ROI from CRM Not What You Expected? Maybe It’s One of These 3 Reasons

Among the key business drivers that lead companies to investing in a CRM platform, two needs are often ranked as top priorities:

1️⃣ Increased business visibility: Where do we stand?

2️⃣Increased business predictability: Where are we heading?

Once the investment in the platform is made, we should see CRM delivering on its promises.

In other terms: the ROI of the CRM platform should be obvious.

Let’s pause here and reflect on a number of items to be considered.


when the decision to invest into a CRM platform was made:

➡️ What were the specific benefits expected?

➡️ What was the expected ROI?


the investment in a CRM platform is not strictly limited to the (technical) implementation cost plus the subscription (SaaS) costs!

It is wiser to consider the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), which includes indirect, and sometimes hidden, costs as well.

To quote just a few: upfront investments (such as the platform selection process), all costs associated with the work engaged to ensure the right match the company processes (sales cycles, definitions, adjustments) with the platform, use of external resources throughout the process, use of internal resources (steering committee, project team), user trainings and some unplanned events.

As a result:

➡️ The TCO is much larger than the direct investment in the platform itself.

➡️ When the platform is up and running (as an IT project), it is just the beginning.

This is a process, not a single event: the benefits, i.e., ROI, will take some time to show.

Therefore, for a number of companies, once they have the platform installed, their staff trained and all processes documented, don’t necessarily guarantee a measurable ROI.

Here are 3 signals indicating that your CRM platform does not deliver the ROI you expected.

1️⃣ Limited sales adoption

This happens when any activity with the CRM is considered, by the sales team, whether it’s “admin work” or as a “tool for management”.

Some common examples:

🚫 Updates are performed before each meeting and/or for business opportunities, before the last stage of the sales cycle (i.e., before the “closed” stage).

🚫 (Parallel) pipelines on Excel are still the standard, and these pipelines are where you find the most up-to-date business information.

🚫 Using the CRM is considered to be an option by sales reps and by their leadership.

As a result: Poor input quality will not lead to meaningful business analyses.

2️⃣ Not a corporate platform

The CRM platform, and its usage, are “stuck” within the sales department.

Although it is often seen by sales reps as a “tool for management and not for the sales dept”, in reality the work performed on the CRM platform “remains within the sales department”, which, in return, does not incentivize sales reps to use the platform (see Item #1).

In other terms: business analyses, reviews, learnings, projections and other forms of business intelligence (see Item #3) are accessible, but not used by senior management during the relevant business meetings.

As a result: A significant investment has been made on a platform that basically delivers what existed already.

3️⃣ The “intelligence” of the platform is underused

This happens when, despite repeated trainings, the full wealth of features and functionalities of the platform are underused.

CRMs offer an excellent background to provide teams with meaningful dashboards, thereby heightening engagement in relevant business discussions. However, if left unused, there will be no effect on ROI.

As a result: The only output analyzed comprises consolidated figures which could have very well been coming from Excel. Therefore, discussions about strategy, focus, sales plans and tactics, even talent management hardly take place.

In conclusion,

CRM platforms are mature enough to deliver on their promises.

Make sure the time and money spent in your CRM are an “Investment”, rather than a “Cost” (i.e., an investment with no ROI).

Make it a goal to have the CRM platform deliver tangible benefits for your sales organization and their leadership, who will then be able to improve:

✅ The visibility and predictability of their business.

✅ Budgeting and business planning.

✅ Their focus on the business highlights.

✅ Account intelligence.

In other words: improve the effectiveness of your team!

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