5 CRM & Business Process Horror Stories You Can Easily Avoid

By Lauren Keepers

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to understanding how to set your business processes up for success, especially when it comes to CRM. In order for your company to accommodate the growing demands of today’s competitive marketplace, make sure that the current state of your business operations doesn’t fall under the umbrella of any of the below nightmares.

Here are five business process horror stories we encourage your organization to avoid by consulting with a team of preferred digital transformation experts:


Nightmare #1 | Excel Sheets, On Sheets, On Sheets

Picture this – a company with hundreds of desks with piles and piles of countless stacks of paper, in no way easily quantifiable to the standard sales person’s eye. It sounds like a haunting scene from a black and white flick, no? The truth is, an outdated sales scenario like this is commonplace for a fair amount of organizations, even businesses who claim to have a stake in the digital arena through shared excel data sheet usage.

Just because the spreadsheets aren’t printed, doesn’t mean that saving a local Excel file to store and track sales data is an effective stand-in CRM solution. Not only does this method make it hard for sales department members to maintain clean data, but frequently the files are built with complex formulas that only one or two department members (oftentimes leadership) understand, manage and share with their employees. Instead of getting on the highway to closed-lost opportunity hell, we suggest opting for a less siloed approach by translating your spreadsheet data to a cloud-based platform. With a new single source of truth that’s accessible to all parties involved in the sales process, closed-won deals will begin to multiply by the day.


Nightmare #2 | Paper-Dominated Account Management

There’s a difference between working hard and working smart. Nothing is scarier than when an organization defaults to zombie mode and gets stuck in the groove of devoting time, resources and energy into highly manual, stagnant business processes. This type of rhythm is bound to create major productivity issues and its glaring process deficiencies will more than likely inhibit possibilities for future expansion. For example, if the current state of your post-sale workflow involves any of the following, you’re on the wrong track:

  • Picking, processing, printing and assembling a tangible purchase order that is required to be physically carried from one room to another.
  • Sloppy, inaccurate data compilation and storage.
  • Time interval restrictions on purchase order processing and collections (i.e., paperwork is laid out Friday and attended to on Monday).
  • Minimal client-facing communication dedicated to identifying order entry timelines and account next steps.
  • Poor documentation and standardization of business process flow.
  • Zero task prioritization where papers are sorted within the order that they’re stacked in.
  • Insufficient employee development protocol (i.e., the only way employees know they’re performing to standard is when they’re not being yelled at).

And God forbid one of those paper POs is misplaced or falls off the desk before an account administrator sees it. If any one of these situations feels awfully familiar, prioritize bringing a certified consulting partner onboard to discuss your CRM software and application options. Why? Because as a business grows, workflow management should grow with it. Without performing frequent health-checks, re-assessments and modifications to your business process structure, you’ll fail to support each department’s short and long-term goals.

ProTip: Change management is a critical component of an organization’s digital transformation. Check out our blog on how to maximize user adoption when rolling out a new technology solution.


Nightmare #3 | Salesforce Configuration Malpractice

Some of the most alarming CRM scenarios we’ve encountered are the ones that involve a client with the right software who receives the wrong type of customization. Being able to identify a trusted technical resource can be tough, and sometimes companies make the regrettable decision to invest and carry the utmost faith in an unsound delivery team.  

For example, in the world of Salesforce, there are Opportunities and Cases. Opportunities represent a transaction between an organization and their customer and are created for and by a sales team. Cases are records of customers’ feedback, problems or questions and are created for the customer service team to review and respond to. They are used to track and solve customer issues. Both seem like pretty elementary building blocks to tailor to meet an organization’s overarching CRM goals, right?

Not so much. Let’s take a step back and review five critical stages a sale can navigate through until it’s deemed “closed-won” or “closed-lost”.

  1. Prospecting
  2. Information Gathering
  3. Quote Generating
  4. Contract Building
  5. Onboarding

In one catastrophic situation, we’ve seen an organization with solid business practices in place, but their poorly pre-configured CRM created hundreds of thousands of new Cases Record Types at every single sales stage in the Opportunity pipelining process. The chaos doesn’t stop there – any action that was taken on an individual Case would close that Case and generate an entirely new Case. Should we say the word “Case” one more time?

As a friendly reminder, a Case is created for buying customers, not for leads who have yet to be converted into a buying customer through the purchase of a product or service. This CRM infrastructure resulted in highly inaccurate (and arguably non-existent) pipeline metrics and an inability to gauge future profitability within existing accounts. To resolve a Case crisis like this one, consulting experts should eliminate Cases altogether and build a proper sales pipeline structure that pertains directly to Opportunity management. Ultimately, accurate reporting is vital for an organization to grow, so pulling and purging the toxic data from Salesforce, mining that data, setting fundamental rules to configure the new data to align with business practices and re-uploading that new data into Salesforce is a favorable place to start.


Nightmare #4 | Niche ERPs With No CRM Component

It isn’t unordinary for niche industry companies to embrace niche enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. But leaning on a home-grown system to perform the job of a cloud-based CRM isn’t just old-world, it’s counterproductive to sustaining efficient day-to-day operations.

While ERP solutions primarily tackle internal operations such as project management, distribution process management and supply chain, your CRM should handle managing and providing transparency to pipeline sales, calculating ROI on closed-deals, aligning marketing and sales efforts and more. Check out this resource for a full breakdown of the different core functions of these two solutions.

Integrating a system that’s dedicated to inventory management with a multi-purpose, customer-centric platform is challenging, especially when a custom API is necessary for the two systems to effectively “talk” to one another. Enter a trusted consulting partner. In this situation, the sky’s the limit when it comes to driving your API’s development roadmap. In order to pivot away from process-free business operations that relate directly to a given Salesforce setup, don’t hesitate to push back on the organization that built the API in the first place. The ultimate goal to keep in mind prior to taking action would be to identify what functionality opportunities the collaborative teams could breathe life into while pushing the ERP product to its limit. More than 150,000 organizations are utilizing Salesforce today, so requesting an API to easily synthesize with Salesforce and a specific ERP is a worthy and valuable question to ask within digital transformation conversations.


Nightmare #5 | Post-Project, In-House Salesforce Administration

It’s no secret that investing in a digital transformation product, plus contracting out a consulting partner to deliver an effective solution design, is an investment. So, when a technical project is near completion, it’s understandable that there might be a bit of hesitancy from an organization’s key decision makers to commit to hiring a CRM administrator to ensure user adoption remains high and system functionality glitches remain low after their consulting partners make their exit. In fact, this storyline is no exception to the average digital transformation project.

Especially within mid-level or enterprise companies, administrators will experience difficulty transitioning into a new system. In order to minimize CRM environment “breakage,” consulting partners who lean on solution design best practice will provide substantial training to internal admins, along with comprehensive documentation detailing the automations and other custom built components that resulted from the project. Because a detailed record of the new cause and effect relationship of CRM usability and functionality can’t be easily extracted or developed from a software provider post-customization, it’s crucial for a consulting partner to create and provide this to every client.

In instances where companies don’t have a need to invest in an internal CRM resource hire, they tend to take advantage of baking in a bucket of consulting hours preserved for the latter portion of the project. In other words, in order to avoid CRM hiccups after a project has concluded, a good consulting partner will allocate a small segment of hours to provide support desk services until client team members feel comfortable managing the system independent of expert supervision. And in some cases, businesses request an ongoing administrative contract to be drawn up, which requires a consulting team to continue to function as an administrator for months (and in some cases years) after the project has been signed off to manage the solution effectively long-term and yield positive ROI.


Are any of the above scenarios scarily similar to the current state of your organization’s operations? Contact our consulting experts to discuss how we can design a solution that better ties together each of your individual employees efforts to your company’s goals.

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