Three Things That Kill CRM (


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According to the best research I can find, roughly 2/3 of CRM implementations fail. How can this be? After so many years why haven’t sales leaders and CRM vendors figured this out?

On days when my patience is running short, my list of three CRM-Killers consists of resistance to change, intellectual laziness and fear of being exposed as not quite the sales super star everybody thinks I am. On one level this is right on target, and as a member of a sales team you’ll be well served to keep this “2X4 upside the head” style list in mind.

At a more pragmatic level, though, it’s more helpful to think in terms of addressing the three key objections I hear most often.

“Process and metrics don’t apply to me because…”

Sales Reps think they’re different; that what they do is un-measurable and dependent mostly on hard-won, real-world experience. They (mistakenly) believe that continuous improvement techniques that apply everywhere else in the known universe don’t apply to sales.

Here are a few “un-measurable professions” that have been hugely and dramatically changed for the better within the last decade: Medical Care, Mortgage Lending, Wine Investing, PGA Golf and Major League Baseball Scouting. There isn’t enough space to discuss the details here. Suffice it to say that the conclusion of the story for each of the above is 1) Hard-won experience is great, but not enough anymore. 2) Statistical geeks beat the daylights out of the old pros every time. 3) The really big winners were those highly experienced folks that added a process and metrics mindset to their professional repertoire. In other words, process and metrics DO apply to you.

“You want me to spend time typing instead of making sales calls.”

Yes. I want you to spend time typing stuff into the CRM system. Get over it. Study after study shows that while you will spend more time typing information, you’ll save even more time in retrieving and communicating information.

You already take lots of notes, right? On note pads, day-timers, post-its, napkins, etc. Don’t try to tell me that a google-like inquiry into your CRM isn’t vastly faster and more complete than rooting through hand-written notes “neatly” organized and filed who-knows-where. Oh, and who else in your sales support organization has access to the incredibly valuable customer intelligence you work so diligently and hard to collect? If it’s on paper the answer is nobody. You need to spend still more time composing e-mails and/or verbally explaining things.

“You want to micro-manage me.”

Eeeesssssh!!! Are you really serious? It’s exactly the opposite! Sales Managers are pulled in a gazillion different directions at once. The most fabulous thing about CRMs is that they can slice, dice, analyze and spit out reports automatically. CRMs enable sales reps to manage themselves. CRMs can pin-point what your specific problem areas are so that you can take the appropriate actions without getting management involved unless you want them to get involved.

Management wants CRM so they don’t have to hold your hand!!! One caveat though… If you’re coasting, or screwing up or just a lousy rep, a CRM means there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

Professionals in every field need to continuously upgrade and update the tools they use. Coal mining with pick and shovel anyone? Prescribing drugs without electronic data bases that analyze efficacy, side effects and potentially dangerous interactions with other medications? Sales without CRM?

Think about it…

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Todd Youngblood
Todd Youngblood is passionate about sales productivity. His 3+ year career in Executive Management, Sales, Marketing and Consulting has focused on selling more, better, cheaper and faster. He established The YPS Group, Inc. in 1999 based on his years of experience in Sales Process Engineering – that is, combining creativity and discipline in the design, implementation and use of work processes for highly effective sales teams.


  1. Todd,

    I wish to commend you on your excellent article 3 things that kill CRM … you expertly highlighted the most pervasive attitudinal reasons why users actively undermine using/leveraging/strengthening and adopting the corporate CRM an organization has implemented. Leaving out the other common factors like it’s too hard to use, I don’t have time, it makes no sense blah, blah, blah, there is one more CRM killer I would add to your list, management indifference.

    Many firms who implement a CRM delegate the most of not all of the design, development, and deployment tasks to “others” and senior management doesn’t take an active role until after the system is rolled out, and then (and this is a broad brush criticism) won’t invest their personal time or energy using, understanding, mining, and supporting the CRM by example. This sends an undeniable and not so subtle message “do as I say not as I do” it never works.

    Once senior management embraces the ownership and value of their CRM investment, and uses it daily, intimately, you can bet others in sales, marketing, finance, IT etc., will suddenly use the CRM much more interactively and profoundly. Great stuff thanks for posting your observation, makes total sense.

    Jeff Lionz
    3D/CRM Consultant
    LionzForce Consultants

  2. Jeff,

    Thanks for you kind words.

    I agree wholeheartedly that management indifference will kill a CRM implementation – even before it’s off the ground. In my consulting practice, I’ve even begun to refuse to work with clients if the highest ranking sales exec is not intimately and actively involved. Something as potentially powerful as a well-applied CRM system DEMANDS the attention of the leaders. Without it, don’t waste your money.



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