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Start Slow: The Right Way to Set Up a Pilot of Your CRM Software

Start Slow: The Right Way to Set Up a Pilot of Your CRM Software

Start Slow: The Right Way to Set Up a Pilot of Your CRM Software

Brian Gardner No Comment

The implementation of a new CRM software program can feel like a full-time job. While it may be tempting to push through the implementation quickly to move on to other projects, I highly recommend you roll out your CRM project slowly and grow it from there. One great way to do this is with a pilot, but there is a wrong and a right way to conduct one.

You may want to roll out CRM software in a single department first, since this limits the scope and complexity of the project. While limiting the scope can be a good thing, limiting the complexity means you won’t get the opportunity to work through interdepartmental issues that are bound to come up once you do involve the rest of your teams.

Limiting the scope to only one or two departments also limits the usefulness of the CRM software. Without the involvement of multiple departments and their data via a central hub, CRM won’t help your team offer seamless customer service, share competitor insights or improve the effectiveness of marketing efforts. Even at the level of a limited pilot, this failure to demonstrate the full potential of CRM is a missed opportunity to get the rest of the company on board before company-wide implementation.

That’s why I recommend pilots be cross-functional, involving as many of your teams as possible. A pilot I’m currently working on with an electrical distribution company, for example, involves five departments. At the very least, your pilot should involve a branch manager, a technology professional, and both your inside and outside sales teams at your chosen location.

How to choose this location? Don’t worry too much about geographic location or size – just make sure that the one or two branches you choose have these critical ingredients: a user champion, a tech admin and a tech-savvy sales team that aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. (Read Why Sales Should View CRM as a Big Help, Not ‘Big Brother’ for tips on getting your top sales reps on board with your pilot and CRM initiative.)

Another tip to get started: Don’t try to accomplish too much at once. Although your pilot will limit the scope of your project, you should further limit yourself to no more than five goals for this first phase (ideally, no more than three). Because bridging islands of data isn’t too difficult technically and will likely yield a large return on your investment, I recommend you focus there first. Just imagine if your CRM platform were linked with your email system so that emails could easily be linked with the corresponding company’s name and contact information. When these links are made available to everyone in your pilot, it will enable your team to offer a more integrated and personalized customer experience, from lead to close to happy long-term customer.

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