CRM Failures: What Happened?

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CRM Failures: What Happened?

Can you fail at predicting failure?

Back in 2010, I predicted that an increasing number of CRM projects would crash and burn. So where are all of the smoking craters?

Turns out I was wrong.

Mega-Fails Die With Siebel Extinction

Remember the Siebel CRM days? How many businesses went public with a story along the following lines:

We tried to implement CRM, spent $5 million in the process, and all I got was a t-shirt at the end.

Furthermore, in the old days, CRM projects principally failed for the following reasons:

  • You couldn’t get the software to do what you needed it to do

  • You went horribly over budget

  • You built something that nobody could use (or had a reason to use)

That’s how we used to define failure. As cloud CRM — sales force automation (SFA) — first took off, I predicted that too many CRM project teams would channel the old, on-premise model and apply it to the SaaS world. Cue a spike in CRM disasters.

CRM failure rates

Why More CRM Projects Now Succeed

With the benefit of hindsight, however, we can see that, thankfully, businesses have been smarter than that. Well, to be fair, some have simply done nothing, being too petrified of cloud CRM or technology change, and stuck with Siebel.

But the vast majority of businesses have selected modern, cloud-based CRM software, implemented it using agile thinking, including short project phases, and never looked back. And, at the same time, CRM project failure rates have plummeted (despite what some pundits might argue).

In other words, thanks to cloud CRM, the mega-failures of old have largely vanished. Instead, CRM implementation projects face more prosaic challenges:

  • How do we configure the software to get the business outcomes that we really need to achieve?

  • How do we implement the software as rapidly as possible, while ensuring high levels of user buy-in?

  • Just how agile can our CRM implementation be?

Make no mistake: By just jumping in with cloud CRM without first rapidly creating a plan, you increase your chance of debuting software that’s not optimized to meet the needs of either your business or your users.

But when cloud CRM implementations do stumble today, thankfully projects rarely get axed. Instead, project teams typically take a step back and rethink their approach. In fact, this is the point at which many organizations, finding themselves in this type of situation, reach out to Cloud Sherpas for help.

CRM Project Hiccup Avoidance: Best Practices

Accordingly, how can businesses maximize their chances of project success on the first attempt? Start by taking a step back. Before you implement cloud CRM software, or even pick your technology, identify the business goals you’re trying to achieve, create a plan that outlines how you’ll achieve them and then work through that plan — using rapid, small steps — until you reach your goal.

If you already have cloud CRM and it’s meeting your needs, what comes next? To answer that question, one excellent next step is to benchmark your company’s sales — or marketing or customer service — capabilities by comparing them against other businesses in your industry.

To help, we’ve created our CRM Excellence Framework — based on the hundreds of successful CRM implementations that we’ve delivered — to enable organizations to benchmark their capabilities and identify the areas in which they excel or need work. For the best results, we recommend investing in what you’re not doing well, because that’s the weakest part of your CRM program and it will hold you back.

Still Recommended: Short, Rapid Project Phases

Regardless of whether you’re implementing cloud CRM for the first time or tapping additional capabilities — including hot projects such as marketing automation, configure-price-quote (CPQ) and cloud-based case management — the subsequent implementation practices remain the same: Create a plan based on your business goals, then implement the project in short stages, with each tied to delivering specific, new functionality. Do this correctly and you’ll quickly and cost-effectively achieve the polar opposite of CRM project failure. And then you can celebrate.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Nicolas Raymond.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.

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