Whether it’s your first time implementing CRM, or you’re switching to a new solution, a thoughtful plan will ensure your success. We’ve been guiding customers on CRM implementation for a long time, and these are the seven tips we always recommend.
Tip #1: Clearly Define Goals & Objectives
Let’s say you want to buy a car. What problem are you hoping that will solve? Do you need something fuel efficient for a long daily commute? Something rugged with a lot of storage for tools and equipment? Maybe you need something with a high safety rating for transporting children? You wouldn’t invest in a car without a defined objective; the same is true for a CRM.
If you’re moving from an outdated CRM, it’s not enough to just want “new features”. You must understand the core issues with your existing processes and what you’re looking to change. As you define goals and objectives, you must:
- Involve key stakeholders who can offer their perspective and their own expectations for the CRM.
- Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound) goals that align with your organization’s objectives for the future. For example, instead of simply stating that “we’d like better sales features”, be specific. Set your goal to something like, “We need workflow automation and data enrichment to help sales improve upsell by 18% over the next six months.”
- Be realistic. Are the goals you’re setting attainable for your budget and timeline? How might your existing software infrastructure affect the CRM implementation?
- Align your CRM feature set with the goals outlined in your business plan.
Tip #2: Get Executive Buy-In
Every successful software implementation relies on teams to collaborate and align behind a plan for choosing the best solution. The executive team plays a huge role in those efforts, and without their full support, the CRM implementation is sure to fail.
Not only does the executive team decide the implementation budget, but they can also influence other stakeholders, be an advocate for change management and risk mitigation, establish credibility with CRM vendors, and help ensure the software purchasing decision is in line with the company's strategic priorities.
Tip #3: Pick Your Project Team Wisely
You’ve probably heard the adage that “too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the soup”. Your project team must include a diverse group of internal stakeholders, but not too many! Huge project teams slow down everything because too many opinions gum up the process.
Finding a balance is tricky, but a best practice is to bring in one person (usually in a management role) from each impacted department, an IT rep, a project manager, and a few key executive team members.
The input of your day-to-day users (aka end users) shouldn’t be dismissed, but the time for their feedback will come later. We’ll explain more on that in tip number five.
Tip #4: Plan the Data Migration Carefully
Do you have a catch-all drawer in your kitchen? Most of us do. If you were to go through that drawer, would you keep every rubber band, expired coupon, crumbled scrap of paper, and dried up marker?
Of course not! So why would you migrate junk from your old CRM or database into your new one?
CRM implementation can solve many problems, but it can also create new ones if your data is incomplete or irrelevant. Cleansing and prioritizing data ensures only the highest quality information makes it into your new system. Part of that process will require your team to assess tags, categorizations, or other naming conventions and decide if they’re useful and necessary to pull over. Migrate only your best data to enjoy the most successful result.
Tip #5 Get Feedback from End Users Early and Often
The project team makes the final decision for your CRM implementation, but end user feedback should still be considered. Get opinions from end users early in the process as the team defines existing problems and goals for the implementation. This will help the project team scope a comprehensive list of use cases for the new system.
How do these end users need the system to work for them? What do they feel is missing? These team members use the CRM every day, so they will have the most intimate knowledge of the strengths, weaknesses, and frustrations caused by the current solution or processes.
As the project team narrows the CRM vendors, give end users access to demo environments. Which one is more user-friendly? Which one is more intuitive? Which one has more capabilities to support the work they’re trying to do?
The motivations of the executive team, stakeholders, and end users all differ. End users are a valuable contribution to CRM implementation and can offer perspectives that management may not be paying attention to.
End users will feel they have a stake in the solution when you incorporate their ideas. This makes them excellent cheerleaders and helps push overall company adoption.
Tip #6: Plan for Change Management
A software project forces your company into a transition period. Even if everyone is excited about the prospect of a new CRM, most people will still resist a change that disrupts their daily work. Change management acknowledges that individuals and groups may experience various emotional and psychological reactions to change, including resistance, fear, uncertainty, and a sense of loss.
The goals of change management are to facilitate smooth transitions, mitigate potential risks and disruptions, and help individuals and the organization embrace and adapt to the change effectively. That change management process requires a strategy for impact assessments, training and education, transparent communication from the stakeholder team, and a realistic timeline for getting the team up-to-speed on the CRM. Your CRM consultant can help you organize a change management plan that is most effective for your organization.
Tip #7: Ensure Your Team can Make the Time
If you’re committed to a successful CRM implementation, your project team should be ready to set aside the time to do it. It’s not ideal to implement CRM during your busy season or when individuals are taking on larger workloads. The full attention of your stakeholders, executives, and end users is essential to success, so whenever possible, try not to make your CRM implementation an “emergency” project. Start thinking about the logistics months prior to when you’d like to begin so you can get organized, and your teams can be the most effective participants.
These seven golden rules are a baseline for fostering the ultimate CRM implementation success. Together with your CRM consultant, you will home in on each of these areas to ensure your goals are SMART, your teams are strategically stacked, and your plan is organized and timed appropriately. If you’re not sure where to begin or you could use some additional guidance, schedule a free consultation with our team.