Data & Performance

How to set your CRM system up for success

Written by Pim van Helten on 30, Seth 2021

Today, we are without a doubt living in the age of the customer. Everywhere you look or turn, marketers are talking about understanding the needs and wants of their customers. And understandably so.

Obviously, customers are important - they’re the ones buying your products and services. Everyone knows that an influx of unhappy customers can shutter your business. Which is why we’ve been so focused on building strong customer relationships and keeping our customers satisfied. 

To manage and foster customer relationships at scale, chances are that you’ve considered or implemented CRM (customer relationship management) software. CRM software helps build better customer relationships, and improve sales and retention by having meaningful conversations with current and potential customers. 

A well-implemented CRM system can deliver an ROI of 245%, according to Forrester. It’ll come as no surprise, then, that today’s brands have already implemented or are contemplating investing in the latest and greatest CRM systems. But despite this spike in popularity, did you know that most CRM implementations actually fail?

Why CRM projects fail

Two out of three brands become unhappy with their CRM and look to replace it within just two years, based on several studies by Forrester. There are a few reasons for this dissatisfaction:

  • Misguided strategy and no clear goals in place

Brands often go about implementing a CRM system without having a clear understanding of what they want to achieve. As a result, they’ll make a big investment in software that’s supposed to help, without actually knowing how. 

A common misunderstanding is viewing CRM as just another piece of software that increases efficiency. This is an example of poor scoping. Your CRM system exists to help you build and manage customer relationships. Many brands fail to understand this, and that’s where they go wrong. They later find themselves dealing with many more requirements than expected: one deliverable may end up becoming five over the project’s life cycle. 

If you want to be successful in your CRM efforts, you need a well-defined strategy with clear goals to work towards. Your CRM system should be seen as a tool to help you reach your goals, while your strategy is the roadmap that will get you there. 

  • Taking a 'one-size-fits-all' approach

CRM solutions come in all shapes and sizes, and while it can be overwhelming it's important to choose the right type that matches your wants and needs. Unfortunately, many brands tend to pick the first CRM vendor they find, assuming that any piece of software will do the trick. Or they choose a standard package in hopes of saving a few bucks. 

There’s a lot to consider before picking a CRM system. You need to take multiple factors into account, like your budget, goals, and the specific features you’re looking for. Just as important to consider is your tech stack’s capabilities. Your CRM should be able to integrate. Which is why there’s no point investing in just any CRM - you need a customized solution that caters to your needs. 

  • Implementation for the wrong reasons 

Many CRM projects fail because they’re initiated for all the wrong reasons. Too often, CRM’s are used for business intelligence, instead of focusing on improving customer relationships. Which, to be honest, is understandable. CRM systems come with so many different features and metrics, it can be easy to get caught up. This makes it all the more crucial to focus on the purpose of your CRM implementation: building lasting customer relationships. 

  • Having unrealistic expectations

The CRM landscape has changed dramatically since the concept first emerged in the 1970s. Today, CRM systems are expected to meet a range of objectives from different teams, be it tech, marketing, sales, or accounting. Expecting so much from your CRM - or any software system for that matter - will only lead to disappointment. 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your CRM system isn’t a silver bullet. It’s not a magical tool that you plug in and *poof* all your problems are gone. Its goal is to help you strengthen your customer relationships above all else. Treat it that way. 

Justifying the hype behind CRM systems

With so many arrows pointing towards failure, you might be wondering why invest in CRM software at all? The truth is that a CRM system is a must-have for any growing business. Here are three reasons why: 

1. Increase in revenue

A CRM system can significantly boost your revenue. By automating tasks, streamlining your sales processes, and accelerating sales pipelines, your CRM system can help increase conversions and set your sales team up for success. 

At the same time, a CRM system can uplift your marketing efforts by allowing you to track and nurture leads, run campaigns more efficiently, and improve collaboration with sales.

2. Valuable customer insights 

By storing customer data in one place, CRM systems give you easy access to important information about your customers. Using these insights, you’ll have a better understanding of your customers’ needs and preferences. Not only will this help you gain new customers, but it will also help you retain existing ones.

3. Maximized efficiency

CRM systems don’t just help maintain relationships with your customers, they also make collaboration between internal teams more efficient. They do this in many ways, like centralizing your customer data and automating workflows. This gives you more time to focus on other higher-priority tasks. 

The road to CRM success

If you want your CRM to succeed, you need to concentrate on what you want your CRM to do, rather than what it can do. So it’s important that you:

1. Have a well-defined strategy

I’ve already mentioned the importance of having a solid CRM strategy. Your CRM strategy is an organization-wide plan that guides your CRM goals: increased revenue and profits, as well as stronger customer relationships. 

Keep in mind that CRM isn’t just an IT concern, but rather, an executive-level priority. This is where many brands tend to go wrong. Remember that managing customer relationships is a strategic matter, and should be treated as such. 

2. Select a CRM that meets your needs

Choosing the right CRM can be overwhelming, especially with so many available options out there. Key is to find out what it is that you want and need, before starting your research and talking with sales.

What are you looking for in a CRM? How will the CRM implementation help you reach your goals? Which departments and teams will use it and what for? Once you’ve identified your goals, the next step is to research, research, research. Find out which solutions are suitable for you, but keep in mind that there is no perfect solution that tailors to your every need. That’s why a custom CRM is the way to go. 

3. Invest in training, onboarding, and change management

Like any new system, your CRM implementation will lead to some organizational changes. To prepare, you need to ensure your team members are all on the same page. Arrange for a proper change management process to help with training and onboarding your employees. Change can be difficult for a lot of people, so it’s important to remind your team of how a CRM will benefit them and your organization as a whole. 

4. Set clear performance measures

Successful CRM doesn’t stop at the implementation. You need to know whether your CRM is achieving the desired results. Set measurable goals to track performance. I like to think of this as a routine health checkup: it helps you figure out what’s working and what’s not. 

There are many metrics you can use to measure performance, like customer turnover, customer retention cost, and customer engagement. Again, the metrics you choose to measure should be based on what you’re trying to achieve. 

5. Prioritize the right relationships

Every customer is different, and not all customers are as valuable as others. Use your CRM system to identify your high-value customers that are most important to your growth. These are the relationships worth prioritizing. Let them know they matter to you. 

Practice what you preach

At DPDK, we’ve carried out a range of CRM implementations for clients like Kondor Wessels Vastgoed, Optiver, and YouChooz. We implemented HubSpot, a CRM platform that we also use ourselves. With Hubspot we support many of our sales and marketing activities, like lead qualification, email marketing, pipeline management, and above all else, maintaining and building great customer relationships. 

A CRM is a great tool for building lasting relationships with existing and potential customers. But if it’s not implemented correctly and for the right reasons, it can do as much harm as good. Don’t become just another statistic - take the right steps and turn your CRM project into a success.

Pim van Helten

Pim van Helten


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