7 min readCRM strategy: 10 warning signs yours might fail


Today we’re going to look at how companies that implement CRM systems can improve their CRM strategy. In our experience, all factors I’m about to mention play a big role in CRM implementation success rates.


This is not to say that if you get all these factors right, your CRM ROI will go through the roof. However, if you do pay attention to them, you should significantly reduce the chance that your CRM project will become a statistic.


And what a horrible statistic. 18-70% CRM failure rate according to various studies might be an off-putting number. But in our experience as a CRM consultancy, this just goes to show the importance of a robust CRM implementation strategy. After all, successful Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementations show an average ROI of 243%, which should eliminate any doubts about the competence of the software. Taken that you’ve chosen the right CRM for your company, the only other factor to contribute to your success will be your CRM strategy.


Factors that contribute to CRM strategy failure

CRM Strategy Problem #1: You don’t have a CRM strategy.

Why is it a problem?
Not having a CRM strategy means you don’t know what you’ll do when problems arise. Perhaps more importantly, it also means that you don’t have a sense of direction of where you want to be in the next 3 or 5 years. You might end up stabbing in the dark and your system can eventually fall apart or become obsolete.

How to fix it:
Understand that CRM is not only about the power of technology and ad-hoc tactics. Create a plan that will detail how you want your current system to evolve and how you’re going to achieve it. Make sure you create a document that will be a point of future reference anytime you need to decide about adding functionality, new tactics or tackling unforeseen circumstances.


CRM Strategy Problem #2: You focus on reducing costs rather than improving value.

Why is it a problem?
Cost is a number and numbers can always be decreased. It’s difficult to decide when to stop reducing costs and start focusing on creating optimal value but it should be done because otherwise you’re risking damage to your business reputation.

How to fix it:
Determine a standard which you’ll always aim to deliver. Naturally, this standard should be higher for your best customers and lower for the others. However, you should also define the threshold for the lowest standard you’ll always provide for anyone. This is crucial to your company’s reputation, as it’s far more difficult to repair damage once it’s done. any cost reduction that can happen within these boundaries is then allowed.


CRM Strategy Problem #3: Your CRM strategy is more inward- than outward- focused.

Why is it a problem?
If you use your CRM primarily to track your employees’ actions, it distracts you from creating value for your leads (which is the point of a good CRM strategy). Your employees might feel spied on, do tasks for the sake of doing tasks and your company will gradually lose track of what matters for the customer.

How to fix it: Understand that while CRM is a great tool for reporting on your employees’ performance, the main purpose of it should be to gather information about your customers so you can nurture them effectively. After all, your performance measures can be very high but what point does it serve if your customers don’t notice?


CRM Strategy Problem #4: Your employees can’t access your CRM from everywhere.

Why is it a problem? Not being able to access your CRM database from a mobile device limits your employees’ performance while they’re on the go. Especially Sales and Customer Service can meet and exceed you customers’ expectations more easily when they have all data at hand. By not addressing the importance of mobile CRM, you might be wasting time and money.

How to fix it: Choose a CRM that offers a mobile version.  Some CRM vendors, like Microsoft Dynamics CRM, offer the mobile version free of charge for every user.



CRM Strategy Problem #5: You haven’t won your boss’ support.

Why is it a problem?
The higher managerial level that supports the CRM project, the better. A general rule of thumb should be: the project should be supported by people with managerial control over any CRM user/implementer. Otherwise you’re risking that when the project runs into problems, you won’t be able to save it from failing.

How to fix it: Prepare a CRM business case and make sure all the key stakeholders are on board before launching the project.


CRM Strategy Problem #6: All departments are not using the same system.

Why is it a problem?
If your three customer-facing functions: Marketing, Sales and Customer Support are not working from the same database, you’re likely to waste time transferring data, money on multiple licences, disagree on crucial criteria and run into unnecessary misunderstandings.

How to fix it: Choose one CRM system that can be used by all departments in question. Get the help of your IT department* when implementing the system. IT should help take into consideration all these department’s needs, which perhaps wouldn’t happen if only the CRM vendor was to implement your solution. Another good tip to go by is to make up a cross-functional team which will take care that CRM gets used properly in each department.

*If you don’t have an IT department, make sure you pick a vendor that’s willing to invest time into getting to know your company’s needs.


CRM Strategy Problem #7: You’ve not made a habit of using CRM daily.

Why is it a problem?
Your employees don’t use the system as much as they could and as a result they are wasting time they could be using elsewhere. Moreover, their efforts are hard to evaluate since they’re not recorded in the CRM system. As a result, you’re paying for a glorified spreadsheet without taking full advantage of it.

How to fix it: Ensure all CRM users receive proper CRM training and understand the value of using it. Some companies have also found it helpful to implement a incentive system that will reward users based on how well they’ve adopted the system. Although this might cause some disapproval at first, in the long term it’s a good way of showing that the CRM project is a company priority.


CRM Strategy Problem #8: Your CRM doesn’t support all your customer touch points.

Why is it a problem? Customers like to choose through which channel they prefer to interact with you. Not being flexible enough to give them the choice may not only shed bad light on you, it can also frustrate the customers if they have to repeat information to you because you’re not able to capture it properly.

How to fix it:
Make an exhaustive list of all customer touch points you use and choose a CRM that will cater for all of them. Make sure your employees use the CRM to communicate with your leads as much as possible.


CRM Strategy Problem #9: You can’t guarantee that your system is safe.

Why is it a problem? Data security is absolutely crucial to your business’ reputation. If you’re willing to risk data leakage, you’re willing to accept all the negative publicity that goes hand in hand with it.

How to fix it:
Research the market well before implementing and choose a CRM that has good reputation for being safe. Take care to consult your vendor about CRM security and carry out all necessary precautions regularly.


CRM Strategy Problem #10: You’ve chosen a CRM that’s not able to grow with your company.

Why is it a problem?
As your company grows, you need to be able to accommodate for new users, extra functionality and data storage. If your system is not able to provide this, parts of your organisation might be left out of the process, which will cost you time and money.

How to fix it:
Make sure your current CRM system is able to support the size of a company you’re planning on becoming in the next 5-10 years. Your current CRM system doesn’t need to be able to support a much larger company; rather it should offer enough upgrading options to cover all your future needs. If you find there are other unnecessary limitations of your current CRM system, consider replacing it as soon as possible, to secure higher chances that your CRM will have a bright future.