Are you CRM Ready?

Why CRM Software trials don’t work so well.

If you’re anything like me, I am always signing up to free trials of software. In fact I have just promised myself that I will not sign up to another free trial again. Well, until I’m ready to jump all in and use it. Because, this is where the problem lies. I am always attracted by the ‘shiny shiny’ ads that XXX software is going to revolutionise my life and give me what I truly desire. The desire to run my business from anywhere. Yes! That is what I want. So I sign up to the 14-day free trial, no obligation, no credit card required. And then… uh-oh, I can’t see how this is going to help me.

This is what our customers tell us:

“The software I have downloaded simply doesn’t fit my business!”

That’s because the free trial itself is a bit like an empty shell. The problem is, you’re not a technology expert. How are you supposed to know what all the different labels mean? Or how they apply to the categories you have in your business. Often the language can be unfamiliar or in American English. Trying to figure all this out yourself in a 14-day trial is difficult.

What you need is a product that has been customised to your particular needs so you can get the most out of your trial. But often this can be expensive and time-consuming.

CRM initiatives currently have a 63% fail rate!

Source: Merkle Group Inc.

“There are so many different features to the product! Realistically, I need to see the system working with my information in it to really understand how it might work for my business. How do I get from where I am now to fully operational?”

All the features look great, but you don’t necessarily need all of the different elements to get going. Often the issue is not with the technology. It is changing the behaviours within your team and adopting new processes. Even if the old processes are cumbersome, it can seem harder to do it a new way, even if you know it will save time in the long run.

The best thing to do is to start with a few features, based on your needs as a business. Get them working well and then scale up. For example, if you want to start doing email marketing then you need to be able to get all of your prospects into a system, be able to categorise them in some way and then email them different messages, depending upon their relationship with your business. The more structured the data when it goes in, the more useful it is.  

Nearly 50 percent of companies faced serious challenges with business software changes and user adoption.

Source: AMR Reach (now part of Gartner)

“Most of my information is in my email address book!”

Or in lots of different spreadsheets. Often when we speak to our customers, we find they have grown their business organically through word of mouth, networking or referrals. They have tried to keep track of all of the people they have met, the discussions they have had or where they are in their buying cycle. In reality they only end up following up the hot leads and opportunities but more often than not the relationships slip through the cracks and either get forgotten or go cold. The problem is time. They don’t have the time or the inclination to try and filter through and start re-inputting all of the information into the new system. This information cannot easily be exported from one system into another because the data is not structured in a way that works. It seems like a lot of work for a free trial! What if the product is no good at the end of it?

Good news – there are ways and means of extracting this information. When you download our free checklist, you will get a free pre-formatted excel template, along with a 7-day step-by-step guide of how to get all your data into a format that will work.

If you are short on time, there are things available to you that will save you time. For example, if you integrate your CRM with a Mail app, there are easy ways of directly adding people who email you into your CRM. There are even free apps for scanning business cards.

6 years ago only 12% of businesses used cloud based CRM –

This figure has now increased to 87%!

Source SuperOffice

“I am collaborating with myself.”

This is a major issue with collaboration tools. When we have used them, they seem really useful and we can see the potential. But, there is a learning curve, team adoption and some rigor and discipline needs to be applied so they become operational within a team. That’s when the magic truly happens.

Often the rest of the team aren’t doing the same trial so you are never going to see the benefits within the free trial period. You can’t collaborate with yourself. Surely the point of this is so the team can all see the information they need to be more efficient.

“You can buy the greatest software in the world, but if your employees don’t use it, you won’t get your money’s worth. People have problems embracing new technology because human nature itself often resists change. Even if you had the best training content in the world, you won’t get employees ready or increase user adoption, if the training is developed or deployed in a vacuum.”

Alvin Reyes, Executive Vice President of Mosaic.

“To see the benefit, I need to go all in!”

We often hear customers say “Well I’m not really going to go all-in on a piece of software unless I know it is right for me.”

That’s not the point of a trial and 14 days simply isn’t long enough to take advantage and make the system work for you and your team.

“The vendor is trying to help, but they’re not!”

The sales rep of the company you have a trial with will call you frequently to see how you are getting on. It is part of their sales strategy. “They offer to extend my trial but again it simply isn’t long enough. I need something different to get me to where I need to be… [avoids calls]”

“The trial doesn’t match my business.”

Your understand how your business works and have processes in place that are a bit clunky but they work. “I am not a software specialist and can’t see how to make it match my processes and how to evaluate one against the other.”  

“The main reason I want a CRM is to help me talk to my customers better.”

“I want my CRM system to help me to communicate better with my customers; such as email marketing. It would be great if the trial helped me to test this out.”

The true beauty of these software-as-a-service (SAAS) products are when the information is in the system, the processes are set up and you can start to manipulate it to suit your business.

“The trial doesn’t let me know how this new CRM will talk to everything else that I use.”

It’s true, there’s no one tool that fits all business needs. Often businesses have many different systems that don’t talk to each other. Some of the all-in-one products we have reviewed are very impressive. But they can also be extremely expensive and are often overkill for most of the businesses that we work with.

There are so many different productivity tools you can use in a business, such as CRM, Email Marketing (including Autoresponder), Accounts, Projects and Collaboration tools. But, they need to talk to each other otherwise they cause more problems than they solve. They truly can give you, the business owner, the control you need to manage and grow your business.


These are the most common reasons that CRM trials fail.  What we have found is that those that go it alone, often experience the issues described above. Each business is different. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the software your business needs.

This can be overwhelming. Who do you choose that understands your needs, when you’re not sure exactly what those needs are right now?  

Start with the Are You CRM Ready Quiz. It will give you a good overview of where you are with your CRM journey, before you waste your time on trials.

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