No matter how big or how small your company is, following good CRM practices is the best way to ensure a successful implementation of any new system. Companies must be fully on-board and need to instill a customer-centric strategy first and foremost. Of course focusing on cutting costs, improving efficiencies and increasing productivity is always at the top of the list, however, they must also be able to identify and enhance all of the customer needs and touch points.

One sure fire way to fail with any CRM initiative is to lead the charge with the technology instead of a installing a legitimate business plan for implementing a CRM system. Consider all of the stakeholders affected by a new system. What do they need, what do they stand to gain and most importantly, what do they stand to lose? The CRM technology is often rock solid and the cornerstone; what derails CRM initiatives most often is the lack of focus on the people and lack of commitment of the process.


Here are the top 9 items to consider ensuring CRM Success.


(1) Get the management team to buy in.

If the big bosses do not believe in a new CRM, then why should the employees? Consistent support from the top down affirms the company’s commitment to the project which will motivate team leaders and other stakeholders below management.


(2) Consider where you want to be?

Understanding where your company is heading is crucial. Can the CRM you are thinking about investing in be able to handle the functionality needed to grow your business? If your company doesn’t plan ahead, time and money can be wasted on additional add-ons and modules that could have been avoided in the beginning.


(3) Company strategy first, technology second.

The technology is not the main driver of a CRM strategy, but identifying and organizing or internal business processes are. The software is just a tool to assist and enable the implementation. Although it is an important pillar for CRM success, there are other things that are just as important.


(4) Get all your department ducks in a row.

Each department — whether it’s the sales team, finance or production — has its own requirements and goals. All segments across the board need to communicate a consistent message and be aware of all internal and external customer touch points. Begin the CRM implementation by staging out each component. Identify which items need to be completed before moving on to the next. Pushing quickly through just to “get it done” and moving to the next component before the previous component is finished could cause havoc and delays to your CRM implementation.


(5) Choose your leader or project manager carefully.

Nothing jump starts a CRM implementation faster than a well-organized leader or manager who always has that can-do attitude as well as the tools to manage people and projects. Choose a person who’s behind the implementation and realizes the full potential and benefits. Their infectious personality and work ethic will prove to be valuable to others as you bring departments and groups on-board.


(6) Make the necessary commitment.

Allow your team the appropriate amount of time to work on the CRM implementation. Often companies will underestimate the project and assign this huge task to someone to work on in their free time. You have made a major investment and business decision by going with a new CRM system, allow your team to make it a priority and give them the time needed to work on the implementation instead of treating it as a back burner project.


(7) Clean your data.

Your data is the lifeblood of any CRM. Make sure that your company’s current data is accurate, complete and up-to-date before loading it into a new CRM system.  Identify those companies that are duplicate entries and ensure that data is standardized from database to database. A good rule of thumb is to keep 13-15 months’ worth of customer data and at least 2-3 years’ worth of order history.


(8) Plan for disruptions.

For any number of reasons, the implementation of a new CRM may be disrupted from the time it is started to the time it is completed. Some of the most common reasons are changes to a company’s organization structure, updates to products or services, and/or replacing key personnel such as a Project Manager or major stakeholder. Usually, it is nobody’s fault; it is just part of doing business. The management and executive team need to take this into account. They can’t play in a vacuum.


(9) Don’t leave training to the end.

Most will consider training the final component any CRM implementation. Companies typically will not prepare (or fund) as needed for thorough training, thus giving the end-users a brand new system to learn on the fly and at the last minute. Give your admins and end-users as much time as they need with a new system before going live with it. The sooner the training begins in the process the sooner end-users can realize the benefits of any new application which will greatly improve efficiencies.


POSTED BY Tom Bellen, to contact click here.

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