Preparation for successful CRM selection and deployment

Whether you are a start-up business or an established one, a sole trader or a company with hundreds of employees, deploying and effectively integrating a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) is essential.

However thinking it through and identifying what you hope to achieve is as important as which CRM you elect to go for.

In previous roles I have helped companies improve their work flows, become more efficient as an organisation and apply more intelligence to the sales process through effective deployment of a CRM system and then driving that implementation across the whole company.

In my first sales job I worked for a global events company where we all worked from our own excel based spread sheets. There was no sharing apart from writing the names of ‘decisions pending’ you had on a big whiteboard, once that company came off the board they were free game for the other sales reps and marketing were seen as an evil entity who sat on another floor. There was no contact at a rep level between sales and marketing, and supervisors would step in to resolve disputes on which department the deal belonged to – which was a resource draining but frequent occurrence!

Unfortunately even today, but to a much lesser extent,  within some companies there still exists a culture of not sharing, keeping hot leads up your sleeve and conflicts between sales and marketing.

Several years later I found myself working for another sales organisation.

I was initially taken aback by the level of transparency they exercised via their CRM. Not only could I see all my colleagues’ leads and some intelligence on them, but I could also see closed deals and commissions those reps earned. Marketing would even have weekly updates sharing their activity and targeted profiles, then pass on leads that responded to those campaigns.

Gaining Buy-In

Therefore, before even considering which CRM to go for, it is important that all the major stakeholders are involved in the decision process and will support the deployment. When it’s done properly the CRM system is a mission critical piece of software, a major enabler which can take the company to the next level. But too often it just ends up being underutilised with low take up within the organisation leading to a significant proportion of customer intelligence still outside the system.

In this series of articles I will share some important lessons and best practices I have learned over the years covering key stages in deploying CRM effectively including;

  • How to gain the buy-in of the rest of your organisation to either change the way you use an existing under-utilised CRM or to purchase a new one
  • Creating new business processes and matching those to available CRM systems on the market
  • Choosing the best deployment route – direct with a vendor, through a third party, completely in-house
  • Techniques to ensure you maintain a high take up level from your sales force, marketers, technical and admin staff
  • Getting maximum value from your CRM investment

Successful CRM selection and deployment is key but only one piece of the jigsaw in the overall optimisation of your sales and marketing functions.

Look out for the coming related articles, or feel free to contact me with specific deployment issues or if you just want to share your own experiences!

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