Google the term ‘CRM failure’ and a stack of articles appear: 10 reasons your CRM fails; Why is my CRM implementation not delivering; CRM from hell…the list continues, but in reality: around 63% of CRM systems do fail[i].
A Nucleus Research survey recently found that 38% of Salesforce customers are planning to move or would consider moving to another product[ii]. Yet how many of these ‘considerations’ actually result in a move?
The majority of companies are put-off from moving because they perceive that it will be too hard, too painful and too expensive. But assumption and perception can be very restrictive in a business context – just how much research has truly been done into moving systems and what facts and evidence is this perception based on?
A lot of people perceive that moving CRM systems is simply too difficult and that instead the business will just live with what it’s got. Yet in reality this is a step backwards. Why did the organisation invest in CRM in the first place? There was a belief at the outset that it would benefit the business and make a difference; bringing more sales, increased productivity, increased customer loyalty and many other benefits. So, the fact that the current system isn’t delivering, doesn’t mean that these needs have disappeared - the reasons and needs behind the initial implementation still exist, so why live with a system that isn’t bringing these benefits to the business?
Modifying and tweaking the existing system is one way to try and improve the situation. However, if this is going to be complicated and expensive, and require on-going changes and modifications, then this may not be the most cost-effective remedy. For example, I have recently been working with a business that is paying an external supplier around £1000 per month for minor system tweaks because the existing system doesn’t let in-house staff make changes themselves. The system has simply become a money pit, swallowing good money after bad.
Whilst for this example company a complete system change will involve more than a £1000 up-front cost for implementation, over the long-term that £1000 monthly cost will add up to a far more significant figure and is also hindering staff and company progress. Therefore, by making the switch to a new system the business will, over time, be financially better off each month, not to mention the business benefits that will result from having a CRM solution that works properly and effectively, increasing profits and revenue.
User-adoption is another key consideration when thinking about sticking with the current system. Whilst the business may be spending money and effort trying to fix the problematic areas, if your users have written the system off as no-good, or don’t like the way it performs and operates then they are unlikely to engage with it once the modifications have been made. User attitude is a difficult one to fix and often a clean break can be the best route, with the benefits outweighing the cost and challenges of moving.
When looking at alternative vendors, be sure to find out if they have moved at least one organisation from your current platform before. How did they do it? How easy was it and what proof points does the sales man have to back-up his promises? What references can be provided? Moving CRM system is far easier when the new vendor has previous experience and expertise in moving organisations from your current platform onto theirs.
Risk mitigation is also a key discussion point. A consideration that many people don’t make is how they can move away from the system if it does fail. How can you get your data out? Getting items such as attachments, notes, and emails out of a system can be tricky if the vendor imposes a strict cut-off point when your licence expires and you have to extract all your data before this point into a useable format.
Don’t boil the ocean – you don’t necessarily have to move all your data. Use the move as a data cleansing exercise. The likelihood of prospect data from ten years ago being relevant and useful today is often low. How much of your existing information is real, live data as opposed to just noise and dirt? Consider storing the old data elsewhere and only bringing across the information you think is useful and needed into the new CRM. If, once the system is operating, you find that you did need that particular year’s data, you can still import it – but don’t try and do everything at once if it is not required.
Be realistic – do you really need to have a full whiz, bang, flashing CRM system that works with every social media network, integrates with three other business systems and has amazing mobile app capabilities all at once? No. Get the basics right first. Ensure that the system is delivering the business benefits and requirements you need at the start and that there is strong user adoption within the business. The flashy parts can come further down the line, but make sure that the new system is working effectively, is being used properly and that your staff and users like it first; then you can build in the ‘nice to haves’.
Moving CRM systems need not be as difficult as first perceived. Selecting a new, more effective solution will take time and requires diligent research and detailed, technical discussions with a number of vendors. But the right system will bring the benefits that were originally envisaged for the business, along with stronger finances, happier staff and loyal, cared for customers. Too many are living with poor or sub optimal benefits from CRM and the step up really isn’t that hard.