Challenges of implementing a CRM for small businesses

Before we get into the challenges of CRM implementation as a small business, let’s ask the question: does your small business need a CRM?

If you don’t already have one, now is the time to think about it.  A customer relationship management system brings with it many benefits, one of them being that it can help your operation to grow, meaning you will be able to manage many more clients and increase revenue.  The only time you may not need a CRM is if you are a very tiny business with no more than ten clients, but even then there are benefits.  As you grow, you will definitely need something far more sophisticated and that is where a CRM comes into the picture.

Once you have made the decision to go ahead, here are some of the small business CRM challenges you may face.

What are your biggest CRM implementation and utilization challenges?

1. Not selecting the right system

Your new system is in place but isn’t a good fit.  As far as challenges go, this is one of the hardest to resolve, particularly as you don’t want to lose time and money by replacing it. The real answer here is to not let yourself get into this position by following a very considered and careful selection process before you buy.  Don’t rush.  Think about how you will use the CRM before you commit and don’t be swayed by clever marketing tactics. What are your key processes now and how will the CRM take them over? How will other essential systems integrate such as accounts and orders?  You also need to think about what data the system will handle and who will need to access it – such as your sales and marketing, and customer service departments.

Check out our free CRM selection checklist to ensure your system fits all your requirements before implementation

2. Incorrect implementation

With regards to customer relationship management issues, don’t just travel blind.  Have a process in place to implement your CRM before going live. Get everyone involved that will use the system and make one member of your team responsible for compiling a central file that will have details of all processes involved within it. This way, everyone will be doing the same thing and if they get stuck, they will know where to look or who to ask. Don’t forget to include sections on security and authorization rights.

3. Not finding a system to grow with your business

One thing your CRM must be is scalable so that as your business grows, it grows with you.  It is pointless installing a CRM that has limited and fixed capacity; it may suit you now but as your customer base expands, you will find yourselves flailing.  Some systems come with bolt-on modules that allow easy expansion. Opting for something like this will help you avoid an upgrade disruption and expense at a later date, therefore always ask your provider about scalability and how your chosen CRM will grow with you.

4. Poor user adoption

What is the biggest challenge for CRM adoption in small businesses?  Some small businesses make the mistake of not aligning their CRM with their company culture.  Your regular operational processes need to be mirrored within the new system so that users can still carry out daily operations without trouble. Worst case scenario is that your CRM is working well but no-one wants to use it.

This can be a major problem faced by companies of all sizes.  You can nip this in the bud by:

  • Leading by example: show staff that you are hands-on and using the new CRM as much as they are.
  • Introducing change gradually: don’t rush.  Let your team find their feet and hold regular meetings to bring into play new aspects of the system.
  • Not being afraid to take a hard line: your company has invested a lot of money in the new CRM so staff have to use it.  Show them how it deals with their manual tasks much faster and more accurately. 
  • Focusing on the overall benefits to the team: work can become far more enjoyable and less laborious. Maybe offer small rewards for those who hit certain targets weekly.

Begin with basic regimes and then bring in the more complex ones.  Always remember that user adoption is greater and change best achieved when done slowly and with lots of positive reinforcement.  Provide thorough training whilst emphasizing the benefits.

5. Integration with existing software

Integration with other programs is vital. Historical data needs to be transferred across and other key systems such as accounts have to connect.  Put this to your vendor before purchasing as they will have the knowledge of the system and 3rd party apps that can help to existing software to integrate.

Whilst there are some problems with CRM, as a small business that wants to succeed, not installing a new system is far more perilous.  There are many benefits to CRM. Your new software will enable you to improve customer service, increase sales, streamline processes and eradicate bottlenecks.  All of this goes towards boosting your bottom line and with time, the new system will pay for itself. Realize that your CRM is not purely a nice thing to have but a pure necessity in a world where customer retention is key.


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Jane Tareen

About the author…

An MBA-qualified professional, Jane specializes in all kinds of copywriting and creative content production. With many years spent working in advertising and publishing, she is also skilled in editorial production and proof-reading. Whilst writing, she has a constant companion in the form of one very large Fox Red Labrador!

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Jane Tareen

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