October 3, 2016

The #1 Reason CRM Implementations Fail

BY Caitlin Delohery IN CRM Software 0 Comment

Over 60% of all CRM implementations fail. Crazy, right?

There are many, many, many articles out there that explore why this may be. They say the culprit is:

  • Poor leadership and change management
  • Substandard teamwork
  • Lack of focus and commitment
  • Failure to figure out the CRM
  • Low user buy-in

What do all of these reasons have in common?

They blame your CRM’s failure on you. On your ability to lead through change, your team’s ability to adapt to a new tool, and your own failure when it comes to larger strategic and operational vision. Huh.

But, while no one is saying a good strategy isn’t crucial to happy CRMing, what do all tanked CRM implementations really have in common?

It’s not one shoddy leadership style, writ large across the millions of different businesses trying on CRMs for size.

It’s not one model of teamwork, infecting all organizations — from the tiniest two-person Etsy store turned storefront to your favorite imported furniture mega-enterprise.

It’s not a shared Swiss-cheese vision of the future, full of holes and ineptitudes, a groupthink way of missing all the most important points of strategic change.

No, the one thing that all CRM implementations have in common is . . . a CRM.

It’s not you, it’s your CRM

If over 60% of kids failed to implement riding their bicycle, the bike manufacturers wouldn’t go around blaming the children. (Or if they did, it’d probably be pretty disastrous).

Parents and toy makers might note, though, that not all bikes work for all kids. Some bikes that work perfectly well for some kids are just a poor fit for others.


Perhaps some kids are too small to ride a bicycle without training wheels. Maybe older kids prefer a bike with fancy features, like racing tires and a built-in motor. Or, perhaps having a bike interferes with some kids’ goals of walking around and playing Pokemon Go.

In the same way, the CRM implementation problem is often caused by a system that is a poor fit for a particular organization. Just as not all bikes are for every kiddo, not all CRMs are for every business.

Here are a couple of common ways a CRM might not fit.

It’s the wrong size

If a certain kind of shoe didn’t come in your size, you wouldn’t buy it. Even if it was the most popular shoe around. Even if tons of your friends wore them and liked them. You wouldn’t pay top dollar to hobble around in shoes that were too big for you, suffer through tripping over your own feet, and lose your shoes constantly.


You’d find a pair that fit you just right.

We know that karmaCRM isn’t for everyone. A giant online bookstore, for example, or the hottest phone manufacturer around, isn’t going to get all the functionality they need out of karmaCRM — because it was designed with small businesses in mind.

And, the CRM that these mega corporations use is probably going to overwhelm your small business team with features that you just won’t ever use.

To make sure your CRM implementation is successful, look for the CRM that that fits your size, your specific needs, and your culture. Here are some questions to guide your decision:

  • Who would you like to use your CRM? Just your sales team or the whole enterprise?
  • What features do you need in your CRM? Which ones can you pass on?
  • What strategic goals would you like your CRM to support and inform?
  • What kind of customer service do you need?

To help get that perfect fit, take a look at must-have CRM features for small businesses.

It’s difficult to use

Nothing says “implementation killer” like a CRM system that’s difficult to use. Your team is already busy — the last thing they need is a new cumbersome app and a lengthy training process to get it up and running.

A CRM is supposed to make your team’s job easier — if it adds to their work, they’ll be much harder to convince to jump on the CRM bandwagon.


And without your organization’s full support, the data in your CRM will be partial. You won’t have a complete picture of your business — the whole point of a CRM in the first place — and your CRM experiment will end in failure.

An easy-to-use CRM, on the other hand, sells itself. Your team won’t need much convincing because they will want to use it.

With a properly-sized, easy-to-use CRM, you and your team can look forward to beating the odds and establishing a long, happy relationship with your new software.

Want more on ease of use? Check out our blog on why it’s the #1 most important feature to have in a CRM.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn.

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