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The CRM software market is growing exponentially and is crucial for business success. It is expected to reach $49.6 billion by 2025 (Statista).CRM is core to business growth and helps businesses automate their processes. It will help drive personalized strategies and improve customer experiences. One of the companies' biggest struggles with CRM is choosing one that is perfect for them. They need to determine the CRM goals and how they can be used in their business environment. At the same time, businesses need to ensure customizations that suit their requirements. After helping several businesses with CRM selection and implementation, we have curated the top steps you must follow. This guide will take you through all the steps you need to follow to implement your CRM.  

» Top Steps for Successful CRM Implementation

There are things every business owner must plan for before implementing CRM in their organization. Let's look at each step individually and understand its importance. 

1. Business CRM requirements and goals

As Jesper Lowgren rightly said, "An extraordinary business starts with extraordinary people. Extraordinary people start with purpose." A strong and defined purpose can help you choose the appropriate CRM system and help you plan the implementation. You would have set goals for the CRM software, which would help enhance business outcomes. Let's assume you want to increase the number of sales-qualified leads. The CRM will help segment the leads, identify genuine ones, and enhance marketing strategies. Enhancing the marketing and sales team's productivity is another crucial goal that businesses strive to attain. Once the vision, goals, and purpose of the CRM are defined, you have precise requirements. 

2. Research well

The CRM market is flooded with software solutions. Every business is out there striving hard to gain their potential user's attention. As you have established the CRM goals and requirements, you know what to expect from the vendors. But you are not selecting the vendor at this point; you are also working on identifying a solution that fits. 
    • The vendor's experience in CRM software is crucial. It will help to know if they can help you with implementation and after-sales support.
    • They should possess the expertise and in-depth knowledge that can help you align the CRM to your vision.
    • Their strengths should include a capable portfolio and their product. 
You will find the ideal product for your business when you research and read through the different vendor reviews

3. Choose CRM Type

The CRM type is an important part of your research. You cannot choose a CRM without knowing what type will fit your needs. The operational CRM will help different teams align their requirements with the business goals. There are operational CRMs for marketing, sales, and service teams. The collaborative CRM is designed to help your business function as a team instead of silos. Lastly, you have the analytical CRM that improves organizational decision-making. You might want to consider which departments are likely to use the CRM. This will give you a clearer map for the CRM type. Once you have shortlisted the CRM, connect with the sales representative. They will take you through a demo of the product. It will give you a clearer idea of what to expect. 

4. Determine the Functionality

Purchasing a CRM for your business is an important decision. You need to ensure it assists your teams in their work. For this, you need features that act as solutions for your marketing, sales, and other teams. Integrations can help your teams stay in the app while accessing others' solutions. Similarly, assigning chats and conversations can help ensure proper workflow and customer satisfactionAfter you have chosen the CRM, look for a plan that best fits your business. Look at the pricing plus feature to ensure the best purchase.

5. Decide the Implementation Team

The CRM implementation team is important in determining the roadmap and maintaining timelines. An ideal implementation team will comprise:
    • Project manager: Responsible for coordinating and overlooking the project
    • Analyst: Preparing, adding, and managing the data
    • Sales Rep: Will be responsible for sales-related inputs
    • Marketing Rep: Responsible for ensuring marketing-related inputs
    • Service Rep: Responsible for ensuring service-related functions
    • Developer: Handles the customizations for the product
    • QA Rep: Will assess the quality and test the customizations
You will need a team of representatives for each department. The specialist would be involved in the strategic planning. However, the other members will closely work with the developers to ensure all their points are added to the system. The CRM implementation team is responsible for a smooth workflow and timely completion. 

6. Determine the Change Management Plan

This is a big move for a company that hasn't had a CRM or any other system handling their acquisitions and conversions. It is a huge change. You might notice some level of resistance within and outside the team. People love keeping things the way they are. It is important to break this implementation down into smaller phases. Look at how best you can introduce the change with minimal resistance. Training is a good idea, as it will help the end users learn about the simplicity of the product. You can offer hands-on experience, which will drive more users. Communication is the key to ensuring a smooth transition. When planning, tell your stakeholders the importance of owning a CRM. Tell them how you plan to implement it. Talk to them about the phases and milestones. A prepared team is less likely to resist your choice of CRM.  

7. Migrate Existing Data

You will notice that your data is all over the place. You need to get all the data necessary for the CRM implementation in a single place. Check your lead management software, excel sheets, previous CRM, and other places.The analyst will be responsible for cleaning the data. They should prepare the data for the new CRM. The developer will be responsible for ensuring a smooth migration plan and process for the data. They will ensure that the data is properly added.The testing team should start once the developer has added the data and prepared the CRM. They should evaluate all aspects of the CRM for usability, accessibility, and movement. 

8. Training 

Training and getting people onboard is an important part of CRM implementation. You need to ensure the team knows how to use the particular software. They should be able to leverage the potential of this system.The business owners need to determine the best way to introduce the system. Would releasing the entire CRM in a single rollout be a good idea? Do you want to go with a phase-wise rollout?Should particular team members use it first before handing it over to others? These questions will help you prepare the training document. 

9. Go-Live

Preparing the system for going live and the after-support are equally crucial. Data migration, training, and testing are part of your go-live plan. Once you are live, you will need to evaluate the system constantly. This will help you optimize the processes, enhance the functions and ensure efficient CRM systems.Even if you have rolled it out for a single department, make sure you have an evaluation and feedback process. Determine the key metrics that can help check on the CRM performance and keep improving it. If you notice attrition or adoption issues, you can tackle them from the start. While these steps are essential, there are best practices that would ensure a smooth implementation. It would take care of the risks that come with implementing the CRM.

» 6 Best Practices for CRM Implementation

We have identified the best CRM implementation practices. We have curated an undeniably important list after connecting with experts in this segment. 

1. Clarity of Problems

Choosing a CRM and implementing the right one is crucial. However, if you choose a CRM without knowing why you need one, you may choose the wrong one. Complete clarity of all the issues your organization is facing without CRM is an important document. You should list all the challenges your team is facing without automation. Identify the things your current CRM or data handling method cannot provide. It would give you a clear understanding of what to expect from the CRM system.

2. Know the End Users

What are the potential issues the end users are likely to face during adoption? Why would they challenge a CRM implementation?Similarly, what kind of systems are they familiar with? What kind of solutions will make them less wary of technology? Knowing your users will help you thoroughly understand the type of CRM your business needs. It will give you a complete idea of the features, functionality, and customizations you must introduce. You are more likely to get a CRM system that your users will embrace. 

3. Vendor Vetting

A thorough vetting of all the possible CRM vendors is an important step. Knowing the type of CRM solution you want is not enough. You need a vendor to handle your queries and support you through the sale. They should also extend after-sales support.Evaluate the product offered by the CRM vendor. Check out everything you need to know about the product. Look for reviews about the vendor. This will help you know if they care about after-sales impressions. Connect with people using the product to see the issues they face. Look for loopholes in the product or vendor story. If everything checks out, you can go ahead with the choice.

4. Phase-wise Roll Outs

It is not wise to roll out the entire CRM system in a single go. You should consider launching different phases. This phase-wise rollout will allow your stakeholders to use the CRM. It will also give developers enough understanding of teams' issues and correct them during the next launch.The phase-wise launch will remove the confusion and chaos that comes with complete CRM implementation. This is an ideal practice for implementing new software. Make sure each phase is smaller and easier to assess/test.

5. Invest in Training

Using a new software solution is not easy. Your employees may not embrace it wholeheartedly. It is important to invest in training. Know what types of users will be using the system. Prepare a training session personalized to the learner type.Acknowledge their issues, solve them, and take them through each unit individually. Give them some hands-on experience for a bit before you launch the system. A well-trained employee is more likely to love and use the system.

6. Include Automation

Add automation and customizations to the CRM during implementation. Make sure to find out how you can streamline processes. Determining the workflows, identifying the automation, and preparing your system for the same are important for immediate acceptance. Make sure to incorporate automation that is easy to learn. You can enhance the team's efficiency with automation. 

Conclusion

 CRM implementation is a huge step toward productivity. With the right CRM solution, you can improve the processes, enhance collaboration and efficiently use the data. CRM can help your teams in several ways, from increasing conversions to reducing attritions.However, following the right steps toward implementing the CRM guarantees minimal risk and lowers the chances of failure. Each step holds importance in successful implementation. At the same time, you should include the best practices that will ensure zero risks. Choosing a good vendor is an important part. They will help with implementation and support training and after-sales requirements.

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