Getting the most out of a new CRM system

December 8, 2014
December 8, 2014 TM Group

Getting the most out of a new CRM system

CRM implementations can be positive events, as long as all stakeholders involved do their part.

There’s no doubt that a good CRM system will help businesses maintain and improve relationships with customers, streamline operations and increase connections between sales and marketing teams. These aren’t the only benefits of having a modern CRM platform in place, but they’re some of the most significant, along with better organization of and visibility into business data and an easier path to cross-company collaboration.

Businesses have to remember that, just like any other software program, CRM doesn’t automatically make these benefits a reality. It certainly provides the tools and pathways for all of the advantages listed above, but the human element has to play a part as well. Employees who don’t learn how to best use a new system – even though those processes are usually easy to understand and implement – will be a hindrance to a system and potentially create errors. Additionally, a company that doesn’t take full advantage of all of a CRM system’s functionality is missing out on potential benefits and likely lowering the their return on investment.

Is the existing data useful and cleansed?
Marketing advice website Smart Insights spoke with Bill Band, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, who said data quality issues often arise during the course of a new CRM implementation.

“Many have problems because they didn’t pay attention to the customer data management requirements early in the project,” Band said to Smart Insights. “They didn’t really think through what data they would need, how they were going to keep it clean and how they were going to manage it. CRM applications are just databases with some logic on it, so if the data is bad, then everything else will collapse.”

Businesses need to understand the fitness level of their data and realize the potential for outdated information, duplicated entries and other problems to exist in their records. Cleansing and normalizing requires some time and effort, but it will pay off in terms of accuracy going forward.

Are employees being enticed?
A new software platform, implemented by a top-flight CRM partner with input from a business, will make the jobs of many employees easier. Additionally, CRM enables greater collaboration on a variety of levels, which is an advantage that can lead to significant improvement in long-term operational outcomes. Staff members still have to buy in to the concept, however. For sales teams, encouraging adoption for sales teams shouldn’t focus on a directive or order as much as the benefits such a system provides, since they’ll often be the heaviest users of the platform. Salespeople are driven by successful interaction with clients and closing deals, so emphasizing the ability of CRM to aid in these efforts is a good place for business leaders to start. Convincing staff that their jobs will be easier and can increase sales volume is a better approach than simply forcing them to use a new CRM platform.

Is management providing the guidance?
Of course, business leaders have to play a part in terms of implementing a new system and encouraging the new users as well as training them. Employees who are genuinely excited for a new CRM platform and eager to get to work still have to learn the technical aspects of running it. There are issues of planning, time and resource management involved as well. Company leaders have to budget for these needs and understand that some employees won’t be at full capacity for short periods of time as they’re training on and learning how to use a new system. Combining this understanding with a plan for when and how such training will occur will result in much less operational disruption and the potential for better outcomes.

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