Technologies and customer expectations are changing at breakneck speeds, with many businesses constantly racing against tech advancements to catch up. Thankfully, a well-developed CRM can help position small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) ahead of the pack.

As technology enables consumers to become more connected, it’s important that small and medium businesses (SMBs) do so too. With many businesses still using siloed, spreadsheet-based systems to manage their sales and customer data (and more), some businesses are beginning to see the freedom associated with using CRM.

Here, customer and product information can easily flow between employees, anywhere, any time and on any device, helping SMBs streamline their processes and create personalised and seamless experiences that keep customers coming back.

However, transitioning to a new system can be difficult and it’s often hard to know where to start. Here, we give you the blueprints for successfully implementing your new CRM:

Understanding change management


Change management is the term applied to what an organisation does to plan and execute wide-scale change. People often approach change management from two angles:  

  1. The ‘soft side’, also known as organisational change management (OCM), which refers to how people are affected and supported
  2. The ‘hard side’, which revolves around the processes, systems and technologies being changed

We’ll look at how both sides play a role in this process.


Develop a strategy

Making the leap from spreadsheets to CRM will have a big and lasting impact on people and processes within your organisation. The ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ sides of change management identified above can help you develop a strategy to drive adoption and long-term success of your new CRM.

Here are some best practice steps for building your strategy:     

  • Outline your vision: Whether it's becoming an industry leader or becoming known for your tailored and seamless customer service, outline your vision so you have a set of goals.
  • Understand your business objectives: This is where your vision and strategy are translated into day-to-day work. Take this opportunity to review and optimise your business processes according to your new strategy and capabilities.
  • Get executive sponsorship: Executive sponsorship is vital for your overall vision, CRM strategy, and business objectives for a successful rollout.
  • Define your metrics: Choosing the right metrics will show you where you're successful and where you can improve.

Improve business processes with analysis and automation

Analytics and automation are two powerful elements of any CRM strategy that can dramatically improve your business’ day-to-day operations. Harnessing these features can free your teams from repetitive tasks and offer actionable insights to help them work smarter.  

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your data and automation:

  • Keep it simple: When used correctly, automation can help streamline your team’s day-to-day operations. However, in some cases, it can add a few extra steps and slow things down. One such example is using automation that triggers managerial approvals for an action that would previously have been handled completely without managerial involvement. So, be selective about where and how you implement automation, keeping simplicity and efficiency in mind.

  • Use analytics purposefully: Auto-generated charts are fun to look at, but make sure your team has a use for them and that you have the right metrics before you build them out – information overload wastes time and inhibits understanding of the important measures.

  • Have your analytics evolve with your business: As your business evolves, so does your data. Update your dashboards and reporting tools regularly to ensure they match your business needs.  

Assemble your data

Take stock of your data as you prepare to implement your new CRM with these four steps:

  1. Pull all your data into a master file (if possible).
  2. Clean your data – standardising your data before importing it into your new CRM will help save a lot of time later. Check that all client information is in the correct fields and that email and postal addresses are valid, and remove any duplicates.
  3. Make backups and adopt a data backup strategy.
  4. Import your data and take the time to get accustomed to your new CRM. As with any major change, a new system can be a bit of a learning curve. Make sure that you understand how your new CRM works and that all customer data is showing up in the right place before saying goodbye to your old system.

Prepare for success

Making the leap from spreadsheets to CRM is a game changer for any SMB.

A CRM is designed to adapt to your needs, maximise efficiency, increase productivity and grow alongside your business. Whether your business consists of a team of two or 200, effective change management can help maximise your CRM investment – and pay off in a big way in the long run.

Think it's time to leave your spreadsheets behind? Start your CRM journey today, download our Getting to know Saleaforce Essentials ebook.