Since modern-day CRM solutions entered the marketplace more than a decade ago, sales of these systems have ramped at a steady increase with staggering projections to continue.  (But you don’t have to take my word for it. This article provides a solid round-up of past numbers, projections, and specific software breakdowns.) And yet, many CRM implementations continue to fail.

CRM10Failure, at its core, can take on many forms. When it comes to CRM, failure can mean a low adoption rate, un-integrated platforms that lack a single view to customer/partner/prospect data, or a costly investment with no return. Many assume that as technology has evolved, failures have decreased. The C5 Insight team set out to find out the truth about CRM failure. Is it on the decline, or are we kidding ourselves in thinking it possibly could be?

Enter: CPR for CRM, a research study that dives deep into the elusive path to profitable relationship management.  The bad news? Reported failure rates remain as high as 60% across a range of definitions and studies. The good? Today’s technology is practically screaming “it’s not me, it’s you,” fueling my own long-thought hypothesis that CRM failure has little to do with any given platform and relies heavily instead on factors such as training, practical adoption measures, key stakeholder buy-in, platform integration, and partner support. And appreciating the problem can lead us to the solution, right?    

The purpose of this blog is to provide a high level summary of these research findings. By downloading the full white paper, you’ll get a comprehensive look at examples of real-life failures and a culmination of strategies to help you avoid such a fate. So, what exactly did we learn?


Great Expectations

Organizations place a great deal of expectations on technology investments. Furthermore, companies that are experiencing a problematic CRM project tend to focus on addressing the symptoms of failure rather than the root causes of failure. The result fits the “definition of insanity,” with organizations trying variations of the same failed CRM strategies, (sometimes even with new solutions) expecting a different result. Be honest – have you been guilty of this?

Failure Begets Failure

Of the companies reporting dissatisfaction with a CRM project:

  • 25% believe a successful CRM project will provide a return, and report that they will go through the entire process again, selecting a new solution and partner.
  • 29% report that they will live with their current solution in spite of its shortcomings.
  • 29% report that they are frustrated enough with their project that they have simply given up on CRM for the time being.
  • The remaining 17% are not sure of what they will do to remedy the situation.

In other words, a combined total of 75% of organizations who are dissatisfied with their CRM solution are likely wasting valuable resources by learning to live with it, giving up entirely, or failing to develop any strategy at all. The question is – are they missing out on what CRM may have to offer?

The Wrong Buying Process

Software manufacturers and their partners respond swiftly to requests for demos. When business people see impressive demos of software that is either brand new to them, or a significant upgrade from their legacy CRM system, they can develop a false sense of security. It becomes easy to fall into the trap of believing that installing software, providing a bit of tailoring, and training their team, will produce rapid benefits. Thus the entire buying process is reduced to focusing on software and vendors – rather than business needs, processes and the collaboration potential that CRM solutions are designed to facilitate.

A survey participant summarized this practice best:

“If I had it to do over again, I would start by researching the project and the solution extensively, and developing a plan, before even starting with requirements. We may have been better off bending some of our complex business rules rather than trying to bend the system to accommodate all of our rules.”

Senior Sales Project Manager
Telecommunications Provider

25265771_sLack of Integration

If a CRM process requires entering or finding information on yet another system, most users will view it as hindering rather than helping their success. But when users are able to reduce the number of systems that they have to learn – and can find more customer information in their CRM system without having to search in multiple places for what they need – they are more likely to adopt it as an indispensable tool.

Technology should mirror corporate culture, not dictate its structure. Just as employees communicate across teams, CRM systems were designed to integrate with a number of platforms, including a company’s website, collaboration portal, ERP/accounting system, and business intelligence platform.

Three Principles for CRM Success

Not so fast – you didn’t expect me to give everything away in a blog entry, did you? Please download the full study for this important information, in addition to key insights and helpful statistics  that can help you pave the way to a successful (and profitable) CRM investment!

For more information about C5 Insight or this blog entry, please Contact Us.