People: An Opportunity, Not a Roadblock


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You hear it all the time: “People are our No. 1 asset.” Or, “People are our most important resource.” And yet it’s amazing how often people get left out of the equation when a company is considering a new CRM system.

I understand why this happens. It’s easy to get caught up in bells and whistles. Technology can help us to do amazing things, and that’s certainly true of CRM. But without people, technology is only technology. That’s why we at Success With CRM are such fans of People First CRM.

CRM can’t just be a well-running database. CRM has to be well used and purpose-built. And when we encourage our clients to follow People First CRM, that’s what we’re helping them do.

CRM Implementation Should Be a Team Effort

Here’s a radical proposition that I hope you’ll explore with me: Involving people in your CRM implementation is an opportunity, not just a task to be done.  Think about the “A-Team” and how they could do remarkable things working together as a team.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Of course people have to be involved!” Maybe you’ve even read our 18 Requirements for Business Success With CRM and noticed that People First CRM is a key theme for us.

But which people? We’re not just talking about the head of your IT and sales departments. We’re talking about everybody in your organization who will use the system and can help you design a great one. Everyone remembers the leadership; not everyone remembers the cold callers, sales reps, customer service reps and even marketing people who also use the system.

We’re also not just talking about training those people in how to use the system once it’s installed. You do need to do those things at the end of the process. But you also have to involve those people right from the beginning of the process, including when choosing the system and testing it after it’s built.

A lot of companies miss out on the opportunity presented by their people. Involving them earlier in the process is a chance to:

  • Detect problems.
  • Align how the system is used with how your people actually sell every day.
  • Get potential resisters to feel like their input matters — and that they have skin in the game.

Where the Opportunities Lie

All along the journey to a new CRM system, there are opportunities for people throughout your organization to help make the system work better for what it’s supposed to do. Consider these opportunities in the different phases of development: 

  • Design phase: Salespeople can tell you why they don’t use certain fields in your current CRM system. They can tell you why they don’t ask for certain data even though you think they should. They might even tell you how they’ve adapted your sales process over time, giving you an opportunity to transfer their successful techniques to other reps (they might even suggest the buyer’s process should replace the internal selling process). And marketing people can help salespeople understand why some seemingly irrelevant information is actually critical to what they do. 
  • Phase-in phase: When ordinary users (rather than leaders) are involved in the design and selection of new IT systems, they’re more likely to use the systems and encourage others to follow suit. This will help smooth the way as users begin adopting the new system and incorporating their own ways of selling and working. 
  • Pilot phase: When the system is available for testing, salespeople can tell you that it would be better if certain fields came earlier rather than later in the sequence to make it easier to gather desired information. Business rules may be relaxed, replaced or redesigned in response to sales reps or customer service reps doing hands-on data entry. Management will also review how the data presents itself in their management dashboards. 
  • New-beginning phase: As your users adopt and become proficient in the system, you can create a virtuous cycle. Previous attempts to involve them as partners early in the process will lead to a more receptive audience as you communicate the wins and goals you hope to meet with the new system. And with the system now live, be sure to have processes in place to measure progress. 

In a forthcoming e-book, we’ll explain these processes in more detail. For now, I hope you’ll consider the possibility that people, rather than being a factor to be managed, can actually be an opportunity to make your CRM system an even more potent force for growth at your organization.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dick Wooden
CRM specialist to help you get the answers you need with sales, service, and marketing CRM software. I help mid-sized businesses select, implement and optimize CRM so that it works the way their business needs to work. My firm is focused on client success with remarkable customer experience, effective marketing and profitable sales using CRM strategy and tools.


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