The 9 big mistakes businesses make when implementing their CRM systems

Implementing your CRM in 4 easy steps:


Step 1: Define the use case for CRM in your business.

You should have a clear-cut idea of the issues that you and the team face in your existing sales processes before jumping into CRM. One of the most common mistakes businesses make is to buy a CRM before having a clearly defined set of functional requirements. Ask yourself and the team what areas of your sales or customer service need improvement. Collaborate with them in order to get their buy-in and input into the process. The functional specifications that you develop for your CRM should help you narrow the focus and be objective in the solution that you finally settle on (rather than being distracted by the marketing hype of the latest CRM fad). 


Step 2: Outline a budget.

Before you commence your search on a formal basis, you should be very clear on the overall budget. Many CRM platforms charge per seat (user) so it’s worth establishing how many people within the organisation will need access to the CRM system and calculating your budget based on this. CRM systems are also very good at up-selling premium versions and bolt-on features to their subscriptions which can quickly add up as a cost. To accurately calculate your monthly CRM budget:

  • Calculate the total number of monthly users you will need to have access to the CRM.
  • Define a comfortable budget that you are happy to pay per month per user. 
  • Multiply the number of users by the monthly cost per user (4 users x £40 a month each = £160 per month). 
  • Multiply this monthly cost by 12 months to outline your total annual CRM budget. In the above analogy, it is £1920. 

Be very clear and realistic about the size of your budget in order to ensure that you get the right solution for your team and business – and don’t forget that all-important set of functional specifications! 


Step 3: Find an appropriate CRM vendor.

Your next step should be finding a vendor to supply your CRM software. When choosing a CRM, you should measure if the CRM meets your functional specifications but there are other considerations such as:

  • How established is the vendor? 
  • Do they fit within the budget allocation?
  • Do they integrate without existing email systems?
  • Is it simple to upload our existing sales data?
  • Will we be able to collaborate effectively as a team on this CRM solution?
  • Is the solution accessible via mobile and desktop?
  • How accessible will customer support be?
  • How well reviewed are they online?

Step 4: Have a strategy for implementing your CRM.

After you have found your perfect CRM system, you can focus on developing your CRM implementation plan. This can be done quite quickly but there are a few best practice tips worth following here: 

  • Define roles and responsibilities of each CRM user and establish what needs to be done to ensure each user can fulfil these roles and responsibilities. 
  • Map your existing sales processes and translate this into a set of CRM scripts and a structured sales process that can be setup within the CRM system. 
  • Define how you want to measure sales performance and the metrics that matter most to your business. Based on this, you can build your custom reports and sales dashboards. 
  • Build a list of all technical tasks that need to be performed in order to successfully integrate your existing systems into the CRM platform in order to launch it. 
  • Bring all of the above points into a structured project plan and work methodically through each aspect of the project plan in order to successfully launch your CRM solution. 
  • Ensure that all users undergo extensive training prior to launch so they are confident and comfortable using the CRM system. This is the best way to avoid a failed implementation. 

Implementation cycle
Implementation cycle. Building your first CRM roadmap can be challenging, but as long as you follow the 8 steps laid out in this strategy snack you will have all the tools you need to perfectly plan and implement your CRM system. With a smooth implementation, you can reap the many benefits quickly and spend less time on costly mistakes.

9 common reasons why CRM implementations fail

Over 50% of CRM implementations are considered a failure, but why is that? Here are 6 reasons your CRM implementation might not work out and how to avoid them:

  1. A lack of strategy. For a successful CRM implementation, you need to ensure that the CRM system can align and help deliver on the goals and objectives of your business. CRM systems should improve productivity, help you focus on the best sales opportunities and improve overall visibility of sales performance. If it does not achieve this, then your CRM implementation is highly likely to be rejected by the team and fail.
  2. You’re using the wrong CRM solution. Picking the right CRM system is a careful balance between costs, business objectives and existing ways of working. If the CRM that you chose does not tick all these boxes, then there could be problems further down the line. To avoid this issue happening, it is recommended that you collaborate with your colleagues to develop the initial functional specifications of the CRM system that you choose to increase buy-in and adoption when it launches.
  3. Poor implementation. Your CRM system should always enhance and improve existing processes rather than adding additional admin to an already over-stretched team. Take your time over the implementation to get it right – if it is configured and deployed correctly from day 1, you are much more likely to avoid long term issues that often occur when rushing through the implementation stage. Avoid getting too bogged down by the multitude of complicated customisations and features initially – just set up the CRM system for the best possible user experience.
  4. A lack of user adoption. Another common mistake businesses make when implementing a customer relationship management system is overlooking the final user. With both executive decision makers and technical advisors, it is easy to forget the people who will actually be using the system on a day-to-day basis. Understanding the need for the software and implementing it in a way that your team can use effectively is the only way to resolve this.
  5. Constantly expanding CRM functionality. When implementing a CRM system, it is quote common for businesses to get distracted by the added extras and minutia of customisations which are available. Doing this elongates the CRM implementation process and can quickly add up costs in implementation fees. Remember to stay focused on the functional specifications and keep it simple to implement the CRM quickly, as per the business requirements. 
  6. Trying to implement everything at once. Many businesses want to rush forward and do everything as quickly as possible, but this often leads to mistakes and doesn’t give you enough time to adjust and test the new system. Take it slow and focus on one task at a time, beginning with the features that will benefit you the most. This tactic is a lot more likely to get your implementation done on time. 
  7. Not using an active load testing environment. To make sure that your system is running correctly, you need to do some tests however, only testing basic elements will not give you accurate results. Using an active load testing environment, you can simulate your users using the system so you can see is everything works as expected. Running tests like this will speed up the implementation process and give your business a solid foundation for growth. 
  8. Failing to retire your legacy systems. After implementing your new CRM, it is important that you and your teams stop using the old systems. Keeping legacy systems live will lead to confusion and result in sluggish adoption – nobody likes change!
  9. Not including a maintenance strategy. Your CRM will need maintenance if you want it to be fully optimised. By including preventative maintenance in your schedules, you can make sure that your CRM is taken care of, preventing problems, saving you money, and allowing you to take advantage of the CRM’s many features.

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