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10 Essential Steps for Building a Business Case for CRM

Did you know that CRM systems have the power to boost conversion rates by 300%?

When your business is undergoing a successful period of scaling, there will come a point where you start to consider CRM implementation. Introducing a CRM to your operations can pay dividends for productivity, helping your workforce to streamline and improve its customer service, sales, and marketing processes. In fact, data shows that 91% of businesses with more than 11 employees use a CRM.

But while the advantages of a timely CRM implementation are plain to see, that’s not to say that all of your company’s key stakeholders are familiar with the benefits. As a result, you’re unlikely to be able to introduce one without first producing a business case to support the value that it will deliver. All too often, this essential step in the procurement process is rushed, glossed over, or ignored altogether.

That ends here: let’s discuss how to create a business case for CRM.

Why build a business case for CRM?

To secure stakeholder support

If you’re a CRM advocate wanting to convince decision makers to buy into CRM implementation, it’s crucial to pitch them a watertight case.

Sure, you might already be convinced of the need for a CRM — maybe you’ve seen one in action in a previous role, heard about their benefits online, or attended a conference. But if you skip the important step of creating a business case, you could face disappointment when the board decides not to make the investment.

The problem is, CRM procurement is just that — an investment. Between the significant cost of the licence, the implementation fees, and the amount of effort required by the organisation, very few boards are going to simply wave it through. Most will want to see a robust business case based on rigorous research and presented with clarity. Fail to do this and your CRM project will never get off the ground.

So, you need to convince those all-important decision makers about the rewards of procuring and implementing a CRM — ushering your business one step closer towards real growth.

To inform your CRM implementation approach

Building a business case also helps to provide a clear view of the objectives and risks associated with CRM implementation. This ensures that it progresses well towards delivering the anticipated benefits.

Often, this requires executives to raise their perspective from their area of business, be it sales, customer support, marketing, or another capacity. They need to present a rounded view of the costs and benefits, and so need to invest time in building their case.

However, this is time well spent — not only will it improve the likelihood of the CRM project being approved, but once it is implemented, it will have clearly defined objectives and success criteria. This makes it far more likely to deliver as required.

The reality is, far too many CRM implementations fail to provide the anticipated benefits — and the primary reason for this is that organisations fail to build a business case with a granular level of detail.

So, the question is this — how do you do it?

It’s a time-consuming and complex process, but help is available. We’ve written a full guide below which provides a clear, manageable tutorial to help guide your business case creation. Follow these steps and you will emerge with a CRM system that transforms the way your business operates.

Your 10-step guide to CRM implementation

1. Set your core business outcomes

When you start a journey with a clear idea of your intended destination, you’re far more likely to get there. So, the first big step in building a viable business case is to outline your desired business outcomes.

Typically, there are four outcomes that a CRM system can deliver: revenue growth; improved quality of service and customer experience; lower operational costs; and enhanced visibility of key business information, to inform decision making.

For most organisations, the desired outcome is a mix of all four — but the point is, setting definitive goals will ensure you lay down solid foundations for your business case.

2. Assess the required changes

Once you’ve set your core business outcomes, the next phase is to look carefully at your organisation in its current state. This will help you to determine what needs to change in order to achieve those outcomes.

In part, this is about understanding current pain points. You might find that your sales cycle is extremely long, your conversion rates are poor, or your customer service response rates are subpar. Whatever the roadblock, identifying the most pressing issues will empower you to outline what you need from your CRM to help reach your goals.

All too often, a CRM is seen as just a tool for the sales function. This perspective weakens the business case and limits the potential of the eventual implementation. It is far better to consider the full scope of improvements that a CRM system could make across finance, manufacturing, and broader cash flow.

Remember: a CRM shouldn’t just tackle your existing issues; it should also foster organisational progress. Workbooks can help you to understand the long-term benefits of CRM implementation for your organisation. Learn more about our tailored services here.

3. Understand the market context

Step three involves putting your outcomes, pain points, and prospective initiatives into the market context. To gain (and offer) a deeper understanding of how a CRM can benefit your business, you should see how your competitors use them to their advantage.

This can provide a more compelling view of how a CRM could help you to keep up with them or gain the all-important competitive advantage. Ultimately, you’ll be looking to prove that not making the investment would be the more expensive option.

Equally, discovering how your customers view your brand and service will also let you know how a CRM can improve vital aspects of your service delivery, consumer messaging, and engagement initiatives, among other areas.

For example, one of our clients built their case for investment in a CRM by surveying their customers, and discovering they had a highly negative view of their customer service. Our client was frustrated by the way issues in one part of the country were not
shared elsewhere, so learnings were never replicated, and each time an issue arose they had to tackle it afresh. There was a clear and immediate need for a CRM system to provide that insight.

4. Map out the commercial benefits

Armed with your outcomes, assessments, and market knowledge, you can map out the potential commercial benefits of investing in a CRM system.

Consider how access to comprehensive data-driven insights — as well as sales forecasting and reporting automation — will boost business productivity.

Adding solid calculations, stats, and figures to your business case will make it more credible in the eyes of the stakeholders you’re looking to persuade. So, once you’ve mapped out the likely benefits of a CRM, you can back these sentiments up with both real-life examples and number projections.

Importantly, any accurate calculations must also include efficiency and productivity gains. Look at how much could be saved by giving customer service agents an immediate single view of a customer’s history, automating issuing of time-based payment reminders to customers, etc.

5. Consider the costs

With your prospective benefits firmly in place, the next logical step is outlining the costs of implementing a new CRM. To do so, you’ll need to take your integration requirements, regular system maintenance, and licence fees into consideration.

Gauging your costs will lead you to an accurate return on investment (ROI) calculation. Thankfully, any vendor worth their salt will give you an accurate breakdown of those all-important CRM costs, to underpin a realistic ROI.

Workbooks can help you to get to grips with your full CRM implementation costs. Chat with one of our experts today to discuss your budget and needs.

6. Calculate the return on investment

Now you have a clear view of both the potential benefits and costs, you are in a strong position to calculate the ROI of your CRM implementation.

Providing the board with an accurate ROI calculation (including definitive targets and benchmarks relating to your CRM implementation) will make your CRM business case even more compelling.

It is striking how quickly a general sense that CRM could help can be crystallised into a precise ROI figure. Not only should this step give you a compelling figure to take to the board, but it should also provide a clear benchmark and targets for your CRM implementation.

We detail the precise components of an ROI calculation in our guide to calculating ROI. Or, to discover the potential financial benefit to your organisation at a glance, give our free ROI calculator a try.

7. Define a budget

Now that you have an understanding of the ROI you’re looking at, you should set a realistic budget for your CRM implementation and investment initiatives.

Depending on your ambitions, you may look to scale your ROI figures up or down before taking those numbers to the board.

For example, if you can see that a £50,000 investment will produce a return of 30, or £1.5m within five years, then you may decide to scale that up to an investment of £100,000, producing a return of £3m. It is certainly an option you can put to the firm’s budget-holders.

However, you should remain realistic about the costs and seek advice from vendors, particularly as scaling up or down may shift the ROI multiple. Typically, larger implementations achieve efficiencies of scale and so produce greater returns, but it is both desirable and possible to be precise with your calculation in how it specifically applies to your business.

Once you have clarity on the budget, you’ll have done much of the groundwork necessary to understand your requirements and select a vendor.

8. Future-proof your business case

Our customers typically achieve very quick wins, but the full benefits develop and grow over a longer time. In presenting your case for
this type of strategic investment, you need to consider change over time — both to the business and the technology.

This is because looking only at the immediate results will make your case seem shallow. If you want to create an argument that is compelling and impactful, it’s vital to broaden your perspective and consider the benefits of your CRM over a period of at least five years.

While no one of us can accurately predict the future, it is important to try to assess how the business will evolve and explain how the CRM system will assist with those changes. Will it expand into new sectors or territories? Will turnover increase significantly? Will new
competitive threats emerge?

Any worthwhile vendor will be happy to help you find viable answers to those essential questions.

9. Focus on your strongest points

To refine your business case and convince the board to buy into a CRM system, you should emphasise the three most compelling benefits at your disposal.

However, it’s not only the board you need to convince. You will also need to make the case to colleagues, many of whom will be sceptical of a new system. This is the best way to get every stakeholder excited and ensure high levels of early adoption.

Highlight the advantages that offer the greatest returns, some quick and some long-term, and the best personal benefits to the working lives of everyone in the business. You might focus on revenue growth, a significant reduction in operational costs, reduced administrative responsibilities, or easier access to high-quality insights.

Honing in on your strongest points will help you sell your story without overwhelming everyone with too much information.

10. Identify and involve your key stakeholders

Finally, once you have prepared your case, you need to present it to the right people.

Involve the most senior team members you can, even if they have no budget sign-off on this project, as you will need their buy-in when it comes to implementation and encouraging adoption throughout the organisation.

Also, think about who might be prepared to sponsor your proposal. Having this sort of senior-level advocacy can add weight to your business case, and this person should also be a good source of advice on what to include and how to present it.

Partner with Workbooks for your CRM business case

Building a business case for CRM is no small matter. For many people, it is too daunting a task — they either give up, rush to plan an implementation that will never get budget approval, or soldier on with all the inefficiencies and wasted opportunities they have without a CRM.

But help is out there.

Beyond our 10-step plan, the team at Workbooks is happy to collaborate with you in building your CRM business case. Our experience with implementations across all verticals will provide unparalleled support when you’re assessing the benefits and costs to your organisation.

And it’s worth it, too — a CRM system can transform the way your business operates. As well as our implementation services, clients use Workbooks CRM software to win more customers, boost revenues, and dramatically cut inefficiencies — improving working life across every branch of their organisation.

To get started with Workbooks, book a demo with us today and learn more about how we can help you create a business case that wins over your stakeholders.