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Part 1: How to implement your CRM successfully

CRMs are a long term investment. Find out how to make your CRM a success from the start by involving the right people and creating CRM champions.

Jo White · April 16, 2019
Part 1: How to implement your CRM successfully

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You’ve searched for a CRM, you’ve found the one you love and you’ve rolled it out across the business. But not many people are using it. Sound familiar?

Gartner’s 2001 study found 50% of CRMs fail, more recently in 2017, CIO magazine reported that around 30% of all CRM projects fail. The stats have improved over the years but the fact remains and it’s a worry.

Last month we blogged about how to choose the best CRM. This three part series will share best practice on implementing a CRM so it adds real value to your business.

1. Appoint a CRM Project leader

As soon as you decide you’re investing in a CRM, the very first thing to do is choose a CRM project leader. This is the person who’ll drive the CRM and own the delivery from start to finish (and beyond).

It makes sense for someone to volunteer into this role rather than be nominated as they’re more likely to be positive throughout the process, energetic and keen to succeed.

It's also useful if they're mainly office based and directly benefit from having a CRM in the business. But if you already have project managers in your business, even better.

2. Engage your key stakeholders

It's important to identify your key stakeholders and involve them from the start. Who these people are depends on your business but it should include some of the following:

CEO, Founder, Managing Director, VP of Sales...

While the CEO, Founder, Managing Director, VP of Sales won’t be involved in all the detail, it’s important to have support from the top. Implementing a CRM should be a strategic business decision to help promote growth across all departments.

If the people at the top support the CRM and promote the strategic benefits to the business, it’s more likely to succeed.

The biggest CRM users

The people who have a strong voice in the business and whose teams will use the CRM regularly are the key stakeholders. They should be involved from the beginning and throughout implementation.

It’s key to have these people on side as they’ll help drive the CRM in their own departments and across the business.

For example, in a growing company the key stakeholders would be the senior team from:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Customer Support
  • Finance

3. Understand the business goals and expectations

Once you have the key stakeholders around a table it’s a great opportunity to understand the challenges facing the business and how a CRM can help overcome them. Goals and expectations can be set for the CRM so it’s much easier to see the value of a new system right from the start.

It’s also a real eye-opener when you understand how each team will use the CRM to improve their processes. Some could use the system for contact management, sales forecasting, project management or for an entirely different purpose.

It’s important to know exactly how people will use it so you can prioritize the required features.

4. Choose the best CRM for your business

Once you have a clear idea of what your business needs to achieve its goals, you can search for the right CRM for you. Read our blog on choosing the best CRM for tips on the search process.

5. Sell the benefits

When you’ve selected your CRM of choice, it’s time to create a buzz and sell the benefits to the key stakeholders.

By reflecting on what was said during the requirements session, you’ll easily see the benefits for each team and be able to build enthusiasm immediately. For example:

  • Marketing will be inspired by the customer insights available to help shape their key messages.

  • Sales will be excited about earning more commission as they’ll never miss an opportunity now every sale is automatically logged.

  • Customer support will love being prepared for customer calls as they'll see any outstanding issues before they connect.

It’s important each team knows their life will be made easier, revolutionized even, once the CRM is in place and being used in the right way.

People can be very resistant to change but if they know how bright the future looks, they’re usually more willing to accept it.

6. Choose your CRM champions

Depending on the size of your business, your CRM champion could be the project leader or you may need one in every department that uses the CRM. The champions could be your key stakeholders or they could ask a member of their team to take on the role.

Champions are there to do exactly what their name suggests, they champion the CRM through the ups and downs. They’re an enthusiastic bunch, driven to celebrate success and overcome any challenges along the way.

They are the CRM experts in the business to:

  • understand how the CRM helps achieve business goals
  • help and support their teams
  • share best practice
  • find solutions
  • turn issues or grumblings into positives
  • collate feedback for feature requests
  • promote new features and benefits
  • reward great use of the CRM
  • communicate progress and issues to Senior Management.

With such an emphasis on being positive, it’s best for people to volunteer into the role rather than be nominated. It might be easy to spot your champions as they’re naturally effusive about the new CRM or it could be tough. It is worth spending time finding the right ones as they're instrumental in making a CRM a success.

Now your team's in place and you’re chosen CRM is ready to go, it's time for implementation. This stage can be super short, like with Capsule, or incredibly lengthy - it depends on your CRM.

It's best to choose an intuitive CRM that's easy to use so people can get going without any formal training. The quicker people start using the CRM and enjoying the experience, the more likely it is to succeed.

We delve deeper into how best to implement a CRM in Part 2 and look at ways to improve adoption rates.

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