CRM software isn't a black art. It is a big and complex field though. If you're not sure how big and complex, then try Googling "CRM". You'll find opinions from a huge number of sources from learned academics to large consultancies implementing CRM applications on a global scale.
SalesAgility fall into neither of the above categories. But we have accumulated a lot of experience over the years which we're more than happy to share with you.
So, for our take on CRM, read on ..... 12 Simple Rules that should underpin EVERY CRM implementation
1. Executive sponsorship
It's no accident that this is at the top. If the CEO hasn't bought into it – don't do it. It is critical that everyone in the organisation is aware that commitment to the project comes from the top. The commitment needs to extend down from directors and senior line managers and users need to be aware of that. Implementing CRM is about change as much as anything else and change is hard. Change is very much harder without executive support.
2. External Assistance
Unless you have one of the world's leading CRM experts tucked away in the Accounts Office, don't do it by yourselves. CRM is a big field and its reach is deep into the organisation. Get in people who eat, sleep and breathe CRM.
You need to get your people involved. Designing and implementing this from a top down approach will be seen as simply that .... management foisting another system on us. Find the middle managers and significant influencers, especially in the sales team, and put them on the design and implementation project. Get their buy-in, make them envangelists, give everyone the feeling of ownership.
4. Don't do everything at once
CRM can have a deep reach into an organisation, especially if it involves sales, marketing and service automation. Implement incrementally to avoid confusion and over extensive change resistance. So, do it in stages.
5. Post-implementation Support
You can train people extensively before the system goes live. But when push comes to shove, people will forget what they were taught and start to use the application in the way that they are comfortable with. This is plain wrong. Unless there is a common approach to the data that needs to be recorded and a common approach to how it is recorded, then the main value of the CRM is lost. So, post-implementation support monitors and mentors users after the application goes live. Those first three months are critical.
6. Encourage user feedback and act on it
Communicate with your users and let them know that not only were they involved with the design of the application, they're also involved in the running of it. User buy-in is as critical as executive sponsorship. Don't ignore users just because you've gone live.
7. Don't be rigid
This is a little bit of a cheat as it's really an extension of the point above. But it's important. Even the best implementations will need tweaked in the light of user experience. SugarCRM enables organisations to react to feedback and changing business needs quickly. Take advantage of that. Put lightweight but robust processes in place so that change can happen. Don't put bureaucratic barriers to change in place.
8. Don't set unreasonable expectations
You're not going to be a customer-centric organisation the day after you go live. It takes months for data to be accumulated and adjustments to be made in the light of experience.
9. Training should be extensive
Half an hour per person is not enough. Every user should attend training before they are allowed access to the system. Ideally training should communicate purpose and evangelise as well as educate. Training should be structured, hands-on, contain exercises to consolidate learning and have opportunities for delegates to ask questions.
10. Spend time on Design
Most CRM applications take the kitchen sink approach. They have fields to capture every conceivable fact about customers and the processes that support them. User adoption will plummet if users have to plough through a myriad of redundant fields to get to the ones that they need. It will plummet even further if they can't reflect the needs of their own business because no fields are available to capture the information. Spend time going carefully through the application (see 3 above) taking out that which isn't needed and putting in that which is ..... and be prepared to change this after you go live (see 7 above).
11. Clean your data
It's worth putting in the investment into cleaning the data before it goes into CRM. This means getting rid of data that is old and of no more value. It means having complete records of names, addresses, postcodes, email addresses ... it also means that the data should be well structured, that postcodes are in the postcode field and town in the town field.
12. Know what you want to get out of CRM
At the outset, have a vision and a set of deliverables from the project. Articulate the vision clearly both to the implementation team and to the users. And review three to six months after the project goes live. Otherwise how do you know if the implementation is successful?
13. Enjoy it!!
Yes, we know we said 12 rules, but rule number 13 is important too – A well-implemented CRM application will deliver extensive information benefits to you and to your customers. It will improve information flow, process efficiency, customer retention and customer satisfaction. It will make information much easier to find, build collaborative teamwork and reduce duplication of information and effort.