9 crm selection pitfalls and tips

by Marcel Nanning | Last Updated: February 11, 2022

The wide range of CRM systems available makes it difficult to make a good choice. In addition to the well-known big names, more and more suppliers are focusing on specialized CRM systems for SMEs and associations and foundations. There are a number of pitfalls to avoid when rolling out a CRM strategy and choosing a new CRM system. Avoid plunging into the CRM cloud unprepared. Use these CRM selection tips!

9 pitfalls when choosing the perfect CRM solution

Pitfall 1: Seeing Customer Relationship Management as Software

Choosing CRM software with all the necessary and desired functionalities starts with a good strategy. Determining the desired crm strategy and the required processes gives direction to the set of requirements that is drawn up to create the shortlist of potential CRM systems. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management; a methodology for managing customer relationships in the broadest sense of the word. The tools are therefore only supportive of this.

The starting point in a CRM selection is the organizational strategy and the vision on customer marketing & sales. In addition, issues such as efficiency and effectiveness play a role.

Useful tools for determining the strategy and the role of CRM within an organization include the value strategy model of Treacy & Wiersma and the mapped Customer Journey.

crm selection model

The choice of strategy according to Treacy and Wiersma also determines the required software integrations. After all, focusing on customer intimacy and the customer relationship requires different tools (e-mail marketing and social media integration) than a strong focus on, for example, operational excellence (integration with, for example, ERP).

Also, pay attention to future expectations and plans! Selecting a CRM package is – if done right – a strategic choice. Read this article about the benefits of CRM for your CRM selection.

Some examples of CRM for the self-employed and SMEs

Pitfall 2: Insufficient learning of current software and integrations

It is smart to critically review the current software again following the decision to go with a Customer Relationship Management and CRM software strategy. The range of integrations available will have a major impact on the shortlist of CRM vendors that is eventually drawn up. Review the software used for ERP and email marketing, among others, and decide which software is so critical that integration is an absolute must-have. Custom integrations are not always possible and are also costly.

Reviewing the current software also helps in the choice of a stand-alone CRM system versus a complete software suite.

Software architect, marketing, verkoop en service

One way to do this is to hold a session with a software architect and a number of key departments from the customer’s point of view. In this session you determine: what does the current application landscape look like, which opportunities still exist with the current systems and to what extent are there gaps in the new requirements?

The choices you make now can lead to ending up in a certain software eco-system of a certain total provider such as Microsoft or Salesforce. There is nothing wrong with that. But it is good to consciously step into this and to carefully consider the consequences. There are many advantages to buying software from such high quality providers. On the other hand, it can also be difficult to go outside the tools offered by the current supplier.

Pitfall 3: No CRM selection; the current system is fine for now…

Selecting a CRM system is an investment for the future. In addition to determining the strategy, it is therefore good to look to the future. Choosing a cheap Customer Relationship Management solution now may result in unnecessary additional costs later. Organizations are always evolving…organically. Perhaps the number of employees is going to grow? Are you going to expand across the border? Are new activities going to be developed? Are other disciplines going to use the software as well?

Expanding a CRM system is certainly not always advantageous. So take future needs and expectations into account. After all, investing in a CRM system is not only a financial investment, it also demands a lot from the personnel who have to learn to work with this system. So making the wrong choice has serious consequences for the internal support base for working with CRM.

Pitfall 4: Slinging a CRM system into the organization from the top down

Introducing a CRM system in the organization is sometimes – wrongly – seen as a matter for the IT department. The staff that has to work with the system every day is often only ‘involved’ in the process when all choices have already been made and the CRM vendor parks the car outside the door to give a training session. Not only a missed opportunity for creating internal support, but certainly also a missed opportunity for a careful selection of the software and an inventory of the necessary adaptation and training.

In short: involve the employees who will work with the software early in the process, make an inventory of the wishes and requirements of these employees and map out possible resistance – just like potential ambassadors in the organization.

This will ensure a faster adaptation of the new software so that you will enjoy the benefits of the new system more quickly.

Some more examples of CRM for small and large organizations

Pitfall 5: Insufficient attention to marketing during CRM selection

Starting with a clear strategy not only defines the technical requirements for the CRM system, but also guides the desired software integrations and ownership of the data stored in the CRM system. Especially for organizations that use sales and marketing, it can be a challenge to translate the wishes and requirements of both departments into a set of requirements that is helpful in selecting the right vendor.

In many cases, the choice of a new CRM package is driven by the needs of sales. However, investing in a CRM system that works for sales and marketing is well worth the investment, especially since the deployment of Customer Relationship Management belongs more to strategy than simply selecting software.

Marketing and sales as the driving force in the project

Make sure that sales and marketing are involved in the process at an early stage. Not only to ensure more internal support, but also to avoid making the wrong choice.

This also applies to a CRM project that is driven by the CRM marketing needs or those of service or the project organization; it is always a system that touches multiple departments so it is wise to involve them in the process early on.

Also pay attention to the technical requirements which are different for each department. The mobile availability of the various CRM systems, for example, is an absolute must-have for sales and account management! It is convenient and efficient for sales professionals to be able to view the company map and the latest information on a sales opportunity in the parking lot before an appointment. Or when leaving, be able to enter data directly into the CRM system and trigger actions for the follow-up process.

Pitfall 6: Not consulting enough CRM reviews and experiences

Reviews can highlight important issues and problems and prevent a wrong choice. Read reviews and experiences of others to choose a CRM system that matches the organization’s goals, strategy, desires and requirements. And don’t forget to ask other entrepreneurs about their experiences with a specific CRM system.

Also useful: do a Google search for the shortlisted CRM systems and supplement these search terms with potential issues and/or important questions and concerns.

Contact customers from your CRM shortlist

There is also nothing stopping you from asking a vendor on your shortlist about customers and whether you can contact them. In the world of ERP software, for example, this is a very common practice. Entrepreneurs are put in touch with each other by the software supplier and exchange experiences.

In this kind of process, it is important to look at the experiences with the systems and the experiences with the supplier. How is the service delivery? How does the contact go? What is the response time to service questions? What about expertise and experience?

💡 Mini Tip:
On crmreviews.com there are regular reviews of marketing and sales tools, who knows you might find inspiration there to make an informed choice for a CRM system. Visit our crm reviews if you select CRM for your business.

Pitfall 7: You work with incomplete and outdated data

No success without up-to-date data. A well-known saying in ICT is all too apt in the world of CRM: “garbage in is garbage out”.

An example:

You are a marketer working with sales to prepare a campaign. An important part of this is sending a mailing to the prospect database. You compile a list in CRM and use it for the mailing of the campaign. After a few days you dive into the reports of the e-mail marketing system and discover the following: only 50% has reached the right contacts. Of these, another 10% were addressed as “Sir” when they were really ladies.
There is only one conclusion; part of your database is outdated and contaminated. A waste of resources and bad for your brand!

Updating a CRM database can be done in several ways:

  1. Enriching data by phone
    Prospects are periodically enriched through call teams based on campaigns. An example: you are going to target 300 SMEs in a specific niche in the coming year. You start with a call campaign in which all these companies are called to retrieve the most recent data and enter them into the CRM system.
  2. User generated
    Prospects and customers enter their own current data into the system. An example; you periodically send out a mailing to the entire database with a form attached. This form retrieves the currently known data from the CRM system and shows it to the relevant prospect or customer. The latter now has the opportunity to modify and supplement data and to indicate preferences for information or communication possibilities via a form.
  3. Use data from external sources tot update the CRM database
    There are data brokers where you can buy databases, for example specifically for certain industries. An increasing number of CRM solutions offer a KVK link. This allows you to pull company data such as the FTE class and address data into the CRM system using the KVK number.

There are an increasing number of online CRM solutions that automatically enrich data using basic data such as a company URL or a contact’s email address. HubSpot CRM, for example, pulls in all company data using the URL of the company in question.

Data Overkill…
Opting for smart integrations can help keep the data in the CRM system current, but it is better not to fall into the trap of collecting all possible data. Starting with the formulation of the strategy and involving sales and marketing can help to sharply identify the data needed. In addition, make sure that the responsibilities for updating data in the organization are determined.

A possible setup for assigning CRM data responsibilities is:

Integrate third-party data into your CRM

But be careful! Especially organizations that are just starting to use a CRM system are better off focusing on the selection and implementation before plunging into pumping as much additional data into the database as possible.

Pitfall 8: Give the keys to the system….without training

More and more CRM vendors are offering training for staff. Don’t miss this opportunity! The success of the CRM system is determined by the quality and timeliness of the data entered. Unfortunately, the introduction of a CRM system is still often underestimated.

So make use of the various forms of training that suppliers offer. Think of online courses, on the job training and tutorials. Find a number of ambassadors within the organization for the introduction of the CRM system and offer them the necessary tools to help their colleagues on their way after the vendor training has been completed.

Pitfall 9: Proceeding without evaluation

Selecting CRM or implementing a CRM system is often a big step for the organization and the staff who must work with the (new) CRM system. Even the most careful selection process benefits from an evaluation. The evaluation moment enables the organization to detect and solve any problems at an early stage.

Include in the evaluation any user issues and, if necessary, provide additional training, support or additional software integration. In the evaluation, also pay attention to issues such as the quality and completeness of data! Check the timeliness and completeness of the data entered, for example, using a sample.

Compare CRM systems with this tool

You can compare CRM systems on crmreviews.com based on various criteria, such as for example the type of company, industry, number of employees and desired functionalities. You can use the tool, for example, to quickly and easily draw up a shortlist of the available CRM systems based on the prepared set of requirements.

To the CRM comparison tool

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.  Learn more