What to Think About Before Investing in CRM


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This post is what I like to refer to as the prerequisites of CRM. Enjoy.

You are making the decision to evaluate a CRM and marketing automation platform. This is a smart decision and one that can greatly redefine your processes and business to make it more efficient and results-driven.

However, CRM and marketing automation is not a one-trick pony. It is not magic. It takes dedication and proper planning. So, here is an outline of what to expect when you take the first step in organizing and streamlining your business with software.

Part I: Think about your data and process

1. Organize your contacts.
How are your contacts currently organized? If they are in spreadsheets, does each column have a title? Are you missing data? Is your data consistent?

The first step is to organize your data so that when it is imported into your system, you are not missing important data sets which will skew your reporting, segmentation, and overall marketing/sales efforts.

Think about the following before importing your contacts or going through any training:

– How are you organizing your contacts? Does each salesperson have their own list of contacts? Are your contacts grouped by region? Do you want to organize them by stage in you sales funnel?
– What types of contacts do you have? Leads? Clients? Vendors? Partners?

2. Get the 4-1-1 on your contacts
Who are your contacts? What information do you need to collect about them to more accurately sell or market to them?

Collecting specific data about your leads and clients helps you understand who your contacts are, and helps you personalize your communication. Before you import your contacts into your CRM, you will want to identify and setup all of your user-defined fields. Some custom fields might include, # of employees, company revenue, interests, etc.

You will want to have custom fields setup so you can easily segment and target all of your communications.

3. Determine your actions

What sort of activities/actions make up your sales and marketing processes?

A few examples might include:
– Send personal email
– Follow up
– Give a presentation
– Meeting
– Phone call
– Send contract
– Send Invoice

These actions will be part of your workflows. If you do not have a set process, this is the time to start thinking about the types of actions/activities your team needs to take when selling or working with your contacts. From initial contact to contracts and monthly follow ups, think about every touch point you have or want to have with your leads and clients.

4. Think about your lead flow and traffic
Knowing where your leads and web traffic comes from is an important part to understanding your audience and planning your sales and marketing strategy.

Think about the following:
– Where do your leads come from? PPC? Organic SEO? Referrals?
– What do you do when your leads first get in contact with you? Are they sent a welcome email? Are they immediately contacted by a salesperson? Has your current process been successful?

5. Define your goals for CRM and marketing automation implementation
Understanding WHY you are investing in technology is going to guide your implementation.

– Do you want to decrease your sales time with lead nurturing?
– Are you looking to segment your audience and target your marketing campaigns?

Establishing solid goals for your CRM and marketing automation will help your team see the benefits of this new technology.

6. Get your entire team onboard.
CRM and marketing automation implementation requires your entire team to jump onboard with the initiative.

This is where selecting a CRM champion becomes helpful. Find someone who can spearhead the implementation process. This person needs to bring all departments together and help everyone get up to speed with the software and training.

Click here for more information about getting your team onboard with new technology.

7. Define your business process.
This might be one of the most difficult aspects of implementing CRM and marketing automation. You have to know exactly what your business process is, so that you can setup your technology properly.

If not setup right, it won’t be effective. Here are a few things to think about:
Landing pages: How will you use them?
Signup forms: What information will be collected and what will your workflow be when a person gives you their information?
Conversion tracking: What is a conversion? Is a conversion when someone downloads an ebook? Is it when they become a paying customer? Identify your different conversion stages and how each person progresses through those stages or your funnel.
Workflows: What happens when a person becomes a client? Is there a series of activities that must be completed? What about when a new lead comes in? What is your process for following up with them?
– How do you keep in contact with your leads and customers? Do you have recurring follow up activities? What do you do about cold leads?

Each of these points should be addressed during the planning process. Understanding your process will not only increase the productivity of your team, but increase the chances of implementation success.

Part II: Do you know whom you’re emailing?

We have all received Spam in our day, and the last thing you want to be is a spammer. So, to keep your list clean and to ensure you aren’t blacklisted, make sure your contacts were acquired the right way.

What is the ‘right’ way to collect contacts? Here is your Emailable Contacts Checklist.

– If you contacts came from a signup form, is your sign up form confirmed opt-in? Confirmed opt-in means that they had to confirm they wanted to be on your list.
o If yes, you’re good to go!
o If no, it’s time to throw out that single opt-in form and email all of your clients to ensure they actually want to be contacted by your company. Contacts acquired through single opt-in forms run a higher risk for spam complaints, hard bounces, and spamtrap hits.

– If your customers took any of the following actions, they are ok to contact.
o Made purchases
o Attended events
o Provided their information requesting information directly

*As long as you can verify where/how/when you obtained permission to email your contacts, you are in the clear!

If your email communication or contact list contains any of the following, stop right there!

– Purchased or rented lists
– Any content related to inappropriate subject matters
– Any content that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, defamatory, vulgar, obscene;
– Libelous, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable;
– Any content that you do not have a right to post and transmit under any law or contractual/fiduciary relationships;
– Any content, such that such posting, uploading, or transmission constitutes the infringement of any patent;
– Trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights of any party;
– Any materials that contain software viruses or any other computer code, files or programs designed to interrupt, destroy or limit the functionality of any computer software or hardware or telecommunications equipment;
– Any materials which imposes an unreasonable large load on our infrastructure;
– Any content that is harmful to minors;
– Content that intentionally or unintentionally violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, including, but not limited to, regulations promulgated by the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, any rules of national or other securities exchange, including without limitation, the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange or the NASDAQ, and any regulations having the force of law;
– Content that is misleading or impersonates any person or entity or falsely states or otherwise misrepresents your affiliation with a person or entity;
– Content with manipulated, or forged identifiers;
– Content promoting harm or providing instructional information about illegal activities;

Phew! That’s a lot, but keeping your contact list clean as a whistle saves your online reputation.

Investing in CRM is one of the smartest things that you can do for your business, but remember it does not just happen overnight. Think, plan, and execute for success.

Alessandra Gyben
With an iPhone, MacBook and iPad on hand at all times, Alessandra's enthusiasm for marketing and social media landed her the position as the Director of Marketing for a leading software company. After graduating from the University of Southern California, Alessandra gained years of experience as a Public Relations executive in both San Diego and Los Angeles. She was responsible for developing and executing marketing campaigns, both online and offline, for numerous companies across multiple industries. Her passion for small business and online marketing led her to her current position, Director


  1. Ensure you have buy-in, and use, at the top. If senior level executives aren’t using the CRM themselves, you can rest assured the rest of the firm will follow their lead. The CEO, or the most senior sales executive, needs to model best practices for everyone else so s/he can hold everyone on the team accountable for using the CRM on a regular basis and keeping the data clean.

  2. Good information here and thanks for sharing; Investing in CRM is crucial to any business and planning for this implementation is just as important as the solution itself.


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