Are you heading towards a new CRM implementation? Or are you replacing or upgrading your CRM? Take a while to chew on this number: 70% of all CRM projects fail.
Freshworks commissioned a survey with Forrester to get to the root of the problem and how businesses can overcome the roadblocks on the path of a successful CRM implementation. This post summarizes the findings from the report and lays out how you can ensure that your CRM implementation does not meet the same fate.
Here is the respondent profile of the survey:
Let’s get started! Here’s what we are going to cover:
- Why sales team happiness matters
- How technology solutions like CRM impact sales team happiness
- Understanding what people and organizations want from a CRM
- Roadblocks with a typical CRM implementation & how to overcome them
Why Sales Team Happiness Matters
What separates high-performing sales teams from the others? It’s not just about incentivizing superior sales performance but building a sales culture and environment that enables this superior performance. Happier sales teams outperform less happy peers by a mile, finds the Harvard Business Review-Freshworks study on sales happiness.
There’s no doubt then that happy teams are high-performing teams. It’s a culture of happiness that drives motivation and action. When sales teams receive support, understanding, and feedback, they are not only happier but also clear about their roles and what is expected of them.
— Chris Perrine, Vice-President, Asia Pacific, G2.
And here’s why sales happiness, in turn, is crucial — 81% of respondents who rated their organization’s sales force as “very happy” reported increases in annual sales. Contrastingly, only 59% of the “less happy” respondents reported an increase in annual sales.
How CRM Implementation Impacts Sales Happiness
Technology strikes a more mellifluous note with happier sales teams — those who were part of “very happy” teams were far more likely to report ideal CRM experiences. On the flip side, about 71% of salespeople say that a poor software/technology user experience has a negative impact on a salesperson’s happiness.
The data above shows us that we have to tread cautiously: CRM can be a polarizing tool. Unless your sales teams take to it, it can negatively impact productivity and happiness.
In the Forrester-Freshworks research, we found that there is a central, vital entity that drives the success of a CRM implementation:
How is your CRM’s successful implementation connected to people? Adoption is one thing, but the people factor goes far beyond what meets the eye. Here are three factors where people play a crucial role:
- Data quality: Data quality is a consequence of what people key into the system. If the data is inconsistent, your forecasts and other metrics will be equally inconsistent.
- Changing business processes: The transition comes with its fair share of hiccups. With a new CRM, you might have to realign your business processes and get your people to adapt to this change.
- Getting org-wide buy-in: Implementing a new CRM is not an isolated effort but a concerted one that involves collaboration between different teams and stakeholders — again, people-centric.
You might be wondering why we picked these three points to start with. It’s because these three are the biggest CRM implementation challenges, as reported in our Forrester-Freshworks survey. But to overcome these challenges, we need to first understand what businesses want from a CRM.
These findings will help us set the context for the challenges companies face while implementing a new CRM.
What do people want from a CRM?
At the end of the day, the real battle you have is time and how effective you can use that time. You should buy software if it can give back time, which you can use for other things.
— Ryan O’Hara, VP of Growth & Marketing at LeadIQ
Every persona within a typical sales team has different expectations from a CRM. Let’s find out what the Forrester report reveals for companies of varying sizes.
- Ease of integration with other systems is the most critical factor for an “ideal CRM”. When organizations implement a new CRM, it becomes central to a host of processes. For instance, payroll for salespeople, invoicing, and accounting. In addition, salespeople use tools like dialers and email tools to drive their quotas. A CRM should be able to integrate with these tools to ensure all interactions with customers and prospects are captured in one place.
- The second most important factor across the board is that the CRM should be easy to learn and use, with only necessary features and functionalities. Spending time trying to figure out complex functionalities through a clunky interface takes away from their selling time. It does the opposite of what CRM is supposed to do. It decreases salesperson productivity and deteriorates data quality.
- Automation of routine tasks is another key requirement of an ideal CRM. In the post-covid world, where selling has become entirely digital, features like automated workflows and lead scoring allow sales reps to be more efficient and effective with their sales efforts. A recent McKinsey study shows that reps can save 15-20% of their time by automating lead management. The study also found that order management tasks that took days were done in a matter of 2-3 hours with a CRM that automated routine tasks.
Key CRM Hurdles, And How To Overcome Them
We’ve looked at what an “ideal CRM” looks like. Let’s look at three significant challenges around its implementation.
Here’s a roadmap to help you have the right strategy in place before embarking on your new CRM implementation.
Before you get started on the implementation, you need to have four key pillars in place. Answer these critical questions in each pillar.
- Strategy: What are your business goals? How can a CRM help you achieve these outcomes?
- Process: Which business processes are too slow or are hindered by bottlenecks? Can they be removed or modified with CRM? What new processes do you need to add?
- People: Who is going to be using the CRM, and in what way? How does CRM help them?
- Technology: Do you have the necessary tools and infrastructure to support the CRM implementation and the process flows?
Once you have answers to these questions, you need to watch out for the three biggest challenges with CRM as outlined below.
Defining The Business Case For Investment
Defining the business case for investment is a huge challenge, which has stalled CRM implementation at 1 out of every 3 companies in the past.
This is also related to the perception of “high total cost of ownership” associated with many legacy SaaS CRMs.
Kate Leggett, VP, Principal Analyst, Forrester, outlines the strategy to build a solid business case for CRM investment and justify the perceived high costs of ownership.
“You need to define and articulate key drivers and measurable business goals for CRM investment. Goals that you can track your progress against,” says Leggett.
Here’s a roadmap to help you build a strong business case for investment.
- Define measurable metrics and key drivers. What will be the outcome of the CRM implementation in numbers? What will success look like? For example, ‘20% reduction in customer churn over four quarters’. ‘Boost revenue by 10% over three quarters’.
- Collaborate and develop a business case that involves stakeholders from other business areas. A CRM doesn’t include just sellers but other business areas, such as marketing, revenue ops, accounting, and so on.
- Calculate the expected RoI by factoring in things like:
- The expected boost in revenue from an uptick in conversion rates, identifying cross/up-selling opportunities, etc.
- Time saved by automating manual processes
- Cutting down operational costs
Changing Business Processes
Nearly half the respondents (46%) said changing existing business processes was their biggest hurdle when they tried to implement CRM in the past. This challenge is exacerbated in the case of companies with 500-1999 employees, with 53% of them reporting that this was their biggest challenge.
The survey found that 4 out of 10 organizations also struggle to gain cooperation across the organization to support customer management improvement efforts.
There are three main entities for which you need to map out processes and strategies: salespeople, sales processes, and data. Mapping old business processes to the new ones post-implementation ensures change doesn’t become an uphill battle.
Here are five questions to ask:
- What tasks will reps automate?
- How will customer conversations happen through CRM?
- What data do salespeople need to input at each stage of the pipeline?
- How will the CRM work side by side with the existing tools?
- How can Sales and Marketing collaborate through CRM to ensure that the customer has a seamless buying experience?
The Adoption Challenge And Its Undesirable Byproducts
Gaining user acceptance of technology is a huge post-implementation challenge for 25% of organizations. One of the primary challenges is that training is often not ideal. Just training videos may not do the trick — there need to be interactive walkthrough sessions and proper documentation as well.
Below par training material, coupled with complex and poor user interfaces make it difficult for salespeople to adopt, and they often fall back on tools they are most familiar with— spreadsheets, for instance.
A byproduct of poor acceptance and, consequently, adoption is inaccurate data captured in the system. Post-CRM implementation, managing data quality is the most formidable problem half the companies face (49%), irrespective of company size.
It then becomes a vicious cycle — users don’t use the CRM to input the correct data, and they don’t want to use the CRM because it has inaccurate data. Over time, this ultimately leads to poor RoI from a new CRM implementation.
For most organizations, the subscription fee they pay for technology is like a gym membership. People spend the money but hardly ever go… If you sit down with a seller and ask them to show you how they configure their (CRM) dashboard, they just stare blankly back at you.
— Tony J. Hughes, Co-founder, Sales IQ
Here are five things you can do to ensure that you achieve a high level of adoption:
- Recruit champions from each department who will be the first point of contact (PoC) for anything related to CRM. Ensure that you consolidate the feedback you receive from each PoC and act on those points — employee feedback is an indicator of how well the CRM is received.
- Plan and launch internal roadshows to help people understand how a CRM is going to make things better. What are the benefits for them?
- Put in place a comprehensive training program that’s a continuous process, not just a one-off session. Bolster this with how-tos, cheatsheets, and documentation that can act as refreshers.
- Take baby steps. To start with, compare the tool that your reps are already using (spreadsheets, for example) with a CRM. Then move on to more complex use cases like analytics .
- Act on feedback from users. One of the biggest motivators for users is to be heard.
A good way to go about it is bottom-up, rather than the traditional top-down route of simply buying a CRM and asking your salespeople to use it. Before you implement your CRM, find out what end-users need.
Salespeople are used to doing things in a certain way. When you implement a standardized way of doing things through CRM, it’s a major change.
But think about it. Do you want salespeople to do things exactly as prescribed? Or should the CRM be flexible to make things easier for them? When you force your team to do things in a certain way, adoption does not happen.
Technology is, after all, a means to an end. It needs to put users first, which means it has to be easy to use, but at the same time, it should tick the right requirement boxes, and eliminate unnecessary manual work.
The bottom line is this: once you have people backing your CRM strategy, understanding its benefits, and using it in the right way, your CRM implementation is a success.
All images in this post were designed by Raghuraman Jaganathan