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Creating a CRM Implementation Plan

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Using a customer relationship management (CRM) platform can bring your business major value and a wealth of benefits, from streamlining and automating parts of your sales process to helping you craft marketing campaigns tailored to the right audience. But without a clear roadmap for launching your new software, the transition could be a little rocky. 

Creating a CRM implementation plan gives your company the tools it needs to avoid common challenges, save time and money, and prepare for a successful transition to its new platform. 

What is a CRM implementation plan? 

A CRM implementation plan is a strategy for putting your CRM into action. This roadmap helps prepare your team for the platform’s adoption and ensures the best success as your business launches its new CRM. 

Why do you need a CRM implementation plan?

Your business needs a CRM implementation plan because proper preparation makes all the difference between smooth, seamless CRM adoption across your team and haphazard implementation that leaves team members struggling, creates issues later on, and prevents your company from maximizing its software.  

Here are a few of the most important benefits of making a CRM implementation plan:

  • Maximizing your CRM’s ROI: A CRM system is an investment that can bring significant returns. And the best way to maximize your CRM’s ROI is to understand how to use it to squeeze out the most value. A CRM implementation plan ensures that you’re able to do just that.
  • Setting your CRM users up for success: Even the most easy-to-use CRM requires your team members to learn a new platform, and issues can sometimes arise if people aren’t prepared when the software goes live. A CRM implementation plan considers who will be using your platform and prepares them to successfully operate the new system. 
  • Making the best use of your CRM data: When a CRM works as it should, all the customer and lead data your company stores is accurate and accessible, and your team is actively using it to strengthen customer relationships and close more deals. Planning for CRM implementation ensures that your data is in good shape to help your team as it should.
  • Preventing common CRM implementation failures: There are many reasons why CRM implementation fails, including having poorly defined goals, low user adoption, and a lack of good data. A CRM implementation plan prevents many of these issues by setting your company up to make the best decisions regarding its new software.

How to implement a CRM system 

You have a lot to consider when adopting a new CRM. Fortunately, CRM setup and implementation can be simple if you’re adequately prepared. Include these three steps in your CRM implementation plan to ensure successful adoption:

1. Set realistic timelines

The first step in creating a CRM implementation plan is to set realistic timelines for each stage in the software’s adoption. An implementation timeline helps you schedule product demos, user training sessions, software integrations, deployment, and system evaluations. 

It may be tempting to implement your CRM across your business right away, but slowing down has huge benefits. Rolling out your CRM in stages prepares your team for the switch and can make or break your user adoption levels. For example, training upper management before launching the software across your entire team helps you smooth out any issues early on.

A realistic timeline for CRM implementation depends on your company’s goals and the number of people using the system. For most small businesses, CRM implementation could take between two weeks and two months. Larger companies can expect to spend a few months getting everything aligned. 

2. Designate roles and responsibilities 

Designating roles and responsibilities for the CRM adoption process is essential to effectively implement your new software. Depending on the size of your company and the number of CRM users you’ll have, you’ll need multiple people to help implementation go smoothly. And assigning those people different roles in the process ensures that you cover all the bases.

Assigning roles and responsibilities during implementation also helps you engage users. The more people you have across your organization who are invested in a successful implementation, the easier it will be to get other users on board. 

Before you designate roles, identify key team members who need to be included in implementation, like your sales team lead, director of marketing, head of customer service, and IT manager. Also include team members who can serve as representatives of your CRM to other users.

Here are a few critical roles and responsibilities to assign to your team members:

  • User training: It’s vital to effectively train your employees on your CRM so they know how to use its features before getting started. Designate someone on your team to gather and distribute training materials, plan training sessions, and collect feedback from team members on how effective they felt the training sessions were.
  • Installation and deployment: Some CRMs require an IT team for implementation. If you have an IT team on staff, you’ll need a developer to head installation.
  • Data migration: One of the first steps in launching a new CRM is importing customer data. You’ll need someone in charge of cleaning your data, customizing your system’s settings, and migrating data into the platform
  • Testing: Running tests on your CRM setup before you launch the platform across your business prevents fixable issues from escalating. Give someone the responsibility of testing data imports and categorization, report creation, and automation tasks.
  • Performance monitoring: Once you’ve implemented your CRM and begun gathering data, you’ll need to periodically gather that information to determine whether the platform is performing as it should. Place someone in charge of regularly reviewing and optimizing your CRM and ensuring its data quality

3. Estimate costs and budget for your CRM implementation

Finally, gather your implementation team to set a budget before your CRM goes live. Estimating the cost of implementation helps you plan for and reduce any unnecessary expenses. 

If you’ve chosen the right CRM for your business, it will help you increase your sales and work more efficiently, providing immense value over time. But there will probably be an upfront investment to get the platform running. Here are the most common costs you may need to consider when budgeting for CRM implementation: 

  • Employee training: As mentioned above, training your CRM users on the new system is vital for ensuring high user adoption rates and generating the most ROI from your platform. Budget for training sessions and realize they may take time away from other business activities, while productivity could dip as users adjust to the new platform. 
  • Implementation support from the CRM company: As you research CRM providers, consider what kinds of support they offer for new customers. You may have access to helpful resources like support articles that will help you as you adopt the software, but also consider your options for hands-on help. Some CRMs only offer live implementation support for their most expensive plans, while others provide free live support for every customer
  • Upgrades and integrations: If your business needs to suddenly scale to a higher plan or integrate more tools with its CRM, you want your budget to stay safe. Consider how adding a new plan or integrations might affect your overall expense.
  • Unforeseen expenses: It may also be helpful to budget a small buffer in case your implementation runs into any unexpected roadblocks or you need additional technical help.

FAQs about CRM implementation

Looking for more information on implementing a CRM? These frequently asked questions about CRM implementation may provide the answers to your burning questions:

When should you create a CRM implementation plan? 

Creating a CRM implementation plan should always be one of the first steps in adopting a new system. It’s helpful to choose the right CRM first and work with the CRM company’s team to get extra resources before creating your CRM implementation plan. Writing a plan should always come before setting up the system and migrating your customer data. 

What kind of training do CRM users need?

CRM users should be trained to use the software’s features and accomplish the business processes that the CRM empowers. Although many CRMs will provide some initial training and support, be aware that some are more complicated to learn than others. Look for a CRM that’s so easy to use that it doesn’t require training, which helps your team hit the ground running and realize value sooner.

How do you know if CRM implementation was successful? 

CRM implementation is successful if your business is hitting its sales and marketing goals, you have a high user adoption rate, team members are satisfied with your platform, and, best of all, your relationships with customers are improving. 

Choose the right CRM for your business

As you prepare to use a new CRM platform, planning is essential. Set an implementation timeline, create a budget, and designate responsibilities for team members to quickly realize value from your CRM and set your business up for success.

Launching a new CRM platform is much easier if you’ve picked a CRM that makes implementation easy, and Nutshell is the perfect solution. With an intuitive interface, a smooth adoption process, and a top-notch customer service team to help you through it all, Nutshell puts in the work to make implementation simple. Plus, Nutshell’s powerful features drive results across your business to help you close more deals.

Want to see for yourself how Nutshell works? Start your 14-day free trial today!

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