Setting expectations for CRM implementation

CRM Resources Setting expectations for CRM implementation

A CRM purchase can be a big decision. This tool does more than just hold your contact information. It drives the sales workflow, acts as a repository for sales-related data, and facilitates communication with customers and across internal business departments. For such an important piece of software, you’ll want to come into the buying process with your eyes open.

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These tips are meant to help you set expectations for timelines and implementation approaches.

You’re eating an elephant

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Break your process down into discrete steps (or use our implementation checklist). You can also load these steps into a project management software for your whole team to add input on. You might have several steps that can happen at the same time: data cleansing from the old system and goal setting or requirement collection can all happen at once. Assign these steps to separate individuals or teams to give each task full focus, or don’t overlap.

Getting the implementation wrong is much worse than it taking a long time, so plan each bite. CRM change-overs can be time-consuming and expensive, so you’re not going to want to do this again anytime soon. Make sure you find a solution that works for current needs and is built to scale.

You will need training

New interfaces, no matter how intuitive they seem to those on the research committee, are tough to parse. Couple that with new workflows, understanding the new terminology in the tool, and just learning how everything fits together, and all this confusion can add up to a lot of disengaged users.

Make sure you have a plan in place for training users during the initial implementation and ongoing training. Many CRM systems offer some sort of support out of the box, whether it’s from user guides, on-site training, or consultants. You’ll likely want to train your CRM administrator on the tool, and then have the administrator run training sessions for departments and smaller teams.

Compare TCO vs. ROI

Ask for concrete examples of what you can expect from ROI when you receive your proposals and quotes. Then compare your total cost of ownership (TCO) with your expected ROI.

You will want to calculate your TCO by looking at:

  • Estimated time loss for data cleansing, migration
  • Estimated time loss for training across all departments (take into account the number of hours of training per employee trained)
  • Monthly or annual subscription or license fee per user
  • Monthly or annual subscription fee for databases
  • Additional fees for overages, app add-ons, or other unexpected fees

And remember: the longer you take between negotiation and implementation, the more the CRM will cost you. Be prepared to implement ASAP.

It’ll take longer than you think

You may be the kind of person who jumps on any business decision or change in strategy with enthusiasm and works at the problem non-stop until it’s done. Try to hold onto that enthusiasm throughout the process, because it likely will take longer than you expect. Here are some places in the buying process where you’ll want to watch for lost time, set firm deadlines, or ask for help from key stakeholders for keeping everyone on track:

  • Building a selection and implementation committee (if you go this route)
  • Goal setting and gathering priorities from major stakeholders
  • Gathering feedback on must-have capabilities and major feature needs
  • Training
  • Sunsetting the old system

Because business has to keep running during your buying and implementation process, these points will not be a priority for most of the contributors. Find a balance between demanding progress on the initiative and allowing it to drag on unnecessarily.

Track your progress

Implementing a new CRM can be complicated, so follow up and calculate what your actual lost time was during implementation, your overall ROI for the first year, and document any problems you had during the implementation process. The simple act of documenting your progress can help your team better understand where they went wrong, and hopefully take some of those lessons forward to future software upgrades and implementations.

We can help

You’re not alone when it comes to choosing your next CRM software. Our unbiased Technology Advisors can help you narrow down your choices to the CRMs that best fit your company, shaving precious time off the CRM selection process. Call us now at 877.702.2082 or use our CRM Product Selection Tool to get fast, free access to recommendations that fit your needs.

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CRM Resources Setting expectations for CRM implementation