Do You Have the Internal Resources To Fully Implement a CRM Strategy?

I absolutely LOVE it when, in my prospecting efforts, I come across a CRM champion.  In my terms, a CRM champion is someone who understands the value and possibilities of CRM and more importantly understands what CRM could mean for the business for all future decision making.  CRM champions are usually on a mission to educate others in the company on the benefits of CRM and create excitement about it.

I call these people champions because the task I am describing is NOT an easy one.  I know and understand this, because this “project” they have taken on is my full time job.

Allow me to share some insight on how to accomplish this mission. The champion is correct in looking for alleys to join their mission.  CRM cannot be implemented in a bubble, or by a single individual or one department.  A successful CRM implementation has to start with a CRM strategy.  What does that mean?  In short, a CRM strategy is the answer to the following question:  How can we improve our processes to ensure happy, loyal customers?

I understand perfectly that is not an easy question to answer.  If you think it is, throw your quick instinctual answer out onto the conference room table with a group of individuals that represent all customer facing departments of the company.  You may find that your quick and easy answer is dissected and mutilated with the insight each of these individuals brings to the bigger process.  This exercise will demonstrate all the parties that will need to be involved in a CRM implementation.  These individuals represent the group that need to collectively answer the question that will result in a CRM strategy.

Back to that champion….this is a key area to focus your energy.  Generate the excitement among the key individuals in customer facing  departments by involving them in creating the answer to the CRM strategy question.  However, that’s only part of what you need.  More importantly, you need CEO and senior management buy in.  In order for a CRM implementation to succeed it MUST be a top down directive.  Depending on the internal dynamic of your organization, the order of that buy in may be more of an art than a science, but both are essential to success.

There are other internal resources to consider.  The most glaring being money.  Align your efforts with annual budget planning.  While considering budget also evaluate the potential impact (hours) on the departments that will be affected by process change and a new software implementation.  Don’t pretend resources won’t need to be allocated thinking it will further your efforts.  Rather, quantify everything to the best of your ability and present the full impact.  Both costs and potential return.

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The best advice I can give to CRM champions is, think like a champion.  If you owned the business what information would you need to make a decision?  What setbacks might be a result of change? Who will be impacted and what will that mean? Will this give us an advantage over our competition? What will we ultimately gain?  What will happen to us if we refuse to change?  What’s worse…the pain of change or the pain of staying the same?