Research firm TechNavio predicts a 15.5 percent compound annual growth rate in the customer relationship management (CRM) market through 2018, and Gartner reports that the global market for CRM software was $23.2 billion in 2014.
While CRM alone can’t improve your customer metrics, even the best customer-facing team will achieve better results with the right tools in place. Increase the chances for a successful CRM implementation by following these five principles:
Know Your Objectives
Even before beginning your search for a CRM solution, be sure to understand your objectives. CRM systems cover a broad range of functionality and business processes, so focus on what your company needs rather than what a vendor wants to sell. If you don’t know your objectives up front, it will be hard to know if your project was successful. More important, it will be difficult or impossible to gain management support if you can’t articulate your goals.
Gain Management Support
Once you know your objectives, practice putting your goals in terms that management cares about — increased revenue, more orders, greater efficiency —whatever your goals are. Implementing CRM will require resources to ensure success, so make sure that you have management commitment for the project before you begin. You don’t want to get partway into the implementation and then have a key resource re-assigned.
Map Your Processes
One of the best ways to decide if a CRM solution is right for your business is to map your existing sales and business processes. Compare the finished maps to the processes in the CRM solutions you are considering. Don’t expect to find an exact match for every process, but make sure the solution has functionality to support what you need. Ask the vendor to help you understand the options for supporting any missing functions. You may find that the CRM solution has a better, more effective way of accomplishing the task, or you may be able to configure the process or use a workflow to achieve the same result more efficiently. Mapping your processes in advance will help you understand what you need, but keep an open mind when listening to vendor suggestions for alternatives.
Consider a Phased Approach
A full CRM implementation can take a number of months, depending on the scope of the business processes you choose to cover, the condition of your existing data, and the number of users you want to train. While it may be tempting to go for the “big bang” and implement the whole system at once, your project will most likely achieve greater success if you try a phased approach. Frequent small successes help keep the energy and enthusiasm for the project going, and breaking the project into smaller, more manageable pieces will help minimize the short-term load on critical resources.
Even though most modern CRM systems are intuitive and user-friendly, you will still want to train every person who will be using the new system. Employees need to understand changes in existing business processes and how they accomplish their assigned tasks. Skimping on training is a recipe for failure, so be sure to budget for training and allow plenty of time for people to come up to speed.
Follow these five guidelines and you are well on your way to achieving CRM implementation success.