When it comes to choosing the right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system for your business, it’s important to understand all the benefits of a CRM system before beginning your selection process. When you launch a CRM implementation, your choices can impact nearly everyone in your company.

These “Back to Basics” ideas for implementing a CRM program inside a business were collected from executives, managers, employees and consultants who shared their experiences. The goal of this series of articles, appearing over 8 weeks, is to provide you with useful information as you choose a new CRM system.

Now, on to our eighth article and two more ideas:

14. Implementation method is as important as product choice

Just as a chain is only as good as its weakest link, a CRM solution is only as good as its implementation. The best product in the world will not meet expectations unless it is implemented in a way that matches your requirements.

Once you’ve chosen a product, make sure it will work for your environment by creating a blueprint describing your goals and expectations for the implementation before the implementation process begins. Any questions regarding these expectations should be directed to an implementation team member who is designated as the liaison between the vendor and/or the consultant or reseller handling the implementation.

Beyond loading software on to a server and tailoring it to specific needs, a CRM implementation requires the involvement of all employees who will be using the system. Fail to obtain this support and you can safely assume that the system will not be fully utilised. Instead, reassure staff that they will receive all training required and that the system will make them more productive while making their jobs easier. Make the system even more alluring by letting all stakeholders and end users know how the implementation process is progressing. The result: they will become eager for the process to be completed and to get up and running on the new system.

15. Training can’t be “on the job”

Employee buy-in is the key to a successful CRM implementation

Good training, tailored to the different skill levels of employees, is essential. Don’t bore a technically adept sales manager with a beginner’s level dissertation on using a computer-based scheduler. And don’t intimidate a customer service agent with techno-speak about the ins and outs of back-end integration. Just as you tailor the product for your environment, tailor the training to the end-user.

These training programs should begin before rollout to ensure end-users are ready to use the system when it is ready for them. In addition, this early training will add to the enthusiasm for the rollout and lay the groundwork for widespread acceptance.

Read the next in the series