4 Common Mistakes to Avoid in CRM Implementations

Getting a CRM implementation right isn’t always easy. It takes work and preparation to produce a successful CRM system. There are several common problems that make a new CRM system harder than it needs to be. Here are some of the things to avoid.

Too Much Data Entry

The people using your CRM system are sales and marketing folk and their managers. They are not data entry clerks. In fact one of the major reasons CRM systems don’t live up to their true potential is that the users won’t enter the data requested by the system.

While data is the lifeblood of CRM, it’s important that entering that data doesn’t become a burden. That means automating processes as much as possible and being selective about what information your system asks for.

Fortunately a great deal of the necessary data entry for CRM can be automated. Fields can be filled in automatically and copied in from other sources in the CRM system. Your goal should be that information is only entered into the system once and then copied as needed.

Needless to say, you need to be discriminating on what data you ask your users to enter. Some is obviously necessary, but it should be kept to a minimum. You have to decide if each piece of information needs to be recorded in the CRM system and if it can be done without user intervention.

Making Processes Too Complex

CRM is supposed to simplify everyone’s life, not complicate it. Systems that require too many steps are just as bad as ones that require too much data entry. Examine your CRM process and see where you can simplify it by eliminating or combining steps to make the work flow more smoothly.

The user should never have to go back to a preceding screen to complete a process. Everything should flow in a smooth, linear direction. The idea is to make things as easy as possible for the user.

The iron law of CRM is that systems that are too hard to use don’t get used. If the system requires too much from the users they simply won’t use them and your CRM system will be a failure.

Not Enough Training

Every CRM system requires training for users and managers. It’s important that the users get enough training to get comfortable with the system. This takes more than a couple of hours in the classroom – or even a couple days. An extensive well-thought-out training program is necessary to get everyone comfortable with the system.

Training should start well before your go-live date and extend after the system goes into operation. It should be backed up by cheat sheets, manuals and mentoring to make sure everyone understands how to use the new CRM system.

The training should include a thorough explanation of the benefits of the system to the users and why they should buy into it.

Training is often a source of trouble because companies don’t do enough of it. Make sure you have a comprehensive training system in place when you embark on a CRM system.

Lack of Leadership

A successful CRM implementation requires leadership from the top. The top managers have to be committed to the program and users have to understand that the system is not optional and there will be consequences if it is not used.

This isn’t a one-time deal. Users have to see the people at the top of the organization constantly pushing the implementation. Leadership is one of the most important components of a successful CRM implementation and a lack of leadership is a common root cause of failure.