Implementing CRM without proper planning is like booking a custom holiday and forgetting to book your flights. It just won't take off (pun intended).
You need to start off on the right track, plan well, implement well and launch well. In order to do that you need to ask yourself what are you actually hoping to get out of this project? You need to set some realistic expectations. Yes, everyone wants an increase in sales, but CRM is not specifically about increasing your sales. It's about improving how you work and improving your relationships with prospects and customers - increased sales will follow.
So what are the areas you need to improve?
- Better customer service?
- Increased and more efficient communication?
- Making more out of social media and incorporating it into your business?
- Making the business more customer oriented?
- Automating processes to increase efficiency and reduce manual errors?
There are plenty of goals, but you need to work out which are the most important to you. Remember that you can always come back to this later, set new goals and start a CRM enhancement project.
Think about timeframes too. Ideally, you won't have any specific deadlines at this point. Try not to take the approach of "I want this done in 3 months", take your time. Sometimes, it is necessary to put specific dates against the project at this early point, but the length of time the project should take can only realistically be determined once the analysis has been done.
Big CRM implementations can take over a year to complete, although CRM never really has an end date - there is always more to do.
Here are examples of the Goals stage with my fictitious companies (you can read more about my companies here).
Zapplex - A Company-Wide Implementation in a Call Centre
Zapplex is a successful company that provide inbound and outbound call centre services to clients. Their sales team is quite self-contained. Their call centre is good at communicating among themselves, but not very efficient in feeding back to customers. IT works well and provides their in-house call centre system, a separate in-house sales system and the company website, as well as reports for customers. None of the systems are integrated or linked together. The Marketing department is small and not very well integrated into the business, which is the same as the HR and Finance departments.
There are two distinct sides to this business. The Call Centre side who do the client's work and the business side (sales, marketing, HR, finance) who bring in the work, with IT as the facilitator. However, while that may be the case, running the business as two separate entities is not the right way forward.
While sales and marketing need to concentrate on pulling in the new business, they need interaction with the call centre to ensure:
- Any business they have pulled in is working well.
- Potential new areas of income are discussed. For example, the call centre teams may have ideas on how the process can be improved.
- They are aware of any big achievements or any big problems.
Armed with this knowledge, they could be more responsive to issues and have more information in which to go to their existing clients and sell more services. Marketing can use that knowledge to promote the business "Just pulled in a £1m lead for a client! Great start to the day! #Success"... or, you know, whatever they want to post.
Likewise, this works the other way around. The call centre feel alienated from the Sales team. Sales are seen to make more money while the call centre are hard at work, dialling and answering phones all day. Increased communication and recognition, especially from marketing messages above, can encourage performance. Also, if the call centre knows what the sales team is aiming for (such as an increase in leads for a particular client), they may be able to tailor their calls accordingly.
So, the main goals for Zapplex are to increase communication within the business and incorporate marketing into their processes. Yes, they could have more goals at this stage, but let's take things one step at a time. Other goals may well be fixed just by improving the communication (which should cover data too).
Inity - A Department-Wide Implementation in an Automotive Company
Inity's Fleet department is responsible for about 50% of the company's sales, but only a very small fraction of the company's marketing. They are often overlooked within the business, as they are just one department in a much bigger picture. They rely on the company marketing and customer service departments, but they already have a good CRM system in place with some very handy customisations. Unfortunately, the system is only really used by Fleet, with one login designated to customer service (the login is rarely used).
Within the department is a sales team, a call centre and a business team, who support the sales staff. There is also a marketing manager, but what little marketing they do is often rushed, expensive and no thought is given as to how the feedback data can be incorporated and used moving forward.
Due to the lack of focus on the department from the company, Inity Fleet are looking to encourage communication with customers and help the customer service team deal with enquiries better. They plan to do this by through better data communication with the customer service team and through a Customer/Prospect portal.
BigTech - A Team-Wide Implementation in an IT Company
BigTech's development team are required to develop new products and features for both the company and its customers. The account managers sell solutions and enhancements to customers and operations make requests for new products or enhancements to existing software. Operations write specifications and pass quotes on to the account managers. The developers give opinions and advice to operations for quotes and will also quote operations for their own development time.
The developers receive specifications for what work needs to be done, but - seeing as they have given a quote for their work - are largely left to their own devices to plan and work out how the solution will be developed.
There is a real mix of communication. Some requests come in by email, some by phone, and some in person. Work is delivered in a similar mixed way - email, memory stick, directly to servers. Documentation is just stored in Word documents within a folder structure.
Problems arise during periods of high workload. Work needs to be prioritised and delivered on time, but this is difficult without a real structure. At the end of the day, the customers need to come first, so customer development is pushed ahead of internal developments, unless otherwise instructed by Operations. However, the mixed way of working and no real planning lead to issues in delivering work accurately and on time, as well as further down the line with troubleshooting problems on older developments.
BigTech developer goals are to improve processes, get a defined way of working and improve documentation and version history of developments.
- Implementing CRM will only work with proper planning.
- Think about what you want from the project.
- Goals shouldn't just be "increase sales" and "increase profit".
- Timeframes shouldn't be too restrictive.
- Be realistic.
- Example goals:
- Increase communication within the business.
- Incorporate marketing into their processes.
- Encourage communication with customers.
- Help the customer service team deal with enquiries better.
- Improve processes.
- Get a defined way of working.
- Improve documentation and version history.