CRM software has the potential to transform your business’ performance. Not only does CRM lead to an increase in customer engagement, but it allows your company to design a highly tailored, customer-centric operating model that drives sales and boosts efficiency across the organisation.

However, to correctly leverage your CRM software’s potential, an effective implementation process is crucial. Failure to do so wastes valuable time and resources, while severely limiting the performance capacity of the software.

Below are four of the most common CRM implementation mistakes, and the key steps to avoid them.

1.Vague objectives

Many businesses have the same objectives during the initial stages of CRM implementation: to reduce costs and increase sales. While these should be the overarching aims of any CRM strategy, they are too vague to provide actionable value as they are. Poorly devised objectives can result in up to 50% of CRM software features being underutilised, which naturally brings financial consequences along with it.

Begin by breaking down each umbrella aim into actionable parts. If you would like to increase NPS, identify the areas that can be improved. Take, for example, the aim to increase customer satisfaction. By using CRM software, you can process data to gauge satisfaction levels, enabling you to identify weak points, and use this data to streamline processes.

2. No implementation plan

Actionable objectives are an essential aspect of CRM transformation. However, without a well-thought-out implementation process, it can also be expensive, inefficient, and have a negative impact on employee morale. To avoid this, certain factors must be considered.

Choose your software wisely
A large aspect of a successful implementation plan revolves around the choice of software. The most effective software platforms incorporate best practices within the scope of their functional offering, or alternatively provide the ability to be configured and customised to your needs. Consider consulting CRM experts to help with choosing which CRM software is right for you.

Assemble a team
Once you have a CRM platform that is suited your needs, establish an an implementation team, including a project manager, CRM performance analyst, ongoing platform developer, QA test engineer, and representatives from each department. Every member of the team should have a clearly defined role, allowing for a quick and painless implementation process.

Any new implementation procedure is going to result in short-term costs. Although the ROI will be well worth the start-up investment, planning is very important at this stage. When you consider everything from training to external support to potential overtime, your team will be well prepared to deal with the initial cost.

3. Poor user adoption

The fact that fewer than 40% of businesses have a CRM adoption rate of over 90% is due in part to poorly designed, counterintuitive software. While user adoption is a key consideration early in the process, inadequate performance in this area indicates a wider,multifaceted issue that goes beyond the software itself.

Clear communication
Although over 90% of companies with 10 or more employees use CRM, 22% of salespeople demonstrate a total lack of awareness surrounding CRM systems. By communicating clearly with your employees, you can outline the benefits of the software—not only in terms of ROI but also the effect it has on their day-to-day lives. For example, in some cases, data accessibility alone can shorten sales cycles by up to 14%.

Proper training
The importance of properly training users on CRM software early in the integration process cannot be understated. In the long run, this will result in more efficient use of the software that produces better results. The most successful methods involve a mixture of approaches from company-wide and departmental seminars, or webinars —both onsite and off— lead by experienced managers. The training should also be ongoing, with follow-up sessions to ensure the correct procedures are being followed, alongside monitoring staff feedback.

4. Failure to evolve the system

As more data is processed, more procedures streamlined and more workflows optimised, the more effective your CRM platform becomes. That is, provided the software is continually developed. With CRM implementation resulting in an increase in sales, the rate of growth can result in a shortage of time to monitor the data produced, which leads to lost or unused information, and an inefficient system.

From the beginning stages, consider how your CRM system will grow in line with your company. This should be assigned to a team member in the implementation team, in conjunction with the data analyst. Alternatively, with more than 67% of organisations facing insufficient CRM functional growth, it may be worth consulting a CRM specialist.

Choosing to implement a CRM strategy is a significant decision for any business. In order to set such a far-reaching overhaul of current practices in motion, it is essential to design an extensive and multifaceted plan to increase the chances of success. Despite the risks involved, the potential of truly transforming every aspect of your business’ performance, and becoming a key player in your market, is worth the investments in time, money, and resources.