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Working with one of our client, a small business going through the pains of rapid exponential growth, we uncovered an issue we hadn’t suspected…

They have a CRM.

And a really powerful one — one of the most powerful on the market!

At first glance, of course, investing in a CRM is a sign of a healthy business taking sales, customer satisfaction and growth management seriously.

Here is the trouble:

- The CRM system was chosen (before our time with the client) based on… nothing substantial, and definitely not the specific profiles and needs of the users.

- The software was chosen without any considerations for the company culture, level of technological proficiency.

- The system was chosen based only on: feature set (quite impressive) and buzz.

Five months after the license was purchased and the system installed, no one was using it. And old-school spreadsheets and manual emails were back in action.

Meanwhile, sales continued to grow and managing them became all the more difficult.

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The right thing to do was to call the CRM software company and stop the bleeding.

Then we sat back with our client to devise a strategy and a roadmap to move forward — fast:

  • Yes, the business needed a CRM (desperately)


The current system had to go and be replaced by something simple, intuitive and less expensive that people could adopt, use and customize with minimal difficulty.

  • We interviewed with the leadership, the sales folks and secondary users.

We have a new system now. And as we see our client’s staff is training and starting to use it, we feel pretty good about this. More importantly, our client is excited to have the system and already sees value in it.

The moral of the story:

When selecting software…

- Focus first on the user needs, profile and the culture

- Think realistically about the risk, and the degree to which training and change management will be required for adoption.

- Keep in mind the following motto: No software will solve your problem if nobody uses it (or uses it poorly.)

- Involve the users in the process as much as possible. It will lead to a better choice and also will boost adoption by virtue of the fact that they now feel part of the solution (and they, in fact, are).

- Keep in mind at all times: change management and software adoption is all primarily about people and the intangible “company culture” — and only secondarily about software.

Another lesson I’m learning again here is the importance of empathy.

As the principal at Taam Insights I like all our clients.

By that I mean that I sincerely want them to be successful in every aspect. If I don’t, I simply don’t want their business — I learned that fairly recently. Through Taam’s consultants observing and listening to what kept this particular client awake at night — even though it was not within the scope of the other projects we were initially hired for, we not only got more business but we’re directly, categorically and powerfully contributed to our client’s success.

That’s what keeps ME awake at might.

Taam is a boutique #UserCentered consultancy. Kind of like MBAs with #empathy, driving successful #products, and services. Focusing on #startups, #SMB.

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