The Crucial Points of CRM Implementation
Kimla, Serial Entrepreneur, Pipeliner
CEO and author of over 50 e-books
Ask any business leader what the most valuable capability in
business is and they’re likely to answer: the ability to make accurate
predictions. Why? The ability to predict profits, company growth, market
conditions, customer habits and more means a business leader can make decisions
and implement changes to ensure the most favorable outcomes. While at this
point, businesses are unable to make predictions with the same accuracy as the
‘precogs’ from Phillip K. Dick’s Minority Report, there are a number of tools
that can help businesses do so, particularly around customer relationships,
habits, and retention. One such tool is Customer Relationship Management, or
CRM software serves as the central point of customer
relationships for the whole company through servicing two core company
functions: salespeople and sales management. The software enables salespeople
to track and report on each individual sale or prospective sale, while enabling
sales managers to wholly understand how sales are progressing through the
collection and collation of sales data, which provides insights on sales primed
to close, priority opportunities, deals requiring additional assistance, top
performing salespeople, and more.
With this in mind the benefits of CRM are clear, but where
should companies looking to integrate the software into their operations start?
While the introduction of any new technology usually means a period of
adjustment, CRM implementation doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact - it can
be seamless, requiring only a little research, an enthusiastic,
willing-to-learn team, and hands-on direction.
The Starting Point: Understanding CRM Roles
To get the most out of a CRM system, it is imperative that
the team using the software understands it. The best place to start is by
explaining the four basic roles of CRM implementation, which are as
- The Project Owner: Is the individual wholly responsible for CRM implementation. This could be a CRM-dedicated specialist, or a person who integrates into their existing role, like a system administrator.
- The System Administrator: Is the individual tasked with the ongoing maintenance and operation of a CRM system.
- The Sales Manager: Is the individual responsible for leading the sales team and the generation of reports for analysis and decision-making. To get the most out of a CRM System, a Sales Manager should understand pipeline management, activity management and reporting.
- The End User: Refers to salespeople, or those using the CRM system as part of their regular working operations. End users require an understanding around leads, contacts opportunities, accounts, and how each one leads to the next.
Implementation: The Next Steps
To effectively lead the implementation of a CRM system, the Project Owner must first define the following five basic areas:
- User roles: Users can generally be categorized by their function, and in general are company-specific. The purpose of categorizing users is to dictate access privileges depending on function. A generic categorization of members could include: Sales Managers, Team Leads and Sales Team Members.
- Sales Units: These refer to the scope of a sales team, and can be defined by the territory they service - for example: North America or Asia-Pacific - or, other definitions, like B2B and B2C sales.
- Pipeline Process or Process: This refers to company-specific sales pipelines and processes.
- Currency: Defining currency helps sales managers understand which sales are being made where, and can help identify areas where sales are strongest.
- Forms: The forms used in recording customer information. These will be company-specific.
From here, the facets of CRM implementation must be understood. These facets cover three main areas, including data imports, integration, and automation. Let’s examine each in further detail:
The most crucial element of CRM implementation is the import of existing customer data. Why? If incorrectly done, it will take a lot of time fixing incorrect imports, and could result in the loss of not only time, but valuable customer data, a nightmare that no project owner or system administrator wants to face.
Luckily the right CRM solutions make data importing easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not vitally important to think through the way data should correlate from the outset. Consider the question: How should each type of data correlate with the other types of data? Then think of the accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities, notes, documents, activities and more that any sales business handles. Each must correlate in the correct way, so it’s especially important to map-out the process when the data being imported into a CRM isn’t all in one place prior to being imported. Consider the data sources: is the data in an old CRM? Is the data in an accounting system? Or, is the data in an ERP system?
Most CRM experts will agree: data should almost always be related by account - the leads, contacts, opportunities, activites, documents, and closed - or lost - deals related to each.
In an ideal world, everything can be completed easily and quickly. This is rarely the case, however. Think of how difficult it is to learn a new language; sure, a person can pick up a few basics in as little as a week, but learning the grammatical and structural ins-and-outs can take years. The same is true with CRM.
While it’s possible to have a CRM system up and running rapidly, there are sure to be periods of adjustment in the way a business works with, and ultimately adopts the technology into their workflows. Think about the ways different departments - like sales and marketing, or sales and accounting - work with each other, the existing workflows in place, and how CRM will impact those. As such, it’s vital to define how future workflows will look when using a CRM system early-on.
Once workflows are defined, a business in the midst of CRM implementation can begin to look at automation. Why? A defined workflow doesn’t automatically lead to automation, but it does have the potential to. As such, automation is the next step in implementation.
The automation of processes are unique to each company, and there is no standard; it will look different for manufacturing than it will for insurance. That said, it should still be the aim, with clear benefits in streamlining and simplifying workloads for employees at all levels of the business.
While the plethora of CRM systems available on the market today empower businesses to streamline and optimize their sales and customer service strategies, they’re essentially useless if a business doesn’t take the time to understand them fully.
As such, each stage from consideration to implementation should be addressed carefully; from onboarding processes, to implementation stages like data imports, integration and automation. The project must be made a priority, and transparent, measurable success milestones should be made clear from the outset. This empowers all employees, at all levels, to know when progress is being made towards being fully digital, allowing for not only accurate sales prediction capabilities, but also lowered risk factors, leveraged opportunities and greater visibility of business processes within a company, division, or group.