10 Steps to Successful CRM Implementation & Integration

Matt Pliszka

Consultant at SoftwareSupp

9 min

March 2, 2021

written by

Matt Pliszka

Consultant at SoftwareSupp

Consultant at SoftwareSupp

Working as consultants for numerous companies whose goal is to make the most out of their business processes and operations with technology, we get a lot of questions. These mostly refer to how a CRM integration or implementation can actually bring value to the teams, executives, and businesses as a whole.

One side of the question is what’s the value of the service compared to the internal workforce working on the CRM implementation. Another one is what’s the value of a CRM implementation/integration to the business in general.

Some of the values of hiring the external, specialized team in the process of CRM integration versus using internal resources include:

  • An objective view of the company’s business processes
  • Specialized know-how in CRM development and integration issues
  • Team facilitator allowing to introduce an objective view on the team’s performance

In this article, however, we will look more closely into the main issues on the road to successful CRM implementation overall. We will also describe the 10 most important steps to successful CRM implementation/integration for your business.

Issues of companies before CRM

Before we go in detail into how to run a CRM integration process, it’s important to ask ourselves — why? Why use CRM at all and what problems does a CRM system solve for your company?

Let me show you a few main issues of companies turning towards CRM system:

  • Unorganized contacts

All of your team members have some kind of contact data (like contacts to important decision-makers to your prospects/potential customers). Most often, without a proper system or process in place, this data is just flowing around in the organization, with no actual access to the data for management/executives or new team members.

  • Unorganized data

The same applies to the remaining data in your organization, such as sales, contracts, files. This is often organized in some kind of individual folder structure or just not organized at all.

  • Lack of communication/transparency

Without a central system in place, it’s difficult for teams to work together and know about other team members’ activities/actions/plans.

  • No data/information security

Without a central, properly secured CRM system, it’s difficult to ensure proper security of the information you store in your business. From our customers and prospects, I often hear about the data leakage incidents and willingness to solve them with proper CRM system integration.

  • No sales and business process

Before implementing a CRM system, companies often turn out not having a sales & business development process created at all. So before technology, they don’t think about structuring the way they handle sales or communicate with marketing.

  • No reporting structure

Before a CRM system, the companies don’t have a standardized way of generating sales/activities reports.

  • No goals tracking

Without a CRM system in place, businesses don’t have a structured way to track the goals and results of their sales teams or other team members, sometimes they don’t even set goals at all.

  • No performance-based remuneration structure

Without proper goals tracking in place, businesses are not able to set up a fair remuneration structure for their teams and employees.

  • New team members’ onboarding

Onboarding new team members to the company, without a CRM system in place takes a lot more time than when the new person can join and jump into a CRM straight away.

  • Lack of data analytics and optimization

Without a CRM in place, it’s impossible to analyze the data, drive proper conclusions, and optimize activities/processes in your company.

Benefits for businesses powered by CRM

With the above problem in place, a business with a well-integrated CRM system will realize the benefits relatively quickly.

According to G2, the av. ROI of CRM integration is 13 months and based on data from Nucleus Research for every $1 invested into the CRM system, a company should realize a $8.71 return.

And to sum up, some of the main benefits of having a CRM include:

  • Growth in sales by (up to +30%) driven by:
    - Improved customer retention
    - Better customer satisfaction
    - Increased sales conversion
  • Cost reduction (+26.4% in productivity) driven by:
    - Increased productivity
    - Automated processes
    - Cost-cutting through proper analytics
  • Improved team’s spirit and efficiency, driven by:
    - Goals setting
    - Team communication
    - Reporting/summaries

Also, a CRM system will ensure proper data security by identifying and preventing data leakage incidents.

10 steps to effective CRM implementation

So how to make sure that a CRM integration in your business goes smoothly, without interrupting ongoing business processes and fulfilling all company’s stakeholders’ needs?

Let’s look into 10 steps to successful CRM implementation in your business in detail:

1. Run a software demo

For any software integration/implementation (not only for a CRM) running a software demo for the team/executive is a critical first step to making sure the software matches the business’s needs. During the demo, you will already identify key needs, risks, and concerns which will help you go smoother through the next steps in the integration process. The demo will also confirm that the software is actually a good choice for the business or if you’d need to change the selected technology.

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2. Identify all stakeholders’ needs and concerns.

The next step would be to identify the actual needs of your business to make sure you meet them on the road to successful integration. But it’s not enough to know the needs of the company’s CEO or Head of Sales. For some companies, the needs might differ between different executives, departments, and individuals. Before you start the implementation process, make sure you know the needs of specific individuals in the organization and make sure you address them with proper software integration.

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3. Communicate a project’s schedule.

Once you know what software you’ll be using and you’re aware of the needs and concerns, you should be ready to set up an implementation project’s schedule. That could be a simple 1-3 month timeline, presenting key steps in the software’s implementation project, like configuration, integration & training phase. It’s important to share the schedule with the team to make sure they understand key steps in the journey.

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4. Run a pre-configuration and release it to the key stakeholders.

Once all the stakeholders know what’s the planned project’s schedule and how their needs are going to be addressed, you should run a pre-configuration of the software allowing them to start working on the first version of the solution and report any issues/corrections. This should include a basic configuration, such as:

  • Sales process setup
  • Custom fields setup
  • Email integrations/settings
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The PoC version should be provided to the main stakeholders to let them work on the first version of the software and report for any inconsistencies.

5. Refine based on executive needs.

Once the team/executives use the pre-configured version of the software for a while, they will report any issues, concerns, or corrections to the previously agreed structure. While the drastic change of the previously agreed conditions for the software’s integration process should not take place, key stakeholders in the organization might want to refine particular elements of the PoC solution. These items should be listed and scheduled for implementation in the following stages of the project.

6. Align technology with business processes (not business processes to technology).

One of the most common mistakes in CRM and any other technology implementation is the technology interrupting the actual business processes in the company. This can result in decreased team’s efficiency (team not knowing how to use the technology in their daily business context) and as a result, slower sales cycle & team not adapting to the actual CRM’s use. If your CRM does not support your team’s operations/processes but the team needs to adapt to the CRM, an integration process will likely result in the failure.

Hence, it’s important to make sure that your CRM’s configuration matches the actual way the team works and not the other way around. Some of these include:

  • A remuneration structure for salespeople and sales teams
  • Customer touchpoints’ process (calling, emailing, SMS)
  • Lead distribution process
  • Lead qualification process
  • Lead identification process

CRM can also be a trigger to building actual business processes in your business if some of them are missing, so use it as an opportunity to fill in the missing gaps in your company.

7. Upload data, integrate with data sources and other software. [technical step]

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This step is focused more on the technical integration aspects.

No matter the software’s functionality and features, a CRM system will not be of use without data and information. Hence, the next step to any successful integration process is making sure the data and information collected by the company in folders, spreadsheets, or contacts are available to people actually using the system. This process is commonly known as data migration.

Once you have the initial data uploaded, it’s time to make sure that the new information is automatically added or updated in the system, e.g. that a new lead filling in the form on the website appears in your CRM. This process is referred to as integration with data sources.

Also, any other software solutions used within an organization, like ERP, project management, or communication software should be integrated with the CRM system to ensure data sync and flow across the organization.

The data migration, data sources integration should be performed by a specialized company in the field as an improper data upload or integration process can later result in inconsistencies across the whole organization and can have a significant negative impact on business performance.

-> Learn how to run data structuring/upload and systems’ integration in our Ultimate Guide to Integrating Your CRM to Grow Sales and Automate Work.

8. Set up the team’s and manager’s dashboard.

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When identifying the organization’s needs it’s important to establish so-called OMtM — One Metric that Matters, a key KPI, and something you can find more information about in Lean Analytics. But once you know the key and supporting metrics, you can now set up a CRM to quickly display most relevant data and allow easy access to its users/managers/executives, supporting them in everyday decision-making.

9. Run team training.

Most of the CRM implementations/integrations fail because of a lack of proper knowledge about how the CRM system works. As a result, they don’t know how to use it in their daily work and how to make the most out of its features. Running a proper training for the team is a crucial step to successful CRM integration. Some of the most important parts of the training are:

  • System’s and features presentation
  • Tips & tricks overview
  • Running use cases for individual team members

There are tons of ways to run the training for the product, so the above elements are only a few basic ones.

10. Provide tech support

Launching the CRM system across the team is not enough to make sure it works effectively. After the training, you will likely identify many ways where the system can be improved or where the team needs additional support in handling the CRM on a daily basis. Providing regular tech support every week/month is an integral part of every CRM integration process and is necessary to keep the company’s technology/setup up to date.

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Following the above process will likely allow you to smoothly implement a CRM in your business, realizing the full scope of positive effects such as revenue growth, time-saving, improved team collaboration and finally proper data security.

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written by

Matt Pliszka

Consultant at SoftwareSupp

Consultant at SoftwareSupp

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