3 Reasons Your CRM Issues are not Technical Issues


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Companies love technical change! It’s usually quick, and it is simply a matter of people, within an organization, putting in place solutions for which they know the answers. This is very true with CRM. We believe we know the answers, so we simply need to implement software as the solution. Once CRM software is implemented, we simply need to change people’s behaviors and BINGO! we have CRM. Therefore, when we face issues with CRM, we focus on modifying the software, improving processes, providing training to improve skills, and doing the right things right.

However, as time passes, we realize that CRM is fraught with issues. This is because the change required for CRM success is adaptive change, not technical change. Adaptive change involves changing more than just behaviors or preferences; it involves changing beliefs and ways of thinking.  It is a change of the culture of the organization.

So, on to the three reasons your CRM issues are not technical issues:

1)     The problem is difficult to identify

With technical change and technical issues, the problem is usually easy to identify. We can then tweak the system and be on our way. However, with adaptive challenges, issues are usually difficult to identify (and it is even easier to deny that there even is an issue). Adaptive challenges require that the very people with the problem are part of the solution. This means that if the sales manager is not satisfied with the sales pipeline, he or she cannot simply dictate change (technical), but must be a part of the solution (adaptive).

2)     People are resisting

People tell me, “Luke, of course people are resisting, people resist change!” NO! People accept, even embrace change, that is, if it is change they believe in. Let me give you some examples: Getting married, a promotion at work, a new car, having a baby, buying a new house, getting a new mobile device. The list is endless. In fact, people are generally receptive to technical change. Even my mother (at 70) just got a new Android phone and took to it like a duck to water after a little coaching.

When people are resisting, it is usually due to resisting (or even acknowledging) adaptive challenges. I find that the majority of the resistance to these adaptive challenges come from senior and upper management. Why? Because adaptive change in CRM involves changing the core of the organization. It involves changing people’s hearts and minds more than their actions.

3)     It is taking a long time

Technical solutions can often be implemented quickly. They can often be implemented by edict, “I need you to update all opportunities every Friday by 2:00 pm.” However; adaptive solutions take a long time to implement, and can never be implemented by edict. You cannot force someone to change their beliefs. Often this type of change requires experiments and new discoveries, since the require changes in values, beliefs, roles, relationships and approaches to work.

As you look at the issues that sometimes plague a CRM implementation, ask yourself, “is this a technical issue or an adaptive challenge.” Be patient and provide opportunities for your people to confront their uncertainty in spite of their discomfort. Give them time to adjust their mindset to the new culture of CRM. Finally, believe in it yourself! If you are not devoted to your CRM strategy, no one else will be.

Luke Russell
Luke Russell has been CRM consultant since 1998. He has personally consulted with hundreds of organizations, and has a strong success record for CRM implementation and results. During this time, he has worked with customers to achieve such lofty goals as higher quote win ratios, larger average order size, more effective follow-up, reduced cost of administration, increased customer retention, and expanded cross-sales into existing customers; to name a few. Luke is the founder of Resolv, Inc.


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