A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is one of the most powerful tools that can be used today in managing business operations.
Still, CRM tools can be intimidating to business owners or leaders who have never used them. Having a defined strategy for CRM use and adoption will set you up for success from the start.
10 Tips for CRM Implementation
Below, we explain 10 tips on CRM implementation so that you can get your business running as efficiently as possible. Consider these tips to help you create a CRM strategy and policies for your business going forward:
1. Learn the CRM Together
CRM implementation will be easier for management to explain to employees if they learn it together. In the beginning, this might mean having a series of training sessions or Q & A lunches where everyone has the opportunity to solve issues and learn from others. Employees might find unexpected, useful features that management may decide they can't live without after reviewing with the team.
2. Provide Ample Training
CRM providers have many forms of training available — classroom settings, live webinar courses, and even on-site consultants can be made available depending on the developer of the tool. CRM training will not be a one-day or even one-week process. Depending on the features of your system and your pace, it may reasonably take months for your team to master the CRM. That's normal. Work with your vendor to leverage these training tools from day one of your CRM purchase.
Incorporate this training into your onboarding process and training program for new hires. Read our related blog post for tips on developing a solid sales training program.
3. Show Leadership Buy-In
Many tools in many organizations get left on the wayside because some managers avoid using them. So if you have a manager who has concerns about the CRM before implementing, be sure to identify what his/her problem with the tool is. That manager is the example for his or her whole team, after all.
4. Focus on Creating a CRM Culture
A CRM culture is one of transparency and data-backed decision making. A common phrase heard in companies with a CRM culture is, "If it's not in the CRM, it didn't happen". While that may sound a little harsh, in this type of environment, each person using the CRM becomes quickly accountable for input of any and all information relevant to sales and/or customer service. With sales and even compensation tied to having accurate information entered in the system, most all employees get on board quickly.
5. Define the Strategy
Before investing in your CRM, determine what you need, and then procure that. Many CRM tools offer tiered services where certain features become available at certain price points. Don't try to live without tools you need to avoid paying more, if at all possible — your life will be much easier if you have everything you need from the beginning.
6. Have a CRM Champion
Even with all of the training that exist within most CRM tools, your CRM implementation will go that much smoother if you have at least one person in-house who can act as an expert to handle more advanced functions. You don't want to have to hunt down a manual every time you want to add a custom field to your customer data, after all.
7. Rely on the Data!
This goes back to the business phrase referenced in tip #4: "If it's not in the CRM, it didn't happen." Every email, phone call, chat request, and presentation can and should be recorded in the CRM for an incredibly simple reason: whenever anyone else in the organization meets with the customer, they are on the same page as the original employee who made the contact. It eliminates, "He said, She said" arguments if your employee was good about recording emails in the CRM, for example.
8. Value Your Investment — Keep Up With Upgrades
CRM tools are constantly upgraded — make sure that any tools that integrate with the CRM, like e-mail marketing software, are up-to-date so that there are no glitches in either system. If you've chosen a modern CRM to upgrade your company's technology, be sure to stay on top of the evolution of the product as well as other complementary technology solutions. These choices will surely add to your company's efficiency and productivity.
9. Integrate with Marketing
In the age of digital marketing, sales and marketing are more dependent on each other than ever. Your CRM implementation should include a discussion about how the different departments will work together, especially if you are using growth strategies and other software and technology tools, such as marketing automation software, accounting tools and social media tools. You want everything talking together whenever possible.
10. Stay Organized
Inputting everything into the CRM is great, but it should be done in a universal format. All customer contacts should have the same format, so that other users don't get confused when reviewing your notes. Everyone in the organization should operate under the same methodology when eliminating old, unused data. If you are successful in creating a CRM culture, then keeping the data organized should be a simple, ongoing process that never gets out of control.
Encourage Ongoing CRM Adoption
Full CRM adoption will require a major change and shift within your workforce. In the beginning, you should anticipate some discomfort and even pushback from employees, at all levels — and be ready with training and coaching to deal with these issues.
By establishing a strategy and holding yourself and others accountable for using the tool, your transition will be as smooth as possible. Since the tool will become integral to your business operations, the learning process will never really end. Encouraging commitment and adoption from the start will help you get the most from your investment.
Image credit: Chris Lott