Whether you’re starting a new CRM initiative or salvaging an existing one, never underestimate the value of taking the time to gauge if your organization has the key ingredients for a successful CRM implementation – before you decide to implement.
The best CRM software doesn’t overcome process or people shortfalls. I continue to be surprised by how many companies fail to understand the impact of getting the people / process / technology mix right. Invest the time upfront to make sure your people and processes are in alignment; then introduce technology to streamline those processes to realize a much higher return on your investment.
2) Executive Sponsorship
The best CRM system in the world will be shelf ware if you can’t secure executive sponsorship for the success of the project. Executive sponsorship is not to be confused with the people managing the project. Executive sponsorship is an individual or set of individuals that have responsibility for the strategic direction of the company and oversight of the people that will be using the CRM system. A CEO or Sales VP promoting CRM to the troops will go a lot further than the CIO or IT Manager.
3) Define CRM Success
Why are you implementing a CRM system? Define, document and communicate the value proposition for each pain point you are trying to address; then structure your CRM project to meet those goals. But remember, there are two levels of success; organizational and individual. The question you will want to ask at each level of the organization is “What’s in it for me?” Reducing burdensome administrative tasks might be very important for an individual; much like having visibility into the sales pipeline is for an organization.
4) Implement Gradually
Change is never easy and you don’t want to overwhelm people out of the gates. Define a project scope that will lay the groundwork for some immediate wins. This will help ensure user adoption and build momentum behind the CRM initiative. As people start using the system they will be able to provide the educated feedback necessary to take on the next phase of implementation. An iterative mindset will develop a culture of continuous improvement.
5) Actively Manage the Implementation
An internal team with a “go to” person(s) for the CRM users is very important. This is the team or individual that will continue the momentum of the CRM system. They will serve as data stewards, trainers / power users, and general overseers of the system to make sure there is continued alignment with business process. Companies who have strong internal CRM stewards will realize the highest return on their investment; and the rewards are great.
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