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If the sales, marketing, or customer service teams are frustrated by the value they receive from the CRM system, chances are that your organization has lost sight of the customer and those who serve customers.

Hope springs eternal when a CRM is deployed, yet many independent studies claim failure rates of 50% or higher for new CRMs.

At first, your CRM may have garnered praise for increasing productivity, but eventually, the story changes. The CRM team may be understaffed or staffed with less-experienced people.

Then the sales operations, sales enablement, finance, or other functions begin to exert influence regarding things salespeople should be doing or capturing data to inform HQ better what is happening in the field.

Data quality beings to suffer, the organization loses faith in the CRM, and then spreadsheets and other technology tools begin to creep back to fill CRM gaps. At this point, leadership needs to step in and empower a few key individuals to get the CRM back on track.

Here’s our recommended approach to optimize your CRM: 

Three Steps to Get the CRM Back on Track

  1. Get Outside Help
  2. Rethink CRM Leadership
  3. Strategies and Priorities Change, and So Should the CRM

1. Get Outside Help

Have your CRM or Sales Operations team develop a report that every salesperson can run for her territory, vertical, or assigned account base.

2. Rethink CRM Leadership

The “Voice” of the internal and external customer was lost at some point, which is the reason your CRM is in its current state.

The CRM is typically the lifeblood of the sales, marketing, and customer service functions, so the revenue agenda’s owner should pay attention.

CRM leadership for larger organizations needs to “have done CRM more than once.” If you have time and money, internal-grown CRM leaders work out well. If there is a bias for action and significant change, find a CRM leader from outside the company.

3. Strategies and Priorities Change, and So Should the CRM

Organizations, markets, and customers continuously evolve. What the organization thought it needed five years ago may no longer apply.

Consider just the increasing role of marketing automation and the advent of virtual and social selling — modern sales and marketing teams are increasing their use and adoption of the CRM. Establishing a mandate for continuous CRM optimization will ensure that your organization can leverage the CRM for productivity, competitive advantage, and improved customer service.

CRM challenges and frustration with CRM are common. Optimizing the CRM will take time, but the outcomes can deliver a meaningful impact to the revenue agenda.

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