By : Jennifer Karpus-Romain | January 16, 2020 | 6 min read

Don’t Crash and Burn: How to Fix Your Failing CRM Project

failing CRM project

Launching a new customer relationship management (CRM) solution is a major undertaking for any business. The new CRM often requires the complete overhaul of dozens of established company workflows.

This process also comes with some very real risks, including the potential failure of the new CRM. But just because a CRM project isn’t immediately working out as planned doesn’t mean it’s actually destined to crash and burn. Fixing the problem may be easier—and more affordable—than you realize.

Here are seven practical tips for getting your failing CRM back on track.

  1. Struggling with low user-adoption rates? Attack the problem from both sides.

For CRM projects, the leading cause of a failing CRM is a lack of user adoption. It’s easy to see this situation as something akin to a workplace revolt—with the employees refusing to use an objectively better system out of sheer resistance to change. That’s not actually what’s happening, of course.

The more likely situation is that the CRM is needlessly hard to use. It may even be broken, at least from their perspective.

Before you abandon the CRM project, consider an additional round of testing and revisions on your user experience (UX). It’s essential for you to include real users in the UX testing, as it will allow them to point out the CRM’s workflow issues and other frustrations. It’s also worth investing in additional CRM training for your staff, particularly if earlier training sessions were rushed as the CRM was being rolled out.

  1. Unhappy with your FAILING CRM software? Try turning off features you don’t need.

Many CRM platforms come bundled with hundreds of features, modules, and plugins that most companies may not need. Generally, the smart approach is to turn these features off during the design phase, which whittles the CRM down to its essentials. But that doesn’t always happen.

It’s common for advanced-but-unnecessary features to sneak their way into the finished CRM. It starts with a few “nice to have” features being activated. And before long, everyone is asking for a neat-but-inessential thing to be tacked on.

This well-known phenomenon is called “scope creep,” and it happens all the time in CRM projects. To get things back on track, trim away everything in your CRM except the essentials. If you decide that a specific feature really is needed, you can always add it back in later.

  1. Getting bad results? Consider cleaning up your data.

Even the best CRM is only as good as the data that goes into it. If your CRM isn’t delivering the right results, the CRM software probably isn’t to blame. Instead, your CRM’s data might be incomplete, incompatible, or corrupt. This problem is more significant than you may realize, because your sales team and other employees need to trust the data in the CRM to be able to do their jobs effectively.

Ideally, every CRM implementation would start with data that’s up-to-date, perfectly formatted, and completely accurate. But these goals aren’t always attainable. Instead, you may need to invest in some additional “data hygiene” and train your employees in ways to identify and fix bad CRM data when they encounter it.

  1. Executive enthusiasm for the CRM waning? Find a CRM Champion.

Even modestly successful CRM projects “die on the vine,” due to neglect from C-suite decision-makers. Executives may support the CRM in concept, and even like the reports it generates. But actually using it isn’t part of their daily work experience. If the CRM isn’t working for some reason, their initial reaction may be to stop “wasting” money trying to improve it.

To avoid this outcome, at least one person at the executive level needs to fully appreciate what the CRM does for the business. This practice will allow this person to explain why the CRM is important and worthy of additional resources, in terms the other company leaders can understand. While this role often tends to fall to the CTO, CIO, or CMO, anyone at the executive level with a basic level of technical and sales knowledge can become a great CRM Champion.

  1. Not seeing the efficiency gains you expected from your CRM? Look for disconnects in your workflow.

One of the biggest benefits of a CRM solution is having the ability to bring multiple business systems into a single, unified platform. Not only does the CRM manage all your customer data, it also provides tools for emailing, scheduling meetings, tracking sales, sharing files, and doing other day-to-day business activities. This management should result in a more efficient working experience for everyone who uses the CRM, but these results don’t always pan out.

If your CRM isn’t improving overall efficiency, there’s probably a disconnect somewhere in the system. Perhaps there’s a bottleneck in the way your company handles contracts. A surprising number of companies still insist on printed documents—and even faxes—as part of their contract workflows. If your sales reps in the field still lug around briefcases full of printed documents (rather than a tablet that can be digitally signed), you have a major workflow disconnect.

These problems can occur anywhere in the system, and almost all of them can be solved by rethinking the workflow.

  1. Worried that your new CRM is at risk of becoming obsolete? Treat it as an ongoing project.

We’re in something of a golden age of business technology, and game-changing innovations are happening all the time. Even if your CRM was a top-of-the-line product when you rolled it out a few years ago, it’s not hard to get the impression that it’s practically an antique, compared to a brand-new CRM.

Yet, you might not have a failing CRM. Before you go through the headache and expense of starting a new CRM initiative, consider updating the system you already have. Most UI and UX updates are essentially cosmetic changes, which allow them to be updated for a much lower cost than you might initially expect. Adding new features (such as social media support) is also easy, as they’re typically just additional CRM modules.

Better yet, why not build this kind of ongoing development and support into your contract with your CRM implementation partner? This tactic is an inexpensive way to ensure that your CRM will never become a digital dinosaur.

  1. Experiencing lackluster CRM support? It may be time to find a new CRM partner.

One of the strangest things that can happen after an otherwise successful CRM launch is that your once-dedicated implementation partner suddenly becomes much less easy to get in touch with. It’s not that they don’t get back to you. Eventually, they’ll respond. But it’s hard not to get the impression that they’ve moved on to other projects. That’s because they have.

For most CRM implementation companies, providing great ongoing support isn’t a core part of their business. They build and launch CRMs, with long-term support being more of an afterthought. If a client needs to update part of their CRM workflow or add a new module, it just isn’t a high priority for them.

Why should you stay with a CRM partner who isn’t holding up his or her end of the bargain? Kick that person to the curb and find a CRM partner that cares about providing a quality service for a fair price.

Don’t succumb to a failing CRM. To learn more about ways your business can thrive with the right CRM solution, contact Faye for a free consultation.

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