What to do to implement a CRM?

A key factor in any CRM or sales force automation project is to ensure that the project is planned well in advance.  We share a TechTarget article, which provides an explanation of the requirements, timelines and costs required for the successful execution of a CRM project.

A highly effective Salesforce CRM system can dramatically improve your company’s results-in terms of customer satisfaction, executive decision making, improved partner and channel interaction, and of course your sales.  The benefits of increased visibility, streamlined operations, and faster cash-to-cash cycles are, however, anything but automatic.

Another important key to the success of any CRM or sales force automation project is strong management sponsorship that drives the implementation team and end users.  Peter Drucker wrote that the most important part of solving a business problem is asking the right question.  The same applies here: the best way to achieve results quickly is to clearly define and prioritize your goals.

Read the map, before starting the journey

Salesforce provides a wide range of maps, white papers, guidelines, and tips for implementation projects.  Alternatively, you can check out Salesforce’s blog, its Successforce page, or even the “Secrets to Success” book.

Develop a model of your customer relationship

CRM is designed to improve the speed with which new customers are acquired and to obtain the highest figure for account profitability – thereby increasing the value of the customer’s lifetime.  Before you begin detailed planning for your CRM project, you should develop a model that shows how your organization works – showing basic organizational ownership at each stage of the customer cycle (how your company converts a marketing and sales investment into a billed purchase order).  In developing your company’s customer cycle, you will need to identify the groups responsible for each of these stages; make sure the core groups agree on who does what work, to confirm your model.

The right hand in the customer cycle is the sales cycle, during which revenue is generated through marketing and sales activities.  Because the sales cycle is the main domain of a CRM system, your company will need a detailed model of the stages of the sales cycle in your company-who is responsible for each task, how long it takes to execute it, and what the projected conversion rates are for each stage.

Your sales cycle can be seen as a “waterfall” that shows the conversion steps for each step of the cycle.  Create a diagram that shows these responsibilities and timelines and make sure your marketing and sales teams agree on the data and relationships in your diagram.  Identify which steps represent the biggest problems and where management thinks a CRM system can best help.

Set business goals

Before I go into detail, it is important to define a set of business goals that transcend individual requirements.  These goals are best expressed as numerical performance objectives that are not currently being achieved but can be easily communicated to management.  Some examples:

  • Increase daily visits to clients to 55
  • Shorten the sales cycle by two weeks
  • Increase the conversion or closing rate of sales by 20%
  • Reduce customer acquisition cost by 15%
  • Increase average order size by $1,000
  • Increase profits by 20%
  • Increase gross profitability by 10%.
  • Improve customer retention by 80%.
  • Increase customer lifetime value by 10%
  • Reduce customer service claims by 30%.
  • Reduce incorrectly shipped orders by 1%

Of course you can’t achieve everything, so keep your list of goals as short as politically possible.  Regardless of the number of metrics, senior management must prioritize them.  These merit figures will be the benchmark for prioritizing the process changes that will be made during the CRM implementation.

Establish requirements: who, where, what and how?

To make the business case for a CRM project, you will need to identify and prioritize requirements at the general level.  Although the details of many individual requirements may not be known until weeks or months after the project has started, you will require sufficient information to make the scope of costs and benefits.  It is not possible to sell the project to management without identifying specific highlights and potential benefits.

The first step in establishing requirements is to identify who and how (and who does not) need to use a CRM system.  It’s easy to say “everyone,” but that decision can involve costly implementation, training and maintenance.  But still, this may want to show a desire to keep everyone happy, even if that universe is not composed only of critical users.  In many companies, only a few departments contact customers directly, so many others do not require direct access to a CRM.  It is advisable to create a short list of users, at least initially.

Create a spreadsheet with the names of the users, including the organization, position, location and contact information of each user and the expected interaction with the CRM.  From this list of users, group the people who are expected to have similar interactions with the CRM.  Each of these user types represents an actor in the system.  For each of these archetypal actors, create a page description that provides general information about them: location, education level, position, professional responsibilities, preferences, habits, languages, etc.  Practically every CRM implementation will involve at least four actors, but this is a number that will multiply rapidly in large companies.  To keep the number at a reasonable level (more than 10 could get out of hand), your organization will probably have to group the actors with similar profiles.  Stakeholder descriptions should cover their general roles and goals for using the CRM; how often (and for how long) they are expected to use the system, the functions they are expected to perform, which parts of the system they will use, which activities they are to avoid, and what is expected in terms of use (e.g., users may need to do their work from a laptop, without being present at the company’s offices).

Do you require external advice?

Your company should consider whether it requires external consulting, from an early stage to help prepare the business case, to prioritize requirements, to understand the implications of the alternatives and to receive guidance.  The right consultant can save your company time and money, avoiding dead ends.

Consider bringing in outside consulting if you are uncomfortable with some of the topics listed in this article, or if you want to implement best practices from day one.  An external consultant can help you address the following points:

  • What are your competitors doing with CRM, what does the customer expect in this area?
  • Which departments should use a CRM and which should not?
  • Which are the critical processes to be debugged and which should not be touched for CRM implementation?
  • Should your company improve its CRM or should it replace it entirely?
  • What are the quantitative advantages that other companies in your industry have received through their CRMs?

Top management must be involved from the beginning of the project to define “how far you want to go”, without defining the detail of each requirement.  Understand how prepared your company is and record which actors are part of particularly advanced or immature departments.

Read the full article, in TechTarget.

If the in-depth development of this topic is of your interest, please contact SQDM.  For more than 10 years SQDM -Software Quality Driven Management- has served a number of companies with professional consulting services on CRM initiatives.  SQDM is an official business partner of leading suppliers in the world market including Salesforce, Oracle and Microsoft.

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