As an integral component of digital transformation, knowing how to implement CRM well can feel like a daunting task — but it doesn’t have to be like this. Take the fear out of CRM implementation by following these basic steps and choosing a CRM partner who understands your business needs.
If you’ve got as far as thinking about your CRM implementation steps, chances are you’re already feeling overwhelmed by the number and range of CRM platforms available. And it’s probably left you with some deep concerns about the complexity of the job, not to mention doubts about how quickly you might be able to realize a return on your investment.
The first thing to know is that you are not alone. According to a recent Gartner report, Software as a Service (SaaS) holds the dominant position within the cloud service space, representing over 50% of the entire software market. CRM is a major player in the SaaS landscape, and this dominance is expected to grow in the coming years.
This suggests that people like you want a CRM implementation that doesn’t come with a lot of embedded legacy baggage, and can deliver the benefits of constant evolution and refinement as cost-effectively as possible.
The second thing to realize is that by joining forces with the right CRM partner — and following some basic steps — you can implement a CRM system quickly and simply, and see an immediate return on your investment. This will help you to avoid some of the main pitfalls that lead CRM projects to fail.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the crucial CRM steps for implementation that could transform your process for the better.
1. Get ahead of your preparation
A good deal of preliminary research and preparation goes into effective CRM implementation. Consult IT, but don’t let them lead the project. For a streamlined implementation, you will need buy-in from all the teams and managers who are going to be using the new CRM system. So, make sure they are well represented in the planning stages and their voices are heard — helping you to select a platform and core feature set that will be adopted by all key stakeholders.
And don’t forget your salespeople. If you don’t have their support from the start, a lack of familiarity with the system could incur delays in the pipeline and frustrations to build further down the line.
2. Assemble a CRM team
To successfully push through your CRM project, you’ll need to fill a variety of roles. No, this doesn’t necessarily require you to make any new hires — but you’ll need an iron-clad group of internal stakeholders who can assist in CRM implementation across all verticals of the organization.
Here are the positions you need to think about:
The evangelist — Preferably a senior figure such as the president, CIO or CFO who can drive awareness and generate support from the top down.
Subject matter experts — Those within the company who can identify relevant data sources and business processes.
IT managers — Internal users who can govern the provision of the system and oversee technical troubleshooting.
CRM technology experts — Parties who can bridge the gap between IT and the ultimate users.
A project manager — One authority to manage the scope, time, budget and quality of the CRM implementation.
3. Consider what you want from your CRM implementation
Don’t be mean with your research. Identify the requirements of the project’s key stakeholders and build a common set of expectations. Once you have your requirements lined up, prioritize them — and be prepared to drop any that could disrupt the project’s key focus.
Don’t be too ambitious. Consider an initial pilot project involving one or two critical departments. This way, you can manage the business’ expectations more effectively.
4. Configure the system to your needs
An effective CRM implementation involves customization according to your business needs. If you’ve picked the right partner, they will help you modify the CRM system to match your requirements, helping to avoid user backlash caused by any delays in its ability to address requirements.
As a result, you will experience better rates of user adoption and positive reception to the system.
5. Personalize your database
For your CRM to be leveraged effectively, you’ll need to import all the relevant data from different sources across the business. This is your chance to ensure consistency, remove duplicate references and consolidate your records.
When carrying out the task, try to be thorough — but take care to not migrate any irrelevant data, or you will simply be recreating the complexity and confusion that your CRM project is probably designed to address. Then, test your database extensively.
6. Train your people
An effective CRM partner will provide a range of in-house, online and virtual resources to help your users achieve the most productive levels of competence in the new system.
As with any new business application, getting individuals to use the system can be a big challenge. Non-technical users need jargon-free explanations that will help them see the relevance of the CRM implementation to their business processes. Referring them to manuals for self-service or assuming that they will just start using the system simply won’t cut it.
7. Go live
The final phase to round out your CRM implementation steps is, of course, to take your CRM live.
But just before you do, rerun your data migration to make sure the system is using the most complete and up-to-date information. And don’t leave the new system’s users to their own devices — support them from the start and your CRM implementation will deliver a return on your investment from day one.
Let’s recap the essential steps we walked you through in this article to understand how to implement CRM effectively.
Spend as much time as you can on preparation.
Make sure you have all the right people on your project team.
Match the relevant business processes with your CRM implementation requirements.
Consider departmental or phased implementation.
Configure and customize your system.
Populate it with clean, relevant data.
Test your database before you go live.
Rerun your data migration to ensure the system will be up to date before you hit the launch button.