<img src="https://ws.zoominfo.com/pixel/Nfk5wflCTIIE2iSoYxah" width="1" height="1" style="display: none;">

Best of RevOps Show: Episode 23: A CRM is Only as Good as Its Configuration

by Hannah Rose | Aug 30, 2023 10:00:00 AM

The phrases "Let's keep it simple" or "all we need is" are things we hear quite often when implementing CRMs, but simple isn't enough. Your CRM also has to serve your needs; otherwise, people won't see the point in using the new system. To get there you must ask yourself, "What's the problem we're solving for?" The goal of this question should not be simple, it should be complete. Jess chose this episode for our Best of RevOps Show series because she and Doug dive into how you define what complete is, what the real problems are with your CRM, and how your problems impact your CRM configuration.




Additional Resources: 

Show Notes:

It’s RevOps Show day! And the topic of choice is all around CRM configuration. More specifically, the fact that a CRM is only as good as its configuration. For full disclosure, Doug brought up this topic (exposed!) for today. It came from a conversation he was having where a potential client laid out what their needs were for a CRM. While they laid out some specifications, they didn’t articulate what success looked like for them or what they were wanting the CRM to actually do for them. 

What is a CRM? Is it a solution?

You could go so far as to say is any branded application or branded technology a solution? It’s potentially an accelerator to a solution, but it is not a solution. So what is a CRM? A CRM is a customer relationship management system. It is a multi-object database, though there are CRMs out there that are not multi-object. Doug’s first CRM were note cards in an index box. To Jess’s point, a CRM is a glorified Rolodex. 

CRMs can pivot off of each other. It’s like having a really complicated, automated spreadsheet workbook. All the database is, is a place to store data.

Do you need a place to store data? Yes. That’s the weakness of not having a multi-object database. You can’t orient it right. You might not have a full line of sight across all elements. So, when it comes to launching a new CRM, you have to ask is the one you’re using not working?

Coming from zero to launch, everyone has the same objective – they want it to be simple. Doug always laughs when he hears this because there has never been someone that says what they’re looking for is a really complicated thing that will take reps 75% of their time to keep it up to date. Everyone wants it simple; everyone wants it easy; everyone wants it to work.

The first sign of implementation failure is when they just want to keep it simple. Simple is a byproduct, it’s not an objective. We talk at Imagine about The Inverse Friction Principle that says – the ease or effortlessness of a user’s experience has an inverse relationship to the complexity that went into their user experience to designing that system. Having easy to use software is hard to do. If you don’t go through complexity, you don’t get simple because simple is complete. 


Another thing that tends to happen that we see all the time falls into what is success. (By the way, if you can’t answer the question, “What is success,” then you might need to step back and do that before you start spending money on tech.) What is success? When you want to keep things minimal and simple, that means you don’t want to think about it. What ends up happening is that we see what isn’t used and we define the problem as a technology problem.

The problem gets defined as a lack of information, a lack of data, when in reality this isn’t the true problem. Why? Because creating the world’s greatest CRM that can capture 100% of available data isn’t possible. The data is all of the touch points, the qualitative and quantitative data that exists from all the people at a company. The salespeople have the data, it’s just in each salesperson’s head. When a salesperson is inputting data into a CRM, you are only getting a portion of what the person thinks. It’s not a lack of data or information, it’s access and availability and the use of the data. 

What does use of data mean?

For instance, Doug can’t use the data that’s in Jess’s head. He can ask her and she might tell him some of it, but then it’s no longer in her head. But having information in our heads still isn’t accessible, people can’t use it.

From what Doug has seen, closer to 70 or 80% of CRM implementations fail to deliver on their intended outcomes. That can’t be a CRM problem. If it was more like 20%, maybe, but you’re more likely to have a failed implementation than a successful one. Why? The problem is the adoption and utilization. By looking at the problem this way, you’ll change perspective. CRMs are really simple, basic technology today. Adoption and utilization comes down to configuration.

What does “adoption and utilization comes down to configuration” mean?

When you buy/hire a CRM, you’re getting a standard tool. You’re getting a box, and it comes down to making that box work for you. One of the big issues that people have with their CRMs is that they have all kinds of data they can’t get access to. Getting the CRM to work for you comes down to configuration.

What’s the difference between adoption and utilization?

Adoption is a measurement of “do people use it,” and utilization is a measurement of the quality of that use against the intended. If you don’t have a clear intent for how the CRM should be used, how you think it should be used, or what you’re trying to accomplish, then you can’t assess utilization. If you can’t assess utilization, you can’t do things to improve utilization. And if you can’t do things to improve utilization, then utilization is going to atrophy and as utilization atrophies, you get adoption by enforcement which has a huge cost to it.

How do you define adoption and utilization?

Are we increasing velocity and meeting the expectations and requirements we set forth as an organization? As Jess thinks about this, you’re looking at your goals as an organization and that tells you whether or not you’ve got adoption and utilization of the CRM. There are other elements and insights that you’ll need. 

Some people measure adoption by going in and seeing if people have logged in to the CRM. But this isn’t adoption or utilization. What should the adoption rate be? And who cares? Adoption is a byproduct. People obsess with how to get others to adopt the CRM more. Make it really simple for them to use. If there’s no juice for the squeeze then they won’t use it. Adoption is only a means to utilization. When you adopt by force you can get adoption, but you won’t get utilization. Salespeople are going to keep the CRM up to date because they want to, not because you want to. It has to be about what’s in it for them.

It can’t just be simple. It also has to be complete which means there has to be juice for the squeeze. Also, if you don’t connect what you’re doing to a business outcome, then you can’t manage the trade-offs or the ongoing implementation to generate the adoption/utilization.

Do you know foundationally one of the fundamental things that makes humans different from any other animal? Our ability to think. And our brains hate to think. We find all sorts of reasons to not think, and simple becomes the reason not to think. Which is why simple isn’t enough and that the process also has to be complete. If the process is simple and complete, it’s lovable. And when it’s lovable, you don’t have to fight for adoption or utilization. To get to “complete”, you have to ask the question, “what’s the problem we’re solving for?” The only way you can answer the question effectively is by talking about your business process.

Ultimately you have to look at the whole picture, you have to define it through the lens of utilization and let that drive the choice you’re making about the technology you use. That’s what goes into the process of configuration.

Next Steps: