Any Legs Left in CRM Software?
By Larry Caretsky
It’s been well over a decade since the term Customer Relationship Management software started to appear in industry journals. Positioned as the software that would significantly impact the performance of your business, companies raced to learn more with many jumping on board without really knowing what the software would actually do for their business or what level of commitment was required to implement it and get the staff to utilize it. These companies were desperately seeking a way to increase leads, better manage the sales organization and close more business and they believed CRM was the answer.
Software manufacturers saw CRM as the next California Gold Rush and hundreds entered the market all claiming to do more than their competitors and at a lower cost. Today, as we look back on the CRM industry, we learn that in the small to midsize business sector (SMB) as many as 73% of all CRM installations fail to get properly implemented or fully utilized. A recent survey by an industry journal surveyed many companies and asked executives what they thought the major challenges are with CRM software. They responded as follows:
- Too time consuming to enter/update data
- Hard to configure and set up
- Too hard to learn and use
- Vendors don’t provide enough support
As a CEO of a CRM Software provider I do not agree with these statements and I have heard them on more than one occasion, but they all share one thing in common and that is the need to engage people before, during and after the implementation of the software. You see CRM does not run a business; people do. You cannot simply plug your CRM software in the wall like an appliance and expect to improve business performance. This takes a dedicated team of sales, marketing and customer service professionals that are committed to the implementation, configuration of the system and training the staff how to use it. Many businesses today looking for a CRM solution spend too much time evaluating which vendor offers the most features for the best price. It’s a flawed process for several reasons one of which is that regardless of which vendor you select there is a good chance you will only utilize a small percentage of the product’s functionality anyway. The key component here is the people not the software.
I believe CRM can deliver substantial value to a business, but to be successful you need to understand the resource requirements necessary for the proper implementation and on-boarding of the system. You need to assign ownership of the entire process and hold people accountable for the successful implementation and use of the software. Then and only then will you realize the full value of the software.