What's wrong with your CRM? 4 reasons why your CRM isn't working for your business


A good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software platform is one of the best investments you can make for your business, allowing you to take a systematic approach to sales, marketing, and customer service. However, many businesses find themselves disappointed with their CRM and fail to achieve their expected results and ROI. Why is this? In this article, we explore the main reasons why your CRM isnt working for your business, and how you can address these problems to improve performance.

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Problem #1: You dont have a strategic vision for your CRM

When something goes wrong the first instinct is often to blame the tools, and in the case of a CRM platform this could well be the case, but often the issues arise from the business not having sufficient strategic vision for how to use their CRM or why it is required.

Unfortunately, the effects of this lack of planning and goal setting are far-reaching. Insufficient strategic planning can result in the wrong choice of software being made, for example, without the right tools and features to achieve your objectives.

There could also be problems and delays during implementation – often due to poor coordination or misunderstandings between teams. Its difficult to train a team to use a CRM efficiently without a business-level strategy for how to use it, so theres a high risk of usage errors, leading to your data becoming disorganised, duplicated, or inaccurate. All these factors contribute to poor performance and a low ROI.


  • Be clear about what a CRM is intended to do. Many businesses treat a CRM as simply a database or a contact management system, and it is these things but also has wider strategic value. A good CRM will allow you to analyse and manipulate your business data, identifying opportunities, determining trends, and finding out more about the communication patterns and purchasing behaviours of your prospects. Taking full advantage of your CRM’s features will not only give you better control of your marketing, sales, and customer service initiatives, but also enable you to create sales forecasts, plan investments, and make intelligent business decisions.
  • Establish a clear vision of what you want to achieve with your CRM, with a set of goals and KPIs.
  • Design a checklist of requirements to a  ccommodate the needs of the people who use the system. Consulting with your team in advance of purchasing a CRM is essential to ensure full buy-in from your staff.
  • Use your organisational goals and end-user requirements to assess each CRM solution for compatibility and request a proof of concept of each platform you shortlist.

Problem #2: Youre using the wrong CRM software for your goals and requirements

The market is crowded with CRM vendors, many with specific areas of application – such as Salesforce, which is highly sales focused, and HubSpot, which is a more all in one system focusing on marketing, sales and service automation. Aligning your choice of CRM with your organisational goals is essential to get the best value from the software. If your business model or goals have changed since you purchased your current CRM, or there were errors during the planning process, your issues could arise from using the wrong type of software for your business.

Signs that this is the case could be that the subscription costs are too expensive for your budget, or that the CRM has too many tools for what you need, potentially causing confusion. It could also be that the CRM doesnt have the right tools to achieve your goals, leading you to depend on third-party software or spreadsheets to bridge the gap.


  • Set a clear budget for CRM implementation and licensing fees that allows you to achieve a realistic and ambitious ROI.
  • Review your CRM against your KPIs for the system, assessing each module or feature in terms of how well it helps you achieve these ends.
  • If you decide you have the wrong solution in place, weigh up your options. Swapping an established CRM for a new platform is a big undertaking, so assess how much it would cost you to implement a new CRM compared to the costs of adapting your current solution. Working with a specialist in your CRM may help you unlock ‘hidden’ features, or help you operate it in a different way.

Problem #3: Its the right CRM but it isnt being used properly

Often there is nothing wrong with the CRM platform itself, simply that the business is underutilising their software, that staff havent had sufficient training, or there is insufficient technical support from the vendor.


  • Work with your staff to identify individual training needs and look for ways to address any common problems with refresher training. There may be support from the vendor to do this, or you may benefit from working with a UX developer or CRM specialist to create a bespoke training programme around your needs.
  • Most good CRM systems have innate flexibility, with a high level of customisation available. Take full advantage of the onboarding support and training provided by your vendor, and beyond this, consider working with a specialist agency to help you unlock the full value of your investment. As HubSpot Certified Diamond Partners, for example, we can often help our customers identify where their CRM is being under-utilised and how to make changes to improve efficiency and productivity.
  • Again, the issue of vendor support can often be addressed by implementing a CRM through an agency partner from the beginning. Working with an agency can help you avoid common implementation problems and ensure the right training is in place, and also support you to align the tools and modules of the CRM to your business objectives.

Problem #4: Your data is out of date, inaccurate, or not relevant

A CRM is only as useful as the data stored on it. If your data assets are out of date, inaccurate, or not relevant to your business goals, then the CRM will always fail to live up to its potential. Low quality data may undermine the trust your employees place in the CRM – discouraging full adoption – and could lead to issues with your customers arising from communications made in error. Databases are always prone to lose relevancy over time through entries made in error, duplications, or omissions where people fail to record or update information properly. How do you avoid this?


  • Put in place a regular data cleaning strategy in which bouncing emails are removed, and consistently unresponsive prospects are moved to a dormant list or deleted altogether.
  • Carry out a periodic review to ensure that all known changes in data – e.g. a company you deal with changes their Operations Director – are implemented efficiently. You may wish to send out an email to your full list occasionally with a gated content incentive for respondents that confirm their details. This is a good way of refreshing your database and implicitly renewing consent at the same time, reminding prospects about your business who may have forgotten about you.
  • Use automation – many CRM platforms automatically log customer communications made through different channels, including emails, phone calls, and social media, and import new records entered on contact forms.

Next steps

A CRM is a crucial investment, and it pays to get it right. If you are worried about the performance of your current solution or would like advice choosing a new CRM for your business, please call one of our inbound marketing specialists today on 01332 343281.

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