In our blog on Judging the Success of your CRM Project, the opinion on the success of a CRM project can be very different depending on who you ask. Research suggests that the opinion of CRM success from the leadership of the project is often at odds with the experience of the teams directly using CRM on a daily basis. While this difference of opinions doesn’t necessarily mean your CRM project is failing, it points to an important problem that can develop in CRM projects and that can ultimately lead to failure.
I was recently in a meeting with the Global Sales Manager of a manufacturing company that we work with, and he was giving us an update on how their CRM project was doing now that they are almost a year into its implementation. The Manager was giving us an overview of their progress, some lessons learned, and how users were adopting the new system. When crediting the success they’ve had, he said:
“I learned that CRM is really about people, and CRM is also really about leadership.”
The statement stuck out to me. Their big takeaway was that a CRM implementation will only be successful if leaders actually lead. The Global Sales Manager continued with how he and the U.S. Sales Manager worked together to lead their teams and be involved in the adoption of CRM into their corporation.
With CRM projects standing at around a 63% failure rate according to Merkle Group Inc., we have to look at the reasons behind the failure and be willing to tackle them. The Global Sales Manager we met with had a good grip on what the misconceptions were that he needed to overcome, and he knew that leadership had to take charge. Below are the three main misconceptions I gathered from the Global Sales Manager, along with his tactics for addressing them.
This is discussed in greater detail in the Sure Way to a CRM Fail blog, and we’ve seen it ring true for years. We have never heard any company say their CRM was just so good that people wanted to use it. We have, however, seen CRM implementations done well enough that people should want to use it - but they only conclude that they want to use it when leaders own the CRM implementation, use it themselves, and treat it like a leadership tool. The Global Sales Manager we met with said he uses CRM to run their sales team meetings, to report to his manager, and that the board regularly asked to see analytics from CRM.
This misconception encapsulates a major issue we see consistently. Leaders think this CRM tool that they have invested large amounts of resources into just to implement should work intuitively. CRM has become publicized as a tool for users instead of leadership, so leaders naturally think this tool should just “work.” However, CRM is a tool for leadership first and users second. If it is only a tool for users, then users will never fully embrace it and it certainly won't help with making leadership decisions or with discovering new innovations. But if it is a leadership tool first, then not only will it drive leadership decisions, is will ultimately be accepted by users as a valuable part of their toolbox.
According to the Global Sales Manager, their organization actually increased the number of meetings they had once they implemented CRM. They used CRM to run their meetings and they were much more efficient and productive because of it. The Manager asserted how doing this allowed them to stay on track, win sales faster, and celebrate together when they hit their goals. He also stressed that CRM doesn't replace preparation - but it does mean that all the information he needed in order to be prepared is in one place (and if it isn't, then it is an opportunity to coach his team to make better use of the CRM solution).
Although CRM can’t run the meeting for you, it can help you become a more prepared, more efficient, well-informed participant as a leader or user. With CRM, meetings can be used as platforms for collaboration, organization, and celebration.
The final point I captured during the presentation was the importance of integration. He emphasized that it is a waste of productive time when users have to do the same thing inside CRM and outside CRM. Therefore, there’s only one place you should be entering data – CRM. We often see CRM become "just another tool" in organizations. It becomes an additional place that employees must go to update data to complete their daily tasks (the same data that they are often entering into two or more other places). In these cases, the team of users rightly complains that CRM neither makes them more efficient, nor effective; it is perceived as a tool to create reports for management. Ironically enough, when we are asked to come in to fix broken CRM processes, we often hear from management that it is a user tool, while hearing from users that it is really just a management reporting tool that creates extra work for them! Giving teams more time to do their jobs, and the tools to do it more effectively, is why CRM Project Leaders must push for integration and consolidation of their tools into a single CRM system that can be used by field sales, inside sales, customer care and marketing.
Although users should never be asked to re-key data into Excel, the Global Sales Manager did point out that they use Excel reports to run their sales meetings. CRM Administrators often push for using dashboards and other reports - but Excel is still the tool of choice for many sales managers. He asserted that all data should be entered into CRM, but can then be exported into Excel if it is easier for sales reps and sales managers to visualize the data there.
Where do we go from here?
We know that leadership is a common issue in CRM projects, and we know that there isn’t a very easy way to go about learning to lead a CRM project. If you think your CRM project is currently struggling or on the verge of failure, try our free Support Gap Analysis to help you assess where the holes in your CRM project are and how to fix them.
As always, you can also Contact Us with any questions.
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