Let me begin by saying that I do not have 30+ years of experience implementing CRM solutions. I do not have an exhaustive list of change management experience either. Nevertheless, with the experience I have at this stage, there is one thing that leaps ahead of all the other parameters of why some companies are successful at implementingSalesforce.com and others not so much.
The #1 defining characteristic that makes all the difference?
Proper Commitment from the Business Owner(s)
Now CRM implementations fails for a whole lot of other reasons as well. Everything from lack of training, too wide a scope, technical issues etc. In my research for this post, I read lots of other material, some of which I’ve linked to at the bottom of this post. But there was just that one thing that kept coming back to me. Lack of commitment.
Back to the essence of this – Proper Commitment. To me, having proper commitment in a Salesforce.com implementation (or CRM implementation), means:
- There is a clear business owner (who will stand on a stage promoting and driving engagement for the new System?)
- There is a clear purpose (a clear why) (what challenges does this system solve? for who? why do we need this? why now?)
- There is a clear vision (where are we going to be when it is up and running? what does it enable us to do long-term?)
Far too often, I have seen the should-be business owner of a platform, simply not caring enough about the implementation process. This most often results in a lack of ownership, and when the final Go-Live date comes, he or she stands there without full enthusiasm, without proper commitment – and when the top lacks it, the bottom will too.
A while ago, I was presented with this reverse organizational hierarchy, which puts this in perspective. The basic emphasis is that your role as a hierarchical leader, is to enable and support those immediately beneath you (which are above in the picture). These in turn should do the same – so that you empower those at the front lines, as it is the front line that makes your business thrive and grow.
That same applies to CRM implementation. Wherever you are in the hierarchy, you need to come with enough energy and enthusiasm so that you affect those around you. For Sales & CRM, the most important people to positively affect is the end-users. You need them on board, adopting the system, as the proper adoption is what will empower the rest of the organisation.
If we do a bit of backtracking on this, what this implies is that the Sales Reps’ Manager need to be on board. The Sales Team Manager’s Manager also need to be on board and enthusiastic about it. All the way up to the COO / CEO / CSO depending on your company structure.
I am not saying that the C-suite needs to now every single detail in the CRM application, but I do wholeheartedly believe that the top business owner need to stress the importance of adoption, of achieving the vision, at every chance he or she gets. This naturally includes investing resources, talking about successes / challenges with the CRM with those that you can influence – most importantly your direct reports. You might even go so far as including this in your status calls: “How is your team performing in terms of CRM adoption?”
My take on a successful CRM implementation:
- Ensure Proper Commitment from business owners,
- Make sure you have a clear purpose and a clear vision,
- And energize those you need to affect the rest of your organisation
What is your take on why CRM implementations fails? Would love to hear your thoughts!
One important thing about investing resources Taking ownership and casting a vision for the world to be, post CRM / Salesforce.com Implementation, can be challenging. Sometimes you might benefit greatly from investing in training of your business owners or those you expect to be involved in the implementation process. Not only training, but invest their time in seeing some other customers with great implementations, so that you inspire them on the capabilities and potentials of the CRM.
Interested in learning more about why CRM Fails? These other blog-posts are quite good:
- TopLineStrategies “Why Salesforce.com Implementation Fails“
- Cloud4Good’s “Why CRM implementations fails and how to avoid it“
- Prialto “Five reasons your Salesforce Implementation will fail“