11 CRM Challenges to Overcome in 2024 (+Solutions)

CRMs serve as a second brain for growing companies. They offer you one source of truth for managing sales ops, increase sales (29%), productivity (34%), and forecast accuracy (42%), and return a $8.71 ROI for every $1 you spend on it—when you get it right.

If you select an unsuitable enterprise CRM platform, or if it’s improperly integrated or not tailored to your current sales process and workflow, the CRM can become a counterproductive tool. It may result in your SDRs spending excessive time editing records without seeing any improvement in revenue.

So, you need to understand the CRM challenges you’re likely to experience (or already are) and how to tackle them. This article will help you do just that.

What are the most common CRM challenges?

  1. Promoting end-user adoption
  2. Maintaining high CRM data quality
  3. Managing cost-effectiveness
  4. Developing a strategic CRM plan
  5. Facilitating effective communication
  6. Offering customization and flexibility
  7. Delivering accurate reporting and analytics
  8. Upholding data security and compliance
  9. Ensuring vendor reliability and support
  10. Securing leadership buy-in
  11. Selecting the appropriate CRM system

Top 11 CRM Challenges in 2024 & How To Overcome Them

Here are the top 11 challenges you’ll likely encounter while choosing, deploying, and using a CRM day-to-day and strategies to help you mitigate them.

1. Promoting end-user adoption

While 91% of companies with 10+ employees use a CRMa survey of 1,000 sales professionals by SugarCRM shows that 52% of sales leaders report that their CRM costs them opportunities; 50% of companies surveyed couldn’t access customer data across marketing, sales, and service, while 48% of decision-makers said their CRM didn’t meet their needs and gave them an insufficient, outdated view of their customers.

Against that backdrop, it’s no wonder why you might be facing resistance from your salespeople about picking up yet another CRM.

If you’re serious about accelerating your sales, you must enable your users with a CRM adoption strategy. You can enable your sellers to use your CRM efficiently by:

  • Creating a library of self-help content that sellers can use to solve issues or find the right sales documentation when needed
  • Host regular 1:1 coaching sessions, webinars, and training programs to help your employees understand your CRM better
  • Use in-app guidance tools like Whatfix to guide users through your CRM’s interface.

With a DAP like Whatfix, sales organizations can maximize ROI from their CRM and its custom workflows. Whatfix enables sellers with in-app guided flows, task lists, tooltips, and more— all guiding them through contextual tasks related to their day-to-day.

Whatfix also supports sellers when needed with an embedded Self Help wiki that automatically crawls all your sales documentation, sales playbooks, and CRM process support. Sellers can search this Self Help wiki to find answers at the moment of need, right inside the CRM.

CIOs and leaders can use Whatfix’s analytics capabilities to understand in-app guidance usage, map common user flows, identify CRM workflow friction points, track custom events, and more, empowering sales leaders with the data to create the most effective and efficient CRM workflows and drive CRM adoption.


Above: In-app employee guidance created with the Whatfix Digital Adoption Platform

Whatfix’s DAP empowers organizations with a no-code editor to create in-app guided flows, onboarding tasklists, pop-ups, tooltips, alerts, reminders, self-help wikis, and more to enable employees to use software better. Enable your employees to become proficient in new applications faster, create interactive process documentation, guide users through process changes, assist employees through infrequent tasks, and provide self-help performance support on your CRM, ERP, HCM, or any desktop, web, or mobile application.

2. Maintaining high CRM data quality

According to Validity’s 2022 State of CRM Data Management Report, the average organization’s CRM has less than an 80% data accuracy rate, while 44% of respondents said their company lost 10% of their annual revenue due to poor quality data.

Without reliable data, your SDRs and AEs will spend precious time chasing decision-makers who may have left their organization, reaching out to inaccurate addresses, and missing their revenue forecasts repeatedly. 

To maintain higher CRM data quality, you’ll need to put better governance policies in place to restrict CRM write permissions accordingly and use reliable CRM data migration tools to ensure integrity during and after exporting your customer database to your new CRM.

3. Managing cost-effectiveness

Pricing for basic CRM packages (e.g., Less Annoying CRM, Apptivo, Trello, and Folk) tend to range between $10 to $20/user/month, while enterprise CRMs (SAP, NetSuite, Salesforce, etc.) can go as high as $300 for the same duration.

At that price point, a medium-sized organization with a team of just 300 AEs, SDRs, and sales-adjacent roles would be spending $1.08M annually for an enterprise CRM deployment—and that’s before you start adding enhancements, integrations, custom applications, and payroll for the technicians and consultants you’ll inevitably need to hire to help you troubleshoot and administer the platform.

CRMs are costly investments, but for good reason. While a basic CRM might permit you to create contacts, manage custom fields, access your CRM on a mobile device, and customize your interface to suit your branding, enterprise CRMs are an entire ecosystem that can:

  • Integrate with hundreds of third-party platforms
  • Build custom apps on top of their APIs
  • Create if-then CRM workflows that trigger tasks in other tools when a condition is met
  • Automatically update a customer’s status based on predefined conditions
  • Generate customizable reports and track performance by individuals and teams
  • Hand off conversations to different team members
  • Get a 360-degree overview of different communication channels in one place (e.g., WhatsApp, email, Facebook, Instagram, etc.)

While it’s okay to opt for a CRM that offers the most value for a reasonable price, you’ll need to have a decent budget (say, $20 to $90/user/month) that reflects your company size and how complex the solution you expect to tame your sales process should be.

4. Developing a strategic CRM plan

If you limit your CRM usage to just recording customer details, creating opportunities, and tracking them from interest to purchase, you’re leaving money on the table—in fact, it’d be better if you used a spreadsheet or a database instead.

CRMs are infinitely more powerful— but to maximize their functionality, you need to first create an action plan to utilize your CRM’s functionality and tailor the platform to your sales process, and vice versa.

  • Define your goals for adopting a CRM: Are we trying to grow revenue, increase our NPS, reduce churn, increase customer satisfaction, or all of the above? Note it down.
  • Create an ideal customer persona, including profile details such as their position, age, team size, salary, budget, pain points, etc.
  • Describe your customer journey: How do customers navigate from not knowing about your product, to awareness, discovery, interest, purchase, and eventually retention?
  • How do you intend to guide customers through your sales process and retain them with after-sales support?
  • Which products in your software stack do you intend to integrate with your CRM?

5. Facilitating effective communication

When you have dozens—or hundreds—of employees creating records, contacts, and opportunities, booking meetings, and closing deals, it’s a given that they’ll work together inside the same platform, right?

Not always.

While a CRM can be a powerful tool for collaboration in growing companies and enterprises, it often becomes yet another silo for SDRs and AEs to sequester their deals and opportunities away from the rest of their team. For you to maximize the collaboration features your CRM is equipped with, you need to intentionally:

  • Assign different teams to collaborate throughout the sales process
  • Re-assign action items to team members depending on their previous performance
  • Hold regular 360-degree reviews for your entire sales force

6. Offering customization and flexibility

Just how much can you customize your CRM to your unique use cases? While your CRM platform may solve most of your organization’s sales-related pain points as is (such as ticketing, creating and managing contacts, conversations, and opportunities), you’ll be extremely limited if you rely only on the functionalities your CRM offers out of the box. 

As a result, you might have to switch CRMs often as your company scales up, trying to find a platform that grows with you.

Before you opt for a CRM, you need to ensure that it:

  • Can provide your organization with tools to build custom customer and sales-related workflows required to achieve your business outcomes.
  • Supports an extensive library of CRM integrations with your existing software stack, whether natively or via connectors like Zapier.
  • Can build custom applications on top of your APIs and expand its functionality to suit your company’s size as you scale up.
  • Has a native data export suite or is compatible with mainstream CRM data migration tools like Pentaho and Talend Open Studio.

Heavily customized CRM instances and workflows present additional challenges for CIOs and sales leaders, as the CRM vendor’s out-of-the-box onboarding, guidance, and training won’t be contextual to how your sellers use the platform.

With an in-app guidance tool like Whatfix, organizations can build contextual in-app flows, tooltips, pop-ups, field validations, and other forms of user assistance and support to enable sellers to create customized tasks and workflows.

“Whatfix reimagines our training. It supports in-app guidance across almost any platform. It’s so easy to update materials, we can finally keep pace with the system changes. Whatfix is an ideal platform for renewables and energy companies looking to improve the adoption of JD Edwards, CRM, or other applications. It dramatically reduces the time spent training and onboarding our employees and supports our environmental stewardship. Looking back, Whatfix was one of the best decisions we have made.”

Abby Essing, Sr. Manager, Operations Services at Renewable Energy Group, Inc.

7. Delivering accurate reporting and analytics

More than just serving as your sales team’s second brain, a CRM should break down all that data into digestible reports and summaries tracking your key metrics, such as:

  • Customer lifetime value (CLV)
  • Customer churn rate
  • Net promoter score
  • Customer acquisition cost
  • Average sales cycle length
  • YoY growth
  • Annual contract value
  • Win rate
  • Average revenue per user

—among other essential customer experience metrics and KPIs

Sadly, your CRM may not be designed to let you customize your reporting UI to your taste, or might not even render the aforementioned metrics. Instead, you can use third-party analytics tools to export that data, model your organization’s financial health, and forecast future sales figures in advance.

8. Upholding data security and compliance

Your CRM will serve as the hub for most of your customer relationship communications and will store sensitive information about your company’s finances and your customers, including their social media profiles, email addresses, physical addresses (i.e., office location), phone numbers, personality traits, and purchasing habits.

In the hands of a bad actor, any of these data points would make for disastrous usage.

Before you opt for a CRM vendor, it’s essential to confirm that they offer sufficient server-side security using tools and policies such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), data encryption, real-time event monitoring, and threat detection to mitigate attacks.

Depending on your specific use case, you might also want to filter for CRMs that are compliant with both mainstream and niche security protocols such as HIPAA, ISO 27001, IASME, NIST Cybersecurity Framework, etc.

9. Ensuring vendor reliability and support

The average early-stage technology startup lasts just seven years before shutting down, and while your CRM vendor will most likely be a cash flow-positive business with a healthy business model, it never hurts to confirm.

Before moving your organization’s sales and customer ops to a new CRM, you need to investigate the developer to learn about their financials. Even more importantly, how much support do they guarantee if you run into technical issues using their product?

The best time to lock down favorable policies is at the contract stage, where you can examine your service-level agreement (SLA) to understand the quality of support offered, technical and material, and any on-demand resources they provide for troubleshooting issues independently.

10. Securing leadership buy-in

The decision to invest in a CRM often comes straight from leadership, and securing buy-in is usually not a problem. But, if you propose the idea as a mid-to-senior executive, you’ll need to prove ROI and create an adoption plan to allay the C-Suite’s fears of burning cash on shelfware no one will use.

  • Proving ROI: Nucleus Research estimates that every $1 spent on a CRM returns $8.71 in ROI. But you can’t just chuck that figure in a PowerPoint and consider it done. You need to highlight inefficiencies in your existing sales process, explain how a CRM will eliminate them, and build your case on how a smoother sales process will lead to high revenues and profits.
  • Create an adoption game plan: Do we need a phased deployment to test expected vs. actual performance? What about a free trial before commitment? How much do we need to invest in training, 1:1 coaching, and technical support after the initial deployment? How much do you estimate this project will go over budget? You’re more likely to gain buy-in for your CRM deployment if you show you have a good grip on your numbers and that you can paint an accurate picture of how it will develop.

11. Selecting the appropriate CRM system

According to G2, there are at least 868 CRM platforms on the market. That list easily doubles when you factor in lesser-known SMB solutions and database tools like Excel, Notion, Airtable, and ClickUp that can do a decent job. If you’re looking to try out every one of those alternatives before you make a choice, you’ll be waiting a long time (or worse, confused within a week).

To help you avoid decision fatigue, you can use a counterintuitive approach to choosing a CRM by removing products from the equation entirely—at least, from the start.

First, you need to make a list of the feature set you expect from an ideal CRM, including supported user count (unlimited), data storage, usage limits, supported integrations (with the rest of your software stack), ease of implementation, acceptable maintenance fees, etc.

By all means, engage your sales force or your relationship management team—whoever’s going to be using the CRM hands-on— and get their feedback on what they’d want a CRM to be able to do to help them do their best work.

Second, speak to your industry peers to create a shortlist of the CRM they use—this will reduce the amount of testing and market research you have to do and leave you with a series of tested and trusted solutions. Bring along a consultant if necessary.

Test out the options and make a choice, factoring in pricing, company size, and all the other essentials you listed.  Remember, the best CRM is not necessarily the one with the most features, but the one that aligns best with your team’s workflow and objectives. Make informed decisions, keep the end-user at the heart of the selection process, and you’ll find a CRM that not only fits but enhances your business operations.

Turning CRM Obstacles into Opportunities by Driving End-User Adoption With Whatfix

A CRM is only as powerful as your usage of it. To generate a positive ROI on your investment, you need to encourage adoption, remove blockers that might confuse your salespeople, and demonstrate that your CRM is a more efficient tool for managing the sales process than the ad hoc solutions your team currently uses. That’s where Whatfix comes into play.

Whatfix is a digital adoption platform (DAP) that helps enterprises adopt new software using tactics such as:

  • Step-by-step product tours
  • Guided walkthroughs customized by role, location, and any variable you choose
  • Self-help widgets embedded on every page of your CRM’s UI so users can search through product docs, pre-recorded demos, and help articles
  • Predictive content localization that translates your CRM’s UI into your employees’ preferred language, with support for 70+ languages
  • Product analytics that tracks who uses which part of your CRM so you can better project how to drive adoption forward

Request a Whatfix demo and learn how to unlock your CRM with onboarding customized for every user persona.

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What Is Whatfix?
Whatfix is a digital adoption platform that provides organizations with a no-code editor to create in-app guidance on any application that looks 100% native. With Whatfix, create interactive walkthroughs, product tours, task lists, smart tips, field validation, self-help wikis, hotspots, and more. Understand how users are engaging with your applications with advanced product analytics.
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