I talk with a lot of businesses evaluating CRMs. Features, functions, pricing — these are all part of the equation. But the CRM system you choose is just half the story. Regardless of which you choose, without an ongoing CRM PLAN, you’re likely to fail.
CRM is like a gym membership. You know it’s a good idea — you know it’s healthy. And like the gym membership, you’re not likely to get much out it unless you establish a routine and stick with it. You can have the world’s most excellent CRM at launch. But if you don’t have a CRM PLAN and stick with it — in 12 months, you’ll be looking at your CRM love handles and wishing you’d done more to get it right.
Think Long Term
Plan for the long haul from the get-go. Before launch, make sure an internal person or team is prepared to keep CRM users and the system itself — on point. I mean routinely checking the stuff that matters. For example, is our critical data getting entered into the system? Are users familiar with the forms and processes they need to manage? Are we getting the metrics that matter in real-time? This person or team should be identified during the Discovery phase or earlier. Focus on the broad strokes in the early stages of use — like user training and adoption. Reporting becomes more critical after there’s actually some data in the system. Keep in mind it may take weeks or months until you’ve got enough system data to find insights, trends, or gaps.
Don't go it alone
Ask your technology partner to help develop and aid in the execution of THE PLAN. If they are an established service provider, they will have plenty of history to draw upon to help establish a sustainable program. Be prepared to budget for additional consulting around THE PLAN in the first year. It’s a good idea to ask prospective partners about formal programs for helping ensure CRM success. A good program will include routine meetings, data reviews, adoption metrics, roadmap, refresher training, etc.
Remember — CRM is not a kitchen gizmo or gadget. You can’t just set it and forget it. It’s natural for your system and work process to change. At regular intervals, look back and grade the level of sucess you’ve achieved executing your PLAN. And think about how you need to adjust your PLAN going forward.