If at First You Don’t Succeed…

By Heather Baldwin

If your company is in the midst of what looks to be a failed CRM implementation, it’s not too late to turn things around, suggests a new survey by The Alexander Group Inc. The Scottsdale, Arizona-based provider of advanced sales-growth solutions interviewed 50 people at 29 companies and learned that 50 percent of companies with failed initial CRM implementations are taking action to realize their expected ROI. Of those, half are seeing “significant” results – on average, 13 percent revenue growth, 28 percent gains in employee selling time, 17 percent gains in productivity and 22 percent increase in customer satisfaction, all within nine to 12 months of implementation.

The message here is that even if you’re past the point of no return on a failing implementation, you can still get things headed in the right direction by taking a few key steps, says Jim Stifler, CRM Practice leader. First, stop and put together a business case analysis laying out two to four organizational goals for CRM. Maybe you need to integrate sales, marketing and customer service because none knows what the other is doing and customers are getting frustrated. Or maybe you need to motivate account managers to maintain and grow the business of their best accounts so you need a point CRM solution to tackle just that issue. Whatever your immediate challenge, “you need to step back and think about what are the quantitative benefits and costs of each option, then let that drive the remaining decisions,” says Stifler.

Once you’ve got an ROI focus, run a pilot program. Pilots allow you to fine-tune and course-correct the solution before a broad rollout and they enable you to build wins. For instance, if you can show that a certain salesperson’s productivity has increased 20 percent, he has 25 percent more opportunities in the pipeline and he has shortened his sales cycle by 10 percent, others in the team will be motivated to use the new system.

“For those who have by-passed this stage and are in the broad rollout, it’s not too late to do it,” says Stifler. Go back to your business case analysis to pinpoint the areas where you want results, then stop and test them. Chances are, you’ll get things back on track.