I chatted with our VP of Sales, Anne Kelly - who led the entire effort - and asked her for 10 tips to share with other companies considering or planning to launch a new CRM system:
10. Begin with the end in mind - understand that this can be a lengthy process and it's important to define early what the end goal is. Once you define the vision, you can plan the intermediate steps (the process) accordingly (adapted from Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).
9. Don't be afraid to make changes - if you're launching a CRM system for the first time or planning to upgrade, now is the time to make the changes you've always wanted - don't waste the opportunity!
8. Include your salespeople - It's a good idea to involve one or two members of your sales team who are comfortable with change. Involve them early in the process (quick brainstorms are good) so you can make sure their needs are met and their perspectives are shared.
7. Involve everyone else, too - a CRM system isn't only for your sales organization though. Management probably wants access to forecasting, finance will need contact information and account notes for billing and marketing will want to utilize the data to help optimize the sales process. Make sure to include people at all levels and departments throughout the planning and implementation so you can make sure the system addresses their needs.6. Define metrics - The beauty of modern CRM systems is the deep data they provide to help every facet of the organization. Make sure to determine which metrics are important to you, and also allow your sales team to create reports that will help them manage their destiny.
5. Migrate your data smartly - Probably the scariest component of moving to a new system is what to do with the old data. First things first: data management will be messy - so you should expect that. To help alleviate issues, it's smart to migrate portions of your data in a test environment (called the 'Sandbox' in Salesforce.com) so you can easily catch issues and fix accordingly. Salesforce.com also has some good data tips on their blog.
4. Run parallel systems during the launch - Plan to keep both your old and new system up and running for a period of time so you can compare reports and validate data. It's key to validate data on an ongoing basis (daily, if you can) because if you don't catch issues quickly, things can spiral out of control.
3. Piecemeal your implementation - If you're concerned over the scope of a full CRM implementation, there is no reason why you can't do it in pieces. With forecasting, lead management and account management being the three main components of a CRM, consider migrating in whatever order makes most sense for your business.
2. Use short training sessions - You'll want to get your team up to speed quickly, but with so much to cover, it helps to have multiple sessions in short bursts over a period of time.
1. Utilize tools at your disposal - This may seem obvious - but use Salesforce.com support (phone and email) as questions and issues arise (they will). Also, don't forget to take advantage of the many tools and add-ons for Salesforce.com which can greatly harness the power of the software.
And, finally - not a tip per se, but a reminder to celebrate success. Implementing a new
CRM system is a challenging undertaking - but the time and investment will pay off. Good luck!
Want to read more? Here are some basic tips directly from Salesforce.com.