6 Steps to CRM Implementation Success 

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I've been helping small and medium-sized businesses take their businesses to the next level with CRM for over 20 years. If you've had a hard time getting the most from your CRM, or you're thinking about implementing CRM in your organization, I'm confident these tips, when applied, will lead you to success.In the last post, "Five Obstacles That Can Derail Your CRM Implementation," I discussed what doesn't work. Now I'll show you what does work to make your CRM project a success.

Step 1: Choose a Champion

Step 1: Choose a Champion

This tip is probably the most important step of them all. We call the role "Project Champion," but you can give it another name if you like. This is the person on your team who takes ownership, the one who has a passion to see it through to successful completion.

The champion must have authority. It doesn't have to be the VP of Sales; they are probably too busy increasing company revenue. Often, it could be a sales or marketing assistant, given authority for the duration of the project, to ensure everyone complies with the system and its objectives.

This person will work with the consulting firm (like us at Azamba Consulting Group) to define what you realistically hope to achieve with the system, develop a timeline for deployment, and along the way make sure everyone is carrying out their assignments.

They're also the vital link between the project and its stakeholders, the end-users. They make sure everyone has access to the functions they need, make sure there is buy-in, and that everyone completes their training. They can even solve problems, really listening to users' feedback, seeing what can be done to correct problems, and letting them know they have support. The goal is to help everyone work together as a team to achieve a successful implementation.

Step 2: Develop a Plan

Step 2: Develop a Plan

A cross-country road trip without a plan will surely be fraught with problems. And a CRM implementation without clearly defined goals and a plan of action is doomed to failure.

Start by defining what you expect the system to accomplish for you. Many businesses share some common goals, such as:

  • Improve customer retention
  • Increase sales per sales representative
  • Increase sales per customer
  • Streamline operations

Don't forget that CRM is much more than a sales tool. Think outside the box. Imagine the benefits for your entire team.

Avoid generalities, such as "make us more productive." Set clear milestones. Decide who will be responsible for each task and when it should be completed. Think about how to promote the use of the system and what to do if some don't cooperate.

CRM implementation is always a complex undertaking. Many dismiss this and don't understand why their team fails to make full use of the system later. There are many variables to be considered, and the majority of them are humans, not software. Getting your team on board from the start is critical to success.

Step 3: Get Started!

Step 3: Get Started!

"How is that a step?" you ask. One can become bogged down in the planning stage, trying to imagine every possible function they might need now or in the future, and wind up accomplishing nothing at all.

One piece of advice I give to every client is: Don't let perfect get in the way of good.

A CRM project is a journey, not a destination. You know the saying, "you have to crawl before you can walk." Don't let anyone push you into doing everything at once. Many clients have come to me with a laundry list of expectations, and even if it's not what they want to hear, I'm obligated to tell them "slow down" for their own good.

There is so much CRM can do to transform your business. But get it installed and start using it first. As you begin to reap the benefits (and coming from the world of spreadsheets, Outlook, and Post-it notes, you'll see instant benefits!), you'll understand how it works and have a better idea of how you want it to be improved.

The iterative approach helps you keep realistic expectations. It also reduces the impact on your employees, allowing company culture to evolve and improve along with the system – and for the system to continue to adapt to your company culture rather than define it.

Step 4: Explore Your System

Step 4: Explore Your System

There is incredible depth in Microsoft Dynamics 365. And it just keeps getting better! Microsoft is really listening to business users and developing solutions to help us accomplish our goals faster. These days, I can implement some features for clients in days or even a few hours. Twenty years ago, those features would have taken months to create. And, of course, there's already so much that comes baked into the core system.

So go, explore it! Play with new features. Learn about the more advanced functionality, such as playbooks, marketing lists, and automation. The Microsoft Power Platform allows you to automate tasks, analyze and visualize data, and even create low-code apps – mobile apps and custom screens within your Dynamics environment.

Try one new thing every day, even if it scares you! That is how you will grow.

See what works for you and what doesn't. Make a wishlist as you go. Really listen to end-user feedback, and add reasonable complaints to the list. (Project Champion, are you listening?) The system is for the user, not the user for the system. Making the sales, marketing, and customer service people's lives easier will motivate them to use the system to the full. And management's objectives for the system will naturally fall in line.

Step 5: Don't Go It Alone

Step 5: Don't Go It Alone

Perhaps you're worried about the additional cost of using a consulting firm. Or maybe you feel you have all the necessary talent within your organization. Still, take advantage of expert advice. There is an incredible amount of information - blogs and videos - that can help you configure Dynamics 365 CRM. But it can get overwhelming. If you find a guide that suits you, stick with it, so you don't get lost. Just be aware that the do-it-yourself method takes a lot more time. And that is precious time your new CRM system isn't giving you a return on your investment.

True, hiring a consultant like Azamba Consulting Group carries a certain cost – but you get a return on that investment through a faster implementation time. In fact, we can get you up and running within 3 to 6 weeks. That ensures the application of our principles and best practices gained through hundreds of CRM implementations. We call it the OnTrack CRM Success System.

Step 6: Don't Get Discouraged

Step 6: Don't Get Discouraged

CRM success isn't a switch that you can simply turn on. Avoid the quest for instant perfection and instead, get on the train of iterative improvement. Remember, CRM will transform every aspect of your business for the better. You'll do business and serve your customers better than you did before. The relationships between your partners, colleagues, teammates, and each individual employee will be stronger than ever. And – you guessed it – it will keep getting better.

Your company will not stop evolving and improving. You'll get feedback, and as your industry or circumstances change, you'll adapt. You might change your business model or introduce new product lines. You might expand into or shift focus to different vertical markets.

CRM will not stop evolving with you. You may not have it all down on day one, but with the right guidance, you'll be pretty awesome by day 100.

Next Steps

We are so confident that this methodology will lead to CRM success that we even offer fixed fee Dynamics 365 CRM implementations with a money-back guarantee.

Contact us online or call 888.724.3999.

By Peter Wolf, Azamba Consulting Group, www.azamba.com

Peter Wolf, AzambaPeter Wolf is the president and founder of Azamba. He has spent the last 20 years focused on helping small and medium-sized businesses become more profitable through effective and efficient usage of CRM.

His passion is blending the promise of CRM with the realities of business needs to create successful outcomes.


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