Why Even the Best CRM Software Can Fail (and What You Can Do About It)

Date: Nov 28, 2014 8:33:00 AM


You've done your research. You've taken several products for test drives. You've debated internally. And then, FINALLY, you made the leap, believing you found 
the best CRM software for your small business.

And, then? Well, things didn't work out exactly as you had hoped. (Sigh.) Suddenly, you find yourself with a software system gathering virtual dust and you're thinking about getting rid of it and forgetting this crazy CRM thing altogether.

WAIT! Before you throw in the towel completely, we want to share six reasons why even the best CRM software can fail...and how you can turn it around.

1. Poor record keeping.

Here's the thing about even the best CRM software: it still needs the human touch. CRMs are the hammers and humans are the builders. The hammer won't work by itself, but when a human gets involved, the two can build something together.  

The same is true with a CRM. It's a tool, and a powerful one at that. But people still need to do their parts. On the most basic level, this means keeping good records in the contact database by providing thorough and complete information.

How to turn this around: Properly managing contacts can take some getting used to, especially if your people have been using other methods, like the "sticky note" or the "I have it all in my head" method.

Help your employees get used to the CRM by reminding them to use it regularly and even going so far as scheduling time in their calendars for CRM work, just until using it becomes second nature. For example, if you typically have a 10am sales meeting every Tuesday, tell people to double check and update their CRM entries from 9-10 because you expect to see a clear picture of what's going on when you log into the CRM during the meeting.

You could even use reward systems in the beginning. During the first month or two, give the best "record keepers" some recognition and maybe a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant.  

Over time, and with this regular encouragement, people will get used to recording all the necessary info. How long will it take for this habit to kick in? Be patient. According to science, as discussed in this HuffPo article, "On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic—66 days to be exact."

2. Relying on default settings.

If you accept your CRM's default settings, you'll certainly be able to use it, but you and your organization won't be able to experience its full capabilities.

See, every business is a little different. Your sales funnel, your sales process, your customer communication methods, your corporate culture—taken together, all of these things should influence how you set up and use your CRM.

How to turn this around: Take advantage of whatever customization your CRM offers. Customize fields to match the language and lingo of your sales process. Customization will help your employees embrace the CRM faster, because it will be using terms they're familiar with.

3. Only doing one thing.

Yes, the contact database is one of the CRM's core features, but if you've opted for a quality CRM, we guarantee it's not the only core function. Your CRM likely has all sorts of features that will help make your life easier, if only you and your colleagues took advantage of them.

How to turn this around: Don't wait for people to "stumble" on features. Instead, be proactive and show them the features you're most excited about and that you think will be most beneficial to the team. Do this through an actual demonstration, like a webinar.

If you're not feeling comfortable enough to demo the features on your own (since you're probably still learning all the ins and outs yourself), then reach out to the CRM company. Your CRM sales rep will probably be more than happy to show you and your team all the magical things the software can do, because by keeping you happy, he or she can count on your continued business.

4. Expecting people to do too many things at once.

Hey, you're excited about everything your shiny new CRM can do. We get it. But just because your CRM might be able to do the laundry and give the office pooch a bath doesn't mean you should do both things right after you introduce the CRM to your team. OK, that was a funny (and extreme) example, but you get where we're coming from. Having people use ALL the features straight away is just as bad as focusing on only one feature. Moderation is the key.

How to turn this around: Introduce features over time. After everyone has gotten in the habit of dutifully recording their info (see point #1), make sure people are aware of the other top features your CRM provides. Notice we say "top" features, not "all" features.

Focus on getting people up to speed on the things that will truly help them be more productive. From there, you can certainly highlight other cool features. In fact, sharing an occasional email that says, "Did you know the CRM can bathe the office pooch? Here's how" is just the right pace and approach to get someone to truly absorb whatever it is you're trying to teach them.

5. Entering info and then forgetting about it.

OK, so maybe you have great worker bees who do as they're told and they diligently enter the info you want. What happens next? Your CRM records are dynamic, meaning you and your team should be reviewing them, updating them, and looping other people into them as necessary. In other words, you and your employees should work with the data.

How to turn this around: Tell people you expect them to update records. Encourage managers to review their team's records on a regular basis and highlight interesting things: a question that deserves an answer, a particularly tough prospect who a rep successfully closed, a team approach to working with a customer that was especially successful.

During sales meetings, call up the CRM on laptops, shared screens, etc. and take advantage of the 360-degree view that the best CRM software offers. By demonstrating how people should be engaging with the data, you'll teach by example (which is the best way to go about it).

6. Not hearing what your people are saying.

Yes, managing change is a thankless task and it's easy to dismiss people's complaints as part of the "change process." But it's quite possible that some of your people's complaints are not really complaints at all. They might be legitimate requests for help or further information.

How to turn this around: Listen to them. Hear them. If you start hearing the same question or lamentation repeatedly, look into it and figure out a solution. If you don't have the answer, reach out to your CRM sales rep and ask for assistance. If your CRM provider has a help section or forum on their website, make sure your team members are aware of it. For example, in Fanhub, we have a "support" button that brings people to all the support documentation for the entire system, including definitions, how-to guides, and screen shots. 

Bottom line:

Researching, choosing, and installing your new CRM software is not the end of the journey. It's just the end of the beginning. :) Make sure the rest of the journey to sales nirvana goes smoothly by following our advice above.

Start your free Fanhub trial now.

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