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10 pitfalls to avoid with CRM systems

10 pitfalls to avoid with CRM systems

By John Paterson, CEO, Really Simple Systems.

One of the keys to making the most of a CRM system is getting the whole of the company to embrace it. If reluctant staff cannot see the benefit, and only enter the minimum data or simply ignore the new system, then the investment is wasted. Here are some suggestions to improve adoption.

How to get company staff to use the CRM System

At the top, ensure senior management use and are seen using and benefiting from it. By associating the innovation with seniority, the first new users will feel privileged to have access. Getting managers to use it first will also mean that they will use the system to manage from day one, and can then help and supervise others.

Choose a lead user in each department; somebody who both has a positive attitude to the CRM system and who commands their peers’ respect. When that person enthuses about the system then their colleagues will be more likely to follow that lead.

Give sales administrators ownership of the data. A good sales administrator will spot data errors and sloppy coding by sales people, and will either clean the data up or nag them to fix it.

Ensure all managers use the system as the prime source of information when it has been rolled out to their teams. Their behaviour will be copied down throughout the organisation.

Use the system information to manage, as reports only work if the underlying data is correct. If sales teams go back to using spreadsheets to forecast sales, the onus on getting the opportunities correct in the CRM system is diminished.

A CRM system gives visibility of the account manager’s prospects, contacts and opportunities – something some sales people might prefer not to reveal. Some are simply uncomfortable with the technology, some simply can’t be bothered. You can introduce rules as sticks to encourage sales staff, but it may be better to use the new system to form part of a bonus structure.

Ten CRM System pitfalls to avoid
1.    Pick the best system for you, don't set out to design the ultimate all singing all dancing system. Go down that route, and the resulting design will be too complex for most people to use.

2.    It's better for the sales teams to be the lead designers of the system. Although the marketing department is one of the biggest beneficiaries, only sales can make it a success. Get their buy-in and make sure that marketing team’s requirements are met.

3.    Don’t expect everybody to just pick it up. Many won’t, and their first impressions and side-comments will jeopardise the success of the overall project. New internal systems need to be sold and the roll-out needs to be planned.

4.    Don’t forget training, even if it is only a short course for sales people. This is the ideal time to make people want to use the system by stressing what’s in it for them. Make it easy for users to get help, and make sure that such calls are handled positively.
5.    While accountants have to use the accounting system, the purchase ordering clerk the PO system, and marketing people the marketing database, sales people can function perfectly happily without a corporate CRM system - and many prefer it that way. Use encouragement, carrots and sticks. Motivation is as important as understanding.

6.    Get help, even if it is just a day of a supplier’s time to go through the issues. They’ll see the pitfalls that you can’t.

7.    Make it somebody’s responsibility to own the data. This could be split across more than one person: the sales administrators for the sales teams and a marketing communications person for the marketing data. A good administrator will nag sales people to fill the source field in, make sure that dead leads get recycled back into marketing, that addresses are complete.

8.    Keep the technology as simple as you can. The simpler the underlying technology, the less chance of something going wrong.

9.    If the CEO and the VP Sales uses the system, and are seen to use the system, then that culture has a chance of permeating the organisation. A real time dashboard showing sales this month can help win hearts.

10.    The right choice for you will ultimately be a compromise between price and functionality, versus ease of use. That’s a philosophical choice that only you and your organisation can make. There’s no “best practice”, only bad practice. There’s a common theme here: good practice needs to come from the top. If senior staff adopt the system to actively manage their team, then wider adoption will be successful.

Only if the whole management team jointly agree that the CRM system is a key part of meeting the organisation’s objectives, and then commit to use it, will the full benefits be realised


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