In 2014, Gartner forecasts companies will spend almost 24 billion dollars on CRM software. Approximately 4.4 billion of this will be spent directly with Salesforce.com. With these large commitments of capital to CRM systems, it’s pretty clear that CEOs and business leaders around the world see the implementation of CRM systems as a strategic investment that should produce significant ROI.
For enterprises with the right people, processes, and technology, these investments in a CRM system will produce a dramatic and significant return on investment. Unfortunately, according to widely published reports over the past 10 years from sources like Forrester, Gartner, and Merkle, CRM system implementations typically have a failure rate between 50% and 60%, depending upon the specific study.
What exactly does CRM failure mean today with easy-to-deploy cloud-based CRM software like Salesforce?
CRM failure today ultimately means your business is not getting the maximum ROI out of your investment in your CRM system. Today, with enterprise-class SaaS-based cloud software like Salesforce, the technical portion of the implementation is fairly straightforward and is typically not the failure point. CRM failure points include poor user adoption, incomplete integration with legacy backend systems like ERP and accounting, lack of actionable metrics to inform sales management, limited gains in sales productivity, and limited customer insight.
So what are the key factors that cause systemic CRM system failures?
Most formal studies point to a lack of executive vision and sponsorship as a major contributor to CRM failure. For a CRM system like Salesforce to produce maximum ROI, the executive leadership team must be active participants and take ownership of the system. While the technical implementation may be managed by the CTO or CIO, the vision and direction of the implementation must be owned by the senior management team. Executive management must lay out the goals and vision for the CRM system.
We have found that at the core, you create a metrics-based culture by building upon the fundamental idea that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. The metrics-based culture is further reinforced by senior management leveraging the business intelligence capabilities of the CRM system. Senior managers in sales,marketing, and operations should all have custom reports and dashboards that provide key metrics and business intelligence for their operational units. Executive VPs and managing directors should also have custom reports and dashboards that provide them with addition metrics and insight into the performance of their operational units.
So what’s the upside?
The good news is that CRM systems like Salesforce are easier to deploy than ever and the failure rates can be mitigated by proper management of people and process issues within the organization.
Here are a few practical best practices to help you get the most out of your CRM system.
10 Tips for Maximizing Your ROI from Salesforce:
- Ensure the vision and direction of the implementation is owned by the senior management team. If you have a small management team, the CEO or business owner should set the goals and vision for the CRM system.
- Establish a metrics-driven culture based on the fundamental belief in the idea that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Include Salesforce data in daily and weekly management team meetings.
- Create a data-driven decision-making process across the company instead of relying on antidotal information from employees. This means all interactions with leads, contacts, opportunities, and customers should be recorded in the CRM with a level of detail so that if any employee quits or is fired another employee could take over the interactions with the customer.
- The internal mindset should be: If isn’t in Salesforce it doesn’t exist. This incentivizes CRM end-users to put more relevant data into the CRM system, which will increase the organization’s ability to measure and make effective and insightful decisions.
- Make sure the data within Salesforce stays clean. CRM systems at the foundation are only as good as the data within them. Train users on proper data entry techniques to prevent dupes and dirty data from entering the system. Run periodic audits of your data to look for data quality issues.
- Integrate high value business intelligence data from the CRM into the daily routines of the executive team. Every morning, everyone on the management team should log into Salesforce and a custom built-dashboard that has the KPI metrics for their team and the organization. If indivduals on the leadership team are not logging in and refreshing their custom dashboards and reports, you have a problem user adoption problem. Either the reports are not providing the right data or the person using the report is not getting real value from Salesforce.
- Invest time, money and resources into training users in your organization on how to use Salesforce effectively. Provide ongoing training to insure users are getting maximum ROI from the CRM. Monitor how users utilize Salesforce within the organization.
- Laser focus your Salesforce training efforts on teaching your sales team how to use Salesforce to increase productivity (closing more sales) over data compliance and process. Users should view Salesforce as a productivity-enhancing tool and not a management oversight tool that creates needless busy work.
- Periodically, measure user Salesforce adoption within your organization. Take the time to review and analyze log-in data and feature usage. There is a free AppExchange application called "The Salesforce Adoption Dashboards" that tracks application adoption within Salesforce.
- When possible, pick applications and platforms that integrate easily with Salesforce using an AppExchange plug-in instead of writing custom integration code. There are over 2,400 apps in the Salesforce AppExchange, with over 2.5 million installs. Take advantage of this resource. If you do go down the custom path code, make sure you have a team that has deep experience with the Salesforce API.
For more information on how to get the most out of Salesforce, see our Salesforce Scorecard.