3 Reasons You May Not Need a CRM in Your Small Business

03/29/2013 02:26 PM | Sky Stebnicki

CRM companies love to author and proliferate "X Number of Reasons that CRM is Beneficial" type articles to try and demonstrate to hesitant business owners the justification for the expense of CRM. Indeed, I have written a few of my own in support of the valid benefits to businesses of all sizes, and I mean not to down-play those benefits in this article.

However, I also spent a considerable amount of time in the IT trenches executing the duties of the CIO for an organization with 250+ sales people. One of my core initiatives was to try and roll out a CRM solution where there had previously been none. That experience forever changed me because through it I saw with brutal clarity that there is often a huge disconnect between the tech world where every new feature is intrinsically valuable in and of itself, and the sales/business world where features often just equal more headache. After many sleepless nights, frustrating meetings, failed incentive programs, and unattended (mentally anyway) training sessions we failed to get our seasoned and experienced sales people to completely buy-in to using all the cool features of CRM.

It was not long until I discovered that my experience was not the exception, but more the rule. CNET reported  that up to 70% of purchased CRM solutions fail to get properly implemented or used at all!

What's wrong with this picture? Well, I tend to think when it comes to CRM that the cart is often put before the horse by trying to position CRM as the driver of sales rather than allowing sales to drive CRM. I'll explain what I mean by that later, but below are some reasons I believe a company (especially a small business) may not want or need to roll out a full-featured CRM with all the bells and whistles.

1. CRM is Really Expensive

Some will retort (and trust me they have) that you get what you pay for to which I reply with my budget conscious CIO hat on, yes of course, but who says I need all the quality you are offering? It's kind of like selling me on buying a dump truck when I don't really need (or want) to haul a mountain away.

2. CRM Can Be Complicated

An often overlooked hidden cost to all those fancy CRM features is that you need a college education in tech just to operate it. Of course there is nothing wrong with ongoing education, if indeed the benefits of the education have a demonstrable ROI or necessity.  However, what often happens is that small businesses just don't have the time or the resources to properly train, which means people won't use the tool.

3. CRM Can Limit Your Ability to Quickly Pivot

Buying an 18 wheeler truck when all you really need is a motorcycle has the unfortunate side-effect of hindering the agility you once had using simpler tools. As with all my points, this is not always the case and depends on a great many variables, but I have seen numerous occasions when due to the price and the complexities of training, a company enforced many unnecessary processes into their CRM workflow that had a sizable cumulative negative impact on overall productivity, sales, moral, and agility.

Keep it Simple & Get the Job Done

Of course I am not anti-CRM at all! At Aereus our CRM is the single most used and essential tool we have. But I fear too many companies have and will jump the gun and pay a whole lot for features they don't need for employees that won't use them.

Our suggestion for navigating the field of prospective CRMs and deciding just how many features you need is to begin thinking of CRM as a tool that helps you scale your already established relationship management process. Try to find a CRM that will allow you to take your current manual process and automate it so things get easier over time. Then, if you pick the right tool, as your needs grow you can begin to implement new features slowly. Heck, a great starting place is just finding a single place to store all you customer contact information. Start there and grow it out.

The truth of the matter is that a good CRM will not make you a better sales person or organization, any more than a good word processor will make you a better writer. Word Processors and CRMs are just tools and should be viewed as such. Make sure you pick the right tool for the job next time you are looking for a CRM solution.

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