Software Provider Addresses Failure of CRM Implementations

The struggle with Do-It-Yourself CRM Software
It’s time to face the music. CRM implementations in small businesses are failing at record numbers. Industry reports that as many as 73% of all CRM systems fail to get properly implemented or used in the small to mid-size business community. This is a clear indication that there is a significant problem, but not because the software is too hard to use or because these companies selected the wrong CRM product. It is more fundamental than that.

Many small to mid-size companies today are resource constrained and struggling to grow their businesses. The reason they chose to implement CRM software was to become a more efficient sales and service organization by automating those business processes that require a lot of human interaction and time. Unfortunately, based on industry data the majority of these businesses have not realized the results they had expected.

I recently interviewed a dozen executives of small businesses who discontinued their use of the CRM software they purchased. Several had selected popular products such as, Zoho, and Commence CRM (my firm’s product) while some chose more basic solutions. Regardless of the product they chose, all indicated that they were unable to make the CRM software an integral part of how they manage customer relationships. Here is what they told me.

The majority indicated that they simply did not realize the amount of time and energy required to manage the internal change required for the proper implementation, training, and use of the software. In addition, they did not have anyone to supervise and manage the process and it was not something they could take on themselves. Interestingly enough, no one blamed the CRM software or the software provider.

Matt Coffy, CEO of CustomerBloom (a provider of Search Engine Optimization services) said, “I am an active CEO always engaged with customers and I just could not find the time to get my arms around the changes we needed to make to automate our internal processes. We had a few meetings to discuss it, but never made a final decision. We stopped using CRM software and then went back to business as usual.”

Another small business VP stated, “We are a small, fairly unstructured group who wanted to do a better job managing the sales process; but our sales team is always traveling and I underestimated what was required to get them trained and on board. We stopped using the CRM.”

Other executives reported the following:

  • I did not have a senior person to take control of the CRM system
  • I had trouble getting people to enter data in the system
  • I needed to mine our data and create specific reports. No one knew how to generate them.

Understanding the challenges that small business executives face and the failure rate reported by industry analysts, you have to ask yourself is CRM software right for small business. Larry Caretsky, CEO of Commence Corporation thinks it is and is betting that the company’s newly released Customer Engagement Program will provide extensive benefits for small businesses that require assistance before, during, and after the sale.

“The key is getting management to appreciate that CRM software is not simply an appliance that you plug in the wall. It requires internal change management and experienced people who can ensure that the system gets implemented, workflow processes get automated, and the system gets properly used.”

Scott Garber, General Manager at T&D Materials Manufacturing, purchased Commence CRM with no onboarding, training, or support. “We were convinced we could do it all ourselves, but we really struggled” said Garber. “We called Commence for assistance and hired their customer engagement team. They were outstanding. Within a few weeks, the whole thing turned around. Our internal processes were automated and we began to experience the value you can get from the software if done right.”

Commence is now marketing this program directly to small businesses whereby the companies that select Commence CRM can hire the Customer Engagement Team to implement, train, and manage the CRM system.  The company is confident that small businesses would rather pay for highly experienced people that can bring value to the business than simply paying for a software package that fails to get implemented or used. “It’s not about the software in the SMB community,” says Caretsky, looking at the failure rate. “It’s about complementing the software with experienced sales, marketing, and customer service professionals that these smaller businesses need access to in order to improve how they market, sell, and provide service to their customers.”

To learn more about Commence CRM visit the company web site at

All in One CRM is the Way to Go

There is a new catch phrase in the CRM software industry and it’s called “All in One CRM”. It’s a clever term that does a very good job at differentiating the myriad of CRM solutions that are available today. While most CRM solutions provide you with the ability to manage accounts and contacts, capture notes, and produce a sales forecast, All in One CRM systems offer fully integrated departmental solutions for managing leads, documents, marketing, and customer service. A few of the mainstream CRM solutions like Commence CRM even offer an integrated Project Management application.

Simply stated, All in One CRM solutions offer more functionality than those designed for a specific purpose like contact management or sales opportunity management.

Popular CRM review sites such as have created two separate vendor quadrants to help customers with their selection process. There is a quadrant for general-purpose CRM solutions and one for All in One solutions. You will notice there are far fewer vendors in the All in One category.

All in One CRM Quadrant and General Purpose CRM Quadrant |

The benefits of going with an All in One CRM Solution are numerous assuming you need more functionality and flexibility than what the basic solutions offer.

Comprehensive Solutions

First, you will not have to worry about outgrowing an All in One CRM system because these products are robust and offer comprehensive functionality.

More Customization

All in One CRM systems are also much more customizable than general purpose ones which means they can more easily adapt to changes in business requirements.

Personalized Service

All in One CRM solution providers traditionally offer a variety of services simply not available from general purpose suppliers such as on-boarding and training to assist with third party system integration.

Flexible and Modular

The majority of All in One systems also offer a variety of packages or product editions so you can start small and grow into the other applications at a later time. This is quite appealing to businesses that are anticipating growth, but are not ready to implement the full suite of applications offered by these products.

I think we will see more organizations using All in One CRM as a classification to differentiate CRM product offerings. It’s a simple, but effective way to categorize CRM software.


Question and Answer #55 – My sales are down. What can I do?

This is a Sales Question and Answer article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.

Q. Every one of my customers is buying less this year than last year. My sales are down. What can I do?

A. You really have two choices. The first, which, unfortunately, is the solution to which most companies and sales people currently subscribe is this: Do nothing differently, complain a lot, and hope that things change. Maybe the government will fix everything.

The second, which is my recommendation, is this: Move outside of your comfort zones, become a whole lot more strategic, thoughtful, and better at what you do, and do some things differently.

Begin by analyzing your market to identify where your opportunity lies. Unless you have 80 – 90 percent of the total market in your area, you have opportunity.

Typically, you’ll find that there is market opportunity within your current customers, as well as opportunity in prospects who do not currently buy from you. Collect information about both groups so that you can make good decisions about where your time is best invested. Then, prioritize those prospects and customers based on their potential. Visit for lots of resources to help you do this.

Then, strategically develop plans to gain more market share from each of these two sources.

Proactively create the agenda for the conversations between you and your customers. For example, if one of your customers is buying half of their purchases from you and half from someone else, identify specifically what they are buying from your competition, and develop plans to gain that business. Ask yourself, “What would it take for them to buy it from me?”

Don’t settle for the simple answer “lower price.” Think more deeply, uncover deeper motivations in the customer and answer that question, product by product, category by category, for everything they are buying from someone else. Here’s a great question to ask, “What has to change for us to do more business here?”

Listen to their answer, and respond appropriately. Put together specific, persuasive offers to each customer and methodically present them to each customer. Show them, specifically, why they should do more business with you.

You are not done yet. Understand the fundamental sales equation: Relationships = opportunities = projects = money. In other words, the quantity and quality of your relationships equals the quantity and quality of your opportunities, and those opportunities develop into projects (purchasing cycles) and those projects turn into sales.

Dave Kahle's fundamental sales equation

If you want to sell more, you must develop more and bigger projects, which develop from more and bigger opportunities, which emerge from more and higher quality relationships.

If your sales are down, either you aren’t very competent, (in other words, you are not very good at turning relationships into money) or you need to increase the quantity and quality of your relationships.

Work on two parallel paths: If all the key decision makers and influencers in your current accounts don’t know you, then work hard to create those relationships. At the same time, look outside your group of current customers, and create relationships with prospects. In other words, work diligently, methodically and systematically at creating new relationships and thereby, new customers.

I realize that for a percentage of sales people, this sounds pretty basic. If that’s the case with you, there is power in refocusing your efforts on these fundamentals and work at doing each of them better. For you, the issue isn’t doing things differently, it is doing them better.

There is another group of sales people for whom all of this sounds too different and too far outside of your comfort zones and skill set. This is not how you are accustomed to doing your job. Remember where we started, “Move outside of your comfort zones, become a whole lot more strategic, thoughtful and better at what you do, and do some things differently.” If this is new and uncomfortable for you, then the next year or so will be one of the most challenging of your life. You’ll need to diligently work at developing these practices.

The world is full of people who will tell you that success in this environment is a matter of “secrets” or simplistic solutions. I wish that were the case. Unfortunately, sales success is the result of years of hard work, constant improvement, and thoughtful and diligent efforts. If you are serious about wanting to change your circumstances, you’ll need to begin to change yourself.

Copyright MMX by Dave Kahle

All Rights Reserved

About the author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written twelve books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations.

Sales Enablement is Key for Improving Sales Execution

Every business needs more sales and wants to improve sales execution. Achieving this requires a commitment to first define your sales process, automate it, then manage each phase of the sales cycle. This is one of the core features of CRM software, but CRM tools by themselves are not the answer to improving sales execution. The tools need to be complemented by strong sales management and a sales team that appreciates having a structured sales process in place. This will result in quicker sales cycles and closing more business.

Step 1 – Lead Qualification

First, the sales organization needs to define what a highly qualified prospect looks like for their business. Start by simply asking a few questions such as:

  1. What customers do we serve better than anyone else?
  2. What are these customers’ competing alternatives?
  3. How can we efficiently convert prospects into new customers?

Incorporating these questions into your CRM will automatically qualify each new opportunity based on a set of predefined criteria or questions as illustrated below. In flexible CRM solutions, these questions can be customized for your business.


Based on how each sales representative answers the questions, the system will then rank and color-code each lead. [Red for hot or highly qualified; yellow for warm – there is an interest but more work to be done; and blue for cold or just starting out.]

This automated business process ensures that each sales representative is laser focused on the most promising opportunities based on the company’s qualification criteria and not their gut instinct, saving your business valuable time and money.

Step 2 – Sales Cycle Management

The next phase of sales enablement is to define the steps in your sales process. The screen below highlights a sample of the sales stages for each new business opportunity.


The ability to monitor deal flow will provide your organization with substantial value. Sales managers can monitor where each new business opportunity is in the sales cycle, determine if it is stalled or moving through the process as expected, and assign the proper resources to help win the business at the right time.

Step 3 – Sales Reports

Using a CRM for forecasting will help optimize your selling process by improving the timeliness and accuracy of your monthly and quarterly sales forecast.


The CRM system organizes each forecast based on the sales stages you have entered within the system. In addition, you can review each opportunity in your sales funnel and drill into both pending and completed activities to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

The pathway to your success in improving sales execution will be based on:

  • the commitment of your management and sales team to devote the time and resources necessary to define your sales processes
  • adopting a CRM software application that will enable you to automate and optimize your sales process
  • and taking advantage of best practices your solution provider can offer to ensure the proper implementation and use of their software

To learn more about how you can maximize sales enablement and optimize your sales process contact Commence CRM sales at 732-380-9100.