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The reasons for CRM failure

You have a great new shiny, CRM system, all singing, all dancing – you blew the budget. But there’s a problem – adoption is poor, you can’t use it the way you want to. There are few things in life more frustrating than going through the expensive, time-consuming process of a big CRM implementation, only to see it fall flat on its face. So why has it failed?

CRM failures can happen for any number of reasons. But there are some common ones. It’s useful to know what these are to understand your own CRM failure and to bear in mind when you embark on a new implementation, so you can try and avoid any pot holes:

Unsuitable vendor: badly implemented solutions can cause headaches for years and they often occur because the wrong vendor was selected. You need to understand why the vendor was unsuitable – the attributes that worked and those that didn’t. It’s important that they have had experience of working for businesses like yours, that they listen to your requirements and are flexible and don’t just have a “one size fits all” methodology. If they aren’t ticking these boxes, that’s a warning signal, right there.

Poor objectives and poorly CRM defined strategy: if you didn’t know what you were trying to achieve, what outcomes you were after, how could you have expected it to work? And you didn’t have a clear idea of how you were going to achieve your poorly defined objectives? And no idea of your projected ROI? Then it was doomed to fail – you didn’t have a map for how you get to where you wanted to go and no way of measuring the success of the solution. Putting time into clarifying your objectives and having a clearly defined strategy is paramount.

Scope creep: it’s one thing “buying a CRM system” but it’s another when your needs and requirements change along the way. “Oh, I didn’t realise you did that – actually, I think I need some of that.. and some of that” are phrases that make an IT delivery person weep. It’s very difficult to deliver a system that has changed beyond all recognition to the one that was sold to the client. Having a clearly defined set of requirements at the start enables your partner to fit the CRM solution to your needs.

User adoption: winning hearts and minds can be the trickiest element of your CRM implementation project. People – on the whole – are not that fussy on change. They are comfortable with the status quo, happy with how things are – why go through the turmoil of adapting a new system? Even if your system is slicker than James Bond, if your people haven’t bought into the idea of it, it isn’t going to work. Period.

A missing senior champion: if your executive team haven’t bought into the CRM system, your reasons for having it and what you are trying to achieve, your CRM project is almost certainly destined for failure. Your employees will identify with the senior team and buy into their vision – so if your CRM project isn’t part of that vision, you will have difficulty in mobilising your troops. This often ties into a lack of a proper governance framework, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities – if you have a robust governance framework, you need a senior sponsor.

The reason why your CRM system failed might be down to one or some of these reasons. But it’s always important to understand why and get to the bottom of why your CRM system didn’t fly. This knowledge will be invaluable if you decide to make the switch and change your system to something that works for you.

Oh and one last point… Don’t feel you are alone. Half of SMEs that have CRM are already on their second system*. Don’t be afraid to switch and start again if your current solution does not deliver. The benefits will be worth it. 

To find out more about the reasons CRM systems fail and what you need to do if you are going to switch CRM provider, check out our white paper 6 Steps To Switching CRM or call or email our people on or 0118 3030 100

*State of the CRM market 2019 – Workbooks