Many small businesses depend on customer relationship management (CRM) software to stay on top of relationships with customers, prospects, and important vendors. The best CRM software becomes an important hub that drives sales and increases customer satisfaction.
Like all business tools, the value of a CRM system depends on how well it's implemented. Some business owners leave system implementation to front-line team members who don't fully understand its capabilities or fail to fully integrate all the software’s features with their existing processes. When you’re considering how to implement a CRM software package, there are several steps to consider.
Your CRM system will be a big part of your business as you grow, so implementing the system carefully is important. Allowing plenty of time for the process will ensure that you have the right system and that your team knows how to make the most of its ability to automate your sales and customer service functions.
As you explore the wide variety of CRM systems on the market, it’s easy to get excited about all the features and integrations they offer. The only features that matter, however, are the ones that are a good fit for your objectives. Before you start exploring the market, it’s a good idea to review your goals.
Think about how a CRM can help your business meet goals and overcome challenges. Why are you considering a new system? Are you hoping to help your sales team nurture leads, enhance the support you offer to customers, or save time on administrative functions?
An ideal CRM system will fit with the current way you do business rather than forcing changes to processes that are running smoothly. You want a tool that enhances the business you’ve built, not one that asks you to rebuild your processes to suit its functions.
Once you know what you hope to achieve, it’s time to research systems on the market. Along with features and pricing, take note of whether the system integrates with other apps you’re currently using or considering.
Some CRMs are custom-tailored to specific industries, like charities or software development. These might offer features that aren’t part of a standard CRM package. Accelo, for instance, offers project-tracking, time billing, and reporting features that are specific to professional service providers.
Many small business management teams have noticed that conversations beginning with the words “we should” tend to be circular rather than leading to action. If you want a job to get done, it needs to be assigned to an individual and given a deadline.
Make sure the person who is tasked with implementing your new system knows what the criteria for success are. Give them specific benchmarks with regard to learning the CRM features, converting your data, and training your team to use the new system. Clear some time in their schedule if necessary, so they can successfully navigate the learning curve.
The more your CRM can coordinate with your existing systems, the easier it will be for everyone. Some problems are almost sure to arise, and it’s better to discover them before your new system is live. If you anticipate these issues and allow enough time for troubleshooting, the process will be much less stressful.
Test your data conversion process as well. Make sure you’ll be able to seamlessly move your records to their new home. Also, don’t hesitate to ask the customer support team from either software company to help you with the debugging process.
Learning a new system is always a challenge, and some team members are more inclined to welcome change than others.
Make sure they’re well-trained before the implementation. Some people learn best in well-directed group settings, while others enjoy individual time to explore and read. Offer a variety of learning experiences for your team, and look for creative ways to make the training fun for them.
Don’t neglect management in this training. They’ll need to be familiar with the new system, too.
It’s tempting to move on to the next big thing after your system is running, but the first few months are crucial to successful implementation. Have your chief implementer schedule meetings with the team to collect their impressions, solve problems that arise, and ensure that key features aren’t being neglected.
Implementing a new CRM is a process that involves a learning curve and a troubleshooting phase. Even with these challenges, in the end you’ll have a new system that saves your team time.
If you’re a service professional who could benefit from CRM software designed to boost your productivity and profitability, take advantage of Accelo’s free trial and see if this is the right system to take your business to the next level.