Making a User-Centric CRM Investment

CRM Investment - End Users

CRM Investment - End UsersThe decision to make a CRM investment is an important one for both management for the ultimate end users of the selected system.  Normally, management only decides to invest in a CRM system because they believe the company will receive a positive ROI within a reasonable period of time.

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Vertical Market Software vs. Customized CRM

Vertical Market Software

Vertical Market SoftwareOver the years, many vendors have developed vertical market software applications — applications designed from the ground up for a specific industries. Contact management and CRM applications have been created for real estate, investment banking, wealth management, consumer banking, pharma, semi-conductor manufacturing, non-profits and a variety of other vertical markets.

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CRM Leads – How to Get More of Them

Generating CRM Leads

Will additional CRM leads be a natural byproduct of a new CRM system?  Switching to a new CRM system can do many positive things for your company, such as reducing costs, increasing sales effectiveness, and improving customer service.

Generating CRM Leads

However, can a CRM system, in and of itself, produce additional CRM leads for your sales team to follow up with?

The short answer is “no.”  Most new CRM leads must come from your company’s marketing efforts. However, the good news is that the B2B marketing landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years and it’s a lot easier for a company of any size to generate more CRM leads.

CRM Leads and Web-to-Lead Forms

Just because a new CRM system will let you easily generate Web to Lead code that you can paste into the “Contact Us” page on your Website does not mean that you will magically start getting many more CRM leads when you switch to the new CRM system. A “Contact Us” page is only an effective CRM lead generation strategy when you have something so compelling or revolutionary that people are lining up to be contacted about it.

For most companies, getting more CRM leads begins with attracting more visitors to your Website with appropriate content strategies. Once you attract those visitors, you need to convert them to CRM leads by offering value.

The best education on getting more visitors and converting these visitors to CRM leads can be found at HubSpot. HubSpot would, of course, love for you to sign up for their service — but even if you don’t sign up for their platform, their free, educational resources are an unparalleled resource.

From Site Visitors to CRM Leads

With appropriate content and conversion strategies in place, you’ll be able to generate more CRM leads. Then, it’s just a matter of determining the right technology or blend of technologies for feeding those leads into your CRM system and quickly getting new leads into the hands of your salespeople.

This technology could be the CRM vendor’s Web to Lead form code. It could be a WordPress plugin. Or, it could be a platform such as HubSpot’s that feeds in CRM leads via your CRM system’s API. No matter what the technology, the opportunity has never been better for your company’s marketers to feed quality CRM leads into your system.

Customer Support – CRM vs. a Point Solution

Customer Suppport - CRM vs Best of Breed

CRM Customer Support or Best of BreedIf your company provides customer service or technical support directly to end customers, is the customer support functionality that’s available within most leading CRM systems sufficient for your organization’s needs?

Or should you consider a best of breed, online customer support system (a “point solution”), that’s separate from your main CRM system?

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5 Questions to Ask a Prospective CRM Consulting Company

CRM Consulting Company Interview

CRM Consulting Company InterviewYour company is switching to a new CRM system and you are interviewing CRM consulting companies as part of the process. While there are a lot of companies that provide consulting services, which one will provide the best, long term value to your business? Here are five questions to ask of a prospective CRM consulting company.

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5 Reasons Companies Invest in CRM

Why Companies Invest in CRM

At CRM Switch, being true to our brand, we mainly cover topics around switching from a contact manager or from an old CRM system to a new CRM system. However, there are many companies that have never implemented any kind of CRM system. People at these companies are wondering why their company should invest in CRM for the first time.

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CRM Ease of Use vs. CRM Adoptability

CRM Adoption

Over a decade ago, when CRM was a relatively new technology, certain systems were notorious for being difficult to use — particularly for salespeople.

CRM implementations suffered from low adoption rates, and many ultimately failed. This led to a big push toward application “ease of use.” Product managers began to focus on usability as much as they focused on functionality.

CRM Adoption

Today, most of the top CRM systems on the market can legitimately claim, “our system is easy to use”. Contemporary CRM systems all have aesthetically designed user interfaces with design elements such as colorful icons and attractive, gradient coloring. The major CRM systems all demo very well in terms of navigability.

However, CRM ease of use is very different from CRM adoptability. Just because a product’s vendor can claim ease of use, it does not mean their product will experience the same, long term levels of user adoption of other “easy to use” CRM systems.

There are two main measures of CRM user adoption. The first is the percentage of people who continue to use CRM — to any degree — in the long run.  Some salespeople give up on CRM altogether.  The second is how extensively users who do use the application to some degree, actually use it.

Adoptability is ultimately a much bigger factor for overall CRM success than usability.  Here are some of the key adoption factors.


Does the CRM have a familiar feel or vibe to the user?  A twenty-something user grew up with a different set of technologies than a forty-something user.  Given the context of which technologies the biggest group of users grew up with, will the overall degree of adoption be higher or lower with one system versus another?


Is the CRM system accessible from any device or browser that a salesperson uses?  For a given user, degree of adoption may correlate highly to the availability of the application on the multiple platforms and devices that the user interfaces with, which can vary depending on the time of day, day of the week or physical location.


Since so much of a salesperson’s job can revolve around a CRM system, their enjoyment level of a CRM system is an important part of their overall job satisfaction. An employee’s job enjoyment level can, of course affect the longevity of an employee’s tenure with an organization.  Does the CRM application have all the elements that cause users to love it, rather than just like it or tolerate it?


Good salespeople are the best judges of their own productivity.  They don’t wait for a manager to tell them whether or not they are being productive.  If they feel the CRM system impacts their productivity positively or negatively, this will, of course, influence their adoption level.


Good salespeople are also their own biggest critics of their level of sales success.  If a salesperson feels that a CRM system is putting more money into their pocket, then their adoption will be commensurately higher.  If the system is user-friendly, but not adding to the ultimate gauge of value – closed business – then the adoption rate will suffer.

Potential Adoption Level as a CRM Buying Criteria

Given these factors, it makes sense to extend a CRM evaluation well beyond how graphically well-designed and easy to use a CRM system appears to be.  The potential long-term CRM user adoption level is a much more important criteria to focus on.  Higher long term adoption means a higher return on your organization’s CRM investment.

The Essential Steps of a CRM Data Migration

CRM Data Migration Steps to Cloud CRM

CRM Data Migration Steps to Cloud CRMA proper CRM data migration is often more than a simple point and click proposition, despite the ability of CRM applications to import data and despite the existence of off the shelf data migration tools.  What are the factors that make the ultimately most cost effective data migration more than a basic, technical procedure?

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5 Reasons Companies Upgrade Their Old CRM System (Instead of Buying a New One)

CRM Upgrade

CRM UpgradeMany companies choose to perform a CRM upgrade of their existing, legacy contact manager or CRM system rather than switching to a new system.

The upgrade of an existing system is sometimes needed to support newer versions of operating systems and office suites.  Companies also upgrade in order to take advantage of new features and functionality provided by the vendor.

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8 CRM Data Migration Best Practices

CRM Data Migration Best Pratices

CRM Data Migration Best PraticesCRM data migration can be performed in a “quick and dirty” fashion, or it can be done with careful forethought and execution.  With the right preparation and planning, a new CRM application will be easier for end users to work with and and will result in data that can be segmented for marketing purposes in a more meaningful way.  It will also provide more accurate management reports.

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Using Flat CRM Fields vs. Related CRM Tables

Relational Data in a Flat File Database

Certain legacy contact managers do not allow for the creation of custom tables (objects). As a workaround, when there are multiple occurrences of the same type of data, a series of flat fields are created. For example, a set of Properties that relate to a Contact might be tracked within a tab as four sets of matching fields as shown here:

Relational Data in a Flat File Database

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Why Switch to a New CRM System?

Today’s business environment is more of a moving target than ever.  Employees are demanding increasingly more from the business productivity tools that they use in order to be more efficient, keep up sales levels in a competitive environment, and do a better job of retaining existing customers. 

As such, many business managers ask themselves – should we switch from our old contact manager (or CRM system) to a new CRM application?

Why Switch to a New CRM

The following are some of the challenges that companies often experience with older systems—challenges that may lead to considering a switch to a new CRM solution:

Outdated Technology

An older contact manager that is either at the end of its lifecycle or that is simply too costly to upgrade may also mean that it will not run on a newer operating system such as Windows 7 and that it will likely not integrate with newer office suites, such as Google Docs and MS Office 2010.

Support of Data Synchronization

The cost of supporting and maintaining synchronization technology in order to support remote users can be significant.  Before Internet access was as ubiquitous as it is today, many companies used data synchronization to move customer and prospect information to and from remote users.  Popular sync platforms included GoldMine (GoldSync), ACT! and SalesLogix.  With the Internet now accessible from almost anywhere, it is easier and significantly less expensive to deploy a browser based solution to give remote users access to data.

A Flexible Development Platform

Companies are now looking for a more flexible database development platform so they can mold a CRM application to meet current and future business requirements.  For example, many companies want to create custom database tables (or objects) to track data about purchase history, contracts and more.

Customer Service Functionality

Many companies have a need for the kind of interactive customer service functionality that is simply not available in older contact mangers and CRM products.  It’s often desirable to have customer service data accessible by the sales department and other departments, all within one application.

Integration with Legacy Databases

Many organizations want to have CRM integrated with an accounting or ERP database so that sales users can view a customer’s open invoices, credit terms and sales order history.  Integrating this type of data into CRM makes salespeople better informed when they are in contact with customers.

Integration with Third Party Applications

There has been a recent proliferation of cloud-based, third party productivity applications for email marketing, IP telephony and advanced mail merging — just to name a few.  Newer CRM applications offer a wide selection of integrated, productivity apps.

While a new CRM solution represents upfront cost, it can cost much less in the long run and make staff significantly more efficient and effective.

CRM Data Migration Strategies

Strategy Data Migration CRM

Congratulations! Your company has decided to switch to a new CRM application.  Now comes the work effort — determining how best to configure the application to your company’s needs and migrating legacy data into the new CRM system.  There are two general approaches to data migration.

CRM Data Migration Approaches

Option 1

Migrate all existing data precisely as is.  This approach can mean potentially migrating:

  • Records with stale data
  • Records with incomplete information
  • Fields that were used improperly
  • Duplicate records
  • History records that are too old to be meaningful

Users will wade through the same bad data in the new CRM system as in the legacy system.

Option 2

Perform a thorough analysis of legacy data.  Make a number of tactical and strategic decisions prior to performing data migration.  Some of the possible actions are:

  • Deciding whether specific legacy fields should be excluded due to low “density”
  • Identifying potential duplicates and merging duplicates
  • Transforming legacy data into proper data types
  • Normalizing sets of “flat” fields into a proper database structure
  • Determining the cutoff dates for notes and histories
  • Whether there’s an ROI on migrating attachments

Should Old Motor Oil Go Into a New Car?

Option #1 is the less expensive alternative in the short run.  However, in the long run, this option can become more expensive. It’s analogous to buying a new model car and then asking the dealer to remove all the motor oil, coolant, grease, transmission, and power steering fluid from the old car and putting it in the new car.

Putting old fluids into a new car would result in unnecessary wear and tear — and an eventual risk of more expensive repairs to the car.

Rather than gumming up a new CRM application with old information, consider how much better a new model CRM could perform with clean data.  The following are some benefits of performing a thorough review of legacy data and then taking corrective action before migrating the data into a new system.

  • Higher user adoption
  • More efficient use of the CRM system
  • Better data for marketing purposes
  • More meaningful information for management reports

Migrating data correctly the first time can cost slightly more in the short run but helps to provide a higher overall return on investment (ROI) for a CRM implementation project.

Data Migration and CRM Requirements Definition

Legacy data can sometimes be very messy.  Spending the time to analyze legacy data allows companies to understand the results of a wide variety of users having logged customer interactions within a legacy CRM system over many years.

CRM Requirements Definition and Data Migration

A CRM requirements analysis should always include a review of legacy data sources.  This analysis should validate users’ requests regarding key data fields for profiling companies and contacts.  It should then be determined whether or not users have maintained data properly over time.

If there are data quality issues within legacy databases, such as inconsistent field values or the absence of values in certain fields, the requirements phase of a new CRM implementation is an ideal time to understand the reasons for poor data quality better and to take corrective action.

Here are some questions to ask:

  • What, if any, type of field validation in a new CRM will enhance the quality and completeness of data?
  • What are the “must have” and the “nice to have” fields?
  • Do legacy fields with a high data population align with what the users are asking for in a new system?
  • What are the distinct values in various fields, and how do these align with what users are asking for going forward?
  • How does the legacy data align with the reporting requirements defined for the new CRM system?
  • Does all legacy information map well to the new data model, or does certain data need to be transformed or normalized?

Data Rules and Validation in a New CRM System

The greater sophistication of current CRM systems provides a number of mechanisms for ensuring clean data moving forward.

For example, there can be business rules that drive required field entry.  Certain fields can be conditionally required based on other field selections.

Contemporary applications can guide users through pick list selections via hierarchical pick lists, in which the value selected in one field drives the list of possible values in another field.

A new CRM system is an opportunity to implement more appropriate data types. Legacy numeric data in text fields can be transformed into numeric fields to drive scoring or calculations.

Once the data elements for various objects (Contacts, Companies, Activities, Notes, Opportunities, Cases, and custom objects) are defined in the new CRM system and the fields that will be migrated over to the new CRM application are identified, this information can be aligned with the use cases for the new CRM. 

Then, the question becomes, does the number of use cases need to be expanded, or should the data migration be scaled back based on the set of use cases relevant to the current business model?

With proper analysis and planning, a new CRM system will provide much more consistent data, which will enable an organization to profile its prospects and customers better and to produce more accurate and consistent management reports.  There will also be a more efficient and consistent user experience.