As those who have been through the CRM selection process know, once a particular solution has been decided on, there’s still a lot of work left to be done before a new system goes live and is ready to use. While careful planning, evaluation, and detailed specifications will go a long way in making the process easier, there are a host of new decisions to be made when it comes time to begin the CRM implementation process.
At CRM Switch, we talk to people at dozens of businesses every month that have completed their selection process and suddenly find themselves confronted with a whole new set of challenges about how to get their chosen solution up and running. More often than not, we find that many people have a few common misconceptions about CRM implementations, so we thought we’d take a moment to help shed some light on the process and dispel some of the myths we often hear.
Myth 1: Implementation services are included in the CRM system purchase price or are discounted by the vendor.
Reality: None of the major CRM vendors include implementation costs or discounts in the purchase price of their licenses. In fact, most vendors don’t offer implementation services at all, and will typically refer new customers to one or more third party implementation specialists.
Myth 2: We (the buyer) can do our own CRM implementation in-house.
Reality: This one is a bit more complicated. A lot of people we speak to believe that simply by dedicating a resource or two from their IT department that they won’t need a third party to help them and they’ll save a lot of time and money. While this strategy occasionally works, what we see far more frequently is that ‘tech savvy’ doesn’t translate into ‘CRM savvy’. The implementation ends up taking far longer, and ultimately costing more, than if a specialist had been hired up front.
Implementing a new CRM system is a lot like building a custom home. Businesses should make sure that the people they task to build the system have experience with the process from foundation to finish, and not just hanging a picture on the wall or changing a light bulb now and then.
Myth 3: All CRM licenses (seats) must be included at the time of purchase.
Reality: At CRM Switch, we actually advocate the exact opposite of this idea. We encourage businesses to start with the bare minimum number of seats, and then add more once the new system is live and ready for general use. Implementation can often take longer than originally estimated, and there’s no sense in paying for licenses that aren’t being utilized while the system is being built.
In the CRM world, it’s far easier to add new licenses than to remove them, which is typically only possible when a contract comes up for renewal. Purchasing one or two seats up front, then adding more once the new system is live, will save money and ensure that a business only starts with the number of seats they actually need.
Myth 4: The data migration process is simple, straightforward, and doesn’t require a lot of time or effort.
Reality: Frankly, if this myth were true, there wouldn’t be nearly as many CRM consulting firms. The data migration process is often the core component of a new CRM implementation, and depending on the source of the data, can be incredibly complicated and time intensive. We talk to quite a few people who are under the assumption that data migration is a simple point-and-click procedure, and they’re always surprised when we walk them through what it actually takes to get the job done.
One of the most common examples of how challenging data migration can be is for a business using an offline or ‘on-premises’ system like ACT!, GoldMine, Microsoft CRM 4.0, or even Outlook, trying to migrate to a cloud hosted solution like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, or Sugar.
We frequently see businesses with years and years worth of contacts, notes, attachments, custom fields, and more living in their legacy CRM or contact manager and they need it all to come across into their cloud solution. Without the proper expertise, this often results in a ‘square peg in a round hole’ situation, leaving businesses feeling trapped in their current system with no way out.
Any worthwhile CRM implementation partner will take the time to thoroughly examine and discuss a client’s data migration needs prior to committing to a timetable or cost estimate.
Myth 5: CRM is limited to handling sales and marketing contacts and can’t incorporate multiple databases.
Reality: This is another example of where the opposite is true. While many businesses only include sales and marketing records in their CRM database, enterprise class solutions are capable of incorporating multiple databases in a single implementation. This allows for much tighter integration of business processes and allows system users the ability to have a much more comprehensive picture of a customer or prospect’s history with the company all in one convenient location.
One example of this would be importing a company’s product catalog database into their CRM implementation, allowing CRM users to then see both customer contact information, customer contact history, and a list of previously purchased products all on one page.
More often than not we find that businesses underestimate the capabilities of CRM. A solid implementation partner can mean the difference between process evolution and revolution.
If your business is considering a new CRM solution, we encourage you to talk to a variety of third party specialists and find one that understands your organization’s needs and has experience solving the challenges unique to your industry. At CRM Switch, we’ve helped hundreds of businesses across nearly every vertical get their CRM project off the ground. We take great care to understand each client’s particular needs and requirements before we begin their implementation, and make every effort to educate them about the process along the way.