Why CRM Systems Fail for OEMs and Dealers

Written by: equipmentfx

August 8, 2021

CRM System Fundamentals for Equipment OEMs and dealers to accelerate user adoption

How to Build a CRM System That Works – Preparing for 2022 and Beyond

If you Google “why CRM systems fail,” you come up with lots of studies and technical analyses of why CRM system implementations fail. Somewhere between the range of 30 to 70% fail to meet objectives, according to most studies. I’d say it’s closer to 90% when compared to using a system the way it’s “intended” to be used.

To me, the answer is surprisingly simple: Sales reps don’t like Big Brother knowing what they’re up to, and if the information they put in is not going to be used to help them accelerate sales, they simply won’t use the system. They take ownership of their contacts and relationships; it’s their livelihood if and when they move on.

So, the key question at every OEM or dealer level becomes, “what are we trying to accomplish with this initiative in the first place?” Followed by a “how can we make this drop-dead simple and fast for the reps or other stakeholders to give us what we need, and give them what they need to be successful?” Get these two questions answered and a successful system CAN be set up, but it’s going to take some work.

Background on Me and CRM Systems

I pioneered the first true digital dealership – at least that’s what our OEM and others said. In 1998, I made a decision to kill all yellow page ads, NOT hire additional staff and commit fully to the internet. We were literally doing SEO before Google was Google, using these obscure keyword charts produced by a company called Overture, later acquired by Yahoo.

In the year 2000, all you had to do was match the title tag of the website to the body content and you would own the internet. And we did. Four to five first-place organic rankings – and we generated thousands of highly qualified leads for our sales team, fatter commission checks and cut our expenses in half.

We sent the leads to our then advanced Goldmine 6.7 Enterprise CRM system, pushed leads to flip phones by product and territory to the field reps, developed custom reports and did email follow-up with links back to product pages. Advanced stuff then, advanced stuff now.

For our system to work, we had to have buy-in from the sales staff to follow up and qualify leads. We needed a system. We evaluated several, hired a Goldmine expert to come in and help us configure a system we all had input in designing, and eventually hired him. I called him “X” because he could make anything we could dream up work.

Eventually, a study was done on our dealership by NACCO Industries called “what it’s like when it’s right.” The theme was adoption of advanced digital marketing strategy, and CRM integration was a big part of our success. But to make it a success, we had to get buy-in from EVERYONE on why this made sense, what was in it for them, and how they would know it was working.

Why Do CRM Systems Fail

There are many causes, but the three main reasons for failure are:

  • Hard to get buy-in from sales
  • Not easy to use
  • Limited lead nurturing and process management

Every quarter, I got on my soapbox and, to this day, former reps and friends remember my “garbage-in, garbage-out” speeches, and promises that if they took the time to put in good information, it would get used for their benefit. If they performed, so would we.

We took a lot of time designing the system around what users would or wouldn’t do with the system, a type of old-fashioned contract that simply said, if you do this, we’ll do that. Most of the “lively” discussions centered around how many required fields they had to complete so they didn’t feel like they had to put in too much information.

News Flash!

Most sales reps HATE data entry, and they hate even more Big Brother knowing what is going on with THEIR customers. In the off chance that they leave, they need to protect that relationship. It’s a dynamic that affects the equipment industry more than most because reps move from one company to another, but generally stay in the same industry, in the same territory.

So, from these discussions, we emerged with a contract that solved the three points listed above:

  • We asked for and got their input on what they would be willing to do if we did our part.
  • We designed a system that was simple, effective and became the foundation of an amazing selling system, large territories, fat commission checks, happy reps and great margins!
  • We set up a system of immediate lead distribution, callback processes, email nurturing campaigns and monthly reporting.

The system we built was the foundation of all of our sales and marketing efforts. But to get there requires a vision, plan, implementation and a true commitment to moving forward.

Goals and Objectives

The main goals are usually to bring visibility, accountability and business process improvements that facilitate more sales and improved customer retention and management. But, at a more granular level, also be mindful of lots of other questions to ask internally.

Start with a simple list of questions to understand why you’re considering something new, or a change to an existing system to get more buy-in, and more out of the system:

  • Why are we doing this in the first place? What specific, measurable outcomes are we hoping to achieve with our CRM implementation?
  • Who are the main stakeholders in this, and what’s in it for all parties? What does everyone gain with a successful implementation? What will success look like?
  • Do we have internal resources required to investigate, evaluate, recommend, implement, train and generally manage the project initiative?
  • How will a CRM system fit into and enhance our existing business processes?
  • How will we measure success? What are the most important KPIs we would establish to measure this success?

Adoption Failure

To avoid joining the failure group of most businesses, take preventive action by clearly understanding the reasons for failure points:

  • What does my team need from CRM? What specific benefits will CRM provide to my team? How will I communicate those benefits?
  • Who will be the project champion? How will that person ensure successful implementation and adoption?
  • How will we ensure and demonstrate executive and management buy-in?
  • How will team members be involved in the adoption process? How will we train our team to use CRM? How will we keep CRM user-friendly for team members?
  • How will we support users who have CRM questions or problems? Will we do this in-house or with a CRM partner company?

Integration Failure

CRM systems ALL need integration. Using Salesforce as the best example, this system has many limitations but almost endless integration options. For a small fortune. There are other simple ways to integrate systems with planning, but proactive questions to avoid integration failure should be asked:

  • How will a CRM system fit into and enhance our existing business processes?
  • Which CRM systems would require us to change our business processes to use effectively? Would those changes be benefits or burdens?
  • Which CRM systems do what we need to accomplish our goals? Are they scalable? Customizable? Reputable? Well-supported?
  • Which systems would require us to pay more for tools we don’t need and aren’t likely to grow into?
  • How will CRM fit into our current IT structure?
  • Do we use other technology solutions that require or would benefit from integration with CRM?

This is a starter post and list of helpful information. To make a CRM system work, you need to roll up your sleeves, dig in, ask questions, assess, align and activate a plan that gives you a best chance to succeed. The simpler and more elegant the plan is, the better chance for success.

About EquipmentFX Services

Over the years, the services we offer have evolved to meet each client’s unique needs. We like to lead with our proprietary A3 assessment to really understand the gaps and opportunities. From there we can discuss follow-on services that we can customize together.

After each assessment, the two questions clients usually ask us are “Can you just do this stuff for us?” followed by “We have marketing people—how can we make them and our processes more efficient?” And sometimes we simply deliver the road map and provide support as needed.

At the end of any engagement, you will have a formal framework and internal audit process to improve your program or build a program from scratch to create more new customers and to sell more to existing ones.

To find out more about the EquipmentFX A3 assessment, digital marketing or technology consulting services, please contact us.

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