Small businesses face more challenges in this competitive world mainly because of their business size. They may need to compete with larger firms, and to succeed in such a scenario, their sales and marketing need to be top-notch. This is where Customer Relationship Management software will help. Implementing a CRM will help a small business manage customers better and boost its revenue. If you run a small business, then go through this guide that tells you how to implement a CRM.
CRM implementation – The steps involved
1. Plan the implementation
The first step is planning where you decide why you need a CRM and ensure everyone in the organisation is on board. People need to be told of the benefits of CRM, so they adapt to it. During planning, you need to decide which CRM software you will buy. You can have a small project team plan the implementation.
The implementation team can evaluate different software and decide on one. You can then start the process of acquiring the CRM. Usually, you will pay a monthly fee to the CRM vendor based on the number of users. You can also plan your financials accordingly. As the company grows, you may need to upgrade the CRM. This also needs to be planned, including increased expenses.
2. Conceptualise the solution
CRM software comes with standard features and modules. You would need to customise them for your organisation’s needs. During this phase, your team must finalise the business process workflow. Also, the processes that need to be automated need to be worked out.
You would then need to begin discussions with the vendor to ensure the solution you conceptualised would be developed. The vendor would work with your team to make a detailed plan for customisation.
3. Development of the system
This is the stage when the CRM system is developed or made ready for your use. Usually, the vendor would do this on-site. Some activities may be done offsite. The vendor’s representative would understand your operations and accordingly customise the software. This is done as planned.
The customisation is done through configuration changes. The software configuration needs to be updated with changes in the settings. Doing this would ensure the software works as per your business needs. Your team will need to work closely with the vendor to ensure the customisation is done exactly as you need.
Ideally, you need to choose CRM software that can be customised to meet your needs. If you have to implement a CRM that can’t be customised, then you will need to change your workflow to bring it in line with the software. This is not a good idea, which is why customisation is the key.
Once the customisation is done, the CRM has to be tested. Your team needs to carry out a detailed testing of the CRM, so you are convinced it works well and meets all your requirements. For testing, you need to use data. You can use existing data to test the system. This will help you understand how the CRM works in real time.
The testing needs to be comprehensive. Any issues or bugs found need to be reported. The vendor would then make changes as required and update the software. You now have the tested CRM software ready to be implemented.
5. Data migration
You would already have customer data with you. It may be in the form of excel sheets or you could be using other software for it. All the data you have needs to be migrated to the CRM. This is essential because, without data, the CRM is of no value. If you are starting a new business, then you can start from scratch. Else, you need to migrate the data.
Proper planning is needed and responsibilities need to be assigned for migration. The vendor would help in this process. Once data is migrated, you need to again test the system to check if everything is fine.
The CRM would mainly be used by sales and marketing, though not limited to them. All those who would use the CRM need to be trained. Usually, the vendor would train your staff. In some cases, you may need to do the training yourself.
A detailed plan of training is needed. You need to prepare training material and have documentation ready. This will ensure training is comprehensive and users are fully ready to use the system.
Once the data is migrated and users are trained, it is time to start using the CRM. This is the deployment phase where you go live. At this stage, there are problems you may face. You need to closely work with the vendor to resolve any issues. Once you deploy the system, any failure will affect your work.
So, it is important that all issues are resolved immediately. There needs to be an internal team or person who will handle issues. They can, in turn, coordinate with the vendor. At this stage, you may also observe the need for improving your workflow. This can be implemented during future changes.
8. Ongoing maintenance
Maintenance is needed for any software. Your business processes can change and with it, you will need to make changes in the CRM. Either your internal team should do it or get it done from the vendor. Any bug fixes or changes need to be implemented through software updates.
Many a time, the vendor upgrades their software and brings out new features that are useful. These upgrades also need to be implemented, so your software is up-to-date. You need to regularly review the implementation, so you know if you are reaping the software’s benefits.
Implementing a CRM is not very difficult. It calls for putting in money, time, and effort. All this will be worth it when the benefits are accrued. If you are thinking of getting a CRM, then the steps discussed above would have helped you get more information. With this information, you can make the first step and get a CRM for your small business.