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 Salesforce.com, 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 commence.com.