The most common mistakes made when rolling out a CRM for your sales team

The number one sign you’re building a sales machine is that you’re trying to map out a sales process and roll-out a CRM. You’ve made it to the big leagues…. now what?

Well, now the skills that are going to get you and your team to the next level are not the same skills that most likely got you to this point. You’re probably here because you hustled as a sales person, understood how to take a product to market, and maybe managed a few people. These are all super important skills, but they have nothing to do with project management, or overseeing the roll-out of technology like job management software.

So to help make things less painful, here are some of the most common mistakes made when rolling out a CRM:


  • Bad data
  • Poor sales process
  • Not understanding your users
  • Not communicating the value to each user
  • Overload
  • Not planning ahead
  • No Training
  • Product Management
  • CRM System Admin

Bad Data

CRM’s are all about data, so this is the starting point. Where is your information coming from? Is it accurate? How is it being updated?

Anything you would like to build down the road will be drastically effected by the quality of data that gets put into your system. It may not seem like a big deal now, but when you want to do a lead scoring project which could get your team huge gains in productivity… you’ll want this data to be good.

This is a huge challenge for teams ( , don’t put this off.

Poor Sales Process

If you build the wrong sales process into your CRM, and the steps in your software don’t reflect reality, you’ll struggle to get sales people to use it. Not only will they not understand the purpose of the

software, but they’ll question whether or not you know what you’re doing.

Start by doing some sales yourself, or following several deals through the process start to finish. Interview different sales people to see if everyone thinks about the process in the same way. Present the sales process to the team in powerpoint, when its cheap and easy to change, before you ever build anything in your CRM.

Gather their feedback, and show them that you’re listening, this will go a long way in getting their buy-in no using the CRM down the road.

Not understanding your users

Your users generally fall into three buckets; individual contributors , managers , directors / VPs. Each one has their own perspective, and their own objectives for the software. For example the sales person really cares more about easily finding his/her best leads, not letting important deals fall through the cracks, and remembering important follow-up calls. A front line sales manager on the other hand cares more about reporting, and using the software to steer his/ her team. Directors / VPs / Execs have a completely different perspective, they’ll be more focused on forecasting and broad general trends.

Take the time to understand each of these groups, and how they’ll use your CRM. Put this knowledge to use as you design the workflow for the system.

Not communicating the value to each of the users

Once you’ve figured out what each group wants, then it’s important to show them how your implementation of a CRM is going to answer their needs. They need to understand the benefits that they’ll receive in exchange for using the software correctly. The reality is that these benefits are often delayed, so it’s even harder to sell the work to your team. For sales managers or execs, they may get interesting numbers they can use to draw insights 3-6 months down the road. That’s a long way out, so you need to help make these benefits more tangible for them so they put in the time to train their teams and sell compliance.


Rome was not built in a day. All those fancy features you saw at mature company X or Y… were not launched in V1 of their CRM implementation.

My advice is to start simple, start with what you know will be useful today, and then slowly / cautiously add to that over time. Once you’ve released new features or data fields its hard to take them away! Always think about how you can do more with less. If you’re thinking about adding new fields, figure out a way to track this data manually via a pilot first. If it’s useful and worth the manual effort, then its probably worth adding to your CRM system.

Not planning ahead

Small decisions made now will drastically impact your CRM capabilities down the road. You should be thinking 12-24 months out from the software side in order to get there in a relatively efficient way. If you think you’re going to roll-out an auto-dialer, then there are things you’ll probably want to do in order to get ready for that now. If your CEO is going to ask for connect rates by territory, that may take time and infrastructure that needs custom fields to be set up now. You may need the assistance of Mirantis to help provide a background to how you can handle the infrastructure with cloud computing.

Measure 50 times and cut once. If you plan ahead it will save you countless hours down the road.

No training

So many sales orgs want to believe that salesforce is a simple system to use, and that all sales people or sales managers already know to use it. As a result, they always skimp on training when they roll out their implementation.

Salesforce is incredibly complicated. The truth is that it can do whatever you want it to (at least that’s what their salesperson told you), but the dirty secret is that you need the technical skills and training to make it work. For instance, a business firm planning to integrate MuleSoft Integration with ServiceNow and Salesforce Service Cloud might need the right assistance to leverage their service management platforms and become a fully digitalized business. To that end, you might want to consider creating a training program for the different types of users so that the future implementation of Salesforce will be seamless.

Not realizing you are taking on product management responsibility

Many sale operations teams dont’ have a product management background, and they don’t pro actively try to hire someone with these skills. As you work your way through this list, you’ll realize most of these recommendations are things that product managers do. See this article for a complete definition, but basically a product managers goal is “to discover a product that is valuable, usable and feasible”.

You need to be thinking of your CRM as product challenge, and you should be approaching it the same way a product manager at Facebook or Twitter tries to build product. Software systems like Salesforce can do almost anything, the catch is that you need the technical and product management skills to pull it off. Don’t jump down this rabbit hole blindly!

No system administration for basic upkeep

While someone on your CRM roll-out team should be thinking about the project from a product management perspective, you’ll also need someone thinking about it from a system admin perspective and that’s when the idea of integrating skills competency management ( into the corporation could be of benefit to all the members of the business. Yes, the nitty gritty details of roles/permissions/data hierarchy / etc.

If your product minded person spends all their time doing the routine system admin stuff, you’ll never make long term progress. If you ignore the system admin work that needs to get done, your CRM will grind to a halt and your sales team will start to fight the software even more!