100% of CRM Software Implementations Fail

That’s what you’d have to think if you listened to many business owners and managers.  100% of CRM Software implementations fail.  Salespeople won’t use the software. Support staff won’t use the software.  It never works right.  It’s too slow.  It’s extra work.  You can’t get reports out of the system.  It’s a waste of money.  And, on and on….

But it’s just not true.

What is true is that 100% of CRM Software implementations fail if management isn’t committed to implementing the software and if you don’t have a plan for success.   If you haven’t defined success, how do you know if your software implementation is successful?

Here are some examples of specifically defining success as it relates to CRM Software:

  • We want our weekly pipeline report to be automatically generated every Monday morning (instead of relying on the manual updating of spreadsheets).
  • We want our managers to be able to see all deals that all our salespeople are working on at any time, real time.
  • Our salespeople need to have real time access to customer sales history at their fingertips.
  • Sales quote formats need to be consistent, and we need to be able to generate a log at any time of all quotes and their status.
  • We need our salespeople to be able to enter sales orders in the field without access to our ERP Software.
  • I want to be able to see the results of all our marketing campaigns real time.
  • I want a central location to store all of our prospect data so if a salesperson leaves, the company has access to the information.
  • We need to be able to look at a customer and have a 360 degree view of everything about that customer, their demographics, contacts, sales, credit status, phone calls, meetings, etc.

There are an unlimited number of examples just like this.   You can define success as broadly or narrowly as you like, but you have to define it.  And, if you’re in management, you have to be committed to the software.  If your team who’s supposed to be using the software senses any ambivalence, they will definitely push back.   What does commitment mean?  Either the implementation of consequences for not using the software or implementing procedures that forces use of the software.  Regardless of how well you define success, you will fail 100% of the time if you don’t have consequences or these procedures.

CRM Software is not like accounting, ERP, or other types of software.  No accountant will presume to do accounting without accounting software.  No warehouse guy will presume to ship product without ERP software to print shipping documents.  No web manager would expect to sell product on their website without some kind of shopping cart software.   And yet, some salespeople and sales managers still expect to sell without CRM Software?

Management needs to treat CRM Software like these other types of software.  “Of course we use CRM Software, ” should be the attitude.  “Why wouldn’t we?”

Saying you can’t get your people to use CRM Software is not a failure of the software.  It’s a failure of management.  It’s management’s responsibility to define success for the software, expect use of the software, implement a plan for usage, and consequences for not using the software.   Just like any other part of the business.

If management doesn’t take this approach, there’s little doubt that the software will fail.  And, we’ll continue to hear the same old stories in elevators, cocktail parties, business networking events, and our kids’ soccer games.  “CRM Software doesn’t work.”

Don’t let this happen to you.   Do what I do when I hear someone say this – I smack them in the head, look at them sideways, and say “Really?  Aren’t we past this yet?  That’s the best you got?”