CRM Must Work for Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Early CRM projects often didn't work. A GartnerGroup study in 1998 stated that 70% of CRM projects failed to deliver expected benefits. One of the main reasons for this staggering failure rate is that the people to whom the systems were deployed simply did not use them.
We are all motivated by personal gain. That gain can be monetary in nature, or just the satisfaction of seeing the customers better served. The fact of the matter is that if CRM software does not help people make more money or do their jobs better, they will not use it. Most early CRM solutions were designed by and for sales executives, not employees who work with the customer on a daily basis. They were systems that required salespeople to enter reams of information, which was then amalgamated into reports and analyses for executives. They did not deliver useful tools into the hands of the folks who dealt with customers. Therefore, the software was not used, and the projects failed.
Fortunately, most of today's CRM vendors have realized this. In fact, some of the most successful CRM solutions have evolved from shrink-wrapped contact management software (e.g. ACT!, Goldmine, Maximizer) that users have been voluntarily buying with their own money for years. They have voted with their dollars for tools that increase their sales. Recent releases of these products (SalesLogix, GoldMine FrontOffice, Maximizer Enterprise)
When selecting your CRM vendor, be sure to have the ultimate users--those who really deal with the customer--involved in the evaluation process. They can tell you if this is a tool they will use, or one that will be ignored.
Stephen Brooks is director of product management at MultiActive Software Inc.
This was first published in November 2000