So You Want to Successfully Implement CRM Software

So you want to successfully implement CRM Software?  If you read the trades, you might think it’s next to impossible.  Reports of successful implementations are at a frighteningly low percentage.   Here are five things that could make all the difference:

1.  Start small.  Start really small.

Pick one or two things that you really want to accomplish, that would give you some great payback.  Pick one or two people to use the software for just this purpose.  Go.

Check out the book “Little Bets” by Peter Sims.   His research established that many of the most successful people in the world started with this surprisingly similar approach – methodically taking small, experimental steps.   This qualifies.  If you’re successful with this, in time you can move on to other things and other people.  Forget them for now, though.   Start small.

2.  Pick easy to use software.

Can you learn the key functions in the software within an hour?  Yes, an hour.  Boom!  That means it qualifies as easy to use.  I understand most people might find this to be crazy.  How can you learn software without hours of training?  If the software is truly easy to use, then you certainly can, especially if you’re starting small.  I’m not saying you’ll be able to learn everything you need to know in an hour.  But…can you add a contact?  Can you add an account?  Can you log a call?  Can you print a call report?  Can you easily import your accounts and contacts?   This is what I’m talking about.

3.  Pick flexible software that you won’t outgrow for at least five years.

Can you add a field yourself or do you have to pay someone to do it for you?  Can you export anything to Excel?  Can you create almost any report you want by yourself?  Ask a lot of questions of your software vendor.  Listen for clues.  Do they say “no” a lot?  Do they say you’ll need a lot of training to do things?  Do you frequently hear the words “but” and “if”?  Those are signs that the software may not be flexible.   Remember, the software doesn’t have to support you forever, but it does need to support you for a reasonable period of time.   Five years should qualify.

4.  Make sure the software is hosted in the cloud.

I’m not saying this because I’m some big cloud evangelist (although I kinda am).  It’s for practical reasons.  Do you really want to have to worry about a server for the software?  Workstation compatibility?  Backups?  Diskspace?   The IT guy’s opinion for Pete’s sake?  If the software is hosted in the cloud, all you have to worry about is the software (and a little thing like internet connectivity).  That’s right, the software!   Only consider CRM software hosted in the cloud.

5.  Be up and running in less than a month.

Demand this.  Don’t mess around.  If you can’t be up in a month, the software doesn’t sound real flexible or easy to use to me.  And have a status meeting at the end of the second month.  How’s it going?    The project plan can look like this:

  1. Install the software (Day 1 – see #4 above)
  2. Configure the software (Day 2 – see #3 above)
  3. Import accounts and contacts.  Forget the other stuff for now.   (Day 3 – See #3 above)
  4. Get training (Day 4 – see #2 above)
  5. Start using the software (Day 5 – see #1 above)

Following these five recommendations doesn’t guarantee success.  Nothing does, really.  However, it does guarantee quick measurable results within a reasonable budget and timeframe.  And that’s a guarantee worth guaranteeing.