One of the most common questions we get asked when it comes to CRM is, “What is the best CRM platform out there that you love?” The response is always the same, “it depends.” Don’t get me wrong; there is some phenomenal technology at play with many CRM systems on the market. CRM systems are more affordable than ever and come with mind-boggling functionality built-in that would cost you an arm and a leg to implement just several years ago. Indeed, today even small businesses can wield enterprise-grade technology all in the cloud with a simple swipe of the credit card.
Many companies find out the hard way that the “go-kart” CRM platform they just signed up for their employees entails far more than they had anticipated. It is more likely that the CRM platform is more of an F1 Racecar requiring a completely different mindset than “go-kart” ownership. This distinction is precisely why we respond with “it depends.”
Companies that have done their due diligence and appropriately invested in a budget, talent acquisition, and technology have set up a well-rounded plan for a CRM platform to become successful. Wildly successful! Some may say partly because of the technology of said CRM vendor, but we feel more likely because of proper planning and expectations. In other words, having an F1 Racecar needs a pit crew, adequate flatbed transport, a well-equipped garage, or technical expertise. That CRM platform you just acquired needs the same level of preparation and care to be successful. This potentially significant lift is the root of why many CRM implementations do not make it to their potential or may feel more complicated to manage than initially thought. Most CRM implementations fail, and we believe this article summarizes why that is.
The following are the key aspects we help our customers understand when searching for CRM technology. While this is generalized, it should help address the most common scenarios.
- CRM Administrator – No matter what anyone tells you, every CRM platform on the market worth its salt requires a dedicated resource to administer it. This resource may be an in-house hire or an outsourced resource. There are pros and cons to which way you go but thinking you don’t need one is like knocking someone out of the pit crew who fills the gas after every few laps of your F1 racecar. You’re not going to get very far.
- Dedicated Configuration – Most platforms offer some level of configuration to meet your business needs; understand the actual level of complexity, stakeholder involvement, and technical know-how necessary to pull it off. Most CRMs need deep expertise to be implemented correctly, while the customer can do simpler platforms with limited know-how.
- Minimal Viable Product (MVP) – Don’t boil the ocean, and just because the platform has 50,000 bells and whistles, don’t attempt to tackle it all. Conduct an end-to-end assessment of your key business processes, develop an MVP approach to configuring ‘must-have’ functionality initially, and then expand the platform as you grow with it while achieving earlier results vs. lengthy configuration aspiring for perfection.
- Invest in Training, Documentation, and Knowledge Sharing – Most of the sourced CRM implementations we have encountered have one thing in common: a lack of training, documentation, or knowledge sharing. Every company with CRM systems should invest in these areas, even if simply executed without over-engineering the need – it’s essential. Trust us.
- Invested Stakeholders – Yup. You read that right. We cannot count how many times we encountered a company in dire need of help steering the ship back onto course with their CRM platform, and we ask, “Who’s the sponsor or executive that owns the CRM investment” – crickets. CRM is at the heart of your customer management processes; shouldn’t this be central to an individual’s or a whole team’s mission at the organization?
While we have only glossed over some key aspects, it can be shocking how plenty of our customers who had their CRM platforms go off the rails could have mitigated a lot of what went wrong with the simple concepts listed above. It may sound like common sense or easy to think through, but we know having the right advice makes a world of difference.
Are you thinking about procuring a CRM system for your business? Do you have a CRM system and need some guidance on addressing issues or optimizing it further? Let us help you. We have over twenty-five years of experience helping businesses, both large and small, with the procurement, overseeing implementations, and managing optimizations of their CRM investments. StrataNorth is an IT Advisory Consultancy. We help businesses of all sizes adopt the right technology to help them grow, work smarter and deliver the best customer experience. Our consultants have decades of experience in the industry. We are cost-competitive and fiercely independent in our analysis.