My company has implemented hundreds of customer relationship management systems over the past twenty years and, without question, the biggest challenge that the greatest majority have is getting everyone in their company to use it.

That’s because CRM is a culture. Everyone has to buy in and the tone has to come from the top. All interactions need to be recorded, notes logged, emails and activities kept up to date for it to work. If it’s to be a true asset to your company then the data in your CRM system must be right. Unfortunately, if everyone in your company isn’t using the system very well – or at all – then your database will have weak points. That’s not good.

Does this sound familiar? Do you have a CRM system that’s basically just a glorified Rolodex? Were you promised a bill of goods that you never quite received? Is your system woefully underutilized?  Don’t worry, you’re not alone. To fix that problem you first have to recognize what you’re doing wrong. And I bet you’re doing these three things.

 

1) You’re making things way too complicated.

My best clients use maybe 30-40 percent of their CRM system’s capabilities. Does this surprise you? It shouldn’t. It’s because they know to focus on just those features that make the most sense and ignore the rest. This is no different than any technology. How often do you use the cruise control in your car? The advanced features of Microsoft Excel? The detailed cooking options on your microwave oven? It’s OK not to try and do too much. Just use the technology for the purpose it was built and don’t pay attention to the rest.

 

2) You’re spending too much time on the data going on and not enough on the data going out.

Some of my clients insisted on creating elaborate screens with dozens of fields and multiple views that required different levels of access and security. These are the clients that generally fail. Don’t burden your people with too much data entry. Consider what’s nice to have versus what you must have. Focus more on the reports that you want to see coming out of your system. What key metrics, reminders, alerts, and triggers are necessary to make sure your people are on top of both the needs of your customers and your prospects. Keep things simple and focus on what information from your CRM system will most impact your business.

 

3) Finally, you’re thinking short term, not long term.

My clients who try to do too much too soon with a new CRM system generally fail. For starters, you’re not an expert. You don’t know the work required. Your people are nervous and not thrilled about the changes.  Slow down!  Your best approach is to take a long term approach. You’re going to have this CRM system for at least another ten years. Create objectives for each quarter – like getting a marketing campaign done or establishing a few workflows. Or integrating the system with your website or accounting application. Or rolling out a service component.  Have an internal team of people dedicated to the advancement of your CRM s system and task them with creating deliverables each quarter that will move the system forward.

 

The perception in your company may be that people don’t need to work with your CRM system like they do with your accounting system, which requires billing and cash flows. But that’s not true. Every hour spent improving your CRM system means another step towards building a very valuable database that will not only serve your company well but will also be a very attractive asset for when you want to move on.

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