The first 100 days of a CRM implementation are the most crucial to set yourself up for success. Forming good habits and promoting user adoption right from the start is much easier than allowing disuse, workarounds, and negativity to take root and then trying to counteract it later.
In this article, I'm going to share our carefully crafted best practices with you, those that we've honed through years of guiding our clients to successful outcomes. I'll divide them up into three phases, as well as what you'll need to do to keep it rolling and improving from thereon.
The first 3 to 6 weeks of the CRM Adoption Timeline
- Get up and running with the Adoption Flight Plan.
- Conduct initial configuration, streamlining, personalization and training.
Your first goal is to get the CRM system up and running. For our clients, we use a method called the "Adoption Flight Plan" as part of our
The Adoption Flight Plan is our proven, structured methodology to get customers using the system and getting real benefit from it quickly – in weeks, not months. Over 450 of our clients have been through the program over the last 15 years, each customer experience helping us to refine and improve the process further, to drive more successful outcomes.
Here's an overview of our process:
So in these first weeks, you'll be busy configuring the system while streamlining and personalizing the system to fit the way you do business. Data fields can be changed, text adapted for the terminology your team prefers – basically, making your users feel "at home".
"Houston, we have liftoff."
The next 4 to 5 Weeks of the CRM Adoption Timeline
- Conduct oversight and scheduling coaching sessions.
- Begin capturing issues and wishes.
- Begin daily monitoring of user activity.
- Use CRM for Sales Review meetings.
At this point, we step back and let you and your team get your hands dirty.
This has proven to be the most practical approach. While many CRM vendors advance to a lengthy training process, we recognize that Sales and Customer Service people are very busy. Week-long sessions are less effective – even if they're in their seats, many have their minds elsewhere and don't get the full benefit.
Instead, we provide basic system orientation so they feel comfortable using it, and turn them loose. Once your team has some real-world experience, maybe even some questions that surface from their first interactions with CRM, we provide oversight and scheduled coaching sessions. By then they'll be more primed for the training and more prone to put it into practice.
Of course, there are problems and challenges that surface along the way. Our coaching sessions address that as well.
Speaking of challenges, this is the phase where you begin to get user feedback. Take their concerns seriously; write them down. You're not ready to make changes yet, but that will be coming. Validating their concerns and recording them lets them know they are heard; it builds hope that the system will go on improving their lives rather than complicating them. Otherwise, if you hang around the water cooler long enough, you'll start to hear the seeds of discontent beginning to be sown and team members sharing tips on how to get around the system or to use it just enough to appease management.
Another important step is monitoring user activity on a daily basis. Maybe it sounds like "big brother" watching over them, but the system can easily tell you if they're actively using it or not. It's important to get your finger on the pulse immediately because if you find out after the fact that 70% of your sales and service staff aren't using the system after a month, you'll have a deep-rooted problem on your hands that will be tough to turn around.
I also strongly recommend consistently using your CRM system for sales review meetings. Management must set the example, taking every opportunity to use the system and show that it is to be taken seriously as a tool to boost productivity and monitor the health of the organization. Help everyone understand that this transition truly is a good thing.
Even management will stumble at times. That's why you need a strong CRM project champion – an advocate for the system. Change is difficult, and that needs to be respected; it is also important to remain focused on the goal.
The next 4 to 8 weeks of the CRM Adoption Timeline
- Continue capturing issues and wishes.
- Continue daily monitoring of user activity with a shift to weekly monitoring.
- Plan a Remote Workshop to improve the system and address top issues and wishes.
Here is where the rubber meets the road.
Capturing the problems the users encounter and the "I wish it could…" items should continue in this phase. In fact, it should become a permanent practice since you'll always be making improvements.
Keep monitoring user activity. If things are going well, you could transition to weekly instead of daily monitoring at this point. However, this is another "forever" habit that will keep everyone honest and promote good practices.
For example, I know many who use SalesForce and hate its complexity. At the end of the month, they add all their activities in one shot, knowing the boss will run reports on the first of the coming month. Are they really using and getting the full benefit from the system? Hardly. They've created a workaround to appease the boss. Weekly monitoring would discourage this kind of behavior.
Next would be to plan a "Remote Workshop." Now that you've built a solid list of issues and desired features, we would help you analyze them, determine which of these you could fix internally, where your partner can help, and prioritize the improvements according to importance and value.
This Remote Workshop has two major benefits: (1) It helps to improve the system and make your organization ever more efficient. (2) It helps to build a culture of iteration within your company – and I feel this is perhaps the greatest benefit. It sends a message to your team, saying: "Your needs are heard and will be addressed." Users who feel validated are less likely to complain; rather, they participate in making the solution address their needs more fully.
Beyond the first 100 days of the CRM Adoption Timeline
- Continue capturing issues and wishes.
- Continue weekly monitoring.
- Schedule Remote Workshops that align with your team goals.
Here again appear your "forever" habits: Continue taking note of user issues and wish list features. Your business is ever-changing – so is your CRM.
Continue your weekly monitoring of user activity. Some feel that it's easier to move to a monthly cycle after a while. Personally, I feel that is not a good move. The weekly monitoring can coincide with your weekly sales meeting. And at any rate, sales management needs to be monitoring the dashboards to get the big picture of company activity and health.
Every organization has unique goals for its CRM implementation. I recommend scheduling Remote Workshops at intervals that align well with those goals. Some find once a year sufficient; other larger ones have monthly workshops. Whatever the interval, being consistent is key.
As you overcome challenges, correct issues, deliver on wish list features for your users, monitor usage, and promote adoption, you will see the database fill with useful data. This will reveal patterns and trends that provide insight for better business decision-making. Then you'll get a taste of the power of CRM.
100 days well spent
Sounds like a lot of work? You bet. But is it worth it? Indeed it is. A successful CRM implementation will empower your team to:
- get more organized
- have better visibility of team activity
- be more responsive
- streamline operations.
In the end, your investment in CRM will multiply as you gain more customers and watch your profits rise. CRM is a major step in transforming your company into a better version of itself.
By following this advice for your first 100 days, we are confident you will lay a firm foundation and cultivate good habits that will continue to make your CRM system valuable for years to come.
If you would like to work with a company that will get your
At Azamba Consulting Group, we have a very structured, proven methodology with
By Peter Wolf, Azamba Consulting Group,
His passion is blending the promise of CRM with the realities of business needs to create successful outcomes.