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CRM Journey
CRM Software Implementation Pitfalls

quote Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end.quote

- Denis Waitley

CRM Implementation Pitfalls

Every growing business today implements software, whether it is QuickBooks, Microsoft Office, SFA, or CRM. And far more do it wrong that do it right. Why? What are the pitfalls in a software implementation?

Implementing All Software Features at Once
Remember that financial software publisher? They were and are still leaders in their industry. Several years ago, they decided to implement a CRM solution. The leading financial accounting software publisher chose the leading CRM solution (at that time). The financial publisher had recently gone public and needed to toe the SEC forecast line. The company wanted to tie in channel members and its company sales force so forecasting would be more accurate. A more advantageous set up couldn’t be envisioned. Two seasoned software giants in the best in their respective fields. Guaranteed factors for success - the leading implementing the leading. Instead, the implementation was a colossal, multi-million dollar mistake, which ultimately resulted in the abandonment of the CRM software. The financial software publisher implemented to take advantage of all the features of the software. That makes sense. Makes you more productive – right? Not at all.
Microsoft describes an expert in Excel as someone who knows 7% of the features of the product. You probably know about 2%. Would knowing the other 98% make you more productive?

That’s where most implementations go wrong - they implement a software solution to take advantage of the full feature set of the software instead of focusing on the three or four areas that will make a salesperson’s job easier. Who utilizes the software daily anyway? You - the VP?
Do you know any successful salesperson who wants to spend time typing in sales information? The key there is successful. If they want to spend time in front of a laptop - you’ve fired them already. It took almost four times as long to enter information into the new system than the old –Excel spreadsheets. In the prior financial software company example, independently owned channel members represented the bulk of the software publisher’s sales and they refused to use it. Channel members were incorrectly not part of the implementation. Involve the users, and find the three or four features they love and implement around those.

Non-Adoption of the Software
Adoption of the software by the daily users is the key for the successful implementation of any software be it contact management, SFA or CRM. If the end user avoids the system, it’s not working. Measure adoption ruthlessly at least on a monthly basis. If it falls, find out why, and fix it.

Bad Data
You know the old cliché – garbage in, garbage out (GIGO). When you organize your source data whether it’s from Excel spreadsheets or an old UNIX system, ensure it’s pristine, the best of the best. Assume the source data will have problems such as duplication or erroneous data. Have options for discarding anything that may be erroneous and take care of it immediately.

Lack of Training and Support
Train, train, and re-train. Don’t take a train the trainer approach – it usually fails. Take out an interactive training and support contract with your vendor and measure usage and survey results regularly. If you notice a pattern to support calls, identify the problem area, and fix it. If someone’s not using the system, find out why before you consider disciplining the individual. The user is king here, not you, the VP.

Lack of an Executive Sponsor
Use the system yourself. If the VP can’t or won’t use it, why should anyone else in Sales, Service, or Marketing? You’re the executive sponsor, and if you don’t have the rest of the management team supporting you– go out and sell them on it or go home. The whole organization has to commit to it. And you are the VP of Sales … if you can’t sell them on it – who can?

Vague Objectives
That leading financial software publisher referred to earlier implemented CRM for many reasons, but the most significant was to forecast sales more accurately, because they had just become a public company. It is crucial to identify your objectives and prioritize them.

Inconsistent Business Processes
You can’t automate a process if it isn’t repeated and practiced by every individual taking part in the process. Identify your business processes, the ones that work, not the ones you’ve adopted over the years. Scrub those processes, eliminate, eliminate, eliminate, until you have what works. Then document them, train your people on them, and implement only those.

Unclear Metrics
It’s important to measure, but you must also know what to measure whether it’s software adoption rates by users, patterns in support calls, or increase in the frequency of campaign. Metrics are measures, which matter, and they provide critical information for executive decisions. Identify your metrics, test them, and constantly refine them.

Over Customization
If you can, implement the plain vanilla version of the software out of the box. Figure out the bare minimum of what absolutely has to be customized, and do only those. In other words, if you can’t do business unless the change is made, then and only then, is that change essential. Don’t plan a customization because you want the screen to look like the one on your prior system.

Letting IT decide which CRM Software Sales, Service, and Marketing Will Use
Shame on you. If the CRM software will be deployed in-house, then IT will play a part in the implementation, and could advise on general technology adoption and skill levels of the organization. The IT department will be concerned about several issues; hardware requirements, server requirements, other software requirements for the CRM software, and that the data repository for CRM can easily integrate with other organizational software. IT may even need to be involved in a hosted solution for these same reasons. However, technology requirements should not drive the Client Relationship Management software selection; Marketing, Sales, and Service should.

Not Listening to the Concerto
This pitfall applies specifically to a CRM implementation as opposed to an SFA or any other. Why? Because three departments have to work together, agree on cross-area best practices, and share information and, in some cases, responsibility. That can be akin to a Democrat controlled congress voting Republican. Good Luck.  More CRM Journey

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