The 11 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Choosing a CRM

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Padraig O'Connor
Padraig O'Connor



With so many different CRM providers, systems, and features to choose from, finding the best CRM software for your business can be a challenge.

And considering the majority of businesses use Excel to track sales, choosing a CRM will be new territory for many.

We asked leading sales and marketers to tell us the most common mistakes of evaluating CRM software -- so you don’t make the same ones.

1) Unwillingness to Use a CRM

“The biggest mistake I see businesses make is not actually jumping in and utilizing a CRM. I'm not just talking about the smaller companies either -- it staggers me that there are a lot of companies with more than 100 employees who haven’t set up a CRM. The benefits of a CRM are huge, and in today's market there is no excuse for not being able to find an affordable, modern, and easy-to-implement CRM.”

Rikki Lear is a director at Digital 22 inbound marketing agency, based in the UK. Rikki has been in the digital marketing industry for over 10 years, helping clients succeed with inbound marketing, sales enablement, and growth driven design.

2) Failure to Define Why You Need a CRM

“The biggest mistake I see when companies choose a CRM is that they haven't defined what they really need from the system. This makes it difficult to properly compare systems. They’re more likely to make their choice based on less important factors, like whether they have heard of the system, used it before, or already use software from the same company. When this happens, the system they choose can be too complicated, or doesn’t really do what they need. Making the wrong choice means the CRM isn’t used properly and ends up creating as many problems as it solves.

It takes a bit more time, but I find it best to make a list of what you need and then score the systems against this list -- ideally, weighting the most important features. You’ll end up with an obvious shortlist. Most CRMs now offer a free trial, so you can run tests on your shortlist and figure out which system works best for you and your team.”

Stephen Bavister is a director at LexisClick Inbound Marketing Agency. Stephen started his marketing and sales career building CRMs on MS Access and Lotus Notes. He worked with PwC on their enterprise CRM rollout. At LexisClick, Stephen has given countless businesses advice on choosing a CRM.

3) Overcomplicating Business Goals

“The biggest mistake I see companies making when it comes to using a CRM is over-complicating their needs and ultimately limiting adoption because of it. This is especially true when the leadership team focuses on all the things they want the CRM to do for them (reporting, etc.) and forgets about who will be using the tool and whether it’s actually going to help them sell smarter, better, and faster. I always suggest starting with the seller in mind and making sure first and foremost that they will benefit from using your CRM.”

Dani Buckley is a lifelong learner, coach, speaker, business growth strategist, and General Manager at LeadG2 (part of The Center for Sales Strategy). She helps B2B sales organizations strengthen and humanize the way they market and sell. Dani is unapologetically passionate about challenging the status quo and having those tough conversations with business leaders in order to generate real marketing and sales results.

4) Being Oversold Out-of-the-Box Functionality

“Too often you see companies purchasing CRM software with an idea that it is out-of-the-box and will ‘just work’ for them. They’re investing a lot of money in a CRM, when a handful of Excel documents used to do just fine. The reality is that the ‘out-of-the-box’ functionality provides a platform that can be built upon. To make sure you make the right decision when choosing a CRM, you need to clearly align your short-, medium-, and long-term goals to the platform, and ensure you’ve chosen a CRM that fits your business for your long-term plans. If you take the time to choose a CRM that is perfect for your business based on your objectives and success metrics, it means you won’t have to seek an alternative in the future.”

Curtis Longland is a Solutions Architect at oe:gen ltd., a UK HubSpot and Salesforce partner helping businesses generate leads, arrange meetings, drive sales, and delight customers.

5) Forgetting About Your Sales Strategy

“The biggest mistake companies make choosing a CRM is not fitting it to the goals and strategy of their sales team. If the team finds it too overwhelming or difficult to use consistently, it is a waste. HubSpot's CRM has truly been a gift to my job. Responsiveness is everything in sales. I can't tell you how often customers appreciate how quickly I reply to them, and that's because HubSpot made it so easy."

Christine Verska is Director of Sales at The Creative Momentum. The Creative Momentum is an award-winning full service web design agency located in Atlanta, Georgia, specializing in UI/UX, SEO, PPC, inbound marketing, and more.

6) Choosing an Incompatible System

“As your sales organization scales, you will inevitably bring on tools for marketing automation, calling, business intelligence, and sales performance management -- if you don’t have them already. The more seamlessly integrated your CRM is with those tools, the better. It will save you a ton of headaches down the road. You wouldn’t believe how many logistics companies use Ambition just to connect their CRM with other data sources like Cisco, MacLeod, and so forth.”

Jared Houghton is the Chief Sales Officer at Ambition, sales management software that directs real-time metrics, goals, and insights to customer-facing business teams in sales, marketing, and client support. See why Harvard Business Review and AA-ISP made Ambition the expert’s choice for increasing visibility, excitement, and efficiency for managers and reps.

7) Not Knowing the Data Your Sales Team Needs

"I think the biggest mistake people make when choosing a CRM is not thinking about the specific data they need to collect early enough and how the CRM can enable growth and grow with their company. Businesses need to think big picture and about the potential uses of their CRM, not just what they currently want from it. Many companies initially think about a CRM as just a 'sales' tool but all prospects start their relationship with a company via its marketing team."

Joy Clarke is a Digital Account Director for Quattro, a Certified HubSpot Partner and Project Lion alumni, helping manufacturers and SAAS businesses generate leads, in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the Midlands. Her first ever job truly was on a market stall, and if she can sell sandals in a force 10 gale in Weston-Super-mare, she thanks the great training she received from the start. She's learned that success doesn't come from traditional methods alone, and innovation is key.

8) Ignoring Valuable Features

“My biggest mistake when choosing a CRM is not considering how the data is entered into the system. It's easy to think that you will remember every detail of the sales conversations that you have with prospects. However, I guarantee you won't be able to remember all of the details. Finding a CRM like HubSpot makes it easy to log all of your calls and emails.”

Raylee Melton is Director of Client Services for SparkReaction. Raylee spends her day helping clients reach their marketing and sales goals, analyzing marketing data, and speaking to groups in the Des Moines area about inbound marketing. She is process driven and is involved in all aspects of our inbound marketing services.

9) Forgetting About the Sales Team's Challenges

"The biggest mistake I see is choosing a CRM that is too focused on organization but doesn't help sales reps work quicker and smarter. One reason I love the HubSpot CRM is because it was designed with the rep in mind, giving them the tools to gain better insight into their opportunities."

Kyle Bento is a Growth Strategist at IMPACT. Kyle empowers you to make marketing decisions that lead to measurable growth. Kyle is passionate about embracing tomorrow's trends and technologies, and when he isn't helping you move gracefully into the future, he retreats to his laboratory, drinks tea, and tries to take over the world.

10) Believing Your CRM Is Your Sales Strategy

“Don’t assume implementing a great CRM will help you to build your sales process. You need to devise a sales strategy first -- ideally, one that's aligned with your buyer journey. It's also helpful to choose a CRM that integrates with marketing automation software. This allows sales managers to see where leads are coming from, what content they're consuming, and when.”

Saher Ghattas is the Chief Revenue Officer and VP Sales/Marketing at Flawless Inbound, a premiere online marketing and sales agency. Saher’s career includes a compelling combination of expertise across sales and marketing, business development, executive coaching, change management, and value creation.

11) Not Getting the Sales Team's Input

“The biggest mistake I’ve seen companies make when choosing a CRM is forgetting about the people who will be using it. There’s no denying that features are important, but if your CRM isn’t salesperson friendly, you won’t get the buy-in you need for its usefulness to be realized. Before you choose a CRM, take advantage of free trials to find out how intuitive the platform is and if the included features will provide a high level of value to your sales team and sales process. Once you’ve identified a tool that offers both, ensure your sales team has access to the appropriate training and support resources that will allow them to learn the tool and get the best use out of it.”

Caleb Edwards is the Founder and CEO of GreenHouse Agency, a growth-focused, creative digital marketing agency in Orlando, Florida. He brings over 16 years of experience developing online growth strategies, is a Gold Addy Award Winner, and is invested in the Orlando’s start-up scene. 

What mistakes did you make when choosing your CRM system? Let us know your learnings and best advice in the comments below.

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