“No CRM is perfect.”

You’ve been telling yourself that a lot lately. Obviously, no CRM is perfect. On the other hand, it sure seems like your CRM is plagued by a multitude of deficiencies. Despite its many shortcomings, the thought of switching CRMs seems too overwhelming for a midsize enterprise like yours to consider. Implementing your current CRM was a monumental effort – something you’d prefer to never mess with again.

So, what should you do? Should you start an internal conversation? Or, should you just accept the status quo and move on with your life?

Here are five signs that it might be time to reevaluate your CRM.

1. Low Adoption Rates Among Users

In a perfect world, everyone within the organization would live and breathe your CRM. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Take, for example, your sales team’s use of the system. Certain reps require constant follow-up by your sales operations team just to ensure the integrity of deal status data. Several reps routinely voice their concerns about the user interface, claiming it slows down customer engagement. As a result, many have found creative ways to circumvent the system altogether, leading to low adoption and usage rates.

With user adoption all over the map, you’d like to move beyond anecdotal evidence and rely on data to inform your fact-finding. For starters, you might ask your CRM administrator to pull some data-driven reports to quantify the magnitude of the problem. At a minimum, it’s important to understand:

  • Total CRM users vs. active users
  • Typical activity among active users (and non-active users)
  • Log-in pattern data

Talking to a mix of users can also be highly instructive. What do “power users” appreciate about the system? What features could they not live without? What do skeptics dislike about your CRM? Has a gap in training or management buy-in magnified the confusion?

Remember, it’s hard to form lasting customer relationships when your CRM is an afterthought. Low CRM usage rates almost always negatively impact customer relationships, which, in turn, undermine growth.

2. Spreadsheet-Dominated Sales Meetings

Your sales operations team is already busy enough. Building pipeline spreadsheets for weekly meetings is not an effective use of their time. However, with deal information spread across multiple sources (including your CRM), you have no other choice but to seek their ongoing assistance for this task.

Alternatively, if everything lived within your CRM, sales ops could focus more attention on value-added activities. Likewise, your sales meetings would instantly become more productive and less confusing. Spreadsheets become stale the moment that they’re created, which is why sales meetings that incorporate real-time dashboards and reports offer greater clarity for a fraction of the effort.

(Of course, the elimination of spreadsheets hinges on user buy-in, which we’ve already discussed.)

3. Rampant Manual Data Entry

In today’s world of APIs, workflow automation, and out-of-the-box integrations, manual data entry is becoming less of a headache for midsize companies. Best-in-class CRMs alleviate data entry by offering innovative and easy-to-use solutions for capturing and organizing emails, documents, proposals, and other pipeline information. Your organization’s needs are continuously changing, and so should the solutions offered by your CRM vendor. Sadly, this isn’t always the case.

If data entry still seems to be an insurmountable challenge at your company, perhaps it’s time to dig into some common causes:

Inbox Disconnect: Your team sends a ton of emails. Customer correspondence, nurture campaigns, billing reminders, and project updates are just a few common examples. When their inboxes aren’t integrated to your CRM, they’re forced to key everything in manually. Some do so, which consumes a substantial portion of the workday. Others forget to do so, which compounds your data reliability issues.

Documents & Proposals: To close deals, your sales team utilizes a combination of slide decks, pricing proposals, and other customer-facing documents. Since your team’s inboxes aren’t integrated to your CRM, important attachments remain isolated and routinely get lost in transit. Integrating your proposal workflow to your CRM would add another layer of transparency and avoid such oversights.

Siloed Project Delivery Systems: Most CRMs aren’t built to coordinate the post-sale delivery of goods or services. After deals close, many companies migrate customer records into third-party systems that are specifically designed to accommodate tasks and project pipelines. Doing so spreads customer data into new silos and can require significant administrative effort. A better approach achieves the best of both worlds by consolidating sales and project management under one roof.

4. Lack of Meaningful Insights into Customer Relationships

With so many moving parts to keep organized, it’s easy to forget the true definition of CRM: “Customer Relationship Management.” Too often, companies spend so much time on the “management” aspects of CRM (such as deduplicating records and troubleshooting user issues) that they lose sight of what matters most: the customer relationship.

An ideal system not only simplifies the administrative hassles of managing a CRM, but it also presents meaningful insights into customer relationships. And, as business models continue to evolve toward a subscription-based model, maintaining an in-depth understanding of customer needs, habits, preferences, and behavior is absolutely vital.

Does your CRM do any of these out of the box?

Intuitive Relationship Linking: Business relationships are complicated, which is why you need a CRM that offers a flexible and easily customizable relationship model that fits your exact needs. By “easily customizable,” I mean without the help of a high-priced CRM consultant.

Seamless Handoff Between Sales & Delivery: The relationship doesn’t end when the customer signs on the dotted line. In many cases, the relationship has just begun. An effective CRM ensures a seamless handoff between departments by providing the tools that both groups need to perform their jobs.

Customer Journey Visualization: Maintaining an intimate understanding of the customer is key to your company’s ongoing success. Staring at rows and rows of data isn’t the best way to visualize the customer journey. Rather, look for a CRM that models your customer data into engaging charts, graphs, and dashboards (without requiring integrations to third-party business intelligence tools).

5. Silence from Your CRM Vendor

The subscription model is taking over every aspect of our lives. On-demand video services, smartphone packages, streaming music, and even groceries are now consumed on a recurring revenue model.

The subscription economy puts new expectations on vendors to be even more engaged with customers. CRM software is no exception to this rule. Your investment in a CRM solution is an investment in the future success of your business. And, given your growing number of users, it’s no small investment.

With each annual or monthly payment that you make to your CRM vendor, there’s an implied expectation. You don’t just want the software to function as expected. You want it to change your business for the better. This is absolutely dependent on your vendor’s willingness to grow with you, invest in your relationship, and continuously release innovative features that help you achieve your goals.

Silence from your CRM vendor – particularly when it comes to feature releases – is not a good sign.

Take the Next Step

So, what’s your next move?

Switching CRMs is by no means a minor undertaking. It’s an important decision that requires input from multiple stakeholders at your organization. At first glance, it can be a daunting task, particularly when you consider planning, testing, implementation, and training. But every company needs to assess the health and appropriateness of their CRM every 24-36 months. There’s a real cost with all of this, which must be considered in the context of potential gains. There’s also a real cost associated with maintaining the status quo, especially when your CRM is inhibiting goal achievement. The good news is that vendors with a good track record of replacing legacy systems will have all the capabilities to help you migrate and set you and your team up for success.

Whether you’re still skeptical about switching CRMs or think you need a game plan to make the transition, check out Insightly’s Switching CRM Guide for additional insights and best practices.


Download the guide