3 Mistakes Most Small Businesses Make When Implementing a CRM and How You Can Avoid Them

Scaling / February 19, 2019 / Kristie

Thinking about switching your CRM (Contact Relationships Management) for your small business? Or thinking about just starting to use a CRM?

Many small businesses make mistakes when implementing a new CRM and these mistakes can be quite costly both in dollars and wasted resources. Unless you enjoy wasting money and resources, read on to make sure you don’t fall into these pitfalls.

Our team and partners have worked with thousands of small businesses and we’ve just about seen it all.  We’ve helped small businesses implement Daylite well, and have heard horror stories of previous CRM implementations gone wrong. What we’ve learned is the difference between a good and bad experience is fairly obvious after the fact, and can be easily avoided.

If you want to help setup your business for CRM success, make sure you avoid these common pitfalls.

Mistake #1: Rushing the process

Usually the need to implement a small business CRM comes from either a major crisis or goal. Your memory failed you and you forget to follow up with an important client. Your current CRM isn’t cutting it and it’s causing your team to slow down productivity. Or business is booming and you want to make sure you’re managing your clients effectively by being prepared with a CRM.

Whatever your reason, chances are you want this done as fast as possible so you can focus on your important work – your clients and getting things done.

So, what most small businesses do is they fail to put in the necessary time to properly research, test, vet, and implement a CRM. The result? A quick roll out that results in wasted time, money, and increased frustration.

This is something we’ve seen many, many times and we don’t want to see you make the same painful and costly mistakes.

“People often underestimate the time it takes to find the right solution and the amount of work it takes to implement it correctly. It really isn’t something you can do as a side project, or have someone junior start the project because they aren’t as involved in the business.” says Amin Rahmani, Marketcircle Community Manager. “Inevitably they have to backtrack, which ends up being more costly than getting it right from the start.”

How to avoid it: Plan ahead and leave lots of time

Avoid making this mistake by giving yourself and your team enough time to plan, research, test, vet, get feedback, and roll out. A lot of people think they can make a decision and roll out a new CRM for their small business in a month or a quarter. The reality is that doing it right will take more like 6 months or even more depending on your company size, needs, and budget.

Start by first painting a clear picture of you and your teams needs. What are the problems you’re looking to solve that made you want to look for a new or first CRM? Be specific and write out clear scenarios. What does success look like? What are the specific things they need to be able to do? Are there other apps your small business CRM must need to integrate with? Once you have your grocery list of clearly defined needs, split it into the must-haves and nice-to-haves. This way as you’re searching and comparing solutions and pricing, you have a better gauge at the trade-offs in the event you don’t find something that fits every single need.

Once you have your list, you can start the research process. Ask around, schedule demos, compare, test. Leave plenty of time for testing. Most small business CRMs offer a 14-day or 30-day trial so make use of that time by leveraging the full trial. Ideally you’ll want to involve other key people in the company that will be using the CRM as well. What works for your needs may not work for theirs.

As you can probably already start to see, this process can take months. Even if through research and demos you’ve narrowed your choice down to 2 or 3 tools, that can still take upwards of 2-3 months to trial and see if they’re the right fit. This can seem like a daunting task because in many cases – depending on your company size and needs – it is. But it’s better to invest the time and energy up front to do it right the first time. This is where an Expert can help. An Expert’s experience can help you fast-track the process to make sure you avoid common mistakes and get set on the right track.

Need help implementing your CRM? We have a world-wide network of experts that will set you on the path to success. Schedule a call with us to learn more.

Mistake #2: Not getting input from stakeholders

Unless you’re the only one in your company that will ever be using your CRM, it’s wise to get input from all the stakeholders both before deciding on which CRM to go with, and during the process of implementing it and even after you’ve finished.

Your needs and use-case for your CRM may be different than your other team member’s needs and use cases. You may just need it more for reporting whereas team members may need it for organizing customer data or pulling up specific info about client projects.

“In our experience, it’s critical to have multiple perspectives involved when designing a solid CRM process. There’s always a balance between the number of steps it takes to input data into the system and the flexibility to analyze or use it later.” says Mike Auty, a consultant with iOSXpert, a leading member of our Daylite Expert network. “When lower level staff, who handle the day to day, can understand a bit more about the bigger picture, whether it’s reports on your KPIs that the CEO requires or the strategies the sales managers are planning to be able to target particular demographics, it is more than worth the time to get the entire organization aligned on whyyou’re implementing a CRM, not just how to use it.”

How to avoid it: Get input from all the stakeholders

By involving your team members early on in the process, you can make sure you’re making an informed decision about which CRM to fit your whole team’s needs and how it will be used.

To do this, get at least one stakeholder from each team or department involved. Find out their team’s current workflows and the gaps in those problems. Find out their ideal expected outcome and any specific details so you have a clear understanding of what their needs are and the matching requirements of the ideal tool.

Document their feedback and break it down into must-haves and nice-to-haves. It’s not unusual for teams to request you to death, and your CRM you’re looking at is beyond your budget. In most cases there will be some trade offs you’ll need to make and it’s important to know the critical requirements vs the ones that are on their wish list.

Involving your team early on and throughout the process will help you make sure you find the right CRM that fits your whole team’s needs as well as making sure they’ll actually use it. The last thing you need is to fork out an investment in a system only to find out later that your team refuses to use it because it’s more of a pain than the benefit.

Setup checkins at least once a week with the stakeholders to make sure you’re on the right track. This way you’re deliberate about getting feedback to make sure your new CRM is the right fit and can find workarounds early on to ensure people’s workflow needs are met.

Mistake #3: Not thinking beyond tomorrow

One of the common mistakes small businesses make is focusing just on their needs right when looking for a CRM. If your CRM implementation goes to plan, you’re going to see some serious growth and your needs will change rapidly.

You may have simple needs now but if you plan on growing, your needs will change so you need to keep that vision in mind when searching for the right CRM for your small business.

If you don’t plan for the future, you’ll be going through the costly process of picking a new CRM in just a few years. Or something that works now and fits with your budget, but the minute you grow past just yourself ends up costing you an arm and a leg. Then you end up having to go through this process all over again.

“Many small business owners are so used to struggling  with the day-to-day, they find it hard to think about the future. One of the first things I discuss with is where do you want to be in 5 years from now.” says Carolyn Vitale, Onboarding Manager for the Daylite team. “I often hear people tell me they were using another CRM that just couldn’t scale with them. It was cheap, or even free at the time but costs skyrocketed when they started adding their team.”

How to avoid it: Think about the future

Think about where you’re headed. Where do you want to be 3 years from now? If you don’t stop to ask yourself where you’re going, how can you expect to get there? You should at least have a vague idea of what your business will look like if things continue on the path they’re going.

Will you be hiring more people? Will you be taking on more clients? It’s good to have an idea of this in your mind when looking for the right CRM for your small business so you can take these things into consideration when comparing your options. A free tool for 1 person that works now may not work 6 months or a head from now when you hire more people. Don’t waste time doing double the work – be smart and plan ahead.


To avoid these costly CRM implementation mistakes, it requires patience, forethought, and more discussion with your key stakeholders.

If you’re looking for a small business CRM for Mac, check out if Daylite is the right fit for you.

Want to fast-track selecting and rolling out the right CRM for your small business? Book a call with us and get paired with one of our Experts.

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