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4 Questions to Answer Before Implementing CRM

Category: B2B News

Customer relationship management software is everywhere.

According to research, more than 91 percent of companies with over 11 employees use some sort of CRM. And the global CRM market has surpassed $25 billion. It’s not hard to understand why: Nucleus Research estimates that organizations see a return of $.8.71 for every dollar they spend on CRM.

But getting that kind of ROI takes work. Not only do you have to use software directories to locate the right CRM tool for your team, but you also have to invest the time in a comprehensive implementation and roll-out process. We’ll focus on the latter.

If you don’t take the time to understand what you’re trying to get out CRM, you’ll never find success or get the ROI you need. Here are four questions you should answer before rolling out the software.

1. What does a successful CRM implementation look like for you?

Before implementation, clearly define what your goal is for rolling out CRM. What will it mean to have your team fully embrace the platform?

Start by asking yourself what you’re hoping to get out of a CRM implementation. Many sales leaders need more reporting analytics. Others simply want more insight into their pipeline. And some leaders are looking for CRM to create the data they need to start tracking sales activities in a sales scorecard.

Develop a hypothesis for what you think a successful CRM implementation looks like, then share it with reps and managers for feedback. It’s ultimately your decision (since you’re buying the software), but creating a forum for feedback lets people participate in the process and creates team buy-in.

2. What does your sales process look like? And how will that look in your CRM?

Your CRM should enhance your sales process, not create it. Map out the fundamental stages of your sales process. Every organization’s process will be unique, but the format might be similar to this:

  1. Lead generated
  2. Meeting scheduled
  3. Demo presented
  4. Contract sent
  5. Deal closed

Again, you can source ideas and feedback from the rest of your team. Frontline reps and managers, especially, will understand how it works because they’re enacting it every day.

Once you’ve determined what stages make up your sales process, come up with a clear definition of what each one means and what it takes to get there. Share those definitions with your team. Everyone must understand how the opportunity stages in your CRM will work to properly utilize them.

3. What are the core metrics you want to track in CRM?

Now consider the activities that move opportunities from one stage of the sales process to another? Of course, the activity will be different for each step. Focus on the behaviors you want to track and improve in your team.

For our example above, the key selling activities might look like this:

  1. Generate lead
  2. Schedule meeting
  3. Give demo
  4. Send contract
  5. Close deal

These activities will become leading indicators in your CRM, so make them as specific to your sales team as possible. A field sales team might consider face-to-face meetings, creating opportunities, having VP-level conversations and sending proposals as their key selling activities. But a sales development team would probably track calls, conversations, meetings scheduled and opportunities generated.

A best practice is to choose three leading indicators and one lagging indicator. Then you can figure out how to track them in your CRM during implementation.

4. How will you develop your CRM instance around your specific sales needs?

After taking a deep dive into understanding how your sales process works, start to think about how you’ll design your CRM platform in a way that creates alignment. Meet with the teams who will be using CRM and find out what they want to get out of it and any ideas they have to optimize it.

Work with a customer success rep or support person from the organization you purchased the software. They are the experts with that specific piece of software, so they’ll be able to help with your team’s specific needs. Many sales leaders see a lot of value from working with a CRM consulting firm for implementation and rollout.

Before you begin any type of CRM implementation process, be sure that you can answer all four of these questions. Understanding what you want and need from CRM ahead of time with lead to much greater ROI from the system.

Want to learn more about getting the most from CRM? Click here for the replay of our recent webinar about the top CRM reports for sales managers. (Note that the webinar refers to Salesforce reports in particular, but most CRMs should be able to reproduce the reports because of how broadly they are discussed.)

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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