The disposable world of CRM


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Disposable world of CRM
CRM is not a cell phone!

It has long been said that The United States of America is a throw-away society. For years, possibly decades, rather than fixing something, we toss it and purchase a replacement. You don’t believe me? Simply do a google search for TV Repair in your area. You could do the same for microwave repair, cell phone repair, etc.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying some people don’t seek to repair a broken item, and that no TV repair companies exist, I’m simply saying repairing versus replacing is happening less and less. I believe there are several reasons for this phenomenon:

1)      The cost of repairing vs replacing. Often the cost differential is not so great that it seems the wiser choice to go with something new, rather than fix something used.

2)      The time without the item. When repairing, it means that you will be without whatever it is that is being repaired. People cannot imagine being without their phone for a couple of days. I left mine at home by mistake today and feel that a part of me is missing.

3)     The perceived value of the new. Replacing usually means new: New features, new functions; the latest and greatest. In fact, many times, the used item doesn’t need to be broken for us to want to replace it. We want the new shiny thing with all its wiz-bang features, whether or not we will ever fully use the feature.

This mentality with or replace over repair that started with personal electronics and appliances has come charging into the corporate world. “Do we keep our current accounting system, or replace it with the latest cloud accounting?” “Our marketing automation system looks outdated, should we look at newer, ‘fresh’ options?” “No-one is using our CRM system, is it time replace it? 

Software publishers have contributed to this replace-it mentality. As software publishers move from perpetuity licensing, where you own the version of the software indefinitely, to either annualized or consumption based licensing, they are taking away any feeling of ownership, making replacement a much easier option. Also, as these publishers push to increase market share, they offer incentives to switch to them, pointing out the ease of switching.  After all, “accounting is accounting, right?” “CRM is basically the same: contacts, accounts, and opportunities, so switching is easy.” The unintended message is that if it’s easy to switch to a particular software, it is easy to replace it with the next hot thing.

“What’s wrong with that?” you may ask. We are not talking about a cell-phone here! In the case of enterprise CRM, we are talking a lot of time and money to replace rather than repair the problem. Especially since I have seen that at least 80% of problems with CRM systems are not software related. Oh, there are legitimate reasons for throwing out a CRM system, for example:

·        The software is no longer supported

·        It doesn’t work on your hardware

·        The volume of data you generate is too much for the software

There are just as many problems, even more, that have nothing to do with the CRM software:

·        People won’t use it

·        The data is inaccurate

·        People are tired of entering data in multiple places

·        The usage of CRM is not a part of the process

·        People can do their job for days without logging into CRM

·        A new person cannot step into an old territory and easily pick-up where the previous person left off

Take the time to at least define the problem and to dig into its cause, rather than simply opting for a new system and plunking it into the same environment (culture and process); because, unlike replacing your iPhone the cost of switching is great, comes with a lot of down-time (if CRM is properly integrated into your environment), and there is a big chance you will never effectively use the new features that look so tempting.

I’ll go so far as to say, if you can easily dispose of your current CRM and implement another, you probably have had very little success with CRM historically, and will have the same amount of success in the future.  What do you think? Comment with your thoughts.

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.


  1. What’s not true? I would think free CRM systems can be disposed of even easier, since there is no cost or perceived value. The only cost for switching would be the time involved. Unfortunately, for most companies, switching CRM systems won’t solve their problem, since the problem is usually between the computer and the chair.

  2. Hi Luke,

    This is an interesting debate. I feel your last point hit the nail on the head. If you have bad historical adoption and use of CRM in your organization then there might be three things out of sync:
    1. The CRM being used is convoluted, complicated and doesn’t give enough value to the sales people using it – therefore of course adoption would be poor.
    2. The organization using the CRM is not organized enough. When a CRM is used properly in a disciplined manner, the value that Sales will get from the data they enter is the difference between deal won and deal lost.
    3. Training has not been adequately given to the sales team – therefore even the simplest of tasks become a chore and end up at the end of your sales person’s priority list.

    I agree with you that we are in the age of abundance and waste, however that does not mean we shouldn’t opt for a better system if one exists. It’s the same as having a cell phone plan or other utility with one supplier, and moving to another if better rates or features are offered. It’s a no brainer in my opinion. The challenge here is weighing up the pros and cons of switching (or dropping the CRM entirely).

    What do you think?


  3. I think that if companies are still training on their CRM system, rather than training on the process, they are missing something. I also think that it is so easy to blame CRM software for problems, but if companies do not make a change internally (people/culture and process) it doesn’t matter how good the CRM system is, sales people will continue to have “CRM Fridays.”

    I’m not against switching. I’m against switching and expecting different results without addressing the real issues.


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