Is your CRM ‘shelfware’?

May 8, 2019 by   in Latest News

Four ways to ensure your CRM is successful

49% of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) projects fail, and yet the returns on well-implemented CRMs are clear: customer insight, pipeline management, forecasting, internal co-ordination, performance coaching – the list goes on. AI  is now becoming embedded in various cloud systems, we all need to ensure we are getting the best value possible, here are four ways to make yours successful.

The term “shelfware” sums up the problem beautifully. “In 2019, spending on software as a service (SaaS) will reach approximately $42 billion and represent 75% of total customer relationship management (CRM) software spend, continuing the rapid decline of on-premises deployments.” Gartner CRM projection. 49% of CRM projects fail according to Forrester Research, that’s a lot of cash wasted!

Sales people don’t like CRMs!

One theme that emerged from the clear majority of Sales Managers is the difficulty in getting sales people to use Customer Relationship Management systems. We have looked at successful projects and current research to bring you some insights into this challenge in our twice-annual review of the sales profession using research journals, partners, competitors and client projects.

Here are four hacks to help!

1. Listen to your sales people

Brandon Bruce makes the point in his book that we should take care in measuring adoption. Do we need every field, including the FAX number to be filled in for 100% adoption? Wasting sales people’s time to collect data is, well, a waste of time! Instead, we should be focusing on the measures that really matter and adapting as the system evolves. This means going out to listen to sales people on the ground: What is working? What is causing frustration? Who is using the system the most? Why?


2.Use your star players to ensure viral adoption

Research by Widmier et al in 2003, published in the Marketing management journal, discovered the importance of using champions within the sales-force to drive adoption. Respected peers make for much stronger influencers than distant managers in HQ. Involving key sales people in the planning and implementation of CRM pays dividends. Why not ask these people to deliver training to their peers? Train people to be superusers so they can field questions about Customer Relationship Managment projects from their peers.


3. Make your CRM work hard for each stakeholder group

Many complaints we heard were along the lines of “We can’t trust the data sales people enter…” or “what will we do if sales people leave with their customer contacts not in CRM?” The focus here is on what management get. We rarely heard clients say, “We are concerned if our CRM helps customers” or “The CRM is not helping sales people help themselves”.
The Customer Relationship Managment was designed with only management in mind.

As far back as 2009, Boujena et al, showed that customers can value good CRM, (Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management) and yet very few systems seemed to be designed with customers in mind! Ironic, considering the “CRM” acronym! There are 3 vital stakeholder groups in CRM.

Here are three examples of how CRM motivates users to interact:

  • Can a sales person get really useful insights into how they can be more effective? Save time? Prioritise which customers to work with?
  • Can a customer ask a sales person what’s happening about their order, and get an instant, useful response during a meeting?
  • Can managers get a good view of the opportunities in play and support them accordingly?

Improvements can be made by changing reporting, data fields or derived data to add value for each group. If you are lucky enough to be scoping a CRM now, make double sure you really dig into what each stakeholder group will value.

4. When is Customer Relationship Management Training needed?

Today we have lots of ways of delivering training which is more valuable at point of use: Videos, virtual classrooms, FAQs, podcasts etc. Competitions can be used to encourage your sales teams to change their behaviour regarding CRM adding value to training sessions. Why not include 1-hour refresher training in your sales meetings, followed by a competition to add leads and contacts in the shortest possible time? Ask them what they are struggling with or even better, what is working well that would be useful to share with others.

Summary: The CRM is here to stay, make it work hard

Every one of our clients without exception uses a CRM. Any sales person not using CRM is going to find it very hard to find a new job if they don’t embrace this technology. And your business will be harmed if you are not making the CRM work hard for you. Your CRM needs to be the key tool for your team, driving value for them every day. Make the CRM the core tool for them, use the CRM output in your discussion and decision-making, walk the talk. It’s at the heart of our competitive advantage.


We are indebted to Brandon Bruce for writing a very short but punchy and useful book entitled  “The shelfware problem: a guide to CRM adoption”


If you would like more information please get in touch