Guaranteed SMB Success with Dynamics CRM Online

It is the heat of the political season, so in the spirit of that, I’ll need to “walk back” my post title. Success cannot be Guaranteed; even “Or Your Money Back” simply means you failed. The best that anyone can do is set you up for the best possible chance to succeed… and of that, I can guarantee we can do.

To Succeed, One must First Understand Failure, Grasshoppa

It is not enough to know a path to success, you must also know why things fail, otherwise you will not know when you have veered off the success path. Fortunately, there are way more SMB failures with Dynamics CRM Online than successes, so we have a lot to learn from. Okay, maybe I should have said “unfortunately”, but it is fortunate for this post.

As the creator of a success model for CRM, I have spent as much, or more time, studying why CRM fails for SMB than succeeds. I might go so far as to call myself the Preeminent Expert on CRM failure in SMB; I doubt anyone will try to wrangle that dubious title away from me. The fact is, you cannot develop a real success model, without a thorough understanding of the causes of failure.

Here are my top 10 7 reasons for SMB failure with Dynamics CRM Online:

#1 Do it Yourselfers

Dynamics CRM Online is not a deploy-it-yourself product. Period. Unless you have a person on staff who has been trained on the platform, you will absolutely fail. I think that sometimes customers are thinking “Of course that’s what you would say, you just want us to hire a partner“. Actually, what I want, is for you to succeed.

Before we converted to an ISV, when we dealt directly with customers, I can remember several occasions where a customer said “I’ll just buy the subscriptions, we can figure this out on our own and save money“. Every single one of them eventually cancelled their CRM subscription. I guess they had too much pride to come back and ask for help. The unfortunate thing here, is that a lot of these customers actually could have benefitted significantly from CRM, but instead wasted a bunch of time only to land right back where they started. They no doubt blame CRM. So take what I am saying with a grain of salt, at your own peril.

#2 Going Too Big, Too Fast (or trying to)

This too is a big reason DIYers fail, but is also why, even with a partner involved, many deployments fail. Trying to “Boil the Ocean” usually leads to creating a tidal wave that drowns your users right after GoLive… if you ever even get to Go Live. Yes, I know, CRM can solve every problem known to man, but that is going to take a lot of time and a lot of money. You do not have enough of either of these. Our RapidStart CRM approach is not a scheme, but rather, the manifestation of a philosophy that we know to be true from empirical evidence. Are you really going to argue with “Empirical Evidence”? I mean… it’s Empirical! At McDonald’s, do you actually try to shove the entire Big Mac in your mouth all at once, or do you take bites? Our Best Practice advice? Approach CRM the same way you would approach a Big Mac.

#3 Taking Too Long to Deploy

Often related to going too big, taking too long can also kill a deployment. It can be pretty easy to get staff and leadership excited about Dynamics CRM Online, and all of the possibilities; the challenge is maintaining that enthusiasm long enough to get it into their hands. Too many deployments die on the vine because they simply took too long. Once you have that excitement, time starts working against you. Speed is more important than perfection, and we know Perfection is the enemy of Good. So aim for Good and Fast, you will then have all the runway you need to get to perfection.

#4 Managing Expectations

Microsoft has produced some great videos about what is possible with Dynamics CRM Online, and if you think you will be able to get any of that quickly, your sights are set too high. To quote Jack Nicholson, “You can’t handle the Truth!“. The “Truth”? Even if you were able to have that level of capability on day one, you would fail. Your team could not absorb all of it, nor put it to productive use. Many of these “CRM” videos include capabilities from multiple other products, with their own costs and deployment challenges. Think of these videos as concept cars; they look really cool but you can’t afford them. So let me grab your ankles and pull your head out of the clouds (no pun intended), and get you back on the ground so you can focus on what you really need.

#5 Not Enough Money

Call any Certified CRM partner today and ask him what it will cost to get you started with CRM. Oh go ahead, just for fun, CRM partners hate it :-). After some hemming and hawing, he/she will throw out a cost “range”… maybe.  No, you do not get a number.  But it does not matter, even the low-end of the range will make you queasy. In reality, you will be lucky to get this done for the high-end of that range, and more likely double that.

Customers are excellent at convincing themselves of what they want to believe. You may be able to easily rationalize, how with your superior skills, you will be able to get this done at the low-end of that range. You will not. You will run out of money way before you are where you need to be. Then you get to explain to your boss why you blew it so badly. The good news is, now you will have an idea what it might actually cost to get it done; a piece of information that had you known upfront, you might not have even started down this path. You have failed, cost the company a lot of money, and without much to show for it, you may get fired. A fixed scope, fixed cost, fixed time agreement might have prevented this, or least let you know that you don’t have enough money to play.

#6 Not a Legitimate Need.

Most of the time, customers who are looking for a CRM system have actual problems that they want to solve. Their sales process is crap, they have no visibility, they have no accountability, they can’t support their customers, these are legitimate needs that CRM can solve. I hear many CRM partners proclaim that every customer can benefit from CRM. That might be true, but then again many businesses are getting along just fine without CRM. They have put in place a process that works well without CRM; CRM may only provide them an incremental gain, but it adds a new cost. Some “value” is not enough; if an ROI from CRM cannot be clearly identified in advance, this CRM effort will fail. A motivated partner alone, is not enough. Even if a partner pushes the boulder all the way up the hill by themselves, without the customer with them at the top, it will simply roll down the other side.

#7 No Real Plan.

Let’s just meander this way for a bit and see where we end up“. So, you want to take that winding path to Failureville? Too many CRM projects start fresh off of the WOW demo, with the customer saying “Yeah, I want that?“, “You want what, I just showed you about a hundred things?“, “Well, how about a little of this, and a little of that, and we’ll see where it goes?” A partner’s worst nightmare is the customer with no plan; without a plan, how do you know when you’re done? The partner’s job is not to create the plan, that would be the partner’s plan. Certainly the partner needs to provide guidance, explain options and obstacles, but at the end of the day, the customer needs to “Own” the plan, or… you guessed it, the CRM effort will fail.

#8 Deleted so as not to Piss off Microsoft

#9 Deleted so as not to Piss off Partners

#10 Deleted so as not to Piss off Customers


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