How to Make CRM Succeed

By Heather Baldwin

To improve your chances of CRM success make sure you include development of customer-centric strategies with your CRM implementation. You’ve probably heard that message so many times it’s become just background noise, but you’d better believe it if you don’t want to become another CRM implementation failure statistic. And now the message has the numbers to back it up.

CRM consultancies Caribou Lake Customer-1, CRM Guru and Mangen Research Associates recently set out to determine the reasons that CRM implementations succeed – that is, produce a return on investment – and fail. They gathered data from more than 600 respondents across a range of company sizes and market sectors, with 448 of those respondents reporting at least partial ROI. The new study, The Blueprint for CRM Success: Results of a comprehensive study identifying best practices leading to ROI and factors contributing to failure, found that the presence of customer-centric strategies is the leading predictor of CRM success – by a substantial margin.

This isn’t new news acknowledge the study’s authors, but it’s a bitter pill for companies that want to implement CRM without becoming customer-centric – and there are many of them. But the numbers don’t lie. Overwhelmingly, they show that companies attempting CRM in the absence of some significant semblance of customer-centric strategies routinely fail. The bottom line: If your company is looking at a CRM implementation but has no plans to adopt customer-centric strategies, save your money. Other predictors of CRM success include line-level training and support, making organizational changes and setting measurable goals.

Of potentially as much interest as the factors that determine CRM success are those factors that have no bearing on the success or failure of a CRM project despite commonly held beliefs to the contrary. For example, the researchers found that software selection had no significant bearing on outcome. “In direct contradiction to much of the CRM industry software advertising, no other factors, including software selection methodology and actual vendor selection, are statistically significant predictors of positive outcomes,” they write. “According to the data, buying Siebel, probably the most aggressive industry advertiser in touting the success of its implementations, does not statistically improve chances of success. Nor, for that matter, does buying any other brand of software. The implementation steps preceding software selection are what make the difference.”

The report sells for $195. For more information or to obtain a copy of the report, contact Caribou Lake Customer-1 at (952) 837-9802 or