5 caveats of CRM implementation + 5 best practices to solve them
It's time to face some fundamental truths: Sales professionals have a love-hate relationship with CRM software.
When it's implemented correctly, you’ll have company-wide visibility, more meaningful customer data, and easier interactions by phone, email, or SMS—and your sales team will be more productive and close more deals.
But there are caveats to CRM implementation—if it’s not done right, your whole team will suffer.
A CRM is more than just a database of information about your prospects and customers—it's a tool that helps you communicate better with them. At its finest, the CRM system ensures all interactions involving marketing and selling your products or services are done in an organized and transparent way.
So, what unique challenges should you understand and prepare for? And which best practices for CRM implementation will help you and your team stay on track?
- 5 caveats of CRM implementation: challenges to understand before you buy
- 5 tips and best practices for CRM implementation
5 caveats of CRM implementation: challenges to understand before you buy
If you are currently using a CRM, it may not be a walk in the park.
Maybe you feel you’re not using your CRM to its full potential, or bad choices are getting in the way of success.
Whether you’re looking for a new CRM or trying to improve implementation with the CRM you’re already using, here are the CRM implementation caveats you should be aware of:
1. Manual data entry can slow CRM usage
Each year, companies kiss hours of productivity goodbye. They’re too busy entering data and logging activity. One study found that 71% of reps feel they spend too much time on data entry.
Forcing your reps to manually enter each interaction they have with prospects and customers will add hours of useless time to their workday, and tear them away from what they do best: selling!
Case study: The sales team at Customer.io needed a tool that would integrate smoothly with their own marketing platform in order to build useful automations for their team. They use advanced automations to set up early-stage workflows for new leads, including lead scoring and assignment as well as segmentation for self-service leads. Get an in-depth view of their case study here.
2. Teams who don’t use the CRM well don't collaborate well
When there is a lack of visibility across the team, it becomes difficult (if not impossible) for reps and managers to collaborate and close deals faster. Unnecessary confusion, and an inefficient back-and-forth of questions will ensue:
- Who last contacted this lead?
- Why was this opportunity lost?
- When did you say you’d follow up with this lead?
Without clear contact and lead data, interactions get buried in lengthy email threads that most of the team aren’t privy to.
Case study: The team at Melanie Power were frustrated with Hubspot CRM because they couldn’t save notes and interactions in an intuitive way. They moved to Close, and the reps love it. Close works as a central hub for the entire team, just the way a CRM should. Read the full story here.
3. Complex systems lead to low user adoption
Having a CRM is only part of the equation. What really matters is how your reps use it in their day-to-day and how it's implemented into their sales workflow.
After all, if your reps don’t like the CRM, they won’t use it. And if they don’t use it, your whole sales process will suffer.
This is one of the reasons why we built Close in the first place: Back in the day, when we were running sales for more than 200 venture-backed startups in the Bay Area, there was no sales tool our reps actually liked using. CRM systems were built for management first—a place where they could go to find the data they needed to build reports. But the people who had to use the CRM as part of their daily workflow where sales people—and all the extra administrative work that was put on their plate distracted them from closing more deals.
This caveat of CRM implementation is directly linked to your decision process—don’t force reps to use a CRM system that will slow them down or make their sales process more complicated. And whichever CRM you use, make sure your reps clearly understand how to get the most out of it.
Case study: Kyle Stremme of High Kick Sales works alongside small businesses to get them set up with a proper sales process. Working with his clients, he saw that all-in-one systems like Hubspot were usually cumbersome and complex for small businesses, but that a tool like Close, which is built for high-velocity sales, builds better user adoption because reps actually enjoy using it. Read Kyle’s story here.
4. Messy or duplicate data slows down deals
Lost productivity and poorly managed leads cost companies at least $1 trillion every year.
When your team is constantly dealing with customer data that may or may not be up-to-date or is duplicated in various places, they’ll get easily frustrated. Plus, this can lead to awkward, repetitive conversations with leads (definitely not a fast-track to a sale).
Solution: Keep your contacts and leads organized
Case study: The Sales Transformation Group switched to Close because they needed a CRM that would grow with them as they started to scale their sales team. They use Smart Views in Close to keep track of exactly where each lead is in the sales process and build interactions based on which leads are the warmest. Read about how they’ve set this up.
5. A generic or unclear pipeline can ruin your sales process
Most CRMs come with a pipeline view that includes generic stages from the beginning of a lead’s interaction with your company to the closed deal.
But when you try to squish your current sales process into a ‘generic’ pipeline simply because the CRM comes that way, you’ll stunt your team’s growth and limit their ability to adapt to the market’s needs.
Case study: The team at Trufan uses their own customized pipeline view to convert new leads in their inbound sales process. They use the Pipeline View in Close to track weekly progress and report on what’s happening with the sales team. Read the full story here.
5 tips and best practices for CRM implementation
When your CRM is properly implemented company-wide, the benefits will be clear...
- Having a database of your customers
- Tracking every interaction you have with a customer
- Making it easy to email, call, and text prospects and customers
- Automating communication and follow-ups
- Managing your team’s tasks and projects
- Creating detailed reports
- Integrating with the other software you use
So, how do you get to that point? Here are 5 CRM implementation best practices that we recommend to get the most out of your CRM:
1. Use automation to reduce repetitive tasks
CRM automation allows you to streamline each aspect of your sales process, such as prospecting, lead generation, and follow-ups. This allows reps to focus on the pieces of the process where human interaction is necessary, and leave repetitive tasks to the system.
Using the right amount of customization is key. Make sure any new automations add real value to both your reps and your customers. For example, new leads entering your pipeline might receive an automated email sequence. Or, if a lead goes dark, you can build a specific follow-up sequence to recapture their interest.
Not only will automation reduce the likelihood of a mistake, but it will give you and your staff more meaningful time on other priorities.
Check out Chapter 1 of our CRM implementation guide to see specific steps to choose a CRM that automates the right tasks for your sales team: 9 CRM implementation steps to choose and validate a new CRM
2. Use improved visibility to increase collaboration
The right CRM makes customer data more visible to everyone in the company. This strengthens collaborative efforts and increases the quality of your customer relationships.
When your sales reps know how to collaborate well with each other and with other departments, selling becomes more personalized to each customer’s specific needs.
To complete this CRM implementation best practice, make sure the system you choose allows customer data and interaction history to be clearly visible to everyone involved.
By involving all team members in your CRM, you can collaborate towards a better customer experience. This will help you get more deals closed and drive sales.
Looking for more? See how collaboration is a key sign of CRM implementation success in Chapter 4 of our CRM implementation guide: CRM implementation success factors: 5 signs you nailed it.
3. Get your team the training they need to be truly successful
We know that sales reps have a love-hate relationship with the CRM. But what if they were specifically trained on all the shortcuts and advanced uses for their CRM?
CRM training can boost an individual’s awareness of features and functionality to strengthen their familiarity and confidence in the tool. This in-depth knowledge is essential to effective use—and it’s up to sales leaders to provide this guidance.
The better your team understands the system and how it can help them in their day-to-day work, the higher your user adoption rates will be.
There are training courses, workshops, videos, and other resources out there for exactly this purpose. Dig into these and find the right options for your team.
Since user adoption is such a big part of CRM implementation, we discuss this more in Chapter 5 of our CRM implementation guide: 6 most common CRM implementation risks + how to fight them proactively
4. Keep your contacts and leads organized
One of the most important CRM implementation best practices is to make the switch with clean customer data.
Over time, it’s easy for lead and customer data to become a bit jumbled and disorganized. Cleaning up your data beforehand gives your reps a fresh start in a new system.
You want to make sure that your CRM has a database that holds accurate and detailed contact information. However, the notion comes down to an easy-to-use CRM system.
Having your contacts in one place enables you to be organized and easily track who you’ve communicated with. Reps will easily see which sales leads need to be followed up with and who needs a little more pushing to get that deal closed.
Want to get a step-by-step recommendation on how to set up your CRM implementation right from the start? Check out Chapter 2 of the ultimate CRM implementation guide: The only CRM implementation plan you'll ever need
5. Customize and track your sales pipeline with a view to improve
Your sales process is unique, and your pipeline view should be as well. To avoid caveats of CRM implementation, set up customization from the start and get your reps onboarded into a system that is adapted to their way of selling.
This starts with having your own sales process well-documented and up-to-date. After that, each stage in your pipeline can represent a step that reps take to bring leads closer to a closed deal.
For more details on this process, head over to Chapter 2 of the guide mentioned above: The only CRM implementation plan you'll ever need
Now over to you—take these tactics and run with them
Automation, collaboration, CRM training, and clean customer data may seem natural to you. But together, these best practices show a roadmap for successful CRM implementation.
Of course, for all of this work to give you real results, you need to choose a CRM that fits with the needs of your team and the type of sales they do.
- Field sales teams need an outside CRM system with a native mobile app. In that case, Spotio or BadgerMapping can be great.
- Sales teams working intimately with inbound marketing tactics will probably prefer working with a inbound marketing automation tool like HubSpot.
- For high-performance inside sales teams who are heavily involved with calling and emailing their prospects directly, Close can be a fantastic option.
Startups and SMBs love Close because it’s a CRM that easily scales alongside your team and enables lean sales teams to accomplish more in less time with features like built-in calling, email sequences, and a daily inbox.
So, don’t waste your time using a CRM that isn’t adapted to your team. Implement these best practices into a CRM system that works for you, and you’ll be on your way to increasing revenue and closing more deals.
Want to get the full scoop on how to complete a successful CRM implementation, from start to finish? Check out the ultimate guide to CRM implementation: