Successfully implementing a CRM system can have significant benefits.   However it appears that few firms are realising those benefits.

There’s an increasing number of firms who are seriously considering dumping the technology that they have purchased in the expectation that buying something else with fix their problems.  In my experience that strategy is unlikely to be successful.

The challenges that firms face seem to fall into a number of distinct areas:

  • No clear understanding of what CRM is for
  • Too much poor quality data
  • Initiative overload
  • Inadequate training and communication
  • Constricting budgets

Rule 1 – Less is more

It is so much better to do a few things really well than to attempt to deliver a CRM system that is all things to all people.

Professionals, generally speaking, want to know relatively little, but it’s important to them that they can trust the information they’re given.

If we try and make CRM a “one-stop-shop” and provide them with every piece of information they could ever want we seriously risk drowning our users in seas of irrelevent (and very quickly out of date) information.

In addition to “less is more” (which is the most important rule of all), this brief series of blogs will explore a number of other “golden rules” for turning your CRM programme around.

In my experience it is possible to implement CRM effectively, but where do you start?

Rule 2 – What’s the vision?

Many firms don’t seem to be able to articulate what they are trying to achieve with CRM.   If you can’t summarise your vision on one page then you’re trying to do too much.  For example are you trying to implement a system to support key account management or industry sector business development programmes?

There is no right answer, for some CRM is no more sophisticated than a place to store their business contacts’ names and telephone numbers, whereas for others it’s about identifying and exploiting the most profitable opportunities.  Neither of these is necessarily wrong, however where things to tend to go awry is where users expect they are getting the latter and CRM is aiming to achieve only the former (certainly in its early stages).

Once you have identified and agreed your CRM vision, then it becomes possible to define the processes and data that need to be in place to support it.

Generally speaking those firms that are clear about the purpose of the system (and have communicated it effectively) are much more likely to succeed than those that lack this clarity.

So now that we’ve got a realistic and tangible vision, what do we do next?

In the next blog I’m going to talk about one of the key points which is often forgotten, that successful CRM really needs to be about the outputs and not just about the inputs.

If we focus exclusively on how we’re going to get data in to the system then we risk losing sight of how we expect to deliver real benefit to our users, by providing them with reports that contain information they didn’t already know, and that they can only get from CRM.