CRM Implementation – Culture Part II – The CRM Champions


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“How a company manages change during a CRM implementation is a major factor in the difference between a CRM implementation success and a CRM implementation failure.” Luke Russell, Resolv Founder

I’d like to start this article by striking a little fear into everyone. It is estimated that over roughly 50% of all CRM software implementations fail. Yikes! That IS frightening! CRM software for any business is a significant investment. With a 50% failure rate you might as well take that significant investment to Vegas and throw it all on either black or red at the Roulette table, right? Wrong. There are very specific reasons that CRM software implementations fail. Knowing those reasons BEFORE implementation, and avoiding those pitfalls, is the key to ensuring you are on the right side of that 50%. It is not about chance or the odds being in your favor. This is an outcome you control.

Let me start by saying that CRM implementations don’t fail because of the software. They fail because process and culture don’t align with the tool (software). “So,” you ask, “how do I make that alignment happen?” Fair question. There is not just one single answer to that question. I could answer it by going down many paths, but the path we are going to talk about today is the one that is the FOUNDATION for achieving all the others. The answer to that question that we are going to be addressing today is: “You choose the right champions to be on the CRM implementation team.”

In my previous blog, Culture Part I – The Top Down Directive, we talked about how important it is for senior management to lead by example. Few will dispute the importance of the macro to micro form of leadership and the necessity for it at every company. However, CRM software is about so much more than just macro to micro management. CRM software has so many layers that it can be many things to many people. Let’s face it, in many companies senior management may not even KNOW what a lot of their employees do daily so they couldn’t possibly begin to define how CRM software could help that individual on a daily tactical basis, right? That’s not being critical. It’s a reality of how businesses function.

That’s where champions come in. As you select the CRM implementation team for your company you are NOT just looking for higher up decision maker types. They are only one component of that team. You also need the doers. You need representation for the departments that really make the company function at a tactical level on a daily basis. If a department comes into direct contact with the customer they need to be represented. CRM software manages all customer facing activity. Start by defining what that is and who, internally, that represents.

Let’s dive just a little deeper into who the champion of that department might be. In addition to having an intimate understanding of their respective function in the organization, and that of others in their representative group, the champion needs to have a specific personality type. All individuals fall into four basic personality types; Victim, Bystander, Critic, and Navigator.

The Victim is the person that is always terrified. They are terrified of change. They are terrified they won’t be able to cut it on a daily basis. If your prospective department representative “expert” bears this personality type, they should NOT be on the CRM implementation team.

The Bystander is the person who stands by, hopelessly hoping things won’t change, or if they do change, will wait and see what everyone else has to say about it before developing their own opinion. If your prospective department representative “expert” bears this personality type, they should NOT be on the CRM implementation team.

The Critic is the person that not only resists change, but rallies others to resist change. Now here is the interesting thing about the critic personality. They are typically the loudest person in the group so you are inclined to think that if you had them on your team they could make some big waves quickly, right? You only have to win them over…. Oh they can make waves alright. They will crush your optimistic belief they were going to support change and send negativity through the company like a smoke bomb. Resist all inclinations to put a critic on your CRM implementation team. Think about this one carefully, because critic personalities are sometimes hidden behind smiling faces.

The Navigator is someone who assesses change and accepts the value of it. The Navigator is the person who will quietly contemplate the pros and cons and discuss both in an “educate me” style. The Navigator is someone that others respect because they know this person does not make rash decisions or harsh judgments. They may not be the fastest or most efficient person in the group, but they are the most methodical and the most respected. That is the person you want on your CRM implementation team.

The objective is to find a Navigator for each customer facing department in your organization. That is your CRM implementation team. It is often interesting, when considered from this perspective, who surfaces as the representative choice. It could the one with the most seniority or the one with the least. It may not be the first person that comes to mind when you think of a specific department in your organization. Here is something to consider…put the definition of the Navigator out to each department and have them select the one person in the group who best fits that personality definition. You may be surprised at the result.

The secondary qualification for being on the CRM implementation team, of course, is their knowledge of their respective function and the functions of others in their department. Personality type is qualification factor numero uno, however. What they don’t know about process they should have the capacity to collect from those that do.

Choosing your CRM implementation team is the first factor to a successful CRM implementation that you control. You control them all, and recognizing that and planning appropriately will ensure CRM implementation success. The implementation team is one of the most powerful tools you will have to manage the culture aspects of the implementation and ultimately of the long term success of your organization. Choose wisely.

Kym Riedel
Kym Riedel, Sales Director at Resolv, Inc., is responsible for business development, working with current customers on new projects and identifying companies that might need a new partner to help maximize their CRM investment.Prior to joining Resolv, Kym worked for manufactured consumer products companies in both the crafting and food industries. Kym has worked at internationally branded companies including ColorbÖk, Fiskars and Rondele Specialty Foods where she held marketing management and sales account management positions.Kym has Bachelor degrees in both marketing and business management.


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