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The 3 pillars of CRM success

For a CRM initiative to be successful and deliver the desired business outcomes, there are three key elements that need to have equal attention paid to them:

  • Technology
  • Implementation
  • User adoption


One of the biggest misconceptions around CRM technology is that it is just a tool for tracking customer interactions. Now while that may have been true in its early years, time and technology has moved on and today it does so much more.

The right CRM solution should enable your organisation to better manage business processes across marketing, sales, finance and customer services while also:

  • Improving efficiency
  • Automating day to day tasks
  • Reducing sales and marketing costs
  • Enhancing sales forecasting
  • Increasing lead generation, order values and company revenue
  • Cutting the sales cycles and improving conversion rates
  • Providing deeper insights into customer relationships and the business as a whole

It is vital that the goals of your CRM project are aligned with your overall business strategy and objectives as without this tie-in from the start, it will be virtually impossible to then identify what functionality you need and whether the CRM solution can help you to achieve the desired outcomes. If you already have a CRM solution that you are thinking of replacing, it’s important to analyse what worked well for you and what didn’t and use the findings as the foundations for the functionality that the new CRM must deliver.

Once you know what you want and need from the technology, get a cross-functional team together to evaluate the options and decide which CRM solution will best suit your needs. The team should include members of the following departments:

  • Executive management
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • IT
  • Customer Service

These evaluators should be part of the project team that manages the implementation project. Choosing the CRM solution should be based on the strengths of the vendor as well as the technology itself.


Having a clearly defined implementation plan will ensure that your CRM project stays on track and is delivered on time. Once your technology solution partner has been chosen, the project team needs to devise a timetabled implementation plan that covers:

  • Business process mapping: a new CRM implementation project is an excellent opportunity to review the way you work and identify whether it is the best way. The questions you’ll need to ask yourself about your business processes at this stage will show you ways to improve the way you work for greater efficiencies and optimum performance.
  • Customisation: Most CRM solutions today can be used off-the-shelf with little or no customisation but most businesses will identify ways that they want to adapt it in order to align it with their business processes and strategies. These adaptations should be identified in advance so that you have defined and documented your requirements ready to start the customisation process.
  • Data Migration: Often data will be pulled in from legacy CRM systems, spreadsheets and other business applications so creating a standardised format and cleaning up data before the migration is essential for success. The right CRM solution will have data import tools that can manage the process and make it easier but the long-term success of your CRM project is dependent on the quality of the data that is added at this stage. For example duplicated contact names or different versions of company names should be merged and the hard bounce data that you have been meaning to update for a long time finally addressed.
  • Training & Support: Your CRM software will have a wide range of tools that users will have to learn and master. The right CRM solution partner will provide a combination of written training documents, videos, and other self-paced options, along with in-person group workshops and training courses, to suit your organisation’s needs.
  • Go live: By the time go-live day comes around you should have everything in place so that the system has the most-up-to-date data in it and is ready to start helping your business improve performance.


Successful user adoption can prove the hardest part to get right in a CRM project and it is a critical factor.

Communication throughout the project lifetime is key and having the project team members act as system champions within their departments can help to generate a buzz around it before it goes live.

The right CRM solution will be available anytime, anywhere from any device, intuitive and easy-to-use with a simple interface that makes it easy for users to master.

Embedding its use across the organisation and changing the way you work will require effort though, and regular ‘champion’ sessions to share the benefits it can deliver – for individuals in their working day as well as the organisation as a whole – can be a key way of influencing adoption positively.

Incentivising its use can also work wonders. Rewarding early adopters and making a competition about mastering it can help motivate everyone to get on board.

Whatever you decide, whatever the approach you take, just remember that a CRM project requires a focus on technology, people and processes and only when all three of them are in harmony will you truly maximise your ROI.

To find out more about how to guarantee a successful CRM implementation, download our whitepaper.