When a business owner finally realizes that their systems are not robust enough to support their processes and have become a roadblock, they want a fix now, if not yesterday. And they don’t want to spend more than necessary to get something new.
As business owners ourselves, we get it. But trust us, this is not the time for shortcuts.
When fast is not the best decision
A fast decision about CRM will be more costly in the long run than taking the time to make a wise one. In my 35 years of experience implementing mid-market, enterprise software and advising decision makers, more times than I care to count I’ve seen business owners who made a choice as fast as they could and regretted it later, as they forked over the cash for yet another application to layer on top to fill the gaps left by their choice and as they watched staff productivity and morale flush down the drain.
Think about other times in life when it’s wise to take your time to decide. Marriage and buying a home come to mind. Granted, a new CRM system is not as life changing. But the more costly a mistake would be, whether financially or otherwise, the smarter it is to make sure you know your needs and wants and evaluate your options in that light.
Some of the free to low-cost solutions out there say you can do it yourself – is working with an experienced CRM partner really necessary? It’s worth the investment for several reasons. We encounter business owners who know quite well what they want to accomplish, but they often do not know what they need in order to do so. A good CRM partner will ask clarifying questions, listen to each unique organization’s objectives, and provide insight into how to reach them.
In order to make the best software decision and achieve a successful implementation that will deliver a return on investment long-term, we recommend a five-step process. Here’s what it looks like:
- Think through your business needs. Make two lists: your must-haves and your like-to-haves. Now prioritize each list.
- Articulate your vision. Write it down and share it with team members. Tell the story of how this anticipated change will make their lives easier and give them tools to be even more successful.
- Enlist your people who will be using the system to document your primary business processes and their workflows. A CRM partner with deep knowledge of CRM systems will use this information to help you choose the best solution among all the ones available. Involving your team in this discovery phase will also contribute to their buy-in.
- Using your data and the software under consideration, perform defined tasks with a project team made up of representative end users and management.
- Make the software selection based on what will work now, next year, and 5+ years in the future.
- Continue your relationship with the CRM partner through the process of implementation and training. The most innovative CRM solutions, such as Creatio, minimize the need for IT specialists to customize when changes are needed. They are built to allow “citizen developers” within an organization to automate any business idea in minutes, as long as an implementation strategy that includes training has been followed.
Our most successful clients have experienced value and results from this proven process.
Following these steps results in happy clients who gain one efficient platform instead of multiple systems that reinforce silos and undercut sales and service success. Not following these steps does nothing to calm chaos, leaves gaps in processes, and frustrates staff. It’s a waste of money, really.