The Three Pillars of CRM Success

Wednesday 28 October 2020

According to HBR (2018), as many as 70% of CRM projects fail. The reasons for this can be complex and will often depend on the adopting company’s objectives, expectations and corporate culture.

As a leading provider of CRM and marketing technology, we've put together three simple things you should follow to maximise adoption of your software investment, increase usage and deliver better results to your customers. 


Pillar 1: Management Participation

Managers, if you view your new or existing CRM application as a tool for subordinates then it will not be successful. Playing a passive role and adopting a mindset of ‘this doesn’t apply to me’, will only end up trickling down the ranks and pretty soon, your other staff will start saying the same thing.

The most successful customers we have seen involve a senior manager or managers who champion the technology they’ve invested in. They will have their own credentials, habitually use the technology and encourage others to do so. Not only does this set a great example for team members but it helps you to align the technology with your overall business strategy.

Pillar 1 - your team and the technology they use needs ongoing direction. If you’re a leader and not involved in your company’s CRM application, it is time to do so. Make sure you live and breathe it.


Pillar 2: Appoint a system King or Queen

While every company has a different culture when it comes to roles and responsibilities (often related to organization size), drawing up some boundaries is a good idea when it comes to team adoption of CRM. The most successful customers are those who appoint a system ‘king’ or ‘queen’ (larger teams may have a few kings/queens); this person is a competent administrator who is comfortable with technology and can guide other users to undertake specific tasks or answer their questions.

It’s important to note the system king/queen is different from a manager; their responsibility should lie within making sure users follow best practice when it comes to data entry and managing more advanced functionality such as marketing or contact profiling management.

Pillar 2 - find your system king or queen; make sure they are properly trained and can competently deal with what it means to being the CRM “go to” point.


Pillar 3: Discipline

When it comes to using technology, “I don’t have time” is simply not good enough; conversely, excuses and digital laziness often ends up costing you more time in the long-run. Your team needs to adopt a disciplined attitude when it comes to entering data and using the technology they’ve been given. It’s important to note, this pillar is strongly linked to pillar 1; that is, if managers don’t get involved, the team is usually less disciplined or becomes so over time.

If, on the other hand, pillar 1 is very strong and management is actively involved, the team is more likely to adopt a disciplined approach. Here are some things you can do to develop and maintain discipline:

  • Make using your technology a habit and part of your working day. Log in first thing you start work and review tasks, update records, view dashboards or recent activity.
  • If you receive a business card, set a rule that the person’s information must be in the system by the end of the day.
  • Frequently generate usage reports to understand team activity; use your application data for team meetings in order to improve accountability.



In Summary

Like a real building, CRM adoption and software usage requires a roof, walls and strong foundations.

If one pillar falls, then the project will be unstable. While you may get some results, it will never be as positive as it could be and you won’t achieve what you set out to.

If two pillars fall, then the project is almost certain to fail. Over time, your users will become lost and will stop using their technology.

If three pillars fall, then everything collapses and the whole project comes to a wasteful end.


Why is this important?

Because data is worth money to your business!

A database with structured data that is highly organised and adequately used will grow in size and value over time. It will help your team to be more productive and enable your business to scale.

So, do you need to strengthen your pillars? If so, it is not too late:

  • Managers, do not neglect! Instead, get involved and motivate others
  • Appoint a competent administrator, draw up boundaries
  • Always be disciplined when it comes to data entry and usage



All images sourced from

HBR article:

Edinger, S. (2018) "Why CRM Projects Fail and How to Make them More Successful", Harvard Business Review, available at:,from%2018%25%20to%2069%25