What are the main reasons for CRM failures?

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
Updated March 22, 2024

This article aims to shed light on the top 5 CRM failures and show you how to avoid them. 

The CRM failure rate in 2022 currently stands between 18 and 69%, with the total failure rate (median) from CRM project studies at 30%. 

Digital adoption failure is the core reason for customer relationship management failure, lack of vision, poor planning, bad data, siloed departments, and an unbalanced customer-centric approach.  

For CRM systems to succeed and sufficiently motivate CRM stakeholders, the following aspects are crucial: high-level involvement from management, clear and concise communication of SMART goals and objectives, cross-departmental integration, and adequate commitment from sales teams. 

We will now delve into the most common reasons for CRM failures in the modern digital business environment. 

What Are The Main Reasons For CRM Failures?

What are the main reasons for CRM failures?

CRMs can fail for multiple reasons, mainly because of a lack of digital adoption

CRMs are notoriously complex and need adequate support and planning from businesses, team leaders, and higher-ups. There is no point in investing vast amounts of money in digital adoption solutions and CRMs if adequate training isn’t given to its core users. 

Some businesses rush the user onboarding process and don’t adequately sequester the appropriate resources to implement a CRM.  Digital adoption is crucial for several reasons, the most important being implementing a successful digital transformation strategy. 

Without digital adoption, digital transformation just isn’t possible. Executing a prosperous CRM solution requires sufficient time, planning, and resources to succeed. We will now go through the top five reasons for CRM failures and how to avoid them.  

The Top 5 Reasons For CRM Failures

1. Not Defining Goals 

One of the most common problems digital-first businesses face today is a lack of planning and not defining business goals properly. Companies need to think about and clarify the exact problems that they want their CRM solution to solve by setting clear goals and objectives. 

When objects are SMART and measurable, it helps to set out a clear vision that can be used to gauge results.  A contingency plan is a great way to ensure digital disruption doesn’t harm your bottom line. 

But, it’s important to note that insufficient digital disruption also harms the bigger picture of digital transformation. So, finding equilibrium is key to a successful CRM solution and gives businesses a clear guide. Companies must look ahead and plot a measurable path to success with relevant metrics in place to truly be triumphant. 

2. Not Allowing Proper Supervision From Management 

Another reason CRM implementation has such a high failure rate is insufficient support, encouragement, and training at the executive leadership level. 

Commitment from higher us needs to be firm, and cross-departmental collaboration needs to be championed at every level to reap the real benefits of CRM. Sales, marketing, and customer service teams are all crucial to the overall success of your CRM implementation solution. 

These departments need to understand what each division is trying to achieve and must work to support each other in attaining long-term organizational goals and not just individual ones.  Executives can sometimes be reluctant to enforce proper SMART goals and objectives related to CRM management. 

If they see that the CRM will optimize processes and produce business growth, lower costs, improved marketing, higher customer retention rates, and increased sales, they are much more likely to support the CRM implementation process from the ground up.  

A great way to achieve this is by taking the language of CRM software out of the technical arena and offering easily understandable information and benefits to management and higher-ups. For example, when choosing an appropriate software vendor, offer management several options with the advantages and disadvantages of each solution clearly defined. 

This helps keep management informed while encouraging a feedback loop and reporting strategy.  

3. Choosing The Wrong Vendor 

Businesses that get caught up in marketing hype when purchasing their CRM solution are likelier to fail than those with adequate, in-depth research to support their choices. If your business processes are working and are deemed successful, there is no inherent need to change them. 

That said, businesses need to take control of their choices and not negatively disrupt processes already working smoothly.  The best way to choose the correct software vendor is by getting a concise list of questions that you can use to cross-reference the different CRM solutions that you have in mind for your business needs. We’ve developed the following questions to help you gauge the best CRM provider: 

  • What CRM features are crucial to the ongoing success of your business? 
  • Does the software provide a flexible and adaptable UI that you can easily customize? 
  • How scalable is it? 
  • Can it be easily integrated with existing tools? 

4. Users Not Getting On Board

It’s a given that whichever CRM you use, employees need to understand and attain inherent benefits. If your employees aren’t committed or don’t understand the intricacies involved in proper CRM management, the implemented solution will be in vain, and all the benefits will be negated. CRMs should not be seen as a management tool but as a solution for cross-departmental teams to collaborate.  

Employees also need to be aware of the benefits of CRM adoption. For example, sales teams that are used to old datasets may be reluctant to implement a new solution. It’s down to managers to enforce the benefits of the latest solutions and give salespeople time to understand the new processes. Businesses must ensure that CRM solutions will automate outdated manual processes, saving time, money, and valuable resources. 

In the long run, this enables sales teams to focus on the more pivotal aspects of their roles while meeting long-term organizational needs more productively. 

5. Complex Or Convoluted Requirements 

It’s important to note that people using CRM software may not be technically savvy. If a new piece of software isn’t easy and efficient, employees won’t see the advantages and will reject the solution. 

Keeping things simple and signing up for the most crucial services that serve core business objectives will help employees get the most use out of the solution and reap the associated benefits.  Keep in mind the needs of all of your employees and find a solution with an easy-to-understand user interface (UI) that is both friendly and intuitive. 

If you are over-ambitious and implement an overly complex convoluted solution, you risk putting employees off from day one and losing valuable input and resources. 

How To Fix Customer Relationship Management Failure

Customers are and should be at the center of any thriving business. CRM software allows businesses to hold vital information about customers, their needs, and their experiences. 

However, CRM implementations are notoriously difficult and have a high failure rate. CRM failure happens, in most cases, because of a lack of training tools, such as diluted focus and in-app guidance. CRM projects are often rushed, need to be implemented properly, and lack focus. 

CRM projects fail because of insufficient user adoption, which is a key driver of success. Utilizing a CRM strategy keeps CRM fails to a minimum while giving businesses appropriate insights on constantly improving and expanding. Successful implementation means utilizing customer data to generate strong, measurable results. Every CRM system is different and brings with it its own set of unique challenges. 

Your CRM project should be cross-departmentally defined to generate cohesive results throughout your organization. Choosing the right CRM vendor is equally important to training and onboarding new employees. Each vendor offers different benefits, price ranges, and unique user interfaces that impact businesses differently.

A Good CRM Software Implementation Is A Disruptive One

By default, all businesses that implement a CRM solution will replace existing legacy systems. In doing so, the rate of CRM implementation disruption is gravely underestimated. Employees throughout the organization depend on valuable customer information to successfully carry out their day-to-day activities. This means that buy-in from every level is needed for true digital disruption to occur. 

CRM implementation failure is rising, and planning and estimating process transformation is notoriously difficult. CRM failure rates currently stand at an all-time high of 70% and higher. This is mainly due to poor planning and a poor CRM strategy. Another reason why CRM projects fail is if a customer-centric approach isn’t taken throughout the whole implementation process.

Seven Steps For Successful CRM Implementation

We have identified seven key steps for successful CRM implementation below:

1. Choose The Right System

CRM system implementation comes down to how it fits your organization’s needs. CRM success depends on data migration, choice of software provider, the overall sales process, corporate strategy, and business model. Modern CRMs are highly configurable, mobile-ready, and inexpensive to implement. 

The best way to choose the right system for your needs is to request a demo for your top five or six choices. You can then check references and streamline your options from there. It’s important to understand the basic nature of the licenses you are purchasing and ensure that the ability to add configurations and software customizations comes at no extra cost.

2. Map Out & Define Your Sales & Marketing Process

To successfully optimize your CRM cross-departmentally, the best way to achieve optimal results is by carefully planning and mapping out vital business processes step-by-step. Companies emphasize organization-wide collaboration and defining agreements and best practices before choosing a software vendor. 

Doing so will decrease project risk and overall project failure by creating an enterprise-wide effort that includes the IT department and other crucial business units.

3. Make Sure That You Create An End-To-End Solution

A lot of secondary systems can easily be integrated into your CRM. Businesses are incorporating various tools such as project management, co-working tools, web conferencing, and email marketing to get the most out of their CRM system. 

System integration is a great way for multiple departments to have a hands-on approach to CRM implementation and management, showcase the benefits and advantages, and excite people.

4. Choose The Right Partners

It’s important to have a clearly defined company strategy that demonstrates the role of the vendor and the role of the end-user. Measurable and strategic objectives should be implemented to ensure everyone is on target, and the sales cycle should be constantly calculated to gauge success. 

Most CRM implementations benefit from approaching CRM management this way, which also helps minimize scope creep. Choosing the wrong software can make or break a CRM implementation, so remember to take your time and provide a weighted list of benefits before making the final decision.

5. Obtain Feedback Early On In The Adoption Process

One of the biggest reasons why CRM implementations fail is if users need to actively participate in the solutions that serve their daily needs. 

Project teams, sales teams, and marketing departments need to actively obtain feedback from early in the adoption process. This means that having a cross-functional team with a heavy focus on CRM objectives from the earliest stages is a critical factor that could determine the success or failure of your entire project.

6. Generate & Maintain A Project Plan

Successful CRM implementation involves execution, deliverables, champions, and structured, measurable timelines. At this stage, project managers should be brought on board to get buy-in from executives and create a team of super users that can test out key aspects of your CRM. 

The best way to achieve this is through a phased approach that offers in-depth solutions to any potential problems. Aspects such as software customization and poor data quality can be easily negated once a project plan is in place that clearly defines actionable processes.

7. Make Sure That You Deploy A Working, Scalable Solution

Cross-departmental collaboration is a key driver of success for CRM implementations. However, the IT department does hold a heavy hand regarding the overall management, deployment, and scalability of any given solution. Seamless data mitigation, systems integration, and training are all integral parts of CRM implementations and will help deliver valuable information to sales teams when needed. 

CRM solutions need to be delivered in a way that provides innovative tools to salespeople that they don’t currently have access to. These can be in the form of tickler emails, data around online customer viewership habits, and even access to white papers and case studies. In the long term, having a deployable and scalable CRM solution will ensure long-lasting success. It will enable businesses to measure the true and substantial growth achieved directly. 

A change management program is a great way to introduce new enterprise software throughout the organization, with successful CRM implementations relying on integrated software applications that simplify decision-making and provide better data quality.

Final Thoughts 

CRMs are extremely useful software that can often make or break a business. When CRM solutions aren’t implemented correctly, you risk losing sight of long-term business objectives and wasting time, effort, and resources that could otherwise be spent elsewhere. 

The key to successful CRM implementation is proper planning, training, and cross-departmental collaboration that considers the entire organization’s objectives.  

When CRM solutions are fully integrated and a part of both digital adoption and digital transformation strategies, they can work effortlessly to streamline outdated processes and capture valuable data that serves business needs end-to-end.

WalkMe Team
By WalkMe Team
WalkMe pioneered the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) for organizations to utilize the full potential of their digital assets. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and contextual guidance, WalkMe adds a dynamic user interface layer to raise the digital literacy of all users.