Watch Your Step! Four Signs Your CRM Will Fail

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If your CRM software was on the brink of failure, would you even know it?

What signs would you look for? And how would you save it from the point of no return?watch step 4 signs crm will fail

Many sales and customer service managers don’t realize their CRM is failing them until it’s too late and they’re standing on that brink of disaster. This is mostly because it’s hard to accept that you need a new CRM when your reps are already so entrenched in the system you’ve got. Fortunately, you don’t have to let it fall over the edge.

If you own a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, you know what benefits it should bring to your company. If, however, you have the wrong system or aren’t using the right one effectively, you’re probably not seeing as much benefit as you could be.

Below are some warning signs that indicate all is not well in CRM land, plus some advice for addressing them…

1. WARNING: Your CRM only functions in silos

It’s hard for a company to work together when each department (marketing, sales, etc.) is seeing something different. The right CRM provides a holistic view of each contact in your database so that each department can glean the relevant information to provide cohesive, unified messaging to the customer.

The same goes within functional areas. Take customer support, for example. If a customer calls with a problem and it’s solved over the phone, that’s good. If they call and then want the answer by email and you can’t give it to them, that’s not so good. Your CRM should be capable of handling customer support via all the communication channels your customers use. It should cater to the customer rather than forcing the customer to alter their communication style to adhere to your system.

The Solution: Build barns

See if you can configure your current CRM to show more valuable information to various users. There might even be reports or metrics you’ve never used before that could bring real value. If you don’t have the freedom to customize what information appears to whom, you might have to look outside your current software. Consider an application that integrates with the existing CRM or an entirely new system, depending on what other functionalities your current solution offers.

2. WARNING: Your CRM “supports” undefined processes

The best-stocked toolbox in the world is no help if you don’t know what you’re trying to fix. The same is true of a CRM that you purchased before establishing a process for nurturing a lead into a sale. If you can’t name the specific steps in your sales cycle, then you’re probably not taking full advantage of your CRM’s capabilities.

The Solution: Break out your process flow construction hat

Clearly identify a process for how you will communicate with prospects— from their first exposure to your company to the point where they (hopefully!) become loyal customers. Determine how each step in the process can be improved (this could mean in efficiency or in quality of service provided to your prospects), and then figure out how to use your CRM tool to do so.

For example, what are the steps involved in nurturing a lead by email? How many emails will you send them, when will you send them, and what will they say? Do the answers to these questions change according to the lead’s reactions? Once you answer these questions, you’ll have created a defined email process that you can facilitate through your CRM’s functionality. For instance, you can now auto-assign tasks to your reps when a lead is ready to receive the next email in the series, or you can trigger an automated email with the CRM if it is integrated with an email marketing or marketing automation solution.

3. WARNING: You have “users” who don’t (or won’t) use your CRM

If your CRM goes unused, then it’s really no help to anyone (and a waste of time and money to boot). Likely reasons for user rejection include:

    • Users feel the tool is being imposed from above, sometimes as a monitoring mechanism
    • Users feel that the CRM complicates their job
    • The tool’s functionalities aren’t relevant to their process
    • Important information exists outside of, rather than within, the system and causes users to look to other resources

Solution: Find out why, and fix it

If you already have an unpopular system on your hands, talk to the non-users. What problems do they have with it? How is it frustrating them? What do they wish the software would do? Their answers might lead you to decide that re-configuring and re-introducing your current system will work, or you may find that you need an overhaul.

In the case of the latter, consult users in different departments from the start as to how they spend their time and what tasks would be best to automate with the new CRM. Choose an advocate from each department who seems genuinely on board, and then make your advocates part of the entire selection process (including demos!). These individuals should want to work with you to encourage colleagues to use the system, share any knowledge they acquire, voice their concerns, and establish best practices for future users.

4. WARNING: You don’t know what success looks like

You can’t accomplish your goals if you don’t have any. Many companies make the mistake of implementing a CRM without first deciding what they want to get out of it.

Solution: Paint a very detailed picture

Ask yourself what you ultimately want. What kind of impact do you want to achieve in areas such as

  • Lead generation?
  • Lead-readiness?
  • Close rates?
  • Customer satisfaction?
  • Customer loyalty and retention?
  • Customer feedback?

Once you have your end goals clearly defined in quantifiable, achievable, and measurable terms, you can use your CRM to track your progress toward achieving them. Make sure to sub-define these goals, as well — what percentage rise in the number of prospects is okay, what percentage is phenomenal? Let your team know the goal and how using the CRM will help achieve it. Then do what you set out to do!

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About the Author


Alison Klein

Alison Klein is a Marketing Assistant at Capterra. She helps with all marketing-related tasks and reports on customer relationship management. When she’s not covering the software industry, you can find her writing, enjoying good food, and listening to Jay-Z.


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