Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems are often seen as the panacea for all ills with a sales team.  Whilst the benefits can be significant, realising them is often fraught with difficulty.  Here is how to make your CRM System a success.

What are the potential benefits of a CRM System?

The reasons why companies want a CRM System usually include the following:

  • Improve sales force productivity – simplifying repetitive tasks, scheduling time better, ensuring actions get taken and reporting are all tools to improve sales force productivity
  • Reduce sales costs – reduce pre-sales costs with better sales qualification and simplify all the tasks involved with administering your sales force
  • Better customer service – with more current and reliable knowledge about the customer easily available, your people should be able to be more responsive to customers
  • Feedback to marketing – marketing campaign reporting, lead nurturing and understanding customer needs can all be enhanced using the data from a CRM System
  • Better management information – sales forecasting, sales pipeline management, sales performance management can all be enhanced through access to faster and more accurate information

The financial payback and return on investment of a good CRM System implementation can be dramatic.

What won’t a CRM System fix?

Without a well thought through implementation programme, a CRM system will not:

  • Guarantee increased sales
  • Solve internal company problems
  • Stand in for ineffective sales management
  • Make poor sales people into sales superstars

What are the elements of a successful CRM System implementation?

There are two primary components of a CRM System implementation programme:  Benefits planning and Stakeholder management.

  • Benefits planning is all about deciding what can be measured and then defining how that translates into financial value for the organisation.
  • Stakeholder management is all about having a clear view of who is responsible for the CRM System, what changes the organisation will need to make to capture the benefits, who will be touched by the implementation and having a robust project plan to ensure it all happens.

Introducing CRM

We can help organisations implement CRM systems that deliver measureable business benefit.  A typical implementation programme comprises the following elements:

  • Success definition:  The first step is to identify, agree and document the precise benefits required.  This can include a mix of business performance targets – hard measures like sales revenue, cost per sale, profitability, increased sales force activity, increased win rate, better account penetration, shorter sales cycles and the like.
  • Stakeholders:  The next step is to identify the stakeholders and form them into a team to advise the implementation process.  Stakeholders will usually span sales, marketing, customer service and support, management, IS/IT and finance.  Executive sponsorship and active support are essential if the CRM System is to be effective.
  • Stakeholder benefits:  The next step is to work with the stakeholders to define the exact benefits they wish to see.  Strong participation by sales is fundamental to this.  Typically sales see CRM Systems as adding to their workload and giving management more visibility of what they’re doing without clear benefit for them.  They need to understand how the CRM system is going to help them sell more and save them time.
  • Functionality definition:  The next step is to define precisely what you want the CRM System to do and where it needs to interface to other systems.  This is usually best approached by starting with simple functionality and then rolling out more features and capabilities over time against a defined roadmap of how functionality will increase.  Security and access control are key questions to address at this stage – who should be able to see or do what?
  • Selection:  Choosing the right CRM System can be challenging.  All the major CRM systems are highly customisable to meet the needs of the organisation using the system.  There is often a temptation to use a highly featured product when in fact the functionality required is actually simple.  Successful CRM System implementations usually start simple to make a fast impact and then have additional functionality added over time.
  • Installation:  The installation phase is about making the CRM System available to the people who are going to use it.  Many CRM Systems are now ‘cloud’ based solutions accessible through a web browser and as such the installation phase is often relatively straightforward. 
  • Administration:  Before a CRM System can be used, there are usually a host of administrative functions that need to be set up – such as adding user accounts, existing customer data and the like.  At this stage workflows are defined and set up within the CRM System.
  • Communication:  A key element of this phase of the CRM System implementation is its active promotion internally to communicate all of the benefits.
  • Training:  Everybody who is going to use the CRM System needs an amount of training to be able to use it effectively.  This is especially true of sales people where the need is to provide enough training to be able to get benefit in the minimum amount of time.
  • Benchmarking:  After a period of time in use the original success definition case should be revisited to ensure the expected benchmarks are being obtained.  These reviews with stakeholders should initially be both regular and frequent to determine any corrective actions that might need to be taken and to inform the rollout plan for additional functionality.

Successful CRM Systems

Successful CRM implementations are a result of great planning, teamwork and implementation in easy steps. 

Here’s what to do next

If you’re interested in how this could help you, or feel I may be able to help you with some of the challenges you’re facing, please get in touch for an informal discussion.

There’s no commitment, we’ll just discuss your situation to see if working together might be a good fit.  Contact me now.

Best regards