8 CRM implementation best practices
A poor-quality CRM installation may have a substantial adverse effect on a company’s profitability. Here are the factors to consider when selecting and implementing a customer relationship management system (CRM) to guarantee a quicker return on your business software investment.
Best practices for CRM installation are listed in eight categories.
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems continue to develop, with existing suppliers introducing new features and capabilities (cloud, mobile, artificial intelligence) and new vendors joining the market to keep up with the times. There is a CRM solution to meet your needs, whether you are looking for an enterprise solution or one suited for small or midsize companies, whether you need a system built for a mobile, dispersed workforce, or if you require something industry-specific.
However, with such a diverse (and constantly changing) selection of CRM systems to pick from, how do you know which CRM suite is best suited for your organization? Most importantly, how can you encourage business users to make use of the new software?
Clearly define your pain points and desired outcomes.
When customers say their goal is to leverage new technology, Jeff Lumsden, senior manager of CRM product management at Oracle Sales Cloud, says that too often their first set of requirements will be to replicate what they currently have, e.g., they move from on-premise to cloud or from one cloud solution to another without [carefully examining] their objectives, processes, focus, and so on.”
As a result, according to Christina R. Fritsch, president and client success consultant at CLIENTSFirst Consulting, “it is critical to understand your organization’s requirements and goals before assessing the alternatives.” “Can you tell me what motivates your desire for CRM? What do you aim to achieve during your time here? What issues will it be able to resolve? What procedures can be made more efficient?”
Then, she suggests, “set attainable but reasonable objectives.” Creating an organized single repository of clean, complete contact data and accurate mailing and event lists could be one of the goals of a modern CRM. According to her, objectives may be more complex for an established CRM, where the goal is to increase return on system investment. “For example, monitoring sales activity or pipelines may be more sophisticated.” By establishing objectives in advance, you will be able to create metrics for tracking your progress.
Gain an understanding of how users operate.
In his opinion, the most successful CRM implementations are those that [consider] all kinds of users, not just top sales representatives, or the top reps who input data into the system today, or the most technologically proficient users. Instead, when selecting a CRM system, poll a cross-section of your CRM customers — including representatives from sales, marketing, IT, customer support, and finance — and listen carefully to their feedback.
To effectively communicate with users, it is critical to “understand not just how they operate but why they work that way and how they would want to work in the future,” he adds. According to him, the “look and feel [of the CRM system] will play a role in whether or not your people enjoy [and utilize] the CRM system.”
Consider the requirements and preferences of people using the CRM, and choose a solution with an interface that seems familiar or comfortable to them. This will increase the likelihood of smoother and more rapid company-wide adoption.
Make sure that you will modify, personalize, and scale in the future.
The vice president of product marketing at Salesforce Sales Cloud, Lynne Zaledonis, says that when determining which CRM platform can provide a tailored solution for your business, it is critical to think long term and understand not only what is required today but also what will scale and grow your business in the future.
In the words of Matthew Tharp, chief evangelist of bpm online (a supplier of customer relationship management software), “think about 12 months following deployment.” “Can you tell me what happens if you wish to alter the layout of the interface?” inquire suppliers. To automate anything new or modify an existing automation process, you must first determine what you want to automate. Rather than having to locate and engage a consulting company to make simple adjustments, you want to ensure that your business will be able to adapt at whim, depending on existing resources.”
According to Michael Ringman, CIO of TELUS International, one option is to “adopt a future-ready platform that stores data, software, and services in a secure cloud environment.” Apart from saving you the time and money associated with installing software on hundreds or thousands of computers and devices, a cloud-based CRM solution can quickly scale up to accommodate your growing business’s size and global expansion.
The addition of new features, particularly those based on artificial intelligence, is something that Ringman believes is worth exploring.
According to him, “consider the latest generation of CRM software that has built-in intelligence that can automate data input and lead or service case routing, which will help free up time and resources so that you can offer more customized support.” These artificial intelligence-powered platforms will also produce insights that will [assist you in] better understanding your consumers and predicting how they will feel and behave in a particular situation.
Check out potential suppliers and ask them difficult questions.
As CEO of CDC Software, a supplier of SaaS integration solutions, Matt Bieber believes that selecting the “proper” vendor is just as essential as selecting “the perfect” CRM system. Make sure you have all of the information you need about a vendor before signing a contract. This includes information on the vendor’s expertise in the business, responsiveness, customers, partnerships with major technology firms, and maintenance and support levels.
“Ask how much training and assistance you’ll get throughout demos,” advises Patrick Delehanty, marketing manager at Marcel Digital, a website optimization company that specializes in search engine optimization. “Check to see if they offer a comprehensive help and resource area in addition to training and support.” “Keep in mind that CRM training extends beyond just the end-user; it also includes technical upgrades that your team (such as developers or IT) may be required to take down the road.”Obtain executive support
According to Mikey Heinz, CEO of Bright Planet Solar, “executives are often the driving force behind adoption among front-line employees.” “When implementing a customer relationship management system, ensure that your whole executive team is on board from the beginning and that they can explain to anybody in the company why the new tool is necessary.”
Implementation will be done in stages.
According to Lumsden, developing and rolling out a new solution is a delicate balancing act between timeliness, usefulness, and value. “If you take too long, people lose interest, the project is scrapped, or the systems become too complex.” If you go too fast, you run the danger of overwhelming consumers or allowing important information or jobs to slip through the cracks. As a result, he believes that it is critical to organize your deployment in stages, ensuring that each user group is familiar with the system before going on to the next phase.
Provide enough training and assistance.
As a result of the fact that CRM includes change management, training is essential for users, and it needs a tailored strategy for groups and people, according to French. « Marketing training should consist of topics such as contact segmentation, list development, event management, and reporting, among others. Training for data teams in research and data-quality best practices is required. Assistants need instruction in the entering and updating of information and activities and the addition of contacts to contact lists. Sales teams must master activities and tools that will increase their productivity and procedures that will improve their closing rates. [Also,] managers must learn to extract meaningful insights from pertinent data and reports.
Additionally, she points out that since CRM is not a project or an effort, it never really “ends,” which implies that training must be continuous to be effective.
Make procedures more automated.
“Automate the hell out of your customer relationship management processes,” says Tharp. Sales and support representatives should be concentrating on engaging consumers rather than trying to recall where they found specific data or what to do next with each client – the system can and should take care of that for them. The greater the degree to which the process can be automated and users guided to the next best step for each client, the greater the likelihood that users would not only embrace but also enjoy the CRM system,” he adds. “It is often the weakest component of the CRM deployment, but it is also the most critical.”