When companies in the small or medium-sized segment (SME) are faced with the decision to introduce a CRM system or to replace an existing system, successful implementation is based on the following important questions and steps:
- Initial situation: Why do we want to introduce a CRM system?
- Requirements: What do we want to achieve with a CRM system?
- Benefits: When is a CRM system successful for us?
- Economic efficiency: What are the costs? What ROI must be achieved?
- Scope: Which functions must and which can be included?
- Processes: Which existing processes need to be implemented with the CRM system? Which processes can be made better and more customer-oriented with a CRM system?
- Timetable: When should the CRM system be operational? Which milestones and deadlines have to be considered until then?
- Stakeholders: Who is involved in the decision?
- Risks: Are there any obstacles that could prevent the successful introduction of the CRM system?
- Employees: What measures are important for high employee acceptance?
There are various situations that make the introduction of a CRM system necessary. This could be, for example, the lack of a way to file (potential) customers or business partners and related information and processes centrally and digitally. Perhaps, there are currently too many different systems that complicate cooperation between employees, teams, departments or divisions. Or does the sales department lack system support for daily tasks in order to have more productive time for customer acquisition and retention? Does the existing solution no longer meet the requirements? Even updates announced by the manufacturer do not promise the desired success?
At the very beginning, it is important to create a list of priorities.
Here, too, time should be taken to gain clarity about the goals. Should there be a stronger focus on customer loyalty? Should business processes be improved in the direct customer context? Is the improvement of customer communication at the points of contact through quick access to information an important factor to increase customer satisfaction? Do we want to win more customers and generate turnover through process optimisation in complete sales transactions? Do we want service issues to be handled in a more customer-oriented and faster way?
First set goals to be achieved in the first year after implementation.
The introduction or replacement of a CRM system also entails investments in software, IT infrastructure and staff training. It must bring greater benefits in the medium and long term than is the case with the existing resources. A benefit can already arise from the fact that all information about a company or a person is available digitally in one place. Thus, every user is able to enter into dialogue with customers quickly and comprehensively informed. Or is it an advantage if analyses of opportunities and sales transactions can be created at the push of a button and the sales employee does not have to keep spreadsheets manually? Are routine tasks from daily business standardised and supported in such a way that several minutes or even hours of time can be saved per user?
List the main benefits that are expected to result from the implementation or that will make the project successful.
The introduction of a CRM system does not only involve buying or renting the software. Even working out the points listed here is time-consuming, but strongly recommended for successful implementation. In addition, profitable implementation depends on factors that take place outside the CRM system. One is the willingness of all those involved in the decision to create the conditions for a successful start. This includes convincing the users of the new business processes and making them fit through training. But the users themselves must also be motivated in their daily business by intuitive operation and be prepared to use the advantages of the system and to help shape the change process. For the cost framework, options should be possible that fit the company's investment philosophy. Should software licences be purchased and a maintenance contract for further developments be concluded? Or is there a user-dependent cloud model, with monthly costs for use and software maintenance? Is leasing or renting possible? Can the CRM system be purchased as a holistic solution including IT infrastructure? If the provider can offer the desired model, ask for a cost overview for the first and subsequent year. Often there are individual implementation and customisation costs that need to be taken into account. The ROI ultimately depends on what goals you have set and what benefits (increase in revenue, cost reductions) you expect in what period of time.
To help you in your decision-making process and to determine the features of the CRM system that are important to you, we are happy to provide you with our specification sheet.
As the CEO of a well-known company once said: "If you digitise a shit process, you have a shit digital process".
A CRM system should help to implement and maximally support your corporate, business and sales processes. But before this is possible, it makes sense to conduct an analysis of the existing core processes. Which of these processes make sense with regard to the defined goals? Which processes have been created by workarounds due to a lack of suitable systems that can be implemented much better with a CRM system? And what possibilities are there with the new CRM system to introduce better customer-oriented processes? Which processes are more likely to hinder success today because they are cumbersome and can only be implemented by employees with a great deal of time and effort? And which processes are already successfully in use today for good customer relationship management, but the digital platform is missing?
Take the time to introduce a new CRM system with fresh, future- and customer-oriented processes and, if necessary, throw processes overboard that have "always been done this way". Get the opinion of responsible employees who deal with prospects and customers on a daily basis. They usually have a very good eye for effective and efficient processes.
Only with good scheduling is the successful introduction of a new CRM system possible, like the implementation of any good project. Therefore, the coordination of a project plan with the provider or partner is necessary, which of course depends on the number of participants, the scope of the solution and also the licences to be used in terms of effort. With 3 - 10 licences in the standard version, the coordination and the time schedule are of course much shorter and can be neglected more easily than with 50 - 100 licences in several departments and necessary customising.
It is important for both the provider and the company to clearly define who is responsible for what on the client side and who makes the final decisions on budget, approvals of important milestones and, in the case of different opinions, technical as well as operational proposals. In the same way, in addition to the provider's project manager, all contact persons and their functions must be communicated.
Avoid misunderstandings right from the start and get all decision-makers and responsible persons on board!
Play with open cards and name possible risks that can both prevent the fundamental decision for one or the other CRM system and put the entire schedule in jeopardy. Only you know the internal structures and can name obstacles in advance. This makes it easier for all parties to prepare for these scenarios.
No matter how good the software, no matter how good the tool, no great CRM system, it will only bring the desired success if it develops a high level of acceptance among employees and users. Therefore, be open and transparent with your employees from the very beginning of the decision-making process. Communicate timetables and important milestones. Together with the team and department heads, let the employees develop requirements and ideas within the framework of their time possibilities in order to find the suitable CRM system. Once the decision has been made, keep the phase alive until the operational introduction and give interested employees the opportunity to try out the system in order to share positive experiences with colleagues. Above all, it is important to convince users that the system is easy and intuitive to use and to allay fears about the additional time required for go-live operation. Plan training sessions for all employees in the schedule and define multipliers who receive more in-depth training and can support their colleagues if necessary.
Turn your employees into motivated ambassadors for the new CRM system.