Implementing a CRM system is one of the biggest changes an organsiation can implement and change is hard and some people will try to avoid it—even if it is for the better. Increasing adoption of CRM – and thus realizing the potential benefits – is often a case of addressing this reluctance.

The key is to align the new technology to the company’s existing unique value proposition and way of doing business. A new CRM solution will contribute to an organisation’s success only in as much as it can help enhance what makes that company unique. To win more sales and increase profitability, a CRM system needs to help scale up that company’s success factors and deliver the same great experience to more customers.

Based on this, there are some simple practical points that can improve the uptake of the new system and accelerate benefits:

1. Create a solid implementation plan. Before a business begins to evaluate CRM systems, it pays to plan how it can roll it out the right way and in the right business areas. The key is to review existing business processes. Do they work? Are people productive and efficient? If yes, don’t change those processes. Above all, a business should not choose a CRM solution that forces it to work differently in order to use the software. However, if the review reveals that the business needs some improvements, now is the time to plan a better way. Organisations should not be afraid to create new workflows if the old ones don’t work well. The goal is efficient, automated workflows in sales, marketing, and customer service.

2. Prioritise flexibility. A CRM solution must have the flexibility to adapt to the way an organisation already does business and how it will do business in the future. Flexibility is vital to ensure the long-term viability of a CRM investment as well as its uptake. What is the philosophy of each CRM vendor? What type of software platform is it built on? Is it designed with open architecture that makes it easy to integrate the CRM system with other business solutions?

3. Choose a CRM system that’s easy to personalize. A CRM system will need to work naturally within existing business processes or it will simply fall at the first hurdle. New systems need to be configured and personalized without having to involve the IT department every time a user wants to make a change so ease of personalization is critical.

4. Embrace email. Employees are most productive using the productivity tools they know and love, such as Microsoft Outlook. Giving sales professionals a CRM solution that incorporates these tools, instead of trying to replace them, helps drive higher CRM adoption rates and helps ensure that an organisation captures the information needed for successful operations. It is worth noting that there is a huge weight of history here : lacking a CRM system, many sales professionals try to manage customer relationships with Outlook. Sales managers can be frustrated to discover that after implementing a new CRM system, important customer information still resides in sales reps’ email streams. Instead of fighting sales people about the way they prefer to work, CRM should harness the power of both systems to help employees move from email to action.

5. But also enable social media. Social media gives sales and marketing professionals the opportunity to understand more about customers than ever before. The Millennial generation researches products and services online and shares opinions about businesses with their social networks so a CRM system needs to have social media capabilities. With the proper CRM, a business can get to know customers on a more personal level and reduce the awkwardness of cold calls by first reviewing social media profiles. A customer’s entire social media stream can be compiled into a single, unified timeline and an organsiation should be able to easily reply to any post from within the CRM.

 

By Duncan Wood, marketing manager, Infor


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