Don't Let Software Suck The Soul Out of Your Business

In the past four months, I've talked to, count 'em, 14 companies with failed software-related projects. Most of the time, I’m talking to companies implementing a CRM or other sales-related tools.

They're either dumping existing CRMs that aren't being used. 

Or, they're throwing in the towel on failed implementations.

Or, they're realizing they focused on the wrong things entirely and are starting over.

One company spent over 300K and three years on a failed implementation.

Another, billion-dollar + company, got so obsessed with the user interface and design and missed some of the most important questions when designing their tool.

Don't worry, if you're a consumer-driven reader with no sales team this tidbit applies to you as well. As you read on, think about how you're ensuring that there's a real human connection with your highest profit clients at the frequency there should be.  

With the majority of companies I've spoken to, most couldn't answer the basic question of 'What did you hope to get out of your CRM project in the first place?'  

Four answered it by saying something along the lines of: 'We think it'll help our salespeople sell more effectively by helping them schedule their prospecting and client management better, as well as better organizing their notes.'  

Three wanted to use it as a management tool on top of those, and only one of the fourteen said that they wanted to use it to improve the effectiveness of their existing sales process. And yet still, that one failed because they put a system in place that was orders of magnitude more complicated than it should have been in place.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about how if you're not asking the right simple questions, then your strategy is bound to fail. 

With CRM implementations, some of those questions are:

1. Why are we putting this into place?

2. How will this compliment the sales process we have (or are going to develop)?

3. How will management at all levels benefit from having this CRM in place?

4. How will management combat pushback on the non-use of the CRM, or non-compliance to new processes?  

(This is especially important – I've worked with companies that dramatically altered their sales teams process and results within 45 days, and others that are still struggling three years later – the only difference is the will of management to enforce the importance of selling to process & using the sales tools required)

The most common thing we hear when we talk about CRM is Salesforce. And rightfully so, Salesforce has built an incredible company and a great "CRM." But this too is problematic, and the exact reason I find so many companies struggling in this area.

Because the answer to creating a better sales team, or improved customer communications is never about a piece of software or a subscription, the answer is about taking the time to understand how your business should be operating. It's about ensuring you have developed the right processes to provide improved effectiveness.

It's about being able to answer questions like:

How often do we get in touch with our top clients?

How often are we speaking to all clients? 

How are we ensuring all quotes have been followed up on?

How often are we asking for referrals?

When was the last time we did something meaningful, memorable, and personal with our top clients?

You could add a million more questions here – those are up to you and your business. I can get you started with the most important.

Then, and only then, you are ready to get the software or tools in place to support those efforts.