CRM No Commitment – Means No Results

Your success, our commitment

Select a CRM Vendor Committed to Your Success

As an executive of a company servicing the Customer Relationship Management software sector, CRM has become a bit of an oxymoron for me.  I believe that building long term business relationships with your customers requires a commitment to providing quality products and great customer service.   This traditionally involves reaching out to your customers and engaging with them so that they realize the maximum value from your product.

But many small to mid-size companies and CRM vendors that service the SMB sector just don’t see it this way.  The vendors prefer that you just buy their product over the internet. If you need assistance send an e-mail and they will get back to you when it’s convenient for them. The buyers seem to feel comfortable with this and often hold the position that if I need assistance using your product, then it’s too hard so I’m not interested.  It’s almost as if they view CRM software as nothing more than a commodity.

Your CRM Success Needs Your Commitment

Interestingly enough industry reports have indicated that there is as much as a 70% failure rate among CRM implementations.  This is far worse than any other segment of the software industry.  Much of this occurs in the SMB space where companies never get off the ground and as a result discontinue the service.

You could place the blame on the CRM software providers for developing products that are too hard to use; or perhaps the management of the company that purchased the system for failing to properly match their business requirement with the vendor’s offering or assign a champion who’s in charge of the CRM system. I blame the management and here’s why.

The CRM sector is crowded and highly competitive, with several hundred solutions ranging in price from free to more than $200 dollars per user per month.  Most of the offerings targeted at the SME sector offer basic functionality and as such are very easy to use so this is not the problem.  Furthermore, they are designed to offer limited to no customization so that the customer can’t get themselves in too much trouble. This is because with price points of free to $15 per user per month the vendor cannot afford to hire the resources to provide customer service.  So when you see CRM products offered for free — no contract, or go month-to-month with no commitment, they mean it.

The real problem lies with the management of these small to mid-size businesses that have limited resources, are stretched thin and often do not understand that in order to improve how they market, sell and provide service to their customers they have to do more than download a cheap piece of software over the Internet.  This commodity mentality is what I believe has led to the high failure rate in the industry.  So how does this change?

Successfully Implementing Your CRM Solution

First, the management needs to agree that No Commitment – Means No Results.  The first task is to make a commitment to put someone in charge of the CRM process. A champion who will document the business challenges such as ‘we need to improve lead generation‘. Then focus on finding a CRM solution that will address these challenges and a CRM vendor who can provide advice, counsel or value added services that will ensure results.

CRM is a two way street and you need to feel comfortable that the vendor has the staff and experience to make a commitment to your success. As I stated earlier you won’t get this by putting your credit card over the internet. This does not mean you have to mortgage the business to find a quality product and company that can deliver both at an affordable price. There are several good ones and you may be surprised to find out that the difference between a low cost CRM product and a CRM solution provider offering the value added services you need may be less than you think.

About the Author:

Larry Caretsky is President of Commence Corporation, a leading provider of online CRM software for small to mid-size businesses.  Caretsky is considered an expert in the field and has written numerous white papers on the subject and the book, Practices That Pay – Leveraging Information to Achieve Selling Results.  All are available from the company’s web site at www.commence.com

Image by Piero Fissore on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

5 thoughts on “CRM No Commitment – Means No Results

  1. CRM No Commitment – Means No Results…a rebuttal.

    “You could place the blame on the CRM software providers for developing products that are too hard to use;”

    These are absolutely the ones to blame for the majority of CRM adoption failure cases, and for this exact reason. I would argue that, if CRM software were easy enough on its own, the level of effort required by these managers who, as you put it: “are stretched thin and often do not understand that in order to improve how they market, sell and provide service to their customers they have to do more than download…”

    Personally, I would give the managers a bit more credit. If they’re trying to implement a patched-together piece of software, it’s going to be tough.

    “a cheap piece of software”

    You said it yourself; those inexpensive solutions are cheap pieces of software and cheap by definition must mean worse in terms of design and usability. Quality CRM software comes from quality development and a thorough understanding of the space, needs, and workings. Great CRM software doesn’t just happen because you decide you want to make something with some links that can store contacts to make a couple bucks a month.

    “CRM is a two way street”

    We, as CRM creators need to take more responsibility for the CRM systems we create. We can’t keep blaming the user and providing endless hours of training because we goofed it up from the get-go.

    We need to commit ourselves to understand better the needs of our users, the market itself, and software and UI in general. We need better CRM for better user adoption.

    Brad Hodson
    Director of Marketing
    JobNimbus – http://www.jobnimbus.com

  2. Read the article and agree with the content. I manage a small business and we have had a very difficult time recruting experienced sales people and sales management. We purchased a contact management/basic CRM program because it was inexpensive and easy to use but realized very little value from it. I cannot blame the product because it has worked for others and we did check references. The problem is just what this gentleman indicated. We are a hand full of engineers with three sales people who now report to our controller. The sales people did not even want the CRM program, but we wanted to get a handle on sales activity and better reporting. We failed to put someone in charge of this CRM initiative assuming that the sales people would simply begin using it and find value in it. This just didn’t happen. The only good news is that we went with a monthly contract and were able to cancel it. We were simply not prepared for the time and effort required to make this basic CRM program work. I have not mentioned the vendor because our failure was not their doing. Good article – wish I had read it six months ago.

  3. Article is on point. My firm selected an online CRM solution with all the features and functions we thought we needed and now a year later we use about 50% of them. The bulk e-mail marketing we planned on doing never got off the ground because we do not have a formal marketing department and we thought the CRM system would just do it for us. We simply did not realize that we needed to invest a reasonable amount of time to plan and execute our marketing strategy and we still have not done it. Our fault not the CRM software. Our vendor does not offer support services in this area so unless you plan to use a third party bulk e-mail mailing program make sure the CRM soltuion provider can assist you if required.

  4. I think one of the problems here is that small to mid-size companies tend to purchase more functionality then they really need then simply don’t use it and as a result they don’t get the return on their investment they had hoped for. This does not mean that the software is poorly designed or to hard to use. I don’t agree that you cannot get some value out of a cheap or free software offering. Most of these cheap CRM systems are just bait to lure you in then charge you for added functionality but you can get some value from them.

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