Guidelines for CRM Implementation

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1 Guidelines for CRM Implementation For the Small and Medium Sized Businesses (SMB), the customer really is king. SMBs that do not develop a customer focused sales approach or customer-centric approach, not only to their sales approach but in fact everything they do from Sales, to marketing, to customer service, will drastically reduce their chances of success. There is a huge variety of sales, marketing and customer service solutions available to SMBs, which can make choosing a CRM solution to solve your business needs a difficult and daunting process. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) doesn't have to be difficult. Here are some guidelines that you can follow before you embark on CRM implementation in your company. Start by learning what a CRM is and how it can benefit your business. Read our articles: - What is CRM - Benefits of CRM Start with a blank sheet of paper and sketch a mind map, a map of how you believe CRM will enhance your business and its traditional processes in the areas of Sales, Marketing and Customer Support. Develop a corporate CRM culture and engage key stakeholders Many CRM projects fail because critical stakeholders are not involved. They need to be involved in assessing the business objectives, setting CRM strategy, issuing directives and engraining CRM usage into company culture. Key sponsors need to be able to make financial and time commitments to ensure success. Potential users and if possible, customers should be involved to some extent to assess their expectations; surveys, questionnaires and feedback 1 / 6

2 meetings are useful ways of gathering information on customer expectations. Communicate CRM initiatives to people in your company via directives, policies and training. If you know what is expected at the executive level then you can better understand and respond to customers. Don't distance yourself or your teams from the implementation and think you can get a consultant in to do the entire project. CRM implementation is mostly about adapting the CRM tool to fit your business and people processes. It is your business and your customers, so get involved and use external expert help to make the implementation go smoothly and to reduce risks. Get internal buy-in from those who will operate the system your teams. Get external buy-in from your partners/customers. You may need to change your current processes with your clients, but if you educate them effectively and tell your customers about your plans to give them a better sales and support service, this will reduce impact. Ask customers/partners to provide feedback on how they would like to see your processes improved. Identify who will benefit from the CRM system, for example, customers, staff, suppliers, business partners, etc Define your CRM strategy Many people mistake implementing CRM to simply mean installing/using software. In fact CRM strategy is more about identifying critical relationships between the business goals and CRM implementation strategy: business processes, people and IT tools. It is about using appropriate methods and business processes to help improve your business relationships with your customers. First, measure key metrics in your company; make comparisons with previous metrics and with competitors if possible. Set some high-level customer relationship goals in key metrics areas such as: lowering lead to sales time, increasing numbers of customer referrals, increasing repeat business, reducing issue resolution time thus improving your small business customer service, increasing sales closure rate, and so on. 2 / 6

3 Identify and document the measurable benefits you want to achieve, identify your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Expect increases in business and decreases in costs. If you don't see this within a relatively short period of time then change your implementation strategy. Define your CRM objectives and prioritize CRM requirements Every department within any organization has its own needs and sense of priority within the organisation. For example, Sales Managers may want to get better pipeline and forecasting capabilities, while Customer Support may want to implement a self-service knowledgebase for customers to reduce the number of support calls. Combine this with regular business problems and you can quickly lose focus of the main objective if you do not prioritise your CRM requirements. You should prioritise those areas which are key process areas or which are causing the most friction, cost and missed opportunity for the business. Also, as CRM is based around people, you should consider social and organizational factors such as company structure, roles / hierarchy and authority, cultural differences within your organisation, politics and resistance to change. Understanding all of these more subtle points will also play a part in successful CRM implementation. Start in areas which will be easiest and which will result in the highest reward for your business and highest level of buy-in from your users. Other factors to consider are weaknesses compared with competitors; complexity of each area; and if other systems require integration. Don't expect your CRM project to have an end date either. Fact: it will never be complete because as your business grows the CRM will adapt and grow with it, perpetuating the improvement cycle. You will constantly think of new ideas to improve processes and the beauty of a CRM system is that your CRM Administrator can adapt the software to match your ideas. Develop a CRM roadmap Once you have the high-level vision and after you have identified and prioritized the areas which you feel will bring you the highest benefits, develop a roadmap, a master plan, consisting of several mini projects and subtasks that will move you toward achieving the corporate CRM goals. It is useful to identify people responsible and to identify key metrics and timelines, beginning with low risk/high reward areas, which help build momentum and buy-in from users. 3 / 6

4 Remember to keep your expectations of CRM realistic and reasonable. No system is perfect. CRM relies as much on a good CRM Project Manager/consultant being able to effectively analyse your business processes than it does about choosing the correct software for your needs. An ideal solution is one which is flexible but which can be implemented in phases to give small wins to the most critical pain points. That way you will pay for what you actually need now, yet know that you can add on functionality and users as your utilisation of CRM increases throughout the company. Integrate your current systems Look at the big picture ; determine how, where and when implementing CRM tools will integrate/replace other tools/applications/processes. A CRM Consultant will be able to assist in analysing your business processes and making recommendations on where the CRM can integrate or even replace your current systems. A CRM will eliminate the need for traditional means of reporting Sales status and activities with Word/Excel,for example, and you will likely want to integrate/consolidate your calendaring/contacts system (e.g. Outlook), or maybe e-commerce storefronts or ERP system. Research CRM vendors and create a short list Check out prospective CRM vendors from their websites, financials, customer references and publications. Many CRM vendors offer 30-day free trials or limited function/limited user licenses for free. Software as a Service or on-demand CRM is increasingly popular as it gives a short time to value and is less expensive to set up. You simply pay a monthly fee and start using it, customizing it as you go to suit your business. Get an independent perspective from an independent CRM Consultant, they have the experience of implementing CRMs across multiple businesses and will know the sorts of problems you will face and how to overcome them. With a road map in place and your needs defined, you will be more able to decide upon worthy CRM software. Don't be bullied by CRM software suppliers into buying everything now. Go shopping for all the 4 / 6

5 functionality you need or seek the advice of a CRM consultant who can advise you on all of the above and suggest the best functionality for your needs. or get a CRM Consultant to do this for you and give a presentation of the most suitable vendors for your needs. Check out our Choosing a CRM page here: Address your needs CRM software is complex. It needs to be, but don't get sidetracked by the mind boggling number of features in CRM software. After determining your main business needs and priorities, use that list and determine which vendor can best meet those needs. A CRM Consultant can also assist in this area as they will be able to advise you which software on the market matches your business needs. For example, some CRMs are excellent on automated workflow (good for automating your business processes and reducing sales ramp time), others have strong functionality relating to quotations and invoicing. Make sure everyone is informed Once CRM implementation begins communicate plans and developments to your people. If you use a CRM Consultant, get him/her to create regular newsletters or chair weekly/monthly status meetings depending on the scale of your implementation. Invite key people to keep them all involved they are, after all, the users of the software and the ones who will benefit. Provide flexible training programs to accommodate different schedules, IT skills and learning preferences. This will also speed adoption and produce benefits more quickly. Learn, be flexible and evolve your business Use the CRM to log tasks, feature requests and issues and report on the status on a regular basis. Analyse usage, get feedback and implement solutions to make sure the CRM evolves with your business and customer needs. A CRM Consultant can help you by overseeing feedback, customisation requests and ongoing training, making appropriate recommendations 5 / 6

6 to make sure changing needs are addressed over time. The biggest returns are gained from aligning your business, CRM and IT strategies across all departments and not just assigning the CRM Project to one group, for example IT, who may not have a deep knowledge of the business / human processes involved in each of the key business areas. In fact, it s best for the business departments who actually use the CRM software to play the major roles in the various elements of the project, with IT or the CTO playing an important advisory role. The well-known big CRM names may be the top of many wish-lists, but when it comes down to the hard facts of affordability, rapid return on investment, and fast implementation, the surprising answer in the majority of cases will be to opt for lower-cost mid-market solutions and CRM Asia Solutions would be happy to assist you in choosing the right CRM for your business and your budget. In summary, affordable and efficient CRM is easy and fun to implement. So get involved, get a CRM consultant to advise, take it seriously, imagine and target for the benefits of CRM, and then work hard to make it transform your business so you can reap the rewards. For more details and advice on how best to implement a CRM in your business, complete the following form for FREE CRM assessment. Or contact CRM Asia Solutions at 6 / 6

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