Think you’re ready? 7 questions to ask yourself before implementing a CRM.

1. Do you have your business impact objectives identified?  IE, what you’re going to use the CRM to do for you?

    • Too many people purchase a CRM “because they’re supposed to have one” and think it will move the needle for them based on that.  We’re not clear there’s many other investments that businesses make where they’re not sure they’ll gain an ROI from the expenditure.  The CRM should be the same.
    • Clearly define what you anticipate the CRM doing for you.  Here’s some common use cases to get you started:
      • Maintaining a segmented database of targeted customers and prospects for the sales team to pursue
      • Establish an easy and automated way for the team to track calls and prioritize follow-ups
      • Establish a measurable system to capture, track and monitor leads
      • Gain market share in core products
      • Automate manual and time-consuming processes X, Y, and Z
      • Gain share of wallet with key customers
      • Manage commissions
      • Make sales data readily visible in real-time to sales reps

2. Are your processes clearly defined?

    • It is appropriate to think of a CRM implementation as a process project as opposed to a technology project.  Because that’s what it’s supposed to do – sales, marketing, and service process automation.  
    • And CRMs are great at automating the process; but they’re terrible at creating it.  You have to know your processes, and you’re best served if you have them well-defined.
    • This can be hard, and outside the team’s core competence.  You can hire a consultant to help you with this. If they have that competence (and know your industry), your CRM can be that consultant; that will certainly be the most cost-effective and fastest ramp for you.

 

3. What KPIs are you going to measure?

    • Peter Drucker is famous for saying “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”  Well, we’re going to paraphrase the guru. If you don’t know what to measure, you’re not ready to manage it.
    • 8 to 12 measurements should define your set of KPIs.  They should reflect measurements of success in the automated processes, and they should tie to the business objectives.

 

4. Do you have a Champion?

    • Making a CRM part of your organization’s DNA is a paradigm shift.  It requires strong change management tactics. A core requirement for successful change management is the presence of a committed top-level leader.  You must have someone in a position of authority to make it very clear that “if it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist.”  
    • See this blog post on <Adoption>.

 

5. Do you have an owner and supporting stakeholders identified?

    • The Champion is the power that makes the CRM go.  But they’re not really suited to “own” the system; they’re typically too senior for that load.  So you need a business owner who is clearly identified internally for the long run. Sales operations or a VP of Sales can do the job.
    • You’re going to want multiple involved parties, as well, who represent each functional area you’re implementing.  Probably the director level, though maybe senior and experienced individual contributors. These people are tasks with defining the needs of their group and ensuring they get met.  They’ll participate in regular project meetings, and they will be the system testers.  

 

6. Do you have a strong internal project manager?

    • You’re about to embark on several months (possibly years) of a cat-herding exercise.  Your implementation partner will have a project manager to drive things on their side, but a consultant will really struggle to manage your internal staff.  And you need someone to hold the consultant accountable to plan.
    • Identify a competent internal project manager for the duration of the effort.  Ensure they’re committed. And ensure they have enough time budgeted for the effort – likely 10 or more hours a week.
    • This will without question make the effort proceed more smoothly.  You’re more likely to hit your deadlines. And you almost certainly will use your consultant more efficiently (ie, spend less money).

 

7. Do you have ongoing budget identified, post-launch?

    • Software systems require care and feeding.  A CRM is no different – you’ll find you need to make changes and updates, and you’ll inevitably want to add features and functionality.  Ensure you’ve established an adequate ongoing budget to support that.
    • This should include a system administrator; CRMs don’t manage themselves.  You can outsource it if your user count is on the small side, but just make sure you have that identified pre-launch.