The Safest Way To Implement CRM

Over 70% of all implementations of sales support systems like CRM go right to the trash. How come?

May it depend on the fact you actually can do business just by just shaking hands? Certainly. May it depend on the lack of an established sales process? Sure. May it depend on lack of management support? Of course. May it depend on weak compensation systems? On the spot. May it depend on the lack of comprehensive Sales theory and best practices? Oh, yeah.

The challenge is to master all these risks and several more in one project. And you only get one chance. No option to stumble or slip.

Caution implementing CRM

Over the last fifteen years I’ve been developing a safe way implementing CRM for a lot enterprises in various industries. I’d like to share my method, or what you would like to call it, to you. Here it is:

THE MANAGEMENT’S STATEMENT

The management has to clearly make a statement concerning older system support for the sales organization. This statement have to be in terms of that older system support no longer supports the Customer processes, organization or strategy, neither in the local sub-companies nor the holding company. This is to pronounce a visual “kick-off” to the organization that a change of new support for the sales organization is under way.

ESTABLISH VISION, GOAL AND PURPOSE OF THE NEW SYSTEM

Next step is to tell “why?” you should change or implement the new system. The answer to this question is the most important criteria for a successful implementation, because this answer would be the sword or tool to motivate the rest of the key employees and end-users in the organization why a replacement of old solutions is necessary. It will be needed to put both time and effort to be successful.

To be able to answer the “why?-question”, you have to describe the vision, goal and purpose regarding the sales process and belonging system support. But that may not be the easiest, without performing an analysis of what benefits the organization would get.

Therefore, I suggest a Business Benefits Analysis which is the foundation to state vision, goal and purpose.

BUSINESS BENEFITS ANALYSIS

The business benefits analysis is a sort of prestudy with the goal to describe the business benefits the organization sees with a new system support. These benefits are the “weapons” that makes the end-users to really use the new system and bridges the sales process and the system support.

The method for the analysis is interviews with key managers within the group. A suitable number is about ten, but may be lower or higher dependent on the your organization.
The analysis will deliver a number of described benefits in report form and will be the main key in the next step – the workshop for the management team.

THE WORKSHOP FOR THE MANAGEMENT TEAM

With the business benefits analysis as a start, the workshop’s goal is to prioritize and verify the described benefits so they will be in line with your overall business goals and strategy, but also that they are possible to implement and are reasonable.

The workshop is often led by a Project Manager, but the result is created together in the Management Team.  The delivery is a clear picture and a document describing the business benefits that will be the answer on the “why-question” and will represent the vision, goal and purpose of the implementation of the new system support.

With this clear delivery, the next step is to create an implementation plan.

CREATE AN IMPLEMENTATION PLAN

My experience tell me that to achieve success, the new system support has to be accepted and supported by both the management team and the end-users.
The acceptance from the management team you will get as early as in the earlier mentioned workshop, but the acceptance from the end-users you will get very late – not until the training of the new system. In this phase, most of the financial investment has been done. The risk is too high. Therefore the user acceptance is critical. There are no options to fail.

To secure a successful acceptance and support from the end-users you should use two “weapons”; the first is the answer on the “why-question” (the vision, goal and purpose – which in turn is connected to benefits experienced every day) and, two; the (local/regional) sales managers. Their management support is essential in this, because they will use the new system support on a daily basis to look at opportunities, sales-pipeline reports etc. If they use the system, why shouldn’t the end-users?

By that I mean the sales managers have to go in the front line ”showing the way to go”. They are your “hostage”.

Practically these sales managers don’t have to be experts in the system, they only have to use the system and answer the “why-question” over and over again. Some routines will also be much easier – such as sales pipeline reporting – and would be an excellent sales coaching tool.

The implementation plan will be described in detail – with project plan, consultant effort, software license need, hardware recommendations etc.

GO-DECISION AND SIGN CONTRACT

Next step is to use the business benefit analysis and the implementation plan to sign the contract for the implementation project and the investment of licenses and hardware.

That’s my experience. Good luck!

Stefan