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5 Ways Your B2B CRM Strategy Can Fail—and How to Prevent Them
Not securing leadership buy-in and failing to plan for necessary expenses and expertise are among the pitfalls.
Posted Sep 11, 2017
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Selecting a customer relationship management solution can be a triumphant moment for any B2B company. Instead of needing to trade emails or have long meetings about who said what to certain customers, now everyone will be on the same page thanks to modern software. But beware: There are perils on the way to CRM success. Here are five ways a CRM strategy can be derailed—and, importantly, here’s also how you can prevent it from happening.

1. Not having an executive to “champion” a CRM initiative. When a company decides to buy or upgrade their CRM solution, it’s vital that this initiative isn’t done at the manager level or lower. Getting an executive to sponsor this change is crucial because someone with a stake in implementing a CRM solution needs to be at the table when big company decisions are being made. If not, plans could be put in place that may directly affect your CRM efforts without your knowledge and may doom the process of launching a new CRM.

2. Viewing a CRM solution as a one-time purchase or expense. Some companies take the approach of purchasing a CRM solution as a one-time technology investment, like buying Microsoft Office. This isn’t the case at all. Purchasing CRM software is often just the first step in getting your company on the path toward knowing more about your customers. It’s common for consultants to be hired after a CRM system is chosen to help with integrating the software into your current technology stack. They are also on-call as specific CRM-related issues arise and their expertise is needed. Some companies even have full-time employees devoted to working in and improving CRM systems. It’s important to make sure you budget accordingly for future expenses related to your CRM solution.

3. Not taking the time to properly implement a CRM system. One of the reasons companies look for outside help with implementing CRM is because the initial install and launch didn’t go smoothly. Setting up a CRM system takes time and can be quite complex. If it’s not configured properly to begin with, then you need to add workflows, fields, and more on the fly. This increases the confusion when training employees. It also creates uncertainty that usually correlates with employees not adopting the CRM solution. Instead, they stick with what worked in the past, including email chains and group chats. Always set a realistic timeline for implementing CRM and don’t be afraid to seek outside help as needed.

4. Thinking a CRM solution alone will fix how customers feel about you. Just installing a CRM solution won’t magically improve customer relations overnight. In fact, there’s no such thing as a quick fix when working with customers and their emotions. Building a relationship with a new customer takes time, and it takes even longer to repair a customer relationship that has faced hardships in the past. A CRM solution may help kick-start customer relationships by making them easier to manage, but promising immediate customer satisfaction increases is setting the wrong expectation. Take the time to explain the CRM system to everyone and set realistic goals.

5. Thinking a CRM system is also a customer support system. Too often, companies look at CRM software as a tool to manage all customer interactions because of the high price tag that is often associated with such a system. Don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole. A CRM solution works perfectly alongside customer support software. The latter is utilized more for addressing customer concerns and inquiries directly, including through email tickets, live chat, self-service sites, and more. In addition, a bidirectional link can be created between the two systems so information is updated in real time. This link helps break down silos between departments and increases the value of your CRM system to your company because it has the most accurate information available. Businesses should always strive to have CRM software and customer support software working together so they can do a better job at keeping customers happy.

Wrapping up, a B2B CRM strategy can fail in multiple ways, but fortunately for every way it can go south there’s a method to turn it around. Make sure you have executive buy-in to lead a CRM initiative and understand it’s not just a one-time purchase. Once a CRM system is chosen, take the time to implement it successfully and set realistic expectations for the impact it will have on customers. Finally, pair your CRM software with customer support software so you can easily handle customer communication and always have the latest customer information available in your CRM system. Getting a B2B CRM solution up and running is no small feat, but when you do, it can be a game changer for how your company does business and interacts with customers.


Robert C. Johnson is the CEO of TeamSupport. Johnson is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur who has founded and invested in numerous software and high-tech companies, and his industry experience as a business leader and a customer inspired him to create TeamSupport to give support desk teams the tools and best practices to enhance customer loyalty and positively impact product sales. Prior to founding TeamSupport, Robert was president and CEO of Sundance Digital, one of the world’s leading providers of automation software to television and cable broadcasters.

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