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5 common pitfalls to avoid when setting up your CRM

A new CRM can be an incredible boon to business -- if it’s used effectively. Too often, companies don’t properly plan out their CRM implementation, and their CRM installation fails. Thankfully, your friends at LACRM have helped thousands of small businesses successfully set up their CRM. Our experience has shown us some common pitfalls that crop up over and over again — and how to avoid them, or, if they’ve already come to pass, how to make things right.

Here’s what NOT to do when setting up your CRM:

1. Failing to make a plan.

This sounds so simple, but it’s important to think about your CRM installation before you actually get started. What do you hope to get out of your new CRM? Who should have access to the database? What steps need to happen? It can seem efficient to charge ahead without creating a plan, but you don’t want to end up months down the line having skipped important parts of the setup process.

How to prevent this from happening to you: Check out our step-by-step guides on setting up your CRM account and onboarding your team! Don’t hesitate to reach out to your CRM Coach if you need help creating a customized plan.

If it’s too late: First off, don’t stress — there is nothing stopping you from making a plan now. Take some time to consider your CRM goals, then check over our onboarding guides above to make sure you’ve completed the important parts of the setup process. And, your CRM Coach is always there to help if you want to change your customizations or retrain your employees.

2. Setting up your CRM incorrectly.

Some of these pitfalls have a domino effect: if you fail to properly plan out your CRM installation, you may end up setting up your CRM incorrectly (by adding the wrong customizations, or importing your contacts incorrectly). If you set things up inefficiently from the get-go, you’re setting the stage for CRM failure further down the line, when it’s too late to undo your mistakes.

How to prevent this from happening to you: Talk to your CRM Coach! They are here to make sure that you have the right customizations for your business, and that all of your contact data is mapped into the correct fields. Start off with a demo, and be sure to ask your CRM Coach to evaluate your account for red flags if you decide to do any customizing on your own.

I’d also plan to evaluate your CRM setup and customizations at least once a year — what served you when you started using the CRM may no longer be necessary, or you may be missing key features that you didn’t need at the beginning.

If it’s too late: Your CRM Coach might still be able to help. We have helped customers reimport their data years later, roll back accounts to a previous state, and tweak customizations. Just let your CRM Coach know what the issue is, and they will explain how we can help.

3. Over organizing.

It can be tempting to create a group or a custom field for every single piece of info you might capture about a contact. Resist this urge — the more complicated you make your CRM, the harder it is to maintain that system of organization over time. And the harder your system is to maintain, the easier it will be for you (and your employees) to resist putting in data, and start to think of the CRM as a chore.

How to prevent this from happening to you: Keep it simple, stupid. Start with a few customizations in the CRM, and record non-essential details in your notes. As you get more used to data entry and working with the CRM, you can add other customizations as necessary.

If it’s too late: You may be able to combine or delete some customizations to reduce the overall complexity of your CRM. Some of this can easily be done in bulk in the CRM, but it might be worth asking your CRM Coach, in case they have any decluttering tricks up their sleeves.

4. Failing to actually use the CRM.

A CRM is only as useful as the data you put into it. If you aren’t regularly entering and updating your information, your CRM will slowly become inaccurate. And if your CRM data isn’t up to date, it can’t help you.

How to prevent this from happening to you: Your work with the CRM isn’t done after setup is complete; you’ll have to put in a concentrated effort to make the CRM a daily habit. Over time, you’ll start to wonder how you ever worked without the CRM — you just have to get over the initial learning curve!

If it’s too late: First, don't set aside a ton of time to clean up your data. This can feel productive, but you may end up throwing the baby out with bath water and delete contacts you still need. Plus, spending a ton of unproductive time in the CRM may make the program feel even more like a chore.

Instead, start by trying to update contact and company records as you work with them. Your data for your most-touched contacts will start to become more and more accurate. Then, I would set aside a few minutes a day to look at contacts that haven’t been edited in awhile; you can schedule follow up tasks for these folks or update their information as necessary.

5. Losing buy-in from your team (or never earning it in the first place).

The key to CRM success for teams is user buy-in. If your team enjoys the CRM, and they feel motivated to use it, they’ll enter hang on through the learning curve and make CRM use a regular habit. If your CRM has accurate, rich data, you’ll be able to make the most of your CRM.

If your users aren’t bought into the CRM, or they never were, you are facing a losing battle.

How to prevent this from happening to you: Involve your team with major CRM decisions from day one. They should feel invested in the new CRM and anticipate not just a software change, but a culture one, too.

  • Make your team a part of the CRM selection process. You can elect a CRM evangelist, schedule demos with end-users, and take end-user feedback into account when making CRM decisions. Remember: if a program is easy enough for all of your users to navigate, you’ll have a better chance of successful implementation than you will with a fancy or more robust software that no one understands.
  • Explain how the CRM will benefit everyone, not just management. If your team is internally motivated to use the CRM, they’ll be more likely to take up the program, instead of lag behind. Use this post to guide your communications around the CRM to your team.
  • Make the CRM a job requirement. Hopefully, your users are enthusiastic about the CRM. However with any change, there will always be dissenters who want things to stay the same, or folks who lag behind with onboarding. Let these folks know that the CRM is not optional — it is a part of their job. If they aren’t willing to make the CRM a daily habit, they aren’t a good fit for this role.

If you need more tips for motivating and incentivizing your team to use the CRM, check out this post!

If it’s too late: It might not be time to switch programs or give up your CRM search just yet. First, talk to your team — what are their issues with the CRM? You might discover that there are simple solutions to their problems. Some users may need more training, others may need better motivation for using the CRM. Make a plan for implementing these fixes (such as scheduling more training, or creating a “use it or lose it” policies for new leads in the CRM).

If there is a key feature that the CRM is missing that your users need, talk to your CRM Coach first. They may be able to offer you a workaround or potential solution.

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