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CRM user adoption, Well Used CRM, CRM Implementation

22 Min Read

How to Build the Perfect CRM Implementation Team Today

Success with a well-used CRM system requires thinking carefully about building your CRM implementation team. It’s critical to understand the people who will be using the system and how they'll use it and tap the appropriate leaders. If you accomplish that, you will minimize the risk of implementing the wrong system.

"Good plans shape good decisions. That's why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true": Lester Robert Bittel.

What is the 60/30/10 Rule?

The secret of a successful CRM initiative is the right mix of people, process, and technology.

  • 60% of the success is getting the right people on board with buy-in of the process.
  • 30% is enhancing customer-facing business processes.
  • 10% is applying the right technology to support those processes.

Let’s assume that executive vision and buy-in have occurred because that needs to be a given. Now how do you build a CRM project group to achieve your strategic vision?

The implementation team will make decisions about and be held accountable for creating the foundation for business success with CRM. Following a proven process that a CRM partner can coach you through is critical, because missing steps will greatly increase the likelihood that the CRM project will bog down, fail, or become a dinosaur soon after implementation.

How to organize a CRM implementation team


The size of your organization, the number of departments involved, and the number of users will affect the size of your implementation team. Initially, it needs these people and time commitments:

  • Project champion. The project champion, preferably a senior executive, will ensure appropriate managerial and financial backing and be involved in the project a few hours per week.
  • Project manager. The project manager needs business process and technical skills and will work daily on the CRM implementation.
  • User pilot group. This group of end users will provide input to the project leader during the conceptualization phase. They’ll also test the system during the design and implementation phases, working on the project two to four hours per week. We recommend you include three to eight users in this pilot group. It’s essential to get input from a representative mix of people from your organization. A field sales rep, for example, will have different goals and business use requirements than a customer service rep. You’ll need to hear from them all. Often, pilot team members become the power users and first responders to end users’ questions after the CRM goes live.

In smaller and quick-start implementations, of course, one person may serve multiple roles.

Make CRM Implementation a Team Effort

Communicate to the people involved in your CRM implementation that this is an opportunity, not just a task to be done. (You can learn more about that in our People: An opportunity not a roadblock” e-book.)

Beyond the roles named above, think about how everyone in your organization is involved. Don’t just talk to the heads of your IT and sales departments about it. Anyone who will use the system can help you design a great one. This includes the cold callers, sales reps, customer service reps, marketing people, and more. Think bottom up as well as top down. Align the system with how your people support customers every day.

Speaking of the top, early on the executive management team should exert their sponsorship of the CRM project. The president and other appropriate leadership should demonstrate their support with an “all employees” announcement that describes expected benefits, clarifies project management leaders, and requests volunteers, opinions, and testers.

Department heads must also communicate the role- and job-specific functions of CRM,  and solicit feedback. Inclusion is the name of the game here. If you give people a role and let them know they can influence the result, you’ve started them on the path to buy-in.

Communicate to end users that this is a project for the people, by the people. Ensure that employees understand it’s THEIR system, for making their work faster, better, and easier – as opposed to a tool for Big Brother to watch over their shoulders. Once they see these potential benefits, they’ll want to use it. Don’t think for them, and they’ll share input that will add to success. Include a healthy mix of generations and personality types. We recommend being sure each department includes these

  • The top performer –If you can replicate how your top performers work in CRM, its value will become hard to refute.
  • The resistor/complainer– This person is key because often they complain for good reasons. When you listen and leverage their input for improvement, the complainer can become your biggest cheerleader, and your system will gain value.
  • The innovator – This early adopter of technology can offer new ways to use the system, allowing you to shed antiquated or obsolete business practices. Innovators are sometimes good choices to be project champions if they are also skilled communicators.
  • The customer – Customers are the whole point of CRM. Be sure to ask them what they need for a winning customer experience and make sure the CRM can deliver it. 

Transferring Knowledge to Your Team

A successful CRM implementation also requires education, something that’s especially critical for new users. It’s impossible to learn a CRM overnight — it’s a complex tool that can take years to completely master – but everyone needs to understand enough to do their job. A CRM solution might have 101 features, but only 20 are relevant to the HR manager, for example. By customizing training to individual roles, your team’s CRM partner can ensure people have the knowledge they need avoid without overwhelming them.

Where Opportunities Lie During Implementation

  • Design phase: This is where you and your team can become more intimately acquainted with your company’s processes. For instance, salespeople can tell you why they don't use certain fields in your CRM system, why they don't ask for certain data, and how they've adapted your sales process over time, which is knowledge you can transfer to other reps. In turn, marketing people can help salespeople understand why seemingly irrelevant information is critical to what they do.
  • Phase-in phase: When ordinary users, not just managers, are involved in the design and selection of new IT systems, they're more likely to use the systems and encourage others to follow, smoothing the way for users to maximum adoption of the new system as they see how to incorporate it into their jobs. 
  • Pilot phase:  Business rules may be relaxed, replaced, or redesigned in response to sales reps or customer service reps doing hands-on data entry. They’ll be able to tell you how to fine-tune the placement of information fields to make gathering information easier. Management will also review how the data presents itself in their dashboards to provide the most efficient oversight.
  • Roll-out phase: As your users become proficient in the CRM, you can create a virtuous cycle. Successful experiences with the process will lead an increasingly receptive audience to keep doing more with it as you communicate the wins. And with the system now live, you have processes in place to measure progress. 

The Right Solution and the Right Partner Brings Success Home

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Having an optimal CRM system – one that addresses your business needs, serves your customers, and pleases your employees – is a high-stakes proposition.

Most businesses don't have the skills, resources, and years of experience needed to design and implement tailored CRM solutions, so it’s a wiser use of your business-critical resources if you spend them on clarifying expected outcomes, defining business processes, and how your people will be interacting with the CRM. Then you can communicate that information to a qualified CRM partner to accompany you on that journey.

Engaging with a CRM partner early in the process – and making them part of choosing a CRM system – will produce the best outcome. When companies choose us for their CRM partner, we draw on our knowledge and experience to delve into questions such as:

  • Do leaders across different departments agree that the system aligns with company strategy and supports both short- and long-term goals?
  • Will it improve the work lives of employees by simplifying and automating tasks?
  • Is it flexible enough to adapt to and meet the evolving needs of employees and the company?

Your CRM partner can also coach you through choosing people for the various roles in your implementation team. Keeping the lines of communication open between your team and the CRM partner will pay future dividends, too. That interesting tidbit picked up from a customer service rep might come into play when the partner is tweaking the software down the line.

The partner can offer insights from a different perspective along with appropriate best practices; knowing the CRM's capabilities will give the pilot members better ways of completing tasks.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

After implementation, your CRM team can continue to be a sounding board for decisions about upgrades, customizations, and possible helpful enhancements. Their experiences can be leveraged, for example, when integrating a marketing automation system or a business intelligence/analytics enhancement. Improvements will be implemented more quickly, tested more thoroughly, have more practical usage, and be more successful.

You might want to create a user group and involve your CRM partner. Discuss how people are using the system. Can you improve daily activities by removing unnecessary steps or utilizing automation? Can menus and forms be condensed or somehow made easier? Which groups and filters retrieve information the fastest? Which workflows can be reconfigured? Take notes, then use the CRM to alleviate problems.



We are experienced CRM partners specializing in Creatio CRM and Infor. For more on how to ensure people, processes, and technology work together, download our free e-book, 7 Keys to Success with CRM. To get a better idea of what it might be like to work with us, contact us to get better acquainted.


Related links:

Valuable outline for crafting a successful CRM implementation

15 actions to achieve better CRM user engagement and adoption

7 keys to success with CRM – People always come first


Topics:   CRM user adoption Well Used CRM CRM Implementation

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