Many of the small business owners I talk with want to implement CRM or Customer Relationship Management with an implicit assumption that doing so will help improve Sales and Lead Generation.

What they do NOT expect is the change that CRM demands in the way they operate their business, the way sales people sell, and the way a correct implementation of CRM reduces the need for key people to be personally involved in some business processes!

At its core, the CRM demands that individuals let go of their personal importance in individual tasks and develop new roles in enhanced processes that takes them and the business to a new level of efficiency and productivity. And this process of change is at best, difficult.

So herein lies the real problem – an expectation of changed (improved) results with NO expectation of a need for changed behaviors and processes. Now think about this for a moment – how can anyone expect that output can change without some kind of change occurring in the processes that create the output? If one continues to keep doing the same old things, how in the world can one expect different results?

Having said this, there are obviously many who have realized the need for change and are willing to do what it takes to make it happen. This is a HUGE step which leads to the next question – how long will the process take? Typically, the answer is that it takes a lot longer that one would like it to take! As a rule of thumb, for a company that has around 10-15 persons involved in Sales, Marketing, or Customer Service, it takes 6-18 months before one can see the results one expects – an unacceptably large range, with an unacceptably large budget cost that could result, but unfortunately, there’s no getting away from this reality.

Yes, CRM can help solve some Sales and Marketing problems. It takes time for the changes to work their way into the organization, and one has to have patience while this is occurring. The process MUST be facilitated by your CRM vendor, or an outside party. It just does not work if this process is done solely with internal personnel because you need the external third party to see if things are going off plan and take corrective action immediately.

It isn’t difficult, if the vendor knows what they are doing from an implementation perspective. Many CRM providers can provide the IT skills to code, customize and tweak the functionality needed. On the other hand, there are very few who know how to implement this for an organization.