Just like your first love, inexperience, excitement and unrealistic expectations may contribute to your first CRM project not standing the test of time.
Let’s be honest – with the first CRM deployment, no business knows exactly what to expect. So if your first CRM experience has not been great, no need to worry: you can easily bounce back! And if you learn from that first experience, you can get it right the next time!
So, let’s take a look at WHAT MAKES A CRM PROJECT GO WRONG?
With a CRM deployment it is very easy to lose focus on the real objectives. The main question you should hone in on is: Why is the business investing in CRM?
- Is the goal to increase revenue?
- Should the focus be cutting costs?
- Is it possible to do both?
In the first flush of excitement, it is far too easy to forget that underpinning goal… and that could cost your project dearly.
THE WRONG PARTNER
Initial attraction is no guarantee of relationship longevity and no relationship will succeed if there is a mismatch.
From a CRM perspective, there are many potential traps and pitfalls to avoid. The right partner can ensure the right approach to the project and reduce the impact of issues on the business. The wrong partner can tempt you down an expensive and unrewarding path. Many companies are keen to sell a CRM system bundled with apps and add-ons but will they:
- Successfully implement the solution across the business?
- Manage change across the organisation?
- Guarantee successful user adoption?
- Deliver a solution tailored to your specific business and strategic goals?
A good partner should always be transparent and tell you the truth. Like in any relationship, trust is pivotal.
Don’t get led astray by seductive yet unnecessary new technologies or apps and keep focused on your core objectives. Only once these are achieved you can begin to expand CRM into more parts of your business with ease. Bells and whistles are great but make sure that they help you address your business goals and help you reach the outcomes you want.
WHAT MAKES IT GO RIGHT?
So how can you avoid expensive and potentially CRM derailing solutions? The only way to keep the relationship on track is to concentrate on the fundamentals – and that means setting very specific goals that will keep you on track to achieving your overall objectives. For example you can set cross- and up-selling targets or focus on using CRM to improve your understanding about existing customers to improve the relevance of cross and up-sell offers.
You need to continually monitor performance against these targets and honestly assess the success of your CRM strategy. Don’t take anything for granted and do not be disheartened – long term success requires continuous scrutiny and assessment and it is a journey. You have to keep working on it.
Like any relationship, success depends on people taking responsibility. No one can take a part-time approach to a relationship and expect it to succeed. A CRM project is far more likely to be successful if it is the sole responsibility of an individual or a small group of people who make it a priority.
Done well, CRM can transform the way the business operates, from customer interactions to sales & marketing impact. Effective change management is essential, and a responsible approach makes a massive difference to project outcomes:
- Dedicate an individual / or small group to overseeing change.
- Ensure you have the right partner.
- Reinforce the message regarding CRM outcomes.
LEARN FROM THE PAST
The perception is that CRM has been around for a while and is not that difficult to implement. The reality is that first time failure is both incredibly common and a huge learning opportunity. Take aways should include:
- Understand the limitations of that first CRM system to identify what to look out for going forward.
- Recognise the mistakes that were made: Was there poor communication with the CRM vendor? No change management? A loss of focus? What could we have done differently?
- Highlight any areas of benefit: Did customer service improve? Was it easier for sales staff to share information and manage their engagement with customers and prospects? Was the marketing activity more targeted and could you effectively measure the ROI of your marketing investments?
Success the second time around is about taking the positive from that first experience and being objective about the negatives. It is also important to recognise the role the business played in the outcome first time around.
FACE THE TRUTH
Not all relationships or CRM solutions can be saved! Whatever you do, don’t let the relationship drag on beyond its ‘sell by date’. The result is not only lost time and money, but gradual erosion in the overall perception of CRM and its value to the business. It may be hard to walk away from that first CRM solution, but the business has changed and grown and making the decision to let go may be what’s best for your business.
- Business goals have changed.
- Technology has developed.
- The relationship with the vendor no longer works.
- The company has simply lost faith in the CRM solution.
All is not lost – there are plenty of other solutions to fall in love with. The right solution that will actually provide you with value is out there. You just need to start looking for it. Just as a new relationship can introduce you to new interests and people, when CRM works well it can be transformative!
LONG-TERM PARTNERSHIP FOR SUCCESS
No relationship is perfect. It takes work, commitment and dedication to get the best from both sides. This is no different in a business. It is imperative to:
- Retain focus on the objectives.
- Remember the reason for the CRM investment.
- Gain advice as to how best to achieve that goal.
- Don’t get side-tracked by the glittery attractions of new technologies, apps or features. Focus on what will impact your business now and for the foreseeable future.
There is no excuse for letting old CRM constrain the business or allowing the fear of trying again to hold you back. Just learn from your mistakes and go on a quest for the right solution! It will be better the second time around.
The key is to identify, prioritise and address the most pressing issues. Failing to understand the outcomes you are looking for and not clearly defining your CRM requirements at the beginning of the project can have dramatic consequences and affect your ability to measure its impact on the business.
Download our Guide to Understanding your CRM requirements to learn how to avoid common pitfalls and ensure your CRM project is a success.