CRM, or customer relationship management, is more than just software. It’s a business strategy, workflow process, and organizational pathway that gives your company all the tools it needs to succeed. CRM is the next wave of successful business management—a paradigm shift that combines what we already know about business with the power of technology, thereby enabling your business to communicate more effectively and develop the market intelligence it needs to not only attract customers, but keep them.
CRM enables all this and more. By reducing critical information shortfalls about the tastes, preferences and buying habits of your clients, your company can avoid the revenue gap facing most companies today. The revenue gap is the difference in revenue your company could make if your sales team had access to optimal information about your customers. The greatest competitive advantage a business can have is knowledge about its customers—their preferences, buying habits and, ultimately, what they expect to get out of their transactions. While most companies understand this, they have not taken the necessary steps to implement a system that can optimize their collection of valuable customer information. Without this vital information, businesses lack the market intelligence necessary to compete in a global economy that is bombarding consumers with more choices than they know what to do with. This is where CRM can truly transform your business.
With a sound CRM system in place, your company can enhance its productivity, efficiency and communications, all while retaining more valuable information about your market. This naturally improves your company’s decision-making process, reduces the sales cycle and, above all, enhances customer satisfaction. Let’s face it: running a successful business is all about the customer. By enhancing the customer experience, whether through faster services or products that better meet their needs, you ensure that your customer keeps coming back.
While all of this may seem like a complex undertaking, all it takes is seven steps. That’s right. Your company is a mere seven steps away from unlocking all of the benefits that CRM has to offer. With this project plan in hand, you can implement a sound CRM strategy that can leapfrog you over your competitors and start filling that revenue gap almost right away.
Once you choose your vendor, whether Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, Netsuite or any other, implementation requires only seven steps. Work with your vendor each step of the way to ensure that the implementation is smooth and successful.
1. Automate your business processes
- We know that manual tasks are time-consuming, cumbersome and are prone to human error. By automating your businesses processes, you’re well on your way to enhancing productivity, improving data quality and reducing costs. There are several examples of automation. Some examples include inputting data from online forms, flagging sales opportunities, call scripting for telemarketing and workflow. The types of processes your business already uses will ultimately be what you decide to automate.
2. Choose a location for your database
- Depending on your vendor, you will likely have one of three locations for storing your data: on-premise, hosted or online.
3. Identify security guidelines
- Who will access the CRM database? Will users be allowed to export data? Are there sensitive data that need to be hidden? Is an authentication code required to access the database? These are some of the questions you will have to answer before implementing your CRM system.
4. Integrate CRM with the rest of your system
- CRM can be optimized only by linking it with other software packages currently in use, including e-mail systems, product databases, Sharepoint, ERP or other data sources.
5. Work with your vendor to ensure that your IT infrastructure can support CRM integration
- Naturally, a business cannot enjoy the benefits of CRM if its underlying IT infrastructure is out of date or cannot support the CRM application. Ensure that the CRM system you choose can be supported internally.
6. Keep it simple
- If you’re reading this, you likely haven’t integrated CRM or perhaps tried to at one point but didn’t succeed. In the beginning, keep the system simple and give access to only a small group of users before expanding use to the rest of the company.
7. Train your staff
- A well trained staff can make all the difference in the world whether your CRM implementation succeeds or not. If you are willing to invest in CRM, you should be willing to go a step further to ensure that staff is capable of using the software optimally.
That’s it—a CRM project implementation plan in seven easy steps. If committed, you will find that the biggest hurdle was making the decision to invest in a software upgrade in the first place. The upside is that CRM is much more than just software. With the right support, staff participation and willingness to consolidate your business processes under one system, you can truly transform your business. Luckily, your vendor will be there every step of the way to ensure smooth transition and tackle any challenges you may encounter.