Not to brag, but here at Salesforce, we wrote the book on CRM implementation. After all, a well used CRM is essential to meeting sales objectives. CSO Insights, conducted a study of top sales organizations found that 85.7 percent of top sales organizations had implemented a core CRM system.
Implementation of CRM generally occurs in four steps. The steps Salesforce recommends are:
First, prepare by building a team, defining your vision, and setting goals. Next, set up by importing data, defining permissions, and adding customizations. The third step is when you engage company-wide through training before going live. As your organization becomes comfortable with the CRM program, you’re ready for the last step, extend. In this last step, you introduce additional functionality.
Unfortunately, you may have read disheartening statistics about how some CRM implementations fail to produce the desired results. In fact, many reports show CRM fail rates as high as 70 percent. While the statistic is certainly shocking, they aren’t accurate. Venture Beat’s Stewart Rogers dispels these reports here. Rogers explains, “Only 77 (3.6 percent) stated that they had received no payback on their technology investment. A lack of payback could be for a variety of reasons. Maybe the technology isn’t working for them. Maybe it isn’t implemented properly. Maybe it was installed recently, and while it will gain a return, it is too soon to tell.”
The data is sound as far as positively correlating ROI with CRM implementation, so venture into your implementation with complete confidence. Realize, however, there is more to a successful CRM implementation than the four simple steps mentioned earlier. Consider three key principles most organizations ignore in order to be successful. The considerations are the behind-the-scenes principles that need to RULE the company’s dialogue about CRM implementation.
Have a Very Specific Vision at First
Approach CRM implementation with specific, measurable goals. These goals should be articulated before shopping for a CRM program even begins. Anyone who has taken a goal-setting seminar (and who hasn’t in sales?) knows about SMART goals, goals that are:
So why should goals for a sales software system be any different? Many companies implementing CRM systems get sidetracked with the myriad of capabilities of the sales software that they overwhelm their IT and sales staff, making the initial results less desireable. A better approach is to start with a specific functionality, say, entering data in order to visualize the sales pipeline. From there, the big picture of the sales pipeline can offer the next step in exploring the CRM program’s functionality.
Chances are, if your salespeople see the beauty of a sales pipeline visualized, they will be less likely to balk at entering data and begin to use the task and projection functionalities of your CRM program.
Get Support from the Bottom
Just about everyone will give you the advice to make sure you have upper management support. A recent Harvard article reports the importance of support from top managers.
However, unless the end users of CRM, the sales people, can see the value and personal return of CRM programs, the additional data entry proves tedious and cumbersome. When the front lines can see the value in CRM, success on a company-wide scale is attainable.
Sean McPheat, MD of MTD Sales Training, believes there is a fundamental discord when salespeople, who love interacting with people, are asked to spend time interacting with CRM programs. To combat this problem, McPheat suggests asking the sales team for their input at the very beginning of the decision process. “The people that are going to use it should be the ones to help shape what it looks like and to have an important say in what it should and could do,” explains McPheat.
Recognize CRM Is Part of the Bigger Picture
CRM adoption is positively correlated with sales success, CSO insists that sales intelligence solutions — such as advanced CRM — must be provided. While sales intelligence software is essential, it is only part of the sales puzzle. CSO notes three other characteristics in addition to advanced CRM that must be in play for a sales organization to be successful:
Part of seeing the bigger picture means discovering advanced functionality of your CRM system. If there ever was a real CRM implementation failure, it would be under-utilization. Many organizations’ processes lag behind the capacity of their technology report Jeanne W. Ross, Cynthia M. Beath, and Anne Quaadgras explain in Harvard Business Review. The researchers assert that many organizations with CRM and ERP systems already had the ability to make data-driven decisions, and explain that ERP and CRM systems are “real-time data warehouses” and “homegrown core information systems.” Utilizing your CRM program to its fullest capacity allows for real time Business Intelligence, which will allow your organization to get smarter and more predictive about each and every customer.
The researchers have found that successful sales organizations follow four practices: “They establish one undisputed source of performance data; they give decision makers at all levels near-real-time feedback; they consciously articulate their business rules and regularly update them in response to facts; and they provide high-quality coaching to employees who make decisions on a regular basis.”
The approach Ross, Beath, and Quaadgras set forth is indicative of a larger picture where sales, CRM, and the overall goals of the company can collide — all in a good way.
By having a very specific vision of what you want CRM to do for your company, you can begin the implementation further down the road than many who implement CRM. And to do this getting support from the bottom down is key. When salespeople are sold on CRM, the entire company can be set to use CRM to its fullest potential. It is part of a larger picture of organizational operations and must be viewed as such. When CRM is viewed as part of a broad landscape of the organization, businesses are poised to make evidence-based decisions to steer the company in the right direction: up.
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