3 Steps to Build a Strong Foundation for a New CRM Platform

AllCloud Blog:
Cloud Insights and Innovation

Using and maintaining a CRM platform is a big commitment. 

Most organizations use CRM as a business critical system, and when approached correctly it can deliver enormous benefits in terms of forecasting, revenue, efficiency, and the ability to acquire and retain customers.

However, even if you start out with the best intentions, it’s easy to let maintenance for your new platform slip — and when that happens, the benefits of your program can start to dissipate. As a result, it’s important to make sure your organization is prepared for the commitment and starts off with a strong foundation.

3 Steps to Ensure Your Organization Properly Prepares for the Commitment of a New CRM Platform

One of the most important things you need to do before introducing a new CRM platform is to make sure that the problems you intend to solve are worth the time commitment to your company. That’s because you must be prepared to properly maintain the platform over time to ensure it continues to deliver the expected benefits.

With that in mind, here are three steps you can take to build a strong foundation for your new CRM platform and ensure your organization is prepared for the commitment required to maintain it.

1) Identify the problem you’re trying to solve

First and foremost, it’s important to know exactly what problem you’re trying to solve (the more specific the problem the better) and what you will need to do so. Once you identify your problem it pays to write it down so that you have a clear understanding of it and don’t lose sight of your goals later on. This sounds obvious, but far too often organizations try to boil the ocean by solving too many problems at once or by using a mix of tools that don’t integrate and therefore simply don’t work well together to solve a problem. 

Another common mistake is to conflate symptoms of a problem with the problem itself. These tools can solve symptoms or they can solve the actual problem, and it’s very easy to get caught up in the former — which is only a band-aid fix — if you haven’t clearly defined the problem. For example, do you really need a duplicate management tool or do you need to change your process for data governance? Because if you don’t have any sort of process in place, even the best tool will not solve your problems — and it may even make them worse.

Finally, it’s important to remember that even if you’ve identified the problem and found the right tool to solve that problem, buying that platform alone doesn’t actually solve the problem. You need to not only institute process, but also manage the tool. As a result, it’s important to ask yourself if you have the time, resources, and patience to make that new platform work for your business long term (ideally forever).

2) Determine what your processes will look like

Once you’ve identified the problem for which you’re solving, the next step is to consider the processes you’ll put in place, because a CRM platform without any process simply will not work.

To start, think about the processes your users follow today, which may very well happen in spreadsheets. Then think about how you can improve upon that process within the CRM platform. Your goal should be to enable users to do what they’re doing today in a better way, whether that’s making it more efficient by automating it or reducing duplicative steps, making it more intelligent by providing more data, or simply standardizing processes across the board.

Notably, one of the biggest hurdles to jump through when introducing a CRM platform to users — especially if you have a well established sales team — is their hesitancy to jump into something that’s going to be different for them. This makes it very important to think through how to make your users’ day-to-day lives easier, because even though it will be very different, if the end result is easier, they will adopt it.

If you don’t have a process in place currently and don’t know where to start, that’s okay! There are teams (like AllCloud) who specialize in helping organizations introduce these types of processes to build best practice CRM programs. 

At AllCloud, we’ve seen lots of different organizations do things in various ways, and we live and breathe this stuff every single day. You know how you want to run your business, and we can come in and be a translator by building the systems and processes to make that vision a reality. It’s really as simple as telling us what your challenges are, how your business works, what’s important to you, and what questions you want the CRM platform to answer. We then build your business processes into your CRM, making your team more efficient when it comes to doing the things they’re already doing today.

3) Start with the basics

Lastly, it’s important to start with the basics. Especially if your organization is new to CRM altogether you don’t want to try to boil the ocean with a new implementation. It’s exponentially harder to unravel a mess than it is to methodically build out a system.

It might not feel right to spend significant time and resources building out a system that doesn’t have all the things you want, but I can tell you from experience that it’s the right way to do it. Think of it like moving into a new house: You can go in and do all the work you want and decorate all the rooms on day one, or you can live in it for a bit and see what you really want to do with the space and how it will work best for you. The latter approach leads to less re-work because you don’t end up moving in only to find out something you already did is not really what you wanted or doesn’t really work in the space the way you thought it would.

For instance, when you introduce a new CRM platform, you might have one vision for how your users (whether they’re sales, service, or anyone else) will work in the platform, but then once you get them running in it you might find completely different needs. It’s a million times easier to build out architecture and reporting once than to have to backtrack on what’s already been built.

As a result, the best place to start is really with the basics. I’ve seen time and again that the least expensive, most efficient, and most successful route to take is to just stand up the most basic system that provides value, and then move into an evolutionary mindset where you iterate and build out more mature programs as needs arise. Building methodically ensures you get those architectures and processes right the first time around while also not asking your people to adapt to massive change overnight.

Ready to Get Started with CRM in Your Organization?

Whether you’re looking to implement your first CRM platform or build out a new program within your current platform, being laser focused on the few critical KPIs that will improve your business, defining clear processes for those areas, and sticking to those basics will put you on the path to success.

Tyler Holmes

Salesforce Solution Engineer

Read more posts by Tyler Holmes