You’ve heard a thousand stories about the necessity of CRM software. You’ve also heard stories of how it fails. Adopting a CRM can be a game-changer when it comes to connecting with your customers. Among the benefits are the ability to anticipate your clients’ needs, communicate on their terms, and workflow automations that help your team to spend more time selling.
The only way to enjoy the benefits a CRM provides, however, is to make sure your team uses it. Before you launch a CRM implementation, there are five critical steps that will help you ensure adoption:
#1: Involve the IT Department
CRM platforms are often chosen by senior leadership or department heads. That’s understandable, since these folks usually hold the purse strings. But when it comes to the technical aspects of integration, configuration, etc., these same people lack expertise and experience necessary to choose which CRM will work best with their existing environment.
Before diving in and choosing a CRM based on features and pricing alone, involve your IT department up front. They can help you better understand which models will integrate well, be the least disruptive, and hopefully save you money.
#2: Establish Clear Processes
The best CRM software in the world cannot remedy a deeply-flawed business model or fundamentally inefficient processes. Before beginning an implementation, go through your organization (especially marketing and sales) and address any critical issues. Evaluate your sales development process, your lead nurturing programs, your support ticket process. Make sure that each is transparent and that department managers understand the role as it contributes to the broader health of the business.
You’ll also want to clean up any old or irrelevant data in your existing systems so that you don’t migrate bad data into your new CRM. If you haven’t done this before, consider working with a data cleansing or deduplication service.
#3: Keep it Simple
CRM tools should be as simple as possible for end-users, whether they work in marketing, sales, or support. Equip your teams for success before they even see the new tool. Have managers ready to coordinate the change as it will be temporarily disruptive. Budget and plan to provide adequate training, and make sure your teams understand how the CRM fits within your company’s overall strategy.
In the interest of keeping it simple, it’s especially important for any company with remote (or mobile) employees to make sure they can access the system when they need to. In most cases, that means choosing a cloud-based vendor that provides either native mobile apps or a mobile web interface.
#4: Focus on Productivity
Working in your new CRM shouldn’t be time consuming. The focus, instead, should be on only those things that help your representatives be more productive. They should only need to invest time in tasks that add value. To that end, make sure the data entry and approval processes aren’t bogged down with unnecessary fields or redundant steps. You should be able to customize some of these settings, although your level of flexibility will vary between products.
Choose a tool that is intuitive and helps users find the information they need as quickly as possible. Also, make sure your CRM can sync with your existing email package so that communicating with customers and teammates doesn’t require an extra, time-consuming step.
#5: Extend Appropriate Access
Most CRMs will let you set up custom access controls and define which user groups or user types can access specific functions of the software. Extending the appropriate level of access to your team members can make the difference between a useful tool and an administrative headache. What’s worse, if people can’t do what they need to in the system, they may stop using it.
A manager or executive will use a CRM for different reasons than a sales or customer service representative. Typically, managers are looking for reports to analyze performance and progress toward goals. This is necessary, but remember who is using the tool and how it is benefiting your customers. Your representatives should able to create their own dashboards that reflect their specific needs and priorities. A good CRM should also give users the ability to create custom reports, at will. If the available reports only focus only on metrics that matter to leadership, that can be frustrating for the rest of the team and, furthermore, damage buy-in.
What characterizes a successful CRM adoption? Productivity? Lead-to-close time? Conversion rates? That’s up to you.
To ensure a successful implementation, focus on being prepared before you start. Make sure the software and your processes work as simply and sensibly as possible, and remember who the tool will benefit most. Although these five steps can’t guarantee adoption, they can help you build a plan that makes sense for your team, and that’s a good place to start.