Top Reasons CRM Implementations FAIL Take 1 of 2

GraveStoneCRMFails2019Take1Top Reasons CRM Implementations Continue to Fail &
what to do about it Take 1
It was shocking to me when I started researching this article just how bad the situation was. Not only was the failure rate high, between 30% – 70% over the past 15 years, it continues to be high and in some cases there were multiple failures. ( source Why the failure rate ranged between 30% to 70% it is not clear, some of it depends on how failure was defined. Was the failure: technical, lack of user adoption, ROI was not realized, partial adoption etc. According to work done by Forrester Research lack of user adoption was the caused 70% of failed CRM projects.

I was reading an article in Harvard Business Review “Why CRM Projects Fail and how to make them more successful By Scott Edinger His top 3 are:

1. “Re-think your CRM as a tool to increase revenue. Period……
The CRM is a tool to help them sell more, access support resources during sales cycles, and manage their territory or “book of business.” If the sales team recognizes the value of this tool, you’ll get all the metric and forecast information you desire.”

My observation: is that Sales People want to sell not sit at a keyboard typing. They are more valuable selling than typing. Keep the amount of data they have to enter to a minimum, just the key info about the people and the opportunity. Do as much heavy lifting for them as possible, at an Salesforce Admins we have plenty of tools to upload their account – contact lists.
2. “Integrate your marketing efforts with sales activity.      Historically, these two functions collaborate on CRM implementation so poorly it’s almost a cliché. …… Early in the sales cycle, marketing and sales have roles to play in identifying and qualifying opportunities to actively pursue. As sales cycles develop, they should have a shared understanding of what constitutes a qualified lead, as well your ideal customer profile — both in terms of the company and level of buyer. This helps filter out business you shouldn’t pursue. Later in the sales cycle, marketing works with sales to create materials that can be customized to client objectives and case studies, instead of the generic collateral sales teams often see as low value. Finally, working together on win/loss analysis provides an active feedback loop for joint planning and addressing future needs. This kind of integration, using your CRM as the glue, will improve marketing’s efforts to create gravity with prospects, and sales’ ability to accelerate sales cycles. It’s an advantage for the business if you can use at least some of the same metrics to evaluate the success of both departments.”
My observation: No self-respecting Sales Person ever gives credit to Marketing for getting the deal done, it was all their sales prowess that won the deal. Honestly I have been on both sides of this one. Sales is the sharp tip of the sword and a very hard job. No person does it all it is truly a team effort. With e-marketing tools like Pardot we know where the good leads came from cradle to close won. Both sides need to drop their pretenses and have open and honest conversation on what a good lead is and how to close them. Marketing has to look for feedback on what a bad lead is and weed them out. Our markets ever change so Sales need to keep Marketing up to date on what to filter in and out.
3. “Managers provide coaching to improve, not reporting to inspect.       The pivotal role in driving CRM success is not individual sales people. It’s sales management. They will determine how the sales team uses and experiences the CRM. If they use it solely to check on the amount of activity, call volume, or other measures of efficiency, it’s of low value to the sales team and likely be rejected or filled with fictional data. Instead use it as a tool to jointly create strategies for major opportunities, and help the sales team to maximize opportunities by coaching them throughout the sales process. I’ve written in the past about the high value of coaching and the fact that it’s rarely done well. But CRM can be a powerful mechanism to support coaching for individual sales calls, as well as opportunity, account, and territory management.”
My observations: No one likes to be tracked and held accountable. The types of personality’s that are good at sales according to folks at Sandler Sales are not the personalities that are good at the detail work like CRM. Coaching and Managing the Team using the CRM works well for enterprise selling and major opportunities I agree. Where I disagree with the Author is on the Accountability side. The only part of the sales process we fully control is “Our Activities” so I feel using the CRM to track sales activities like dials, walk in’s, cold calls, networking is the way to go. “Selling is a Contact Sport” if a sales person is Not tracking these basic activities they don’t even have a foundation and coaching someone without the fundamentals of the game won’t help much. A good sales person will not like it but will accept that failing at accountability is going to hold them back. They must be part of the goal setting to buy into what they will be held accountable for.
This is also where I feel the Executive Sponsor has to weigh in and walk the talk and hold the Team Accountable. Several ways come to mind: It’s part of their Annual Goals, All Reporting is done out of the CRM, Commissions are paid based on what is in the CRM. Align the whole teams’ goals towards success.

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Step SIX of SIX Define Your Road-map


The Launch date – Go Live Event, is not a one and done occurrence. The benefits to the Organization can be added to for many years to come.  Make sure your Road Map Reflects That Benefits that the whole organizations will gain. The tailwind from a Implementation will be felt for years, as the benefits mount. In one case I automated a customer satisfaction email survey that cost $400 to create and saved $2,500 the first year, $3,000 the next year and $8,500 over the past 3 years. This is where you get to show the Organization the Magic.

Gaining alignment of all of the team members involved or effected by the implementation is super important. It can make or break the success of the implementation. If there is any one thing, I see in business management books over and over again is “Keeping the main thing the main thing” to loosely quote Steven Covey. A road map shows the whole organization where you all are going at a high level. Sometimes it makes sense to keep the dates broad – by Quarter and as you look out 3 – 5 years. The Tailwind of a Salesforce Implementation can drive cost benefits out at least 3 – 5 years or more. Mainly through reducing costs, improving productivity, better forecasts and most importantly Automation.  The Road Map also keeps the Implementation Team accountable. A good road map will also help avoid chasing shiny objects as you will be forced to decide what gets delayed.  Team members also get to see where their preferred features get implemented. It also gives the Implementation team a tool to set new feature requests into the future.

Implementing a CRM is disruptive it engenders a new way of thinking.  The reap the benefits of a CRM we have to be open and willing to change how we do business. It is a journey from Organization Centered model to a Customer-centric model.  Customer expect you to know about them and the products – services they bought from you, their preferences, likes & dislikes. The old way worked, but is was a lot of manual mindless work, CRMs automate the drudgery freeing Professionals to use the intellect to further the business goals.  Getting input from the Teams who will be affected will be key. Good change management is critical.

A less detailed version of Salesforce Implementation Road Map should also be presented at an All Hands Meeting. Shared with Key Share Holders and at Investor Presentations.  This generates alignment across the whole organization. If there is one thing that I see over and over in Business Management Books is how hard it is to as Steven Covey said “Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing” to keep the business aligned and firing on all cylinders. Salesforce CRM is all about Data Transparency (yes you control who sees what) the whole Team is on the same page.


A Gant Chart like the one above (Built using Smartsheet is a great way to show at a high level the overall goals and timeline of the project. It is best to keep the Chart at a high level and by Quarters. Even when using an Agile – Scrum approach a High-Level Road Map is a good tool to have as a guide. Keep your road-map flexible enough to flow to where the success will be rather than being too rigid. Often times during Implementations better ideas surface that will generate far more ROI than what we originally though would be successful.

Now it’s time to going and get started. I don’t suppose that in some small way this series of Six Articles has helped, on the off chance it has kindly feel free to contact me.

Phil Sallaway

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Step FIVE of SIX – Prioritize Initiatives


“You are either working on your goals or someone else’s” David Sander

Not sure who said it first but with CRM Implementations it is Doubly True “If it is Measured it gets done”. In our earlier steps we set our Smart Goals, Business Objectives  & Strategy. Now we set them into and order of priorities. There are two dangers here, attempting to do too little or cramming in too much. Work often expands to fill the time allotted so having a good project manager is critical to success. Beware of chasing shiny objects. As Confucius once said “He who chases 2 rabbits gets none” now is the time to buckle down and determine where the gold is.

Some Teams use a chart like the one below and put Stickers or Post It notes on it to do team voting. It often pays to tackle a portion of the project with low risk a good level of reward. How you define Success – High Level of reward should derive from our work on Smart Goals measured in number preferably in dollars of ROI.

As British Field Marshal Slim once said to build confidence in his troops he would use a Sledge Hammer (Large Group of Allied Troops) against a Walnut (Much Smaller Group of Enemy Solders) this ensured success and build moral. Nothing succeeds like success. Often implementation teams will pick one department or team for a pilot implementation, often Tech Support, Customer Service or Inside sales. These office bound teams are much easier to support. Most importantly you will get feedback rapidly and be able to correct & improve your implementation quickly.

One area to keep in mind is dependencies. Some implementation activates need to happen before others even if they are not High ROI Generators. For example: Locating Data, Cleaning & Normalizing Data, Importing Data. Having a slew of Pretty Colorful Graphics Laden Dashboards & Reports with No Data is well pointless.

Some teams use a chart like the one below with Yellow Sticky Notes or Stick on Smileys to vote on priorities graphically. This is a style used in many Agile Organizations. It generates team buy in.


In an agile – scrum project management approach the Product Owner & Scrum Master will build a project backlog and generate user stories for the implantation team. With the Agile – Scrum approach the goal is to provide Usable Software every 2-week Sprint. Usable means they have something to demonstrate, not necessarily that a massive chunk of software is coded. Often a mock-up or partly functioning product is demonstrated to get input for the next sprint where a more complete product is presented. This allows for fast changes as new and better functionality surface. Rather than waiting months for functional software to be presented that may or may not meet the Product Owners Requirements or worse leave out better ideas the surfaced during development.

In a Water Fall style of project management a Project Manager will work with the team to lay out the whole project based on the Goals, Business Objectives and Strategy we defined in our earlier steps.

This process need not be overly complicated Salesforce provides a great sample (Below) for putting the Goal, Metric, and Priority on one concise page.


Prioritizing the value of your Initiatives is a balancing act. There is a temptation to shoot for the moon.  Salesforce recommends a Crawl, Walk, Run approach. Use a combination of answers to these questions.  What needs to be done first to get basic functionality, where can we get a good solid win and where can be build a solid foundation for the whole organization. To get an idea of your Priorities.


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The FOURTH Step to CRM Implementation Success Identify the Metrics

SalesforceMetricsIn our previous step we selected SMART goals (by George T. Doran) now we continue that process to get to specifics:

  • Specific– target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable– quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable– specify who will do it.
  • Realistic– state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related– specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Tie your metrics to our previous Steps where we created our:  Vision, Strategy, and Business Objectives here is where we get Specific, Measurable and Time Bound. In some cases, the metrics will be in Work Hours saved in others actual $ Dollars, in some cases added functionality or process consistency. These Key Performance Indicators are our measure of success. It is really easy to get sidelined into fluffy bunny; fuzzy objectives that sound good but are like trying to nail Jello to a Wall when you try to measure them. Good Business objectives keep us focused and help us avoid chasing shiny objects.

Keep it to hard measurable numbers in dollars. This is usually easier than it seems, if you reduce the time spent on data entry by going to Web To Case functionally, first identify how much time your team is spending doing data entry for Cases, then average their Wages including Benefits (Human Resources will have this info)  this will give you the fully loaded costs of their hours. Then do the math. The time saved can be shifted to outbound calling to grow sales this will also be measurable. If you team spends 3 hrs a day outbound calling adding just one hour a day can increase sales by 30%.

Then there a few problems that are so annoying and frustration to both your team and customers that they are worthy of solving even if there is no definable monetary benefit. Sometimes team & customer satisfaction is hard to define in dollars yet is a very worthy goal unto itself.


A. Increase Productivity by 20% in our Customer Service – Tech Support Departments.

  1. Reduce Call time by 15% using Salesforce tools to speed customer interactions by 2nd qtr
  2. All Case paper work will be digital and accessible to everyone, reducing paper costs by 10% end of 3rd qtr
  3. All reporting of metrics in Salesforce to reduce time spent creating month end reports saving 6 hrs
  4. Initiate Salesforce ‘Web to Case “so customers can create cases 24 hr a day reduce data entry by 30% due 2nd qtr
  5. Build Salesforce Lightning Paths for Customer Service and Tech Support 1st qtr
    • Each Path will have the Guidance for Success for the top 3 issues
    • Leads, Cases, Orders, Quotes & Work Orders
  6. Write workflows to automate the Customer Satisfaction Survey e-mail function reduce man hours spent on this function by 5%, $3,000 savings per person per year by 4th qtr
  7. Targets of opportunity identified during the process that provide better ROI than our current goals, ongoing.

B. Sales & Marketing: Grow our sales by 15% this year by standardizing, automating, and streamlining our sales process.

  1. Standard Lead Qualification process reduce Lead Qualification process from 3 months to 14 days, with 100% Trade Show Lead follow up from current 10% follow up, by 1st qtr
  2. All commissions will be calculated in Salesforce, saving Accounting 30 hrs a month
  3. All Weekly & Monthly Sales activity will be in Salesforce saving 3 hr a week preparing Excel Spreadsheets, by 3rd qtr
  4. A well-designed Sales Process with the Path built into our Opportunity Object, including Guidance For Success 1st qtr
  5. Automate lead assignment, from web to leads, Trade Shows and purchases lead lists, by 2nd qtr
  6. Implement paperless contracts & documentation for 80% of all transactions by year end.


These are just the starting points for setting your Business Objectives. Over the years I have found that clear written objectives are clear to even a casual reader. Have someone who is not involved and who will tell you straight up if it’s fuzzy or unclear read them. This is a Team Effort run them by the team have them submit goals. Once you get going it is amazing the opportunities for improvement that come up.

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The THIRD Step Define Your Goals & Objectives


By Salesforce a Trailhead Graphic

Define Your Business Goals & Objectives for Your Salesforce Implementation

Our Vision that we developed in Step One must guide the team in developing our Objectives. Unlike our lofty Vision, our Objectives are much more specific and measurable. In step two we mapped out our existing Process at a high level. Now we need to go deeper and set specific measurable goals for improvement. Good business Objectives – Goals are measurable ways to either reduce costs – save time or increase sales. Folks at the C level will use these measures so it’s best we Goals & Objectives that speak their language.

A great way to look at Goals & Objectives is the SMART method are the Goals & Objectives SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant Time boxed. If not create Goals & Objectives that are.

From Wikipedia:

“The November 1981 issue of Management Review contained a paper by George T. Doran called There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives.[1][4] It discussed the importance of objectives and the difficulty of setting them.

Ideally speaking, each corporate, department, and section objective should be:

  • Specific– target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable– quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable– specify who will do it.
  • Realistic– state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related– specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Notice that these criteria don’t say that all objectives must be quantified on all levels of management. In certain situations it is not realistic to attempt quantification, particularly in staff middle-management positions. Practicing managers and corporations can lose the benefit of a more abstract objective in order to gain quantification. It is the combination of the objective and its action plan that is really important. Therefore serious management should focus on these twins and not just the objective.

— George T. Doran, There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives[1][4]

We don’t know what we don’t know, so we need to combine the Tribal Knowledge from our insiders on how it is done with the Expertise of either a Salesforce Consultant or your Home-Grown Salesforce Expert. Don’t ignore the folks in the trenches with the Tribal Knowledge, Tachi Ono who key creator of the Toyota Production method said that the folks who wield the screwdrivers have a wealth of knowledge.

Example: One of my clients asked me to help a person in another department (different budget) with a report that they were struggling with. She needed a report on what Cases had closed last week for a particular Software Product. I asked her why she needed the report, she said to get their email addresses so she could send them an email with a link to a survey. I asked how often did she do this and how long did it take? She responded that it was a weekly chore that took 11/2 to 2 hours. I asked if she needed to review the records before she sent the email out, nope just clickety click and out they went. I suggested that we create an email template that mail merged the Case: Name, The Customer Name, Customer Service Reps Name, with the link to the survey. Then I can create a Salesforce Workflow to automate the process triggering off whenever a Customer Service Rep changed the Case Status to Closed and the Date range was for the current week.  We were successful and saved 100 hrs of her time a year, and a wage savings of about $3,000 per year.

Share some success stories at each Departments All Hands meeting ask each person to come up with 3 ways these relevant successes could be applied in their department. This gives each team member ownership in the Business Objectives.

It is also very valuable to map our Business Processes. If there is no clear consistent process Salesforce will not help much until a process is created. The mantra in the Software world is Process First, Software Second. Document each step of the process where we will be using Salesforce. When mapping your business process, it is often helpful to use a Kanban method called the 5 Whys. Asking Why do we do this digging ever deeper, with each of the 5 Why Questions. Often, we find that our processes have steps that where added to deal with things that “Happened Once Upon a Time” and are not longer relevant. I also find it beneficial to watch people perform their work, as they often do things that they forget to document.

Lastly Goals & Objectives need to be flexible enough to be adapted to and unfolding situation. The process of Implementing Salesforce CRM we may find that some Goals & Objectives work and others no longer serve us. Knowing when to persevere or when to quit is as important as the goals & objectives themselves. Thomas Edison tried thousands of prototypes of his light bulb he knew when quit and move on till he found the one that worked. In addition, other better opportunities may arise, be careful here I have seen folks so busy chasing shiny objects that the core goals never got done resulting in disaster.

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The SECOND step of SIX to CRM Implementation Success

SalesforceStrategyDefine Your Strategy

From Wikipedia:

Strategy (from Greek στρατηγία stratēgia, “art of troop leader; office of general, command, generalship”[1]) is a high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty. In the sense of the “art of the general,” which included several subsets of skills including tactics, siegecraft, logistics etc., the term came into use in the 6th century. From then until the 20th century, the word “strategy” came to denote “a comprehensive way to try to pursue political ends, including the threat or actual use of force, in a dialectic of wills” in a military conflict, in which both adversaries interact.[2]

Strategy is important because the resources available to achieve these goals are usually limited. Strategy generally involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions.[3] A strategy describes how the ends (goals) will be achieved by the means (resources). Strategy can be intended or can emerge as a pattern of activity as the organization adapts to its environment or competes.[4] It involves activities such as strategic planning and strategic thinking.[5]

Defining Your Strategy to meet Your Goals

Identify the key stake holders in the departments that will be involved with the implementation. Get them involved in forming the strategy for making this implementation. If they are part of the planning right from the begging it will give them ownership in the plan. At this point having a Subject Matter Expert to facility can be a huge help facilitating the discussion (Implementation Partner – Consultant)

Warning stay out of the weeds – details, Strategy is Hi Level and painted with a Broad Brush. It is tempting to delve in to the details and get caught chasing Shiny Objects. A good facilitator will keep things on track and at the Strategic Level.  This is a critical step that will save a huge amount of time later on, as it lays the foundation for your success. Take the time to get a consensus on a well thought out Strategy. Getting input for all of the stakeholders will greatly improve buying and identify potential problems up front.  During this step having senior level people from each department involved will save time getting buy in later on.

Often times it make sense to identify one Department that will be the starting point for the implementation. Good candidates are departments that are all in one location, like Tech Support, Customer Service, or  Inside Sales. In my experience what works is situations where the manager & team are in one location and they are open to change. This will facilitate requirements gathering, problem solving, training, etc. Salesforce suggests a Crawl, Walk, Run strategy. By using one group in one place with the right resources to support them the chances of success are much greater. This is a great way to generate a success to build on.

One often overlooked part of the Implementation process is mapping your existing process. Identify who knows it and who lives it and how you are going to map & measure it. Your implementation will be measured against “The way we used to do things around here” This will give you all a key metric to measure your success. No CRM will make up for a poor process. If you have to take the time to define your process it is time will spent. What are the SWOT Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats. What are the Pain Points that Salesforce could solve.  Knowing the existing process will help you define the Strategy for taking your company to the next level in your road map.

Layout a Road Map 3 to 5 yrs out. The next few years can be rather specific and more generalized as we reach out to 5 yrs. Put it on a timeline, or Gant Chat, Dry Erase Board or PowerPoint. Put it in the implementation Team’s War Room. Share it so everyone is on the same page.


Start putting pen to paper or fingers to the key board:

Decide on the methodology you plan to use, it can be defined: Agile – Scrum, Waterfall,  etc.

Identify Key positions & Pencil in Potential Candidates for:

Executive Sponsor

Project Owner

Project Owners in each Department

System Admin

Assistant Admins

Power Users

Power Users in Each Department

Training – Inhouse & Trailhead

Who will need Training?

What Training will they need?

How will Remote People be Trained?


Identify a list of Departments that will be involved or affected by this Implementation.




Tech Support

Customer Service


Human Resources (Payroll & Commissions)



Manufacturing or Service Providers

Partners & Others


Failing to Plan is Planning to fail. The time spent developing a good Strategy will save a huge amount of time down the road. A good Strategy is like a GPS with Traffic Alerts, it picks the best route yet adjusts to route your around Traffic Jams.


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The FIRST of SIX Steps to CRM Implementation Success


Creating a High-Level Vision

From Wikipeadia

1.Organizations summarize their goals and objectives in mission and vision statements. Both of these serve different purposes for a company but are often confused with each other. While a mission statement describes what a company wants to do now, a vision statement outlines what a company wants to be in the future.

Define a clear Vision Statement

A vision statement is forward looking where do you want the companies’ Salesforce Platform to be 5 – 10 years from now? How does this implementation support your overall Corporate Goals. (If you don’t have Corporate Goals or Corporate Vision Statement do them first) Yes, this is a process that will encompass year of growth and benefits where do you want it to take you? I often hear stuff like” We want a 360 view of our customer” well that is a good start but is generic.

Why is a Vision Statement so important? It gives guidance to the team. It sets out what to do without the need for micro management. It becomes the compass for both the team implementing Salesforce and the folks who will decide where Salesforce is used and where it won’t be used.  It shares the goal with the end users and gets them on boad. No CEO has the time or energy to micro manage every aspect of their business much less Salesforce. As the Head Coach the CEO leads the team and picks the Quarterback in this case the Executive Sponsor of the Salesforce Implementation. Share the Vision then live it by example.

A good Vision Statement also lays out the benefits that this project will achieve. This sets the bar for the team. It will also give managers a clear idea of what is expected of them. Define how the team will benefit. Setting some number goals will also help, reduce costs by 20% by using Salesforce to be the one source of Customer Sales & Service Data. Define that a bit more, like “Our Sales will be tracked from Lead Sourcing to Product or Service Delivery, Deal Closed won”. Now flesh it out a bit more what department will be involved? What will the use Salesforce for and what will not be done in Salesforce. Keep it high level, a good Vision Statement should be broad yet clear. Share the big opportunity that this implementation will bring for everyone. What will the positive outcomes be? What existing pain points and problems will it solve?

Most importantly a vision statement shows commitment from top management to this goal. It sets the tone and aligns the company towards that goal. The Vision Statement outlines the guiding principals of the Why behind the What. It helps the Team see the ultimate goal behind all of the hard work. The team will feel part of the success as activate participants.


XYX Corp CRM Implementation Vision Statement

Our Corporate vision is to grow by 25% in the next 2 years and 50% in 5 years. We will use Salesforce to support that vision in the following departments: Outside Sales, Customer Service, Tech Support and Inside Sales. Salesforce will be the Record of Truth for All Sales related information.

Improve Collaboration in the Sales Process from when Marketing Generates Leads then to Inside Sales Qualification, then to Outside Sales closing the deal to Customer Service & Tech Support delivering the end product.

All information about the Sales Process will be in Salesforce, from Lead to Quote to Closed won.

All Reporting will be done directly available real time from Salesforce.

All key communications with customers and within our company will be in & through Salesforce.

Getting Started with Implementation Salesforce Resources:


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