Investing in CRM technology is a no-brainer for small and midsize businesses.  With a small business CRM, they can leverage the same tools large corporations use to better manage and organize customer relationships.  However, even for small entities with less complexities, choosing and implementing the right system is not without it’s challenges.

As an advocate of customer success, I’ve helped hundreds of companies to use SaaS-based CRM more effectively, and it all begins with better management of the implementation process:

1.  Find a Great Fit:  Know your budget, start there and take your time. It’s important to not rush into purchasing a solution that may not be right for your business.  Not only is it costly to change systems down the road, but it’s even costlier to let a system sit unused because it was too complex for your business or didn’t fit your needs.

2.  Focus on Core Features:  Shiny objects can be distracting, so be conscience of the features you must haves vs. the features that would be nice as you look at CRM options. Stats show that 43% of users are realizing that they don’t use half of the features in their CRM, so don’t let the fluff of a flashy, feature loaded system get in the way of usability and user adoption.

3.  Perform a Gap Analysis:  Look at where you are now and where you want to be. What is missing from your current CRM that you would like to have?  What processes could be more seamless?  What does a successful implementation look like for your business?

4.  Designate a Project Manager:  A successful implementation hinges on the right person to drive the project forward.  This person will be the champion and cheerleader of the new product. He/she will ensure employee adoption, gather input for all teams of the organization, coordinate training & implementation and become the product expert.

5.  Start Fresh with Data Integrity:  Clean before you move! Identify important data where there is no negotiating. This data HAS to find a new home. Then tidy up the “stuff” that you’ve been meaning to delete or get rid of. Keeping only valid, useful data and removing the noise makes migration much more successful.

6.  Don’t just move, upgrade!:  This is the perfect time to tweak those processes that have needed improvement for some time. Consider what features have you been longing for and just not had the time to implement.  Cut out manual or duplicated processes where you can.

7.  Involve all parties: Each part of the organization will have a need from the CRM. Don’t leave any team out. Do a needs analysis for each team, identifying their greatest needs.

8.  Don’t Lose Sight of the Big Picture:  While you need to get input from each part of your business, don’t let personal agendas shift the focus on creating a scalable, efficient process that reaches your over arching goals.

CRM technology is vital to today’s small business, allowing for efficient sharing of accurate data.  With your small business CRM, team members will have access the information they need to make better decisions, customers will receive better attention, and profitability will increase without driving up support costs.  Reaching these valuable returns all starts with a well thought out implementation.