How to write a bulletproof CRM plan in 10 simple steps

According to the Merkle Group, 63 per cent of CRM initiatives fail. Gartner predicted that 50% of CRM strategies would continue to fail. Typical consequences are a poor ROI for the business, and a poor experience for the customer.

But why do CRM initiatives fail? Bluntly, because of weak, or non-existent, implementation strategies. So let’s look at 10 simple steps for developing a strong CRM implementation strategy that will address your business requirements and help you retain and grow customers.

1. Set up a project team for cross-business buy-in

User adoption is essential for CRM success, so make sure you get buy-in across the business. Build a project team that starts at the top with board level management support and filters through to the teams on the ground.

Make sure it’s cross-departmental, too. For example, sales, marketing, finance, support and services will use CRM on a daily basis, so you should include them in the early planning stages and maintain this involvement. They will help shape your strategy, define its goals, and ensure ongoing cooperation and acceptance.

Your CRM project team should include:

  • An executive sponsor
  • A project manager and CRM administrator
  • A key user from each department

2. Define your CRM vision

Ask yourself why you want a new CRM system? What do you want it to achieve?

Identify these and set high-level goals that will act as your benchmark for the project. Then work out how you can measure the success of these goals.

In terms of defining objectives for your CRM campaign, businesses usually want their CRM project to:

  • Provide a single view of each customer relationship
  • Improve the quality of management information reporting
  • Make business processes more efficient
  • Increase lead generation
  • Improve account retention and service delivery

3. Prioritise and map your CRM objectives

Take a phased approach, beginning with quick wins, rather than trying to achieve everything at once.

Some objectives will be more important than others, so prioritise them and map out your processes. Make sure your plan is realistic, both in terms of budget and the human and financial resources you’ll need to deliver on your objectives within your time-frame.

4. Identify how you want to report and present your measurements

Specific measurements should be attributed to your specific CRM goals. Think about how you want to present them in terms of reports, charts and dashboards.

5. CRM data capture for tracking purposes and data quality

Define the fields you need to track for each CRM record so you can hit your CRM objectives. This includes working out what type of fields will be used. For example identifying the options you want in your drop-down fields, and which you want set as mandatory to ensure consistent data quality.

Be wary of going overboard here. Early adopters may feel intimidated, confused or frustrated by an excessive number of field requirements. Plus it will add to your administration overheads.

6. Prepare your data for migration to your new CRM system

Don’t avoid or underestimate this stage or it could all go horribly wrong. You need to work out the resources you require so you can consolidate and prepare your existing data for migration. Think about these six questions:

  • What current data needs to be imported?
  • How good is the data quality?
  • Does it require data cleansing?
  • Where is current data stored?
  • How many years back do you need to go with historic, relationship data?
  • What duplication rules need to be set?

7. Plan for CRM integration with your other business applications

Work out which applications your new CRM system will need to integrate with, and which direction the data needs to flow. This could be integrating with your email marketing, web forms, SharePoint or ecommerce platform.

So, if one of your goals is to create a single view of each relationship, integrating your new CRM system with external data sources is likely to be a high priority.

In terms of flow, your CRM will pull data from other applications as well as push them to other sources. For example, when a CRM sales opportunity is converted, it can create a new order in the back-office ERP system.

8. Manage user security, including permissions and controls

Flexible CRM solutions, such as that within Dynamics 365, will allow you to create advanced user permissions. This can include team and regional management, so you can control precisely which records users are entitled to access and what controls they can use.

For example, if you work in recruitment, you may not want every CRM user to be able to export data to Excel.

So make a list of the users, roles and groups that will have CRM permissions, and define their levels of access.

9. Identify the risks to your CRM migration

Work out what could possibly threaten the success of your CRM migration. How significant are these threats? No project is without risks, and it makes sense to be as prepared as possible for when things go wrong.

For example, your CRM migration could be at risk if:

  • The CRM technology database isn’t flexible enough to adapt to your processes
  • It lacks the scalability required to meet your business growth plans
  • You have failed to define support processes or identify existing gaps
  • Your people are poorly trained, under-resourced or simply make a mistake

10. Work with the business to develop a CRM user adoption plan with buy-in

Technology such as Dynamics 365 is a brilliant enabler of CRM. But this can be irrelevant without user adoption, understand and support. Without those key elements, even the greatest system in the world will struggle to deliver the desired results for your CRM programme.

There are four key things to remember when developing a CRM user adoption programme, as follows:

  • Make sure users understand the reasons behind implementing a new CRM system
  • Listen to their ideas, needs and concerns
  • Provide ongoing training and support
  • Measure usage that focuses on positive reinforcement

So there you have 10 things to consider when you’re writing your CRM plan. If you’d like to find out how we can help your business, please get in touch.

In the meantime, you can find out more about overcoming barriers to CRM adoption in this white paper: