Companies invest in CRM software to centralize customer data, automate sales and marketing tactics and make data-driven decisions to improve their operations.
But sometimes a tool meant to simplify business processes causes unanticipated chaos. Organizations often run into problems by underestimating the complexities of implementing the software, lacking in-house expertise to manage the system and failing to adequately train users to get the most out of the platform.
Read on to explore some of the top mistakes companies make when integrating CRM technology into their operations.
Not Planning for Implementation
CRM platforms like Salesforce provide powerful business intelligence, and organizations invest considerable capital to enhance sales automation, track customer interactions and measure ROI. But a lack of strategic planning and cross-department alignment during implementation sets companies up to fail from the get-go.
“The product is great, but the problem is it’s so robust and it has so many different features and functionalities that the implementation is where things go wrong,” says Gean Biffulco, a Salesforce consultant for Everpeak Partners. “There’s a misconception that Salesforce is an off-the-shelf product that you simply turn on and start selling.”
Before starting implementation, organizations should bring sales, marketing, accounting and other key players to the table to outline the user requirements and business goals they hope to achieve from the CRM. Then, define processes, document workflows and invest in training and change management for users.
Lacking an Experienced Admin
Companies frequently make the mistake of handing the reins to their in-house IT person who lacks hands-on experience with a complex CRM, such as Salesforce.
“They just wing it and go in and add a bunch of fields or try to build a workflow and it ends up not supporting the business’s workflows and how their team can use the software correctly,” says Cory Gould, a Sales Cloud Solution Architect at Everpeak Partners. “You need an experienced admin or Salesforce integration partner to explain how Salesforce supports the organization in a holistic way, and who understands the core components like contacts, accounts, opportunities and leads.”
While earning certifications or badges help admins grow their knowledge, a lack of real-life experience proves difficult to solve complex CRM problems.
Mishandling Data Architecture and Migration
Data migration can be complex and challenging when implementing CRM software, and several issues can arise if not managed properly, from unreliable and duplicate data to inaccurate reporting.
“Sometimes when companies grow, they just keep adding software, but they don’t have a data architect who can see how all of the systems need to come together,” Biffulco says. “They’re working in silos, and that’s a major inefficiency.”
Companies manage tons of data across multiple systems, and the CRM needs to integrate with these tools and blend the data to create accurate reporting.
“Data architecture issues often occur because there’s so many different personalities and competing interests around where the data should be, where it should flow and what data should even be in the system,” Gould says. “The biggest challenge is getting everyone in a room to document it, and then understanding the business needs of the CRM.”
To mitigate these problems, companies should adopt a structured and well-documented data migration strategy, including data profiling and cleansing, detailed data mapping, testing and validation processes and user training.
“With so many competing priorities and personalities, companies really benefit from bringing in outside consultants to mediate and provide them with a vision or a future state of the data architecture,” Biffulco says.
Not Providing Training for Active Users
Organizations purchase complex CRM software, but don’t always invest in effective training for daily users. Without the know-how and proper training, users will struggle to get the most out of the software, and businesses won’t see an ROI on the platform.
“Investing in your employees is a big part of implementing a CRM, and companies don’t always do a great job. They kind of just throw their users into something and say, ‘Hey, figure it out,’” Gould says. “But they should be thinking about processes. They should consider what they’re aiming to do with the CRM, and how it will support day-to-day work.”
When Biffulco advises clients on solving CRM pain points, he goes directly to the active users.
“I’d rather talk to the people that use Salesforce every day versus the IT or Sales manager, because I know I’m going to get everything I need from the person that actually uses the platform,” Gould says.
Businesses should consider tailoring training plans to different user roles and expertise. Sales, customer support, and marketing teams may require different training modules based on their specific needs, responsibilities and employee profile. Employees should understand how using the CRM system will benefit both their work and the organization as a whole.
Not Leveraging a CRM Optimization Consultant
Biffulco and Gould say it may not make financial sense for every business to have a full-time admin on staff. Instead, they should leverage managed service support from a certified CRM consultant.
“We start a dialogue, document their pain points, do analysis and get to know the client as if we were part of their business,” Biffulco says. “That’s what yields results and builds long-term relationships. When I see a well-oiled Salesforce machine, it’s so fun to watch.”
A CRM consultant can help organizations optimize their CRM investment, from opportunity and lead flow design to custom reports and dashboards.
“Once we understand their business needs, we can introduce them to a world of possibilities with Salesforce that they didn’t know was even possible,” Biffulco says.
Everpeak Partners was founded in 2017 and has helped more than 200 companies implement and optimize Salesforce, including Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and Marketing Cloud. Contact us today for a free 3-hour discovery session to see how we can help accelerate your business.