the company expects from the CRM and provide oversight to keep everyone in the “Fantastic” quadrant.
  • Meaningless Measurements. Measure what matters, not meaningless stats. The book Moneyball tells the story of how the Oakland A’s, a team with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, was able to compete with teams at 3x to 4x their payroll. They focused on, measured, and improved relevant stats (getting on base) that translated to value (scoring runs). The same is true with sales stats. Here’s some food for thought as you fine-tune your sales reporting and find the stats that matter to you:
    • Grading salespeople by how much time they spend in the CRM yields lots of (useless) data.
    • Creating more than six deal status options (prospect, quote, negotiate, close win or close lost) is overkill.
    • Forecasting more than 90 days out is just a guess. As a general rule of thumb, the 90-day sales forecast should be 90% accurate.
  • Irresponsible Insubordinates. Once you’ve aligned on goals and communicated them to the team, hold people accountable. This should come from the top down and the entire sales culture at all levels should be permeated by the CRM. If it’s not in the system, it never happened. Funnel reports must be generated using the CRM reporting functionality, not excel and executive roll-ups need to tie back to these.

Bad Behavior

CRM systems create the opportunity to conceal poor sales behavior. Companies must be on the lookout for these shady traits and act quickly to ensure they don’t become culturally entrenched.

  • The Claim Jumper. Is incredibly adept at manipulating the system for prospects… other users’ prospects. When opportunities expire, the claim jumper is the first to grab them. Anyone the claim jumper meets quickly gets entered into the system so they can work to create a record of contact and move the account over. To avoid this behavior, have clear rules for lead input, opportunity expiration and account assignment.
  • The Hoarder. Keeps EVERY opportunity, regardless of the chance of success, time it takes to close, or resources required to scope it. The hoarder doesn’t believe inthe sales maxim that “the longer the sales cycle the less likely a successful outcome”. The best practice here is to have clear guidance on how long opportunities are active, and once that time period has expired, what the rules are to renew the account.
  • The Bard. The Bard has a lot of customer contacts and interactions and can regale you with stories of commitments, deals and timeframe… none of which are documented, they only exist in the songs of the bard. For the bard, whatever is in the system doesn’t matter because the bard’s offline interactions supersede anything in the system. A simple way to avoid encouraging the bard is to adopt the rule “if it doesn’t happen in the CRM, it didn’t happen”

Buying and deploying a CRM isn’t enough. You must have the right goals, guidance and oversight to be successful. Companies that take the time to design a process, create a structure and drive accountability derive TREMENDOUS value from CRMs. Naysayers and those who don’t like CRM haven’t done this right. At Ronin, we know what good CRM setup and operation looks like. It’s a key component of building sales momentum and scale. Our team has over twenty-five years of experience building and deploying network services and transforming organizations into recognized market leaders. Give us a call and let’s see how we can help you. hello@roninpbr.com or 303.678.1844.

– Steve Smith, Senior Partner

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Our team has over twenty-five years of experience building and deploying network services, and transforming organizations into recognized market leaders.  Give us a call and let’s see how we can help you.
hello@roninpbr.com or 303.678.1844

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