6 Steps to a Successful CRM Implementation

By Chelsea Williams
Senior Copywriter
Mar 12 2023 read

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 to drive sales and increase 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. 

How To Implement a CRM System

Your CRM will be a core resource for your business as it grows, so implementing it carefully is important. Allowing plenty of time for the process will ensure your team makes the most of its ability to automate your sales and customer service functions. 

Step 1: Analyze Goals and Processes

As you explore the wide variety of CRMs 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 what you want from a platform beyond contact management.  

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?
  • Do you want to enhance the support you offer to customers?
  • Will a CRM save time on administrative functions?

An ideal CRM system will achieve all of the above and fit with the current way you do business while improving your processes.

Step 2: Research CRMs

Once you know what you hope to achieve, it’s time to research what's available.

List your essential features and some nice-to-have features. You might need lead management and sales tracking but prefer to also have customer service automation and employee skill tracking.

While features are important, there are several other key factors to consider:

  • Customization: Can the platform be adjusted to your needs with elements like custom fields and filters?
  • Workflows: Will it support a consistent client record across multiple stages of work? Aintegrated CRM is ideal for uniting the client journey. 
  • Pricing: Is the CRM in your budget? Don't forget to consider whether it will replace any unused and underutilized software.
  • Integrations: Does the platform integrate with your other essential tools to help you build seamless, efficient processes?

READ NEXT: How To Build a Business Case for New Software

Step 3: Get Implementation Support

It's probably tempting to try and roll out a CRM with just your internal resources. But as talented as your team is, they shouldn't be burdened by the big job of software implementation. You need them to continue applying their efforts to client work so you don't sacrifice billable time. Despite any hesitation you might have, it's wise to invest in expert help when you're going about a change of this magnitude. 

A great CRM will offer an implementation program that can guide you through migration, setup and training and address your change management concerns. Read how one agency succeeded in implementing Accelo with a partnership approach.

Step 4: Train Your Team

Learning a new system is always a challenge, and some team members are more inclined to welcome change than others. That's why it's important to communicate with your entire organization about the upcoming change and reassure them that you'll be providing the resources they need to incorporate this new technology into their day-to-day. With the help of the platform's implementation team, create a standardized plan that you can adapt for those who might be less tech-savvy. 

If your business is going through any other type of change simultaneously, structured training will be even more important. Giant Creative, a marketing agency in London, Ontario, adopted Accelo while they were acquiring another business. Read about their approach to platform training.

Step 5: Test and Plan for Going Live

Even with guidance, you can run into problems and unanticipated scope creep. It’s better to discover potential issues before your new system is live. You may want to run a beta test with a small group to identify any gaps in migrated data or need for additional training. Don't forget to test third-party CRM integrations to ensure your custom API setup is correct.

Your implementation experts will help you determine a date to go live and plan any necessary calls leading up to this date, but you should build an internal support system in case you encounter any unexpected roadblocks. Having a go-to person on your team in charge of communicating about the implementation process can simplify things.

Step 6: Review and Streamline

It’s tempting to move on to the next item on your to-do list after you're up and running in a new platform, but the first few months are crucial. Schedule team meetings to collect feedback, stay on top of developing problems and ensure key features are fully utilized.

You'll also want to give everyone the access they need to comprehensive platform support. Understand the user support options your CRM offers, read the articles and emails they send out and connect with other users via online communities to troubleshoot more custom challenges. 

Implementing a new CRM isn't just about the technology itself; it's about aligning that technology with your business and continuously refining how you use it. Learn more about the benefits of working with an implementation team to make true digital transformation possible.


About the Author


Chelsea Williams is Senior Copywriter at Accelo, where she shares unique insights with service professionals and tells user stories via blogs, eBooks, industry reports and more. She has over 15 years of B2B and B2C writing experience — primarily in tech, sales, education and healthcare. Chelsea is an AWAI-certified Master Copywriter trained in brand storytelling and microcopy.

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