Ready, Set, CRM! Top Pre-Launch Tips for CRM Success

Posted by Cathy Boudreau on Sep 19, 2013 12:18:00 PM

Ready, Set, CRM!It’s quite striking how so many companies still view CRM solely as a technology rather than as a tool for the overall business strategy. So, we’re here to help change those perceptions. If you want to cultivate better relationships with your customers, and if you’re thinking about launching a CRM system to do so, consider these 5 critical pre-launch pieces to ensure your investment doesn’t go to waste.

1. Define your CRM strategy. There is no universal strategy that works for all businesses. Considering the fact that each business interacts uniquely with their customer base, then each CRM strategy needs to address these differences in order to achieve the organization’s goals.

Unfortunately, the strategy tends to be the most overlooked phase when developing a CRM system, and quite frankly, it’s by far the most important. More so, if your CRM strategy starts with a phrase like “the CRM system’s goal is to increase revenue,” read our CRM Strategy blog, first. Don’t implement a CRM system that’s doomed to fail. Build a strategy around putting your customers first and let the other pieces (including technology/software) naturally work in your favor.

2. Define the CRM outcomes. Another hurdle for most businesses is defining how the end result of the CRM will look. Some businesses will define their goals as: “increased market share,” “better relationships with clients,” or “better inter-department communications.” While these are legitimate reasons, they are too broad or immeasurable.

More importantly, defining outcomes from the beginning allows your business to benchmark and measure how the CRM strategy is performing and if your investment is worth the squeeze. For example, executives and upper management can assess performance based on desired outcomes and quickly determine if the CRM system is producing better leads, reducing sales cycles, increasing conversions, leading to cross sales, and/or offering better service to customers.

Of all reasons to define your desired CRM outcomes while in the planning phase, being able to justify your long-term financial CRM investment is by far the most critical. No business should jump into a CRM system opportunity without a profitable long-term vision in mind. Establish your expectations and measure the performance to ensure you are getting what you want from your CRM system.

3. Define the process. Each business has a different way of managing both internal and external relationships. Defining the CRM process early on eliminates confusion, wasted time and financial loss.

Speaking internally first, if a marketer unveils a potential lead and documents the conversation, the sales team should be immediately notified to follow up with said lead. During that transition, the CRM process should define which qualifying details marketing needs to document for the sales rep to accurately approach the lead. Yes, this is a simple example, but it’s critical to define the internal communication process to ensure the information about external relationships is consistent and accurate at all moments. In addition, a well-defined CRM process tends to translate typical and rather mundane tasks into a more refined, automated workflow. Your CRM system can increase the productivity (and positive attitude) of your sales reps, if for example, the CRM replicates their normal daily workflow or sales process within the system to decrease otherwise tedious efforts. As a result, by removing wasted energy on routine tasks, their time can (and should) be better spent on creating actionable, profit generating results. Everyone wins.

Externally speaking, the process should also define the role of customer service reps, as well as other departments who may interact with your clients or customers. Defining the CRM process is even more important especially if several employees within your organization have multiple conversations with your customers throughout the relationship process. Everyone, when the CRM process is clearly understood, plays by the same rules and your customers benefit from a pleasant experience with your brand. Did we mention that everyone wins?

4. Select the technology. The marketing departments at the big-name CRM vendors do an amazing job marketing their software product. But don't let the pressures of brand popularity trap your business into selecting CRM software based on name recognition. Or, on the other hand, avoid getting caught up in the “bells and whistles” or features of these products. Make sure you put together a CRM Selection committee and determine the exact and unique needs of your business. What does the CRM system need to do for you and how will it help you achieve your business goals? Asking yourself important questions like this will help your business select the appropriate technology. Otherwise, there is little chance that your software investment will be fruitful in the long-run.

Please, we implore you to do your homework before choosing ANY business related software – and perhaps even contact a consultant to help you look into a solution that’s right for you. It’s a point so critical that we practically stress it in every single blog article we publish here at Harvest Solutions. Technology works greatly in your favor when it serves as a reliable solution, but it doesn’t make sense to buy anything you don’t need.

5. Define short term milestones. A great way to monitor and measure the performance of your CRM system is to establish and define short term milestones throughout your long-term program. Not only will milestones allow you to see how the CRM is facilitating your business goals, the short term milestone achievements will allow your business determine which refinements to the CRM strategy need to be made over the course of implementation. Refining your program to make it hum better is like the icing on the cake. Build, bake and then make it look amazing.

The development of your CRM strategy will depend on the size and complexity of your business. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small or an enterprise business either - each organization’s CRM system should be supported with a solid roadmap in place to ensure the long-term sustainability of the business.

Topics: CRM Consulting, CRM Best Practices, CRM Implementation, CRM

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