Do you use a nickname for your current CRM tool that you would not use in front of a small child?
Now, if your system does do everything you want and you find it is simply not being used properly, then, you have a training issue. If you are noticing your system does not have the mechanical pieces, then you need a new system. In interviewing others on how they use their systems and knowing what your system can currently do, you will quickly see which direction to proceed.
Which is the Correct Tool for your Organization?
Read the fine print. All the tools offer to supercharge your funnel, improve efficiencies, and all with greater accountability. Once you really start digging into the differences between solutions, you will start to find if the promised functionality actually exists. For example, two solutions might claim to evaluate marketing campaigns; however, one might involve significant end-user input, while the other is more automated.
I recommend starting with a full investigation of your firm’s CRM challenges before shopping for a solution. Individuals frequently only see how the problem affects them. You need to look at the problem from all sides and user perspectives and include their challenges into the equation. This also will help with buy-in later down the road.
Based on your research, make a list of criteria. First, start with your absolutely must-have criteria. Next, list all the desirable criteria and rank each of those desirables with a one-to-five rating. If the desirable criteria item comes from another department, gather their feedback on how they would rate it. You also can host a meeting with your department heads and arm wrestle it out on the ratings. I understand that you might not want too many cooks in the kitchen for your implementation; however, providing opportunities for input along your process will definitely help you later on your journey.
Once you have your list with ratings, you are ready to start calling solution providers. This list will help you logically sort through the different solutions without bias. If it does not match up to your list, then it is not the tool for your firm.
Give yourself plenty of time to evaluate each solution. Even better, combine your evaluation with a proof-of-concept test and demonstration using a subset of your data and metrics similar to what you expect to use after the tool is in production.
How do you Approach Management for Buy-In?
When approaching your managing partner, first you need to show the real need for the new solution. Having feedback from department heads and key players in your firm on their challenges with your current solution, or lack there of, will help your cause. Next, back up the feedback with data. Accountants love nothing more than to see things on spreadsheets, so show them the numbers.
Then once you start to see them understand the need, discuss the different solutions. I always like to show three options. The first two will sound okay, but point to a major flaw that makes them incompatible. The third option is the one you really want. Let them know you recommend this option, and spell out the full plan for implementation. Presenting management with multiple options will show your consideration for different options and gives them a choice in the solution.
Like the old idiom says, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Allow for discussion and questions during your presentation, and be prepared for other ideas to surface. If you do not succeed the first time, do not give up. Save your research and continue to build your case; try again in another six months to a year.
Gain Buy-In from Users
Remember when I recommended you look at the problem from all sides and user perspectives? When you start the project off by talking one-on-one with users from all levels, you start planting the buy-in seed, so take time to really listen to their challenges and make note. Then, when you approach management again in a few months with a new tool that might help one, if not all, of their concerns, you will gain buy-in much easier. You also will find a few champions on your side. Building that rapport at the beginning will help you immensely in the adoption phase of your journey.
When beginning your CRM implementation, start small. Be realistic; you will never get 100 percent adoption across your entire firm. Not to be a ‘Negative Nancy’ here, but we all have those two-three anti-technology individuals in our firms that will never participate. Start your implementation with, say, 25 percent of your firm. A new niche group or service line would be an excellent starting group as well. Measure the progress and success of that first implementation group. If you can show success with your first group, then others will follow. Once the word spreads on how easy it is to use or how awesome the reporting is, new participants will come to you.
The last bit of advice I can offer is giving yourself a realistic time frame –then add two months. Rome was not built in a day and neither will your implementation. There will be a great need for evaluation, testing, training, dealing with adoption challenges, and still handling the daily duties of your job, while implementing a new tool. For your sanity, please give yourself a wide span of time and communicate that to everyone. That way, if it is done sooner, you look like the rock star we all know you are.
In conclusion, remember the following: