According to CIO’s 2017 report, around one-third of all Customer Relationship Management (CRM) projects fail. Because most of the time, CRM tools are used for inspection and reporting, rather than for growth in the sales process. Inspection tends to include reports on progress, forecast accuracy, visibility, project delivery dates, and other business intelligence.

The reach of CRM systems extends way beyond sales, from executives in the C-suite to teams in marketing, technology, and finance. However, a combination of lack of strategy, customer-centered management, and an insular focus on data management contributes greatly to why CRMs fail. AI and data science in CRMs may seem to make jobs easier, but that’s not the point. If that was the case, you wouldn’t be growing or developing yourself. Instead, every tool your company uses exists to help you tackle the bigger problems in sales, business, and management. Not the problems that come with adopting new software.

The whole point of CRM isn’t software; it’s the improvement of customer relationships.

Focusing on delivering value with the highest impact requires placing your customer at the center of their sales experience, more importantly, through your success criteria. Creating a framework of CRM project objectives that is people-focused is more valuable to users and managers than software features and functions ever will be. This kind of success criteria measures success in user, customer, and business terms.

Think of your CRM as a strategic roadmap. Image by Freepik

Where do your relationships lead?

Think of your company CRM as a tool, a strategic roadmap. When your sales team remembers that executing this strategy is what happens when they interface with a client or prospect, they’ll focus better on reaching your company’s business goals. But if your sales team focuses only on producing a pipeline report, or entering data into a system, their results are only reaching tactical goals, not strategic objectives. Reporting and monitoring activity is valid in some cases, but do they improve customer relationships or move the needle on the company P&L?

They are not here to fulfill reporting or administrative requirements. As in Ben Hammersley’s 2020 mantra: better tools are meant to help your people solve bigger problems, i.e. reaching revenue goals such as increased customer acquisitions, customer retention, cost savings goals, access support resources during sales cycles, align with other teams to reach business goals more effectively. In other words: not managing client data.

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