We are often asked to rescue CRM systems that are no longer working for the business. Whilst the reasons presented are wide ranging, they normally break down into 4 main areas:

  • The users don’t use the system effectively
  • The users want to use the CRM system, but the technology is failing them
  • The original driving force for the project has moved on
  • The CRM system does not deliver the functionality required.

If you are unsure whether your CRM is staring to suffer from any of these issues, there are some common tell-tale signs:

  • Frequent requests to export data to Excel for analysis or mail-merging
  • Users maintaining their own spreadsheets of information, creating 'silos' of data which could be lost if that employee leaves the business.
  • Reverting to Outlook or (even worse) handwritten diaries to keep track of appointments and other tasks.
  • Lots of Post-It notes or scraps of paper with reminders on people's desks
  • Incomplete data when running reports.
  • No clear visibility of sales team activity.

Any one of these is a sign that the CRM is not working for the business. This creates additional work, resulting in inefficiencies that erode the benefit of having a CRM. When addressing these challenges we take a structured consultative approach evaluating the system against the following core functions whilst being guided by the need to demonstrate a return on any investment.

  • Process: Does the way that the CRM is configured support or hinder the task? Are process efficiency tools such as automation being used to reduce administration tasks?
  • Physical: Does the CRM system have the features and functions to be configured or support developments that will meet the business needs?
  • Technical: Does the technical architecture suit the method of working? Does it run at a reasonable speed? Can users access what they need remotely?
  • Cultural: Does the CRM have senior management support? Have users simply lost faith that CRM is no more than a barrier to efficient working?

For a company that has lived with a failing CRM for a while, getting the system back on track can seem like a daunting task. There is often the instinct to throw it out and start again. However, this should only be done as a last resort after carrying out a thorough business analysis. In many cases it is not the CRM software that is at fault. Unless a full requirements exercise is completed and the system is installed by people who know what they are doing, there is a real danger that the new system will go the same way as the old.

The key is not to do this analysis in-house, as you will already be starting with the preconceptions that led to the CRM problems in the first place. Use an external consultant with knowledge of the installed CRM. A fresh pair of eyes will quickly see where the issues are and will be able to address any cultural issues much more easily than in-house staff. More often than not, big gains can be made for small changes in the system and at much less cost than anticipated; certainly less than it will cost to start again.