The Proven Method for Successfully Implementing a New CRM: Part 1

Part 1: Goals, Vision, and the Implementation Team

Most companies today view a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform as a much needed resource for scaling their business. Without a proper database to manage revenue-producing relationships in 2020, you’ll have trouble attracting, converting, and retaining customers consistently. More importantly, without a CRM, your team will struggle to be productive as they work against the friction and lack of organization within the process of building and managing a pipeline of business.

According to CRM Magazine, 91% of businesses with ten or more employees have a CRM in place. Even more interesting, 3.6% of those companies did not recognize the intended ROI on their implementation. What happened with that 3.6%?! Some possibilities:

  • the CRM was not tailored to the business’s processes
  • users were not properly trained to adopt the tool
  • there were no internal champions for the project
  • there was no dedicated personnel for daily administration of the CRM
  • the company did not have an outsourced technical partner with industry experience to guide them down the right path.

Regardless of the reason, CRM implementations can be complex, expensive and a major detractor in productivity if it is not implemented correctly. Nevertheless, as SoftwareAdvice reports, a great CRM implementation can lead to a 74% improvement in building customer relationships simply by improving access to customer data when it is needed most. The best business decisions are informed by data. Your CRM makes sales data accessible and visible. For companies that take the leap to implement a CRM, they can see an average payback of $8 for every dollar spent on a CRM.

Once you are ready to implement a CRM, here are the initial steps you need to take to ensure its successful:

  • Setting SMART implementation goals
  • Defining your vision for the implementation
  • Identifying your implementation team for a successful project

Start preparing your team for the implementation process by setting goals. Set an ideal state that the platform will help your team achieve. Define how your CRM fits into your business funnel. Identify your implementation team. These three steps will lay the foundation for a solid process.

Setting Goals

It is critical you take the time to align with your team on WHY you’re bringing in a CRM, and how it will fit into your existing tech stack and revenue organization.

Identify which teams will be using the platform; is this being set up for sales, marketing, success, or a combination of the three? Once you have identified what business units will be using the platform, you’ll need to brainstorm some of your use cases. Ask your team for feedback during this portion, since they’ll be the ones using it. Some examples of use cases could be:

  • Standardizing and documenting your customer funnel (sales, marketing, or success) and the associated processes and touchpoints
  • Setting up reporting to track activities, results, and process adoption
  • Implementing and automating marketing campaigns and lead scoring for proper lead attribution
  • Automatically generating support tickets, based on form submissions, chatbots, or emails; and then automating the routing process for those tickets

Defining Your Vision

Once you’ve gotten the WHY & the WHO figured out. The next step is defining how the CRM fits into your business model / funnel. To do this, you will need to fully map out this business funnel from net new lead to retained or upsold client. To help in this process, my team at The Central Metric takes clients through our Buyer Journey & Data Model. (If you want to get a taste of what that looks like, reach out to me via LinkedIn or email and I can share an example and/or take you through a paired down version of this exercise.)

As you move through the stages of your funnel, you’ll be prompted to identify how your prospect and customer data flows through your techstack, what actions your reps take at each stage, and what reports are relevant in tracking the effectiveness of each step. A great modern sales team is a lot like an assembly line. You can improve one part to increase efficiency throughout. The end result of this exercise is the opportunity to identify how your new CRM will process and route incoming and outgoing data.

Some things to keep in mind as you move through the model include:

  • You’ll want to identify any custom fields that will need to be created
  • Use this as an opportunity to also map out the integrations between your new  CRM and the rest of your techstack; do they integrate natively or will you need a third-party app? (Ex: Zapier,, PieSync, etc.)
  • Identify metrics that can be used to build reports and dashboards
  • What actions are you asking from your prospects and customers?
  • What actions are you asking of your internal team?
  • How will the tech augment and support them both?

Mapping out this entire process will take some time, so for a short-term win, try doing a basic walkthrough of your current lead flow and call out any quick changes that can be achieved through short term updates to your techstack and processes. A little introspection on the customer journey goes a long way.

Identifying Your Implementation Team

As you move through your version of the Buyer Journey and Data Model, take the time to identify who on your team will own each stage of the process. At a basic level, we recommend that your implementation team should include:

  1. Executive: Let’s be real. This is who the CRM is really for. The visibility that a CRM offers allows your business leaders to make informed decisions, scale their business, and report everything back to the board. Their input is invaluable even if they won’t necessarily use the system day-to-day.
  2. Project Manager: This person should be the leader of the CRM planning team. They are typically a Head of Operations or Manager of one of your Revenue functions.
  3. Technical Admin: Responsible for data migration and cleansing. Many teams outsource this piece or turn to an internal data scientist.
  4. Application developer: This person could also be in an ops role – they are in charge of the system customization. Some CRMs have dedicated implementation specialists to fill this role.
  5. QA test engineer (Ex: Rep. or Coordinator): Don’t be scared by the title, here. This CRM user will be in charge of testing things out and providing user-level feedback. This could be a senior rep within your sales, marketing, or CS teams.

Take the time to define the roles and responsibilities for each team member, as well as setting action items and deadlines to hold them accountable through each part of the process. Do this BEFORE your CRM purchase, please.

Remember that your reps are the users for the product you are developing. At some point, you will need to include all of these users in the training and testing portion of the implementation. Be prepared to gather feedback and make any updates/changes to your system based on feedback during training and testing.

Look Out for Part 2!

Once you have taken the time to go through these steps and plan out your process, create an action plan with the next steps and deadlines, so that everyone is on the same page.  When this is complete, you’ll be ready for Phase 2: Purchasing and setting up your CRM.