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6 Steps for Successful CRM Implementation

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Have you ever encountered an organization that had invested in new technology, but the results were limited because they didn’t fully use it?

Chances are you have. It’s a common problem. Many companies will invest in a variety of software solutions as they grow — for example, workflow management software to streamline their tasks or lead management software to turn potential buyers into paying customers. But without a proper implementation plan, a new technology solution can actually hinder processes rather than making them better.

This is certainly true when it comes to introducing a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. CRM software can be a powerful tool for companies of all sizes, but only if it is selected and implemented thoughtfully.

If you’re in the market for a new CRM, follow these 6 tips to ensure that the software yields maximum returns for your business.

1. All hands on deck

The starting point is to realize that CRM software is not just for your sales team or customer service team. In fact, it’s not for any single business unit or department — it’s for everyone.

That being said, it’s important to bring everyone to the decision-making table, including representatives from finance, HR, sales, accounts, customer service and IT. Too many technology investments are made behind closed doors, with C-suite executives being secretive about the process.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Your team members have the insights and experiences that will help you select and implement the platform that’s the best fit for your business.  

And don’t think that seeking employee feedback is only important at the beginning! Employee involvement is crucial at every stage of CRM implementation to ensure everyone remains committed to the process.

It’s not unusual for organizations to have a few internal champions who are eager to embrace new technology. But if these individuals are the only ones using the system, it’s hard for that system to gain momentum and produce significant results.

2. Define your priorities

Before you start selecting a CRM, be clear about your vision and reasons for pursuing one. What are you hoping to get out of your new technology?

  • Stronger lead management and web to lead capabilities?
  • Streamlined workflows and improved day-to-day efficiency?
  • Improved customer service?

This is why it’s critical to bring employees from different teams together. With everyone in the same room, ask team leaders and members what they currently struggle with and what they want to improve upon .

And remember: it’s not just about what your company does today. This is also the time to think about what your companycould lookk like tomorrow. If you’re planning to grow your business or diversify your offerings, it’s wise to invest in a customizable CRM solution that can grow and diversify along with you.  

3. Train your staff

Imagine giving someone a great camera, then sitting back and wondering why they’re not producing beautiful photos. If you haven’t piqued their artistic spirit, or even shown them how to use the device, then you’re probably expecting too much.  

After you’ve decided on a CRM solution, come up with a strategy  for introducing it to your staff and training them on its use. Your strategy should include two key components..

First, hold an all-hands meeting to introduce the software and explain to people what it can achieve. Most importantly, tell people what you expect from them. Too many leadership directives are lost simply because the leaders don’t share their vision for what the directive will look like in action. You may have a plan for how the CRM will transform your business — but don’t assume everyone knows it.

The second part of your strategy should, of course, be some hands-on training. Sit your employees down and walk them through the new CRM. Show them how the software can be innovative and transformative, using real examples from projects your team is working on. Show people exactly how their daily work will be impacted by using the CRM.

You might consider hiring a specialist who is an expert in your software or working directly with the CRM vendor for these demos and training sessions.

4. Use a phased roll-out

Understandably, most people don’t love walking into work one day and finding they’re suddenly supposed to use a brand-new system. Make the process manageable by creating an implementation schedule that introduces the CRM in gradual, focused phases.

For example, you might start by requiring employees to enter all new customer contacts in the CRM, but they can still use their existing task management system. Once they’re comfortable with the CRM interface, they can start managing their to-do’s in there as well .

Do your best to stick to the schedule. Remember, if you move too quickly, then key lessons and teaching moments get missed — but if you stretch the process out too long, then your team might lose momentum for CRM adoption. Focus on ensuring that every team understand the benefits of the CRM and their role in its successful implementation.

5. Ensure proper data migration

Most companies hold customer and sales data in a variety of different places, under the oversight of different teams. For example, your marketing team might have sales leads in a spreadsheet, while your financial team has customer contacts and invoices in accounting software like QuickBooks,  

Making a new CRM work well for you means taking the time to ensure that as much of your data is transferred into the CRM as possible. To make this process easier, choose a CRM that integrates with your existing tools or allows for mass data uploading.

For instance, using a CRM that syncs with QuickBooks saves you the hassle of manually importing your customers. Meanwhile, having the ability to upload spreadsheets makes it simple to get your leads into the system.

This is also the time to ensure that all of your datasets are as accurate and complete as possible. Update old information and resolve inaccuracies as you come across them. Working with messy or incomplete data will only reduce your chances of using your new CRM effectively.

6. Track your progress

How do you know whether your CRM has been implemented successfully? You track your progress and look for measurable process improvements. Ask your employees if the CRM is having an impact on their day-to-day activities:

  • Is data being recorded and leveraged more efficiently?
  • Is your marketing team creating more effective campaigns based on real customer insights?
  • Are customer service agents able to access customer data more easily?
  • Are sales teams creating quotes and closing deals faster?  

Your employees’ perspectives and experiences may help you identify benefits you weren’t aware of or didn’t even anticipate .

Leveraging your CRM for great results

If you’re looking for a CRM that offers a unique opportunity to build on your existing systems, Method:CRM is the way to go.

Method is a CRM solution that offers significant benefits for every member of your team. For example:

  • As the leading CRM for QuickBooks, Method offers a two-way, real-time sync with your existing accounting software. With your QuickBooks data available in your CRM (and vice versa), double data entry becomes a hassle of the past.
  • Your sales and marketing teams will be more aligned. Since sales reps can track the progress of each lead through the sales pipeline, marketing campaigns can be planned and targeted accordingly.
  • Managers will be pleased with Method’s superior tools for lead , customer and workflow management, allowing employees to work more productively and build strong relationships with customers.

Selecting and implementing CRM software is a big decision. But choosing a solution that builds on your existing systems and using a thoughtful implementation plan makes the process much easier.

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