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Just the thought of switching to a new CRM is enough to scare some businesses into sticking with the one they’ve got, even when it starts to hobble progress. That’s sad. And it doesn’t have to be that way.

Successful CRM transitions follow a proven process. Follow these eight steps to make a smart choice of your next CRM and navigate a smooth change.


Refocus your mindset.

Are you focused on a customer-centric strategy or on new technology? It’s easy to get off track if you make switching CRMs an IT project divorced from the whole reason for it. Keep your objective of business development through customer relationships front and center and you’ll be more assured of making a choice that will serve you well.

The CRM transition process is a good opportunity to refocus your whole team on the supreme objective of giving your customers the engagement and journey they want. With strategy top of mind, users of your CRM will be able to provide good insights into what will make their work more productive.

Involve the whole team.

Like we said, don’t just hand over your CRM transition to IT. Switching CRMs needs to be a collaborative process. Customer service and support, sales and marketing, and operations – they’ll all use it as they relate to customers and your business processes. How do they work? They know the jobs they need to do.

“The whole team” means everyone. Executive leadership needs to embrace your CRM strategy and actually use it in order to make it part of your corporate culture. Take a holistic approach to switching CRMs that involves all stakeholders, and you’re much more likely to get the outcomes you want.

Read more - 3 crucial resources to streamline sales and marketing teams.

Build a solid business case.

Look at the past, present, and future. Ask your collaborative project team to look for the good and the bad of your last CRM as well as what you need in a new one. Why is your current CRM solution either not being used or pinching you like a pair of outgrown shoes? Ask why your last implementation failed and why you’ve outgrown your current CRM solution. Ask questions like these:

  • What are your business requirements, generally and from your CRM strategy?
  • How will you measure success? What is your ideal ROI and what delivered outcomes do you want?
  • What are potential risks or roadblocks?
  • How will you leverage knowledge of what has worked and what hasn’t?
  • What is your budget for a CRM solution and professional consultation with an expert partner?
  • What functionalities do sales, marketing, and support teams need and want? Use our “CRM Capabilities Self-Assessment” tool to determine which capabilities you must have, would like to have, or don’t need.

These sessions will also serve to reveal resistance and identify potential project champions: team members who can influence acceptance of change.

Choose a solution that will work for you, not the other way around.

Make it fit your business needs, the ones your team has collaboratively identified in the previous steps. If your users feel like they’re being pushed to comply with some system that isn’t logical or intuitive for them, you’re not going to get the buy-in necessary for it to work. Ask these questions:

  • Is the new CRM customizable and agile, easy to configure to your needs?
  • Can it deliver your defined outcomes?
  • Is it easy to use so your employees will enjoy and embrace using it?
  • Can its business processes be modified or new ones tailored to fit how your people work?
  • Is the solution within your budget?
  • Will the new CRM grow with you?
  • Are you focused on the most important business drivers?

The best solution will have the functionality to deliver on your business objectives and be embraced by your employees now and in the future. Read more - starting point guidelines on how to choose CRM software..

Choose your CRM partner wisely.

Don’t go to this dance alone or with the wrong partner. Remember, a successful CRM switch is collaborative. Choose a partner who has your best interests in mind, understands business in general and your business specifically, and has expertise in CRM software, change management, and implementation.

How can you tell if you’re choosing the right CRM partner? Before you sign up, ask them questions like these:

  • What is your relationship with the CRM software vendor? -- Your partner needs to know your chosen solution inside and out.
  • Who have you worked with? Are they happy? Can I talk with them?
  • Have you switched organizations from our current CRM to the one we’re considering?
  • Do you have a proven implementation process that you walk through with your clients?

Test-drive the new CRM with your own team and your own data.

We all test-drive a car before we buy it, so it only makes sense to pilot the CRM system with those who will use it on a day-to-day basis. As important as piloting the CRM system is, even more important is that you use your actual data along with the way you normally work. This way you’ll be able to make sure that the system works properly before going live. Thus, giving your potential vendor an opportunity to fix any problems that might exist.

Create a project pilot team who will try out the system with a sampling of your own actual information. They will be key to determining if your customizations are working the way they need to, testing all its functionality, and streamlining it to keep it user friendly.

Migrate clean data.

If you migrate junk data into a new CRM, it’s like polluting a pristine mountain stream, and you don’t want to do that. Make sure you prepare your own data with these steps:

  • Identify old data that is no longer relevant. If you haven’t used it for four or so years, you can probably delete it, depending on retention policies.
  • Run integrity and duplication checks, and merge as needed.

Until the CRM transition is complete and you can completely phase out the old system, data will need to be synchronized between the two.  If the existing CRM doesn’t have synchronization capabilities built in, we recommend using the Starfish ETL data migration and integration application.

Plan to review the data once it’s in the new system before eliminating the previous one and do a recurring a “data-hygiene” check periodically. This can all feel tedious, but the benefits are worth it.

Integrate everything.

Is the current CRM connected to other systems? Think about the obvious, things like Microsoft Outlook or Google Gmail. Have you linked it to something like MailChimp for email marketing? Lots of today’s CRMs include marketing automation, so you might be able to drop that one.

One of the main reasons for not switching CRMs used to be that it also was integrated with a billing platform or even a full-blown ERP system that managed data across the entire business, and unwinding all those threads was just too expensive and painful. Now, though, with the rise of open APIs and easy-to-use integration tools, it’s a whole lot easier to swap out applications without throwing the whole system into chaos and making everyone mad.

Win hearts and minds. Get and maintain buy-in.  


The success of any CRM strategy is 60 percent the people involved. You need a plan to get buy-in from the staff – if they won’t use it, it won’t work.

Work with your chosen CRM partner to establish training touch-points at appropriate spots before, during, and after launch. It can’t be “one and done.” Make training part of your on-boarding process for new hires, too.

Most important, find and develop CRM “champions” who love the system, know it inside out, and can influence their teammates to embrace the change. Tap them to  lead workshops, troubleshoot, and keep communication lines open.

You should be able to rely on your CRM partner to help you map a smooth transition from one CRM to another. If you’ve chosen well, they’re someone who has managed through this change successfully with other clients. They know how to do this, and they’ll walk with you all the way. This is one big reason to look for a partner, not just a vendor.

Consider the alternative. What is the opportunity cost to your business if you don’t make the change? Sometimes not changing is the bigger risk.


Yes, switching CRMs isn’t easy, but it leads to a transformation for a brighter future. We’ve shared this nine-step process with you from our experience. Lots of satisfied clients can say that it works. And that it’s worth it.


If you think it’s time to explore switching to Creatio CRM from the system you’ve been using, you’ll need a partner like us. Contact us today - 269-445-3001




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Topics:   Creatio CRM Accelerate Business Transformation Align operations with business strategy Switching CRM

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