Why do people buy CRM systems without working out what they need?

It seems that right now, my week rarely passes by without seeing yet another failed CRM implementation and an owner/manager frustrated by why their team can’t seem to make head nor tail of the data in front of them and the glaring sales opportunities that seem to be passing them by.

And it is usually pretty simple to see why – few, if any, focus on the simple things that a CRM can provide – alerts to drive activity, simple reporting to measure activity, quality data to populate the next marketing campaign to name but three. It never ceases to amaze how complex people make their CRM, seeking to capture every single nuance of customer desire (do they like watching cricket on a thursday in June…!) rather than thinking through its main purpose – building a company wide asset of useful customer data to help make sales generation more efficient and profitable.

Next time you find yourself drawn into the thought process of ‘I need a new CRM’ then consider these two simple steps first. Number one – don’t worry about the system to begin with, focus on the outputs you require. Capsule, Salesforce, Zoho, Nimble, Pipedrive – all of these systems, at their very different pricepoints can probably do more than you will ever require. Equally without a clear view on why and how you will use the output it probably won’t make much difference what you choose on day one, you’ll simply be wasting the money anyhow!

And number two – don’t get carried away with data collection. Indeed, I’ve often found it is the reverse. Focus first on what data you currently have (and what you absolutely, absolutely have to keep), ditch what you don’t need (usually that four year old file in Excel 2003 that Bob has in IT), clean it and then add some essential data (for example address data) in first before you start any new system work.

Faced with importing cleaner, more focused data into a cutdown, more business centric CRM system, you too might then have a shot at not becoming the next ‘failed CRM’ statistic.

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