6 Tips to Help Small Businesses Change Their CRM
Change is never easy, even when we know it’s necessary to improving our situation or our business. While the familiar is comfortable, sticking with the way we’ve always done things is often the quickest killer of advancement. This often holds true for using the same legacy customer relationship management (CRM) systems. It is often the resistance within small to midsize businesses (SMBs) that keeps them from adopting or even considering a new or alternative CRM, which, in turn, keeps them from growing and thriving.
For SMBs, the prospect of changing CRMs can seem like an impossible task met with lots of opposition. What all stakeholders and users should understand is that, when properly deployed, a new CRM will not only improve efficiencies and processes throughout an entire company but also help better serve customers. And better-served customers are in everyone’s best interest. If you can commit to making a change with the right help and guidance, implementing a CRM might be one of the best decisions you could make for your business.
Here are a few tips for helping your company mitigate resistance to changing CRMs.
1. Commit to a Customer-Centric Mind-Set
It’s important to remember that a CRM is not just about the technology. Rather, it should be viewed as a vision and strategy; after all, CRM is designed to help you provide better customer service. Ask your CRM users to commit to a customer-centric mind-set across the entire business.
To have a successful CRM vision means that all system users, from the leadership down, need to operate from the same playbook with clearly defined goals and expectations. These may involve spelling out how internal processes will transform, explaining what steps will be taken at each point in the CRM implementation phase, learning what users wants to achieve with a new CRM, showing how you’re measuring success, and regularly communicating how your CRM system is going serve the business.
2. Get Buy-in Early and Often
Prior to purchasing and implementing a system, ask your staff what insights they’d like to have to better manage their customers. They may have used numerous systems before, so ask them to share what’s been helpful, and what’s been a hindrance. Think of it like gathering customer feedback to drive a product roadmap. You can’t meet every request, but you should consider the input as you select a new solution and get it customized to your business. More importantly, users want to feel included.
3. Involve Others in the Choice
Choosing the right CRM is just as important as choosing the right vendor. There are many things to consider long before signing a contract. This presents an opportunity for everyone in the business to ask questions and share in the selection process. When vetting vendors, you want to know more about their industry experience, availability, with whom they work and partner, and maintenance and support levels.
For the system, get the team involved early on in new demos. Be sure to ask about training and support and what level of help and resources are offered. Keep in mind that proper training reaches beyond the end users to include developers and IT who may need to help with technical updates downstream.
4. Provide Proper Training
Getting your team trained on a new CRM is not only paramount to successfully using the application; it presents yet another opportunity to get them synchronized and buying in to the changes. After determining the type and level of training each user needs, you can approach training a few different ways.
There is role-based training for users in relation to their job function; bespoke training, or training designed specifically for the target group of users; and, of course, ongoing training and on-boarding for new users. All of these training approaches can be performed in a manner that helps alleviate trepidation associated with learning new technologies by creating support among the team and its members.
5. Encourage Feedback
Employees want to know that their input is valued. If you want to ease tension about switching CRMs, allow users to leave feedback and suggestions for current or future improvements to the CRM system. There are some simple ways to go about gathering feedback from your team, much in the way you would from the customers you serve.
For example, sales and support teams may ask customers about a particular CRM feature that worked or didn’t work for them. Similarly, ask your teams about their commonly reported problems, challenges, or concerns with the system.
Surveys are a good tool as well. Your business should already be using customer surveys to analyze how they can improve relationships. Apply the same tactic to your users by giving them short, pertinent surveys on a regular basis to stay ahead of their concerns. You can even enable them to answer anonymously so they feel open about giving honest feedback.
6. Evaluate and Reward
Now that your CRM is in place, it should be clearly articulated how users will be evaluated on their use of the new system. This isn’t to suggest micro-management; rather it offers a way to keep CRM users activated individually, as a team, and keeping them engaged in the CRM vision and practice.
Scheduling regular meetings to review the new CRM’s features, discuss best practices, or to simply ask for input on how users feel about the new system is a good way to gauge evaluation. For those users who are setting a positive example on adoption, such a proper data entry or reporting, managers can offer small rewards like free lunch or a gift card. This type of recognition can go a long way in building value and spurring healthy competition, especially for SMBs, which tend to have a smaller group of users.
Saying goodbye to a former CRM may not be easy, especially if it has brought value in the past. If it’s your goal to grow as a business, then chances are it’s going to require change that can, in the near term, be uncomfortable for everyone involved. Applying some of the tips above will help make the changes easier to manage. Once the decision has been made and your new CRM system is generating value, chances are you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the change sooner.
Arun Upadhyay, CEO and founder of LionOBytes, is a technology expert and serial entrepreneur. He has a proven record leading teams and producing cutting-edge IT solutions. His experience spans various continents, industries, and corporate sizes (from start-up to Fortune 500). His latest venture is LionO360, a cloud-based CRM designed specifically for small to midsize businesses.