The global custom CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software market is estimated to grow to 49.6 billion USD by the year 2025. The goal of using a custom built CRM is to improve companies’ relations with the customers, increasing customer retention and driving sales growth.
Implementing a CRM system is a great value-adding process that can bring substantial benefits to any business. It is the process of selecting, installing, and using CRM software to track and manage an organization’s communication with its current and potential customers.
But CRM implementation is a big move. Finding and implementing the right CRM is crucial to providing employees with the information they need at the right time. Also, when a new CRM is planned, it’s prudent to consider the needs of every department so that you don’t miss out on any important feature. If your CRM doesn’t work for everyone, it’s a problem for the whole company.
But don’t sweat it – in this article, we will present a step-by-step process of how to implement a CRM system successfully.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
What are the steps in CRM implementation?
Choosing the right CRM solution is crucial, but key steps are needed to make it work for your business. Whether you’re replacing an old CRM system or are a first-time user, your implementation strategy is critical.
The right CRM strategy will not only streamline your sales process but also improve customer experience and optimize workflow for salespeople and managers alike.
So, here are the steps involved in the CRM implementation process.
Step 1: Define your CRM implementation strategy
Every successful implementation starts with building a solid CRM strategy. It includes the goals and objectives you want to achieve with CRM and how the system is expected to be used.
For instance, if you aim at growing your sales and expanding into new markets, sales force automation features should be your top priority. As a result, you will have a prioritized set of the underlying functionality for your CRM system implementation.
Besides, it’s advisable to assign tangible and measurable targets and objectives to be achieved by the CRM software implementation. Setting goals from the beginning makes it easier to achieve desired results.
Step 2: Build a core team
It’s essential to have a dedicated CRM team to make sure your CRM is used correctly and adopted successfully across the organization. The team will also monitor post-implementation progress and procure feedback to make the CRM software work best for the company.
Below are the key members you need in your CRM team:
- Project manager
- IT manager
- Sales team manager
- QA testers
- Executive sponsor
- Software analyst
- Software test engineer
In case, you don’t have in-house experts who have the technical acumen, you can partner with a trusted enterprise software development company. The professionals will guide you in the CRM implementation process from start to the end.
In addition to having a core CRM team, it’s crucial to gather all identified end-users. Getting feedback from them is essential to determine what features they need the most, how much training they’ll need, and a variety of other data points that help you introduce the new system with ease.
Now that you have a team in place, it will need to carry out its objectives as per the detailed CRM implementation plan.
Step 3: Create a CRM implementation plan
A CRM implementation plan outlines the stages your team and business need to take for the successful adoption of the CRM software. While developing a CRM implementation plan, it’s crucial to stay as concise and organized as possible in order to meet your objectives.
A CRM implementation plan must include the following elements:
The objectives should define how the CRM aligns with your company’s goals and explain how employees will benefit from using it. This will also help your team measure the success of the software post-implementation.
This includes all the key players who will be responsible for the successful implementation of CRM systems. Jot down the team members’ roles, their level of involvement, and core responsibilities.
The budget will majorly include the cost of the CRM platform. Also factor in other possible expenses related to feature upgrades, outside hires or consultants, and advanced configurations related to customization or data migration.
Plan a timeline for setting up the CRM software, training employees on how to use it, and monitoring progress post-launch.
The time taken to implement a CRM depends on the size of your company, the volume of data that needs to be migrated, and the complexity of the software. You can build in extra time for potential setbacks related to technical difficulties and debugging.
Step 4: Customize CRM settings
The next important step is to customize CRM settings based on the objectives outlined in your CRM implementation plan. Nearly every software allows users to customize the following elements:
- Company profile and settings
- Custom fields
- App integrations
- Admin settings
Prior to launch, your team must ensure that all requested customizations are in place.
Step 5: Determine what data needs to be migrated
Data migration is the process of moving data from one software to another. You’ll either be transferring data from spreadsheets or your previous CRM. While it may seem like an easy process, data transfer must be done with caution to ensure all information is properly migrated to the new CRM software.
You can transfer the data in the following three ways:
- Data migration tool: A data migration tool helps transfer data from your legacy system to the new system. Make sure to select the tool that is compatible with your CRM software.
- Native CRM integration: Using this method, you save your data as a CSV file and upload it directly to the new CRM. This is usually a time-consuming process.
- Custom data migration: This method transfers a large volume of data or files with a significant activity history (like call records and emails).
You are not required to migrate all data from your existing systems. You can choose to leave some behind especially if they will not serve a purpose in your CRM. It can include outdated sales reports and customer details and poorly formatted spreadsheets.
Step 6: Integrate third-party apps and tools
Integrating your CRM software with third-party tools and apps like Slack and Facebook maximizes your organization’s overall efficiency. This allows your team to collect important customer data without leaving the CRM platform.
CRMs usually offer hundreds of third-party integrations, so prioritize them according to what is more important to your team.
Some of the popular integrations include:
- Lead generation tools
- Social media apps
- Email apps
- Project management tools
- Live chat programs
- Marketing and email automation programs
- Help desk apps
- Analytics tools
Step 7: Test the CRM for performance and security
The next essential step is to test the CRM software to verify if it is working properly and according to your requirements. It’s only through testing that you’ll learn how individual components work together and evaluate customer touchpoints to ensure they work as intended.
Here are the key areas that you need to pay attention to most while testing the CRM:
- Migrated data: Make sure there is no duplicate information and data is properly mapped and sorted.
- Performance: CRM should be able to handle tasks without any delay and hassle. Performance testing takes into account a CRM software’s response time, peak hours usage, and server usage.
- Integrations: Review all of your company’s integrated tools and apps to ensure they are correctly connected.
- Security: Your CRM software must be able to protect your client’s information through features like encryption.
Once everything has been adequately configured and checked, you can now introduce the CRM to the rest of the company.
Step 8: Train your users
Your new CRM software is now officially ready for use by the staff. Your team needs to undergo CRM training and learn how to use the new system. It’s also important to get feedback from them regularly to minimize roadblocks and issues with using the system.
Step 9: Create internal usage guidelines
Create common guidelines to use CRM and share it with your team members. This will make the entire process much smoother and easier for everyone.
The CRM guidelines need to be updated to reflect changes in the system. Everything should be clearly defined in the guidelines, including how, what, and, when everything needs to be inputted into the system.
Step 10: Monitor post-implementation performance
Right after rolling out the CRM software, it’s important to monitor whether your employees use it effectively or not. Below are a few steps you can take to ensure high adoption rates among intended end-users:
- Offer continuous training: CRM training must be an ongoing process. Offer regular online seminars and in-person classes, especially in light of any changes to the CRM software.
- Encourage feedback: Take constant feedback from employees. If they find the software not robust enough or find it difficult to use, listen to them and take the appropriate steps toward actionable change.
- Ensure direct managers are involved: End users will be more inclined to use the new software if their immediate supervisors promote the benefits of a CRM and also incorporate it into their own workflows.
By evaluating the user engagement and overall implementation process, you can determine whether the new CRM adds value to your company or not.
Now that we have answered the most important question – What are the steps of CRM implementation – let’s discuss a few challenges related to the CRM implementation process.
CRM implementation challenges and risks
The wide implementation of high-end software like CRM is not going to be without challenges. But being aware of these risks and preparing for them in advance can smoothen the entire process. Apart from that, other common challenges of CRM implementation are listed below:
1. Low adoption rate
One of the major challenges in the implementation of CRM systems is the low adoption rate among the target users. If the software is too complex or users don’t understand the reason behind its implementation, there’s a high chance they will not use it. Also, if your new CRM is complex to learn and use, it can lead to lower productivity across the sales team until they learn the new system.
2. Absence of clearly defined goals
More than 45% of the CRM implementations fail due to lack of clearly defined objectives and goals. Before you decide to use a CRM system, create a brief laid out plan on how the company can grow using the software, what changes you need to make and how you can expand your business using CRM. The important factor here is to put the entire organization in sync using these goals.
3. Lack of technology integration
Nearly all processes in the organizations need a software system to work and generate output efficiently. The problem arises when these software systems are not connected to each other which makes the data flow absent in the company. A successful CRM implementation guarantees a consistent data flow among all the departments of the company. This makes data management and analysis super easy and helpful.
4. Regular maintenance
The right CRM will scale as your business grows. But choosing the wrong CRM will stagnate growth with extra costs for the features you need. Additionally, if your new CRM isn’t constantly being improved or upgraded, it will fall behind the times quickly and become a burden for your team.
The CRM software implementation process can be tricky. However, with some careful planning, you can make your implementation process a resounding success! To maximize your investment, make sure the implementation, configuration, and testing have been properly planned and done.
How can Appinventiv help you with custom CRM development and implementation?
At Appinventiv, our experts are not only adept at developing the best CRM software for your business but also trained in integrating, customizing, training, and gathering feedback on your newly integrated CRM system. Our team completely takes the guesswork out of CRM implementation and helps you save time so that you can focus on other crucial business processes.
As a leading enterprise software development company, we have helped several businesses with successful CRM implementation to meet their different business needs.
So, if you are also looking to implement a CRM system in your business, contact our professionals, who will guide you through the entire process and offer you the best-in-class CRM solution.