Selecting a CRM solution can be a daunting exercise. According to industry reports there are several hundred vendors that provide some component of Customer Relationship Management software. In addition, the price points and list of features available couldn’t be more confusing for the consumer and when people are confused they tend to make their decision based primarily on one criterion, price.
I think people have grown tired of the term CRM and often look at CRM software packages as nothing more than a commodity. Perhaps this is why price has become such an important decision criteria. Heck, if they are all the same, why not buy the least expensive offering. This makes perfect sense. But making decisions based solely on price is significantly impacting the CRM sector.
Industry analysts continue to document that more than 70% of CRM systems fail to get properly implemented or utilized. This concern was once blamed on systems that were simply too hard to implement and too hard to use. The Internet and the introduction of web based CRM software was supposed to change all of that, but it hasn’t. The rate of failed implementations continues to be one of the highest in the software industry. So why does this continue to be such a problem with CRM software? Let’s dig a little deeper and find out why.
Customer Relationship Management software is designed to help you organize customer data, build brand recognition, impact sales execution and improve the customers’ buying experience, but CRM software is not a toy or something you purchase over the Internet with your credit card. Yet many small to mid-size companies believe it is and accept the promise of more leads, increased sales and improved customer service for just a few dollars a month. There is no implementation fee because the program is web based and no need for training because the product is so easy to use. And don’t worry about your data we even manage and maintain it for the same low price.
The whole story can be quite convincing, but it’s just not true and has led to frustration and failed expectations.
The successful implementation and utilization of CRM software requires a level of expertise that small to mid-size businesses often do not have. Those that recognize this engage the services of the CRM vendor or an experienced third party for assistance and the results are encouraging. But not all CRM providers offer this level of service. The low cost providers do not have experienced sales, marketing or customer service people on their staff to assist you with the implementation or the proper utilization of their software. Customer service consists of nothing more than sending in an e-mail with your inquiry and hoping for a quality and timely response. Is this the partnership you’re looking for? This however is exactly what separates a quality CRM provider from the others and may very well determine the level of success or failure your business will realize with Customer Relationship Management software.
So when I say is price killing the CRM industry, this is what I mean. The CRM sector is one of the most competitive in the software industry with hundreds of offerings and vendors that will do anything to earn your business, but it an industry chock full of promises and short on deliverables. While I stated earlier that more than 70% percent of CRM solutions fail to get properly implemented or utilized, industry reports also point out that more than 20% of companies that selected CRM software did not renew their annual contract. I suspect this is because they failed to realize a return on their investment.
Don’t fall into the trap of selecting a CRM solution based solely on price. If you fully expect to improve how you market, sell and provide service to your customers you need to invest in a quality solution and a quality business partner. If you don’t, chances are you’ll become part of the statistic for failed implementations. For more information about selecting the right CRM solution see my white paper, “Don’t Make a CRM Buying Mistake” at www.commence.com.
About the author: Larry Caretsky is the president of Commence Corporation, a leading provider of CRM software for small and mid-size businesses. Caretsky is considered an expert in Customer Relationship Management and has written numerous white papers on the subject. They may be accessed via the company’s web site at commence.com.
Image by Luc Galoppin on Flickr under Creative Commons license.