Why Some CRM Projects Fail and How to Prevent it from Happening to You

Ranya Barakat

August 17, 2022
5 MIN READ

Few business projects and implementations have a failure rate like the CRM. Although the statistics vary, the failure rate is said to be between 20% and 70%. The truth lies closer to the former because you probably wouldn't start working on a project with a 70% chance of failure.

The reality is that a CRM is an essential part of any business. However, we continue to see hundreds of thousands of companies that do not know how to implement a successful strategy for this tool. Furthermore, several have tried to implement a CRM twice without much success. 

CRM failures

What is it that makes the remaining 30% of companies different? I’ll tell you now that they don't have more luck or a better business model. They don’t have software that isn’t also available to you. What makes 3 out of 10 companies successfully implement CRM projects is avoiding the mistakes listed below.

How to Define a CRM’s Success?

Before we start talking about how to avoid failure in your CRM implementation, we need a clear definition of what success in a CRM is and how you can identify if you are on the right track.

Firstly, it is a tool that must generate an ROI, that is, a return on investment. Regardless of whether you spend millions or use a starter version, it is important that you earn more than you invest (considering implementation and operation costs). This return is not the only metric that you should monitor. Others include:

  1. Conversion Rate - How many of your prospects become customers.
  2. Cross-Selling - How many current customers are consuming an additional product or service.
  3. Duration of the Sales Cycle - A shorter sales cycle is an indicator that your CRM campaigns are working correctly
  4. Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) - Knowing how much money each of your customers generates is key in measuring a CRM since increasing value over time is an effective way to make your project profitable. Remember that it is much cheaper to sell to an existing customer than to acquire a new one.
  5. NPS.- This will not make your CRM more profitable, but it is essential for your business to grow. A CRM is the ideal platform to implement customer satisfaction surveys and really take their feedback into account.

Common Errors 

Now, we can begin to cover which errors we see over and over again during  CRM implementation projects.

Lack of Strategy

There is no tool that can solve a single problem if there is no strategy for how the CRM will be implemented. Before you choose a platform, it is important to know where your company is headed and how this project fits into the equation. Thinking that the CRM you choose (no matter how powerful it is) is going to solve strategic problems will only be your downfall. Technology alone cannot fix or improve engagement with customers. 

The CRM you choose should align with the company’s strategic vision including general management, marketing, sales, and service.

Bad Choice of Software

There is a crucial difference between a bad product and a product that is not the right one for you. If you're going to run a marathon, walking shoes aren't ideal. The same happens with a CRM. One of the largest reasons why projects fail is at the origin of everything: the software. We, at CRM Toolbox, are big supporters of HubSpot, but this doesn't mean it's the only software that works. In fact, we know it isn't.

Whether due to complexity, tools needed, or costs, choosing the ideal CRM for your company is the first step to a successful implementation. 

There is no perfect software, they will all have some detail that you would like to improve, so waiting to find one that meets 100% of your needs should not be the way to go. We suggest finding one that can be best adapted to your processes.

Unclear Goals

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, knowing how you will measure the success of your CRM is the key to being able to perceive the success of a CRM. Although ROIs are something that everyone in the company should look for together, achieving the remaining goals may require you to convince your collaborators of the advantages of a good implementation.

Before migrating or starting with a new CRM, the first step is defining what problem you are looking to solve and what the role of the software is. These pain points can be short and long term, but they will be the guide to your success. 

Although a good CRM will help you align some processes and have a single source of true data in the company, you cannot satisfy all areas at the same time. CRMs today have features that range from marketing automation to billing and collection. Define what will be covered in each stage, what the specific objectives will be, and how they will impact each area of ​​the company.

The clearer and more specific your goals are, the easier it will be to understand if the project is successful or not.

Lack of Collaboration

One of the greatest pains for a company that seeks to use a new CRM is how collaborators don’t always commit fully. For a delicate system where the most important thing is how data is fed and maintained, not having everyone on board can prevent everything from running smoothly. 

In fact, this resistance to change may lead to collaborators feeling like the new CRM means more work without a tangible benefit.

To avoid situations like this, it’s best to involve the different areas in the configuration and implementation process. By making them part of the project from the beginning, they will have a greater sense of belonging and will perceive the project as their own, willing to commit to the platform completely.

Data, Data, Data...

A CRM is only as powerful as the data that feeds it, which is why unorganized and outdated data are one of the main reasons why your CRM implementation can outright fail. If you fill your car's gas tank with water, it will be full but it won't move. The same thing happens with a CRM.  Stripping it of data just because it is a very bad strategy and will only generate friction between users and customers alike.

When the data entered into the CRM is unreliable, employees begin to question the tool and use it less regularly, leading sales and marketing people to wasting time on tasks that will not be profitable. 

Whether it's incomplete data, duplicate information, or ambiguous records, you may start to lose the credibility of everyone in the company. As I mentioned before, this will snowball and no one will feel committed to adding the correct data to the system, amplifying the original problem.

One way to counteract this problem is to use automated data deduplication features, integrate forms and other touchpoints into your CRM, and create internal processes so everyone in the company plays by the same rules.

Processes That Don’t Flow

You likely already have a large number of established processes in your company, but it is also likely that many of these are focused on products or operations, and not focused on the end user. This is when variations begin to appear and the situation becomes complicated since it is difficult to align a CRM with processes and flows of this nature. Although it is not something that complicated to solve, it is important to analyze your processes before you start creating automations and flows within your CRM. The flows need to be focused on the customer experience and their process with your brand, rather than just a product or service.

Not Having a Project Leader

This is one of the most common mistakes, because many times the idea of a CRM change (or the introduction of one) comes from a department head or manager, but in practice there is no one assigned to get the project off the ground. Although all areas must be involved and participate during the implementation process, believing that everyone will do their part and expecting everything to fit perfectly is an illusion.

As you already know, each collaborator in your organization has a long list of responsibilities and pending tasks, so if some of them are assigned additional tasks to perfect the CRM implementation, it is likely to fail. It is ideal to have a person whose priority and main responsibility is the CRM. Don't believe that something so important for your company should be done in your team’s free time.

In addition, this project leader must be supported by the management, as this helps the rest of the team take this change more seriously.

Not Knowing When to Ask for Help

A CRM project is always a complex challenge and, on many occasions, it exceeds the capabilities of your team due to experience or technical knowledge. Sometimes, wanting to do everything locally can be the number one danger to success. Although external help  increases the initial costs of implementation, it will save you from losing time and an extreme learning curve. 

Having the advice of an expert company not only provides you with the essential technical knowledge to configure the tool, but also with a series of improvements that can only be obtained after several hours of experimenting and learning from different situations.

If you find yourself relating to the previous point and you don't know what to do about it, you can schedule a call with me and I will gladly talk about the challenges that your company faces and how a CRM can solve some of them.

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Ranya Barakat

Ranya is a serial entrepreneur with over 8 years of experience working on the HubSpot CRM. She loves pushing her sleeves up , and getting s*** done. When she is not running her HubSpot partner agency, you can find her upside down on her yoga mat.

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