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How to ensure success of a CRM project

Today’s business environment is more competitive than at any time in the past. Your customers likely have more choice than they did 5-years ago. And far more choice than they did back in the olden days, before the internet. 

Given this, adding value to existing relationships, making the building of new relationships easy and improving customer service are the most important things for any business. Any business of any type must maximise these relationships. It is simply the most critical aspect for any business. 

A successful CRM implementation has the ability to do all of those things and more. But a CRM implementation that goes wrong can harm all of those key metrics of success. 

Now, take a moment to think about what aspect of a CRM we are talking about here and why? Yes, that’s right, we’re talking about the customer relationship management part of CRM. Not about the technology. Not about other integrations or databases or security protocols. We are talking about the very basics of what a CRM is. It is literally in the name. Customer Relationship Management. That is the most important part of any CRM implementation. Making sure that it improves and maximises your businesses relationship with your customers. 

Your aim with your CRM should be to allow your company to build, maintain and manage relationships with your past, present and future customers. A successful CRM implementation will increase revenue, increase staff retention, and drive more business. 

All companies face issues when implementing CRM systems. Our job as CRM consultants is to shed light on the relationships between processes, people and systems that affect a CRM implementation. And when we do this, we always come back to the single most important part of a CRM implementation. The part that is nearly always overlooked. The part where the new system facilitates better relationships with the customers. 

Any CRM implementation needs to start with the customers of the company. Why? Because good customer relationships increase profits, rescue customer turnover and increase loyalty. 

All CRM implementations start out with the business full of hope. Full of excitement about the transformation to come. But if you scratch below the surface, as we do here at Motii, you’ll find doubt, hostility, resentment, hope, excitement and fear of failure. Doubt and fear of failure are the senior managers, worried about the success, or failure, of the project.  Hostility and resentment are those employees who do not like change. Or who are successful within the current system. Hope and excitement are those employees who embrace change or those who think a new system will lead to a change in fortune. It is natural for all of these people to be involved and have input to an implementation. And all of them are necessary for a successful implementation. So, don’t immediately dismiss those who are worried or stressed about change. Dig deeper and use their fears to build a better system. 

In actuaL fact, those fears are well-founded. Yes, CRM projects have a high probability of failure. They often fail to meet basic goals. And in some cases, they destroy staff morale, damage relationships with customers and cost people their jobs. That’s right, not all CRM implementations are successful. Knowing this should give companies pause before committing to a CRM implementation. Will you be one of those failures? What can you do to prevent this? 

Motii has decades and decades of combined CRM implementation experience. And our team has seen all outcomes. So we got together and put pen to paper to come up with a guide to not ending up as a CRM statistic. 

The one thing you can do to prevent failure

To be honest, you need to do more than this one thing. But without it. Nothing else you do will matter. You MUST take a customer-centric approach when implementing your CRM. Think of your customer. After all, they are the most important part of your business, right? Lack of a customer-focused business strategy when implementing a CRM leads to failure. You end up building a CRM for management or for the accounts department. 

So if your business is not already customer-focused, pause before moving forward with your CRM implementation. You may need to make changes to your business before you can successfully implement a CRM. 

A customer-centric company culture is necessary, but it alone is not enough. You also need the focus and support of senior management and opinion leaders within the organisation. You need to have clear objectives (budget, delivery dates, adoption rates, etc) and provide adequate resources, updates and training. 

Successful CRM implementations are driven by senior management. The culture of the business and the actions of management are key factors in the success, or otherwise, of the success of a project. So what is this culture and what are these actions? The continuous communication of the importance of the project, the difference it will make to the customers and the positive change the CRM will bring all need to be reinforced throughout the project. 

Opinion leaders in the company need to be brought in and included. Their voices are often the loudest. These people do not need to be ‘on’ the project but they should be brought into the fold early and updated regularly. 

The people who the CRM will have the most effect upon is usually the salespeople. Sure, operations and finance and admin and other departments could all make a case that is it then who are impacted the most. But invariably it is salespeople who, at the very least, perceive that they will be impacted the most. And often these perceptions are that they will be negatively impacted. This is where the focus on the customer needs to be placed back at the centre of the project. No one cares more about customers than salespeople and they understand the importance of customers. Salespeople can be brought along for the ride by the very thing that ensures the success of the project. The focus on the customer. 

Other  issues  affecting  CRM implementation  success  include choice  of  technology (i.e. Salesforce or PIpedrive or Dynamics or Hubspot ), degree of legacy systems integration phased or turnkey deployment and project management. 

While it is important during implementation to focus on the technical and implementation issues, it is equally important, if not more so, to ensure that the human factor is considered. Who is going to be using the system and what do they think of the change. And how is it going to affect how they interact with the customers of the business? No matter where you go with the implementation, at every turn you should be asking, “how does this affect our customers, and how does this benefit our customers?”. 

I cannot highlight enough that the successful implementation of a CRM is not just down to the IT department. Sales and marketing need to be more heavily involved. They are the ones with the closest relationship to the customers. And at the end of the day, it is a CRM (customer relationship management) system that we are implementing. It is crucial that sales and marketing work closely with IT if a successful implementation is to be achieved. 

The failure rate of CRM implementation is not insignificant. What CRM implementation issues will arise? And how does a company deal with these issues? What plans do we have in place to mitigate these well known potential problems? 

13 things you must have before implementing a CRM system 

A clear customer strategy

  • Often it helps to hyper-segment your customers as this drives understanding of their different needs
  • Not just salespeople but front-office and back-office and operations and everyone else needs to understand the importance of the customer 
  • Create value through information sharing about the customer. Make information easy to access and available 

An understanding of what your competitive advantage is 

  • A better product? 
  • Better marketing? 
  • A recognisable brand name? 
  • Collecting better customer information?
  • Understanding the customer better than the competition

Demonstrate and communicate senior management commitment and support

  • Senior management need to be enthusiastic about the CRM application and the potential business changes
  • They should be continuously communicating this vision and the positive outcomes 
  • They need to push back hard against those who are negative on the idea and turn opinions around 

A broad-skilled implementation team from different departments 

  • Senior salespeople and sales managers are key
  • IT department staff are required
  • Senior management must drive adoption from the top down 

You must communicate the importance of the project to all staff 

  • A plan to manage employee disruption and discontent 
  • Have a plan to allay concerns over micro-management and monitoring of salespeople 
  • Identify opinion leaders and get them onboard early
  • Keep an eye out for resistance during roll-out 
  • Focus on the importance of change and instil a culture where the business cannot stand still 

Demonstrate how the CRM can add value to individual customers

  • Choose some example customers - both current and future and work with the implementation team to show how we can benefit those customers
  • Data capture, new products launch and better communications are 3 areas

A long-term plan to use the CRM implementation to drive a culture of continuous improvement

  • Better cross-department collaboration e.g. finance and sales 
  • Better HR hiring policies
  • Improve knowledge sharing 

An awareness that you can have too much focus on the technology

  • Implementation must first have a customer focus. Goals should include improving the customer experience
  • Then a sales focus. The CRM must demonstrably make life easier for salespeople  
  • Then a business focus. Implementation must focus on cross-department collaboration and integration. Achieving strategic business goals must rank above achieving technology goals  
  • Then an IT focus. A CRM implementation should never be IT led. The discussions should always focus on achieving business goals, not technology goals 

A plan to take a phased approach 

  • Focus on the functional aspects of the CRM first
  • Unless 100% necessary go live with the core CRM functionality before integrations are added to the tech stack
  • Core CRM functionality is usually sales focused
  • Then operationally focused 
  • Then reporting and analytics comes last 

Use CRM as a tool to enhance relationships and provide better customer service 

  • Between your company and your customer
  • Between your company and their prospects (future customers)
  • Internally between salespeople
  • Internally between departments
  • Internally between staff and management 

A clear idea of what constitutes CRM success

  • Improved customer understanding
  • Improves customer relationships 
  • The project delivered on-time
  • And on budget
  • High adoption rates (measured by number logins, amount of data, update of information) 

A high-level, easy to refer back to, plan to ensure CRM success

  • Clear and realistic business objectives
  • An understanding of the importance of the customer 
  • Senior management buy-in and commitment 
  • Opinion leaders are on board and vocal 
  • Careful planning 
  • Adequate resourcing 
  • Continuous communications 
  • Adequate training 

The existing company culture and customer strategy need to be assessed early in the planning process. Do we have senior managers and opinion leaders on board? Are we considering our customers and how this will help us build a better relationship with them?  Who are the opinion leaders in the company with the most influence?  Then comes a question of resourcing and planning. What is our budget? How many staff hours are we committing to this? At what cost? 

What questions should your team ask about customer expectations? 

  • What should our customers expect from us? What are our minimum service standards? 
  • What areas should they see improvement in? 
  • How can we measure this? 

At a minimum you should see aim that the CRM implementation improves:

  • A better and earlier handling of issues 
  • More frequent and productive communication
  • Our understanding of our customers and their requirements 

The above might sound quite nebulous and not possible to plan for during a CRM implementation. But those outcomes often rest on a small set of easy to implement metrics and measures. Those are:

  • The use of tasks and activities - both reactive and pro-active
  • The hyper-segmentation of prospects and customers 
  • Using that segmentation to drive interaction and communication 

CRMs are not just a sales and marketing tool but they can be a catalyst for positive change. And that the change should be customer-driven.  But how? Well, that is quite easy to answer.  Prospects and customers have different wants and needs depending on their relationship to your organisation. And that relationship is usually driven by the customer or prospects being in different segments of your customer base. For example, it is easy to break your customer base down by industry. But you should go more granular than that. There are more than 20 ways to segment a customer base including, size, industry, region, interaction wants, lead source, and so on.  

By using Pipedrive to break down your customers into smaller, more clearly defined segments, then slice and dice those segments further while broadening the number and types of cohorts, you can begin to micro-target your customers, fine-tuning marketing techniques and incorporating targeted programmes. This works equally well for sales, marketing and operations teams. 

Using your CRM and other software to build trust between yourself and your customers. You will have some customers who want long-term mutually beneficial relationships where they utilise your products and services to build their business. But there will also be some clients who want a smaller relationship. Your CRM should identify and help you nurture those relationships in a targeted manner as well. Clients who want a ‘hands-off’ relationship are inclined to reward those suppliers who identify this and provide exactly that type of interaction. And this measuring and categorising of your customers between the type of relationship they want is just one type this hyper-segmentation. This same rule can be carried across all aspects of your business. 

But no matter what. You need to start your CRM implementation by thinking about your customer. 

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If you are looking to maximise your sales and turn leads into wins, you should speak with Motii. We are Australia and Asia's #1 Pipedrive CRM experts and can help you on the road to Activity based selling and your own Pipedrive superpowers.

To get the full benefit of Pipedrive you need a company like Motii. We are Pipedrive CRM experts with offices in Australia and Asia. 

Our team of developers, business analysts, automation specialists and support technicians help businesses make the most of Pipedrive. Contact us for a free consultation.




Ben Fuller

Co-founder at Motii

Serial successful start-up Founder, and former C-level executive, Ben understands that data and systems are what makes everything tick.

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