CRM System Not Producing? It’s Your Own Fault

Reaping the benefits of a correctly implemented CRM system is like growing older – it just happens.

However, if your company has a system in which no one is really sure that it matters, than for a fact, it was not implemented correctly.

No, I don’t mean that the wrong software was selected – lack of results from CRM is bigger than the software, but this is where to many organizations start and stop when it comes to “implementing” a CRM platform:  the software.  They would like to think that increasing profits, improving employee morale and productivity, and gaining insight into projected sales is merely a matter of picking a “silver bullet” CRM software package.

When the dust settles on the newly installed system 6 or 12 months later, what do they find?  Marginal – if any – improvement over where they were before the system was in place.

What you need to understand if you are to truly reach the benefits that a correctly implemented CRM system can provide, is that the software is merely one small piece of the whole

By following a simple recipe, you will be able to “tame” your CRM System without putting your life in danger or jeopardizing your company’s health.


I’m sorry if you don’t want to hear this, but reality exists.  Plain and simple.

As much as it may be no fun, here are the steps that an organization – ANY organization, no matter how small – needs to undertake to ensure that it will truly be propelled forward by its CRM initiative:

  1. Understand that CRM is a process, not an event, not software, and that it is ongoing, iterative and should be phased.
  2. Clearly define the requirements and goals – and what success will look – for the phase that you are working on.
  3. Clearly define what you are – and are not – doing currently, what you want to keep, and what you want to jettison.
  4. Tie the requirements and goals (Step #2) to your current process (Steps #3), and fill in the spaces where the CRM system should revise, automate, and improve upon the current process.
  5. Create an inventory of ALL of the places where existing data lives that will need to be migrated to the CRM software – Excel spreadsheets, Access or Filemaker databases, Outlook, etc.
  6. Create an inventory of the various reports and “outputs” you would like the CRM system to create.  (Don’t limit this merely to the reports that you may be currently creating.  The new system is a great opportunity to reach for the “love to have” reports you have lived without for too long.)
  7. Now you can begin looking for a software platform:
    1. Having defined your requirements, your current processes, and mapping them to a CRM supported process (Step #4), you will be able to clearly define what CRM modules you will need in the selected system.
    2. Inventory the ways and locations that you expect to access the system.  (Do you have traveling reps?  Branch locations?  Will some of your users access the system from mobile devices like phones and tablets?  Will remote users need access to all portions of the system or is a subset of data sufficient? etc.)
    3. What are your requirements for security?  (Will you limit reps’ record access to just the records in their own territories/product lines?  Are there certain fields – say “Credit Limit” for example – that only select users should be able to see?  Are there some fields that are to be “read only” (perhaps “Assigned Rep” or “Terms”)?)
    4. How many users do you anticipate having 24 months from now?  (Many Cloud based solutions set their pricing based in part on how many supported users are offered.  You can start off with a handful of users in a very affordable solution, but when you cross a user count threshold, you can suddenly find yourself “upgraded” to a “Premium” system tier with a significantly higher monthly fee per user.  Ouch!)
  8. Applying these criteria to prospective CRM platforms, create a short list of 3 or 4 systems that may fit the bill.
  9. Reach out to software vendors and/or their network of certified partners/developer/consultants, and work with at least one for each platform to get an implementation proposal created.
  10. Select the best proposal and write a check to have it done!

Therein is the recipe for implementing a CRM system in such a fashion that you will reap the benefits of your efforts and investment.  Sure, you can do it your way, but if already tried that, why not do it the right way this time?

Leave A Reply (2 comments so far)

  1. MScott821
    4 years ago

    Pat – Thank you for the input – how true you are.

    It takes planning and understanding to “fix” or improve sales in an organization, and that means commitment and work – something many managers and business owners are feeling they want to muster.

    I can’t say it is entirely their fault because the IT vendors have spent billions of $$ and decades proclaiming that their solutions are just the “silver bullet” that a company needs to become whole.

    Thanks for the suggestion for a new post – I will put that in my journal and work it into my 2013 schedule!

  2. patmcgraw
    4 years ago

    Great post – the fact of the matter is that so many businesses lack any formal processes and then turn to CRM as the solution. Add on top of that a leadership team that really doesn’t want to say “No” to anything, and you have a culture of “Sure we can do that…” which means no commitment to process.

    Perhaps your next post can focus on what to do during the first 90-180-365 days your CRM installation is in place?

    Happy New Year!

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