Salesforce is a big investment for you.  But stories of CRM failures abound. What can you do avoid missteps that could put you in that dismal company?  Start by considering these key ways to fall on your CRM face:

1. Assuming It Works Magically: You license a CRM and expect the tool will just do the job for you.  Uh. No. A CRM represents a paradigm shift in the way your manage your sales and marketing processes.  You do not simply put it in place out of the box and watch it get picked up automatically by the team.

2. It’s not aligned to mission: Your business priorities are not embedded into the CRM.  Your key processes aren’t clearly defined and built in as a core part of the use of the CRM.

3. No executive champion: You don’t have a VP or c-suite executive who demonstrates vested interest in making the CRM success.  Top management is not involved, and do not manage from CRM data

4. Lack of Discipline: Leaders let the team use it if they like and how they like.  Processes are not clearly defined, with the expectation that they be followed consistently.  “Here it is, use it if it’s helpful to you.”

5, No Maintenance Investment: There’s an expectation that the tool will manage itself, and that the team needs no support to operate it successfully.  You will find you didn’t get things quite right, that your business changes around you and the system needs to adapt, and that you identify new needs and opportunities to automate.  Your users will need support for minor things, they will need training (and re-training), and managers will need new data cuts and reports.

6. Wrapping up too soon: The project is considered complete at system launch or introduction of new functionality.  You lack a formalized change management process to monitor adoption, drive for change, and applaud early successes.

7. No data hygiene: You fail to actively maintain the quality of the database.  A couple of years in, you find that the CRM is riddled with duplicates, data fill rates are spotty and incomplete, and that reports don’t reflect something approximating reality.