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What You Can’t Overlook in a New CRM Deployment


Deploying a CRM system can be hard. But it doesn’t have to be if you take the right steps and get the right culture in place before you even begin.

For the past 18 years, Paycor, an HR and payroll technology provider, grew revenue every single year. Five years ago we made the strategic decision to really accelerate that growth from single to double digits—20%, 30%, even 40%. This meant making some pretty big changes: nixing the Excel sheets, revamping our marketing, and adopting a robust CRM system that was well-deployed and adopted.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or ditching and replacing a CRM system that just isn’t working for your organization, keep in mind these lessons we learned.

Revamp the relationship with marketing.

Prior to our new revenue goals, marketing was relegated to traditional practices and not focused as much on demand or revenue generation. This became an important part of our strategy going forward – to turn marketing into a more revenue-focused discipline that could drive demand, create leads for sales, and measure the impact on the business. We knew we needed to have a really good CRM system to do that, as well as a strong, complementary marketing automation system. We also gave the marketing team new job titles, challenged team members to think differently, and assigned quantifiable goals.

But all of this could only work if we had powerful sales and marketing alignment from the start. From the beginning, sales and marketing needed to share goals and read off the same page. At Paycor, we actually combined sales and marketing operations into one team so there would be no “us versus them.”

There’s no doubt that marketing and sales alignment can be challenging. You have to be committed to it. That means ensuring strong communication and involving marketing and sales in the same meetings. And your chief sales officer and chief marketing officer have to be best friends. It’s sometimes tough for folks to set the ego aside and focus on the broader goal. But, if you can do that, it’s a lot of fun and you can make a ton of progress.

Encourage adoption.

Since our former CRM system was so bad, our salespeople were already excited to reap the benefits of moving to Salesforce. But we still had to really focus on doing things the right way for adoption. There are a lot of things that we did back then, and we continue to do today, to reinforce adoption.

At the outset, we identified the different user groups, whether these were an inside sales person, a field seller, a manager, and so on. We made sure to sit down and talk, do ride-alongs, and that sort of thing to find out what they need. There’s really no substitute for understanding how they think and how they work.

From these conversations we built up some “peer champions” that ended up being part of a beta program. It was fantastic because they gave us a lot of great feedback about whether we were on track or off track with what we were building. At the same time, we were building up this group of evangelists who were starting to spread the word internally. Ultimately, they became a very valuable group for us as we were rolling out the live training and encouraging adoption.

Another key to adoption is to have executive support and executive alignment. We were fortunate that our chief sales officer was and continues to be one of our biggest evangelists of the technology. It makes things a lot easier when you have someone at the top who is using and adopting the system very strongly.

Make mobile a priority.

For Paycor, our field reps aren’t in front of their laptops or at a desk all day. They are on the go and out in the field selling. It became readily apparent how important it was to provide the mobile capability for the CRM.  We’ve done a lot to configure the mobile app with things like “quick actions” so they can perform the everyday tasks that they need to do while they’re out in the field.

A lot of salespeople get in the habit of entering their activity or updating their opportunities at the end of the day or on the weekends. It’s easy to do on the mobile app when you’re walking back to your car from a meeting. Just taking a few minutes, a few seconds, to update that information means you don’t have to do it later.

Create confidence in the data.

Data is super important. But it was a real problem for us. With our old CRM system, our data was a mess. We had incomplete data, tons of duplicates, and companies that were no longer in business. We spent a lot of time cleaning and scrubbing our data before we imported it into the new CRM because we didn’t want to bring dirty data in. You shouldn’t invest in other sales or marketing enablement technologies unless you have your data house in order.

At the same time, you have to create a new confidence in the data. The CRM system must be the single source of truth. If logging activity is optional, then people won’t have confidence in the activity reports. If you don’t have an airtight process to change the opportunity status to the closed-won and lock things down, you won’t have accurate sales results. We adopted that mantra, “If it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist.” But you have to tell them why.

Help salespeople understand how they can mine their territories for opportunities, look for trends, see their win rate and average deal size, and view what industries they are successful with. Managers can see great data to help zero in on opportunities and train and coach their reps. While we do ask salespeople to enter data into the system, we also try to do a lot to explain why that’s important and how it helps the business, but also how it can help them individually be successful.

Deployment isn’t a “one and done.”

Deployment is one thing — but growing your CRM is what will make the difference. Launching a CRM system at your company is a commitment to evolving it, too. We have enhancements that we’re managing on a regular basis and prioritizing. And every day, every week, every month, we’re doing a lot to make it better and smarter for our business. You shouldn’t be in a position where you’re looking back at something you deployed four years ago and wondering if it’s still working for you. Stay iterative and continue to change and evolve for even greater success, continued adoption, and use of the CRM. That success lies in the revenue numbers that continue to grow.

Launching a CRM system at your company is a commitment to evolving it, too.”

Brian Vass | Vice President of Sales and Marketing Technology, Paycor

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