5 Things You Need to Know Before Implementing CRM

Can implementing a CRM system streamline your business? The short answer is yes, but only if you use it to its full potential. Complications occur when companies don’t define their implementation process before they start, and by the time it becomes clear they need one, it’s too late. In fact, companies without processes see a mere 30% implementation success rate compared to the 70% success rate of those that do.

Make no mistake, implementing CRM takes careful planning, a solid understanding of your business goals, and a good helping of patience. So, before making any major moves, ask yourself if you can check off these five things:

1. Understand Where Your Processes Are And Where They’re Going

What is your lead qualification process? When does a lead become an opportunity? What’s your process for services and warranties? How does the CRM you’re considering fit with these? Implementing CRM could catalyze some changes – you’ll streamline and automate a lot more – but for the most part, its main goal should be to help you improve on what’s already working. That’s why it’s so important to understand how your processes will tie in with your new system before you implement.  If you have an implementation partner, they’ll initiate the conversation with your team. They can help you brainstorm and answer the team’s questions about the role of your CRM in the day-to-day of each department. Not only is this informative, but it may also ease concerns from those wondering how the implementation will affect their work.

2. Rank Requirements & Feature Trade-offs

As you search for a CRM, it’s easy to get caught up in the carnival of possible features. Avoid getting distracted by the shiny objects. Instead, organize your thoughts around how each function will impact your ROI potential. Step away from the feature sets and write down what YOUR company needs, specifically. What functionality is most realistic to achieve your goals? How do you profile and market to your customers? How will that change in the future? Will the features support those changes? Which features are must-haves and which are nice-to-haves? Use this framework to narrow down the essentials and rank your requirements. The term “rank” is crucial here. Assign a numeric value to every feature. If you simply list out prioritized requirements, you’ll end up with too many high-priority features and not enough clarity on what’s most important.  Your implementation partner can help you define and rank your requirements to weed through the information overload

3. Keep Integration Top-of-Mind

Too often during implementations do companies let integration requirements slip through the cracks. Integration is one of the most important aspects of CRM implementation. Think about how integration will affect your CRM. How will your CRM work with your phone system?  What will happen to an opportunity after it closes in the system? Where will the quote be created? Is there a process to approve discounts? What information do salespeople need to see from other systems to make them more productive? If you’re not sure, ask your implementation partner for help identifying your integration factors. Many CRM implementers are familiar with integration and can guide you to choose the right mixture of programs for your needs. Save yourself from unexpected financial pitfalls and time commitments by keeping integration top-of-mind throughout your CRM implementation journey.

4. Define the Why and Where for your Team

Consider why individuals will be using the system and what levels of authorization they’ll need. Are there certain people who have limited access and others who can see everything? Giving your team too many data points to juggle or asking them to enter too much information can deter them from wanting to use the program. Talk to your implementation partner about setting data rules inside your CRM and make sure you’ve established a set policy prior to implementation. In addition, think about where these individuals will be accessing the CRM. Does the CRM support mobile apps? What information will your teams need out in the field? Do they need offline mobile access too? Simplify their interaction with the CRM as best you can to promote user adoption and facilitate better use cases for each department.

5. Scrub-a-Dub-Dub that Data

When I clean out my closet at the change of each season, it’s a cathartic experience. Everything is nicely organized and all the unnecessary clutter is removed. Think of this as a metaphor for your CRM. Just as you wouldn’t shove your dirty laundry into the closet with your fresh new clothes, you don’t want to throw all your dirty data into your fresh new CRM. As annoying as it may seem, cleaning your data before importing it to your new system is an absolute implementation MUST. Think you can just go in later and clean it up? Maybe, but how much time will you waste trying to pick out the dirty pair of socks once they’re mixed in with all the clean pairs? If you’re unsure about the cleanliness of certain contacts, bounce them against a public database like Hoovers or Inside View to compare.

Get the whole team on board with a data cleanup plan. Make each person responsible for their own data accuracy. Have data with no owner? Send a list to everyone affected and ask them to look it over by a certain date. If anything needs to be saved, they must let you know, otherwise it will go into the trash. Implementing a CRM with clean data will help you put your best foot forward and start using the software at its highest potential right off the bat. Don’t skip this critical step.


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Danine Pontarelli

Danine Pontarelli

Danine Pontarelli is the Marketing Manager at Technology Advisors, Inc. Technology Advisors guides businesses through the software buying cycle by helping them select and implement software solutions, train staff, and resolve technical roadblocks. Specializing in enterprise CRM integrations and data migrations, Technology Advisors is headquartered in Chicago, with offices out of Tampa, Michigan, and Indiana. For more information about Technology Advisors services, please visit techadv.com.

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