3 Foundational Truths to Pre-CRM Implementation Planning


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Your Internally-Devised Solution Will Look A Lot Like Your Existing Solution

I have found that the most successful CRM implementations happen when a CRM expert is involved early on. This isn’t because we are mystical wizards, it’s because, as CRM facilitators, we understand what a CRM implementation will do to your sales force, your customers, and your processes. We have first-hand experience, knowing what has worked in the past, and what hasn’t. We can help you sidestep many mishaps that only come through years of experience. We can guide you as to where to focus your money to achieve the greatest return on investment.

Companies that do their pre-CRM planning internally rely solely on their experiences and knowledge. Let’s say one of your CRM team members is a Microsoft Excel guru; to that person, the solution will either include Microsoft Excel or look surprisingly like an Excel spreadsheet.

I’m not saying that there have not been successful CRM implementations handled internally. I’m saying that the processes after an internal CRM implementation looked surprisingly similar to the process prior to the implementation. This is because the vision for CRM and the process improvement related to CRM is only as big as the combined CRM experience of the team members.

CRM experts stretch that vision deeper and wider, allowing your team to fully harness CRM.

The Response To Your RFQ Will Always Be Yes

Frequently, looking for some way to measure CRM and compare one software package to another, a company will issue an RFQ. They ask various vendors for demos and quotes and then work to compare each based on a series of questions, usually related to features and functions.

Of course, the answer to the RFQ will be yes. Most CRM systems have contacts, accounts, opportunities, ticketing, notes, mail merge, etc.

But the real problem is that companies define their CRM system based on their knowledge of features and functions and how they believe those features and functions will fit into their existing process. Companies that are willing to rebuild their processes around a CRM system experience far more success than those that try to force CRM to fit into their current process.

Finally, let me state that if a vendor is looking to simply sell you software and not help with the configuration/customization and data conversion, along with process mapping and culture change, they are doing you a disservice. They are basically leaving the setup, configuration, and cultural integration to you, who I am assuming is not a CRM expert.

CRM Is An Investment, Not a Expense

I frequently hear comments similar to “we want to start out simple” and “getting you involved early sounds expensive.” While I agree with starting out simple, there is a difference in definition. I believe in keeping CRM simple for the end-user. This means providing them all of the resources they need in one location. It may mean customizations to simplify repeated tasks.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if your CRM implementation investment is $1,000 or $100,000 if it is not useful to the end-user and if it doesn’t get used, your CRM investment is no longer that, it is an expense.

When we make an investment, we expect a return. CRM designed properly, with help in the early stages ensures your CRM system is an investment.

I have been implementing CRM systems for 15 years now, and have yet to see an out-of-the-box implementation, even in phase one. The customizations are not always extensive, but they do exist. It is unrealistic to think that a CRM software package will track all the right data and function exactly like your company does out-of-the-box. It’s these configurations that make CRM align with your process and culture.

Remember: The Most Expensive Software Is The Software That Isn’t Used

Luke Russell
Luke Russell has been CRM consultant since 1998. He has personally consulted with hundreds of organizations, and has a strong success record for CRM implementation and results. During this time, he has worked with customers to achieve such lofty goals as higher quote win ratios, larger average order size, more effective follow-up, reduced cost of administration, increased customer retention, and expanded cross-sales into existing customers; to name a few. Luke is the founder of Resolv, Inc.


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