CRMMany organizations implement a new CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system hoping to make dramatic improvements in sales as well as to improve the customer experience. While a new system can certainly help, many companies find that a CRM system alone isn’t sufficient to meet these goals.

How effective is a new CRM implementation?

Unfortunately, many CRM initiatives fail to reach the goals outlined above. Forrester conducted research on the effectiveness of CRM software and found that 47% of businesses surveyed felt the functionality didn’t match what they were promised by the vendor. They surveyed this same group to understand the problems that were encountered. They found that while 30 to 40 percent of the problems were due to the product, the majority of the problems were related to the company’s employees, the internal processes, and the strategy for executing the implementation. William Band, Forrester Vice President and Analyst says, “We found a lot of people acknowledging that they didn’t have the skills that they needed to implement the solution.”

Software implementation is not enough

Even with a successful implementation, many companies find that their goals are still not achieved. Employees may know how to use the software and have additional information at their fingertips, but what if the sales team doesn’t have the skills needed to close sales? Will new software help them sell better? Will customer service reps have the skills to provide service? Not as a result of purchasing new software.

Success = software + skills

According to Band, author of Forrester’s The Future of CRM in 2013, what’s required to improve sales, service, and the customer’s experience is, “…a balance of human and systems support…” To maximize your significant investment in a CRM implementation, you need to pair the functionality of the system with improved customer service and sales skills. As part of your planning process, develop a training schedule to launch following software implementation. In addition to training your direct sales staff, invest in telesales training and customer service training so that all your customer-facing representatives are equipped with the right skills to maximize the new, robust information they’ll have at their fingertips.

Imagine what your employees could do with top of the line software AND best-in-class training. Implement one without the other, and meeting your original purchase objectives becomes difficult.