Step two when setting up a CRM system: Select and Develop

Many of our clients already have a CRM system. Still, they never went through proper implementation, resulting in confusion about using it effectively and realizing a return on investment. In our previous article [Step One: Design Strategy], we walked through choosing a CRM product to fit your current business processes with an expert first. We described Laura, owner of Professional Content Writing Solutions, who had a consultation to identify business goals and define how she wants a CRM to work.

If you don’t currently have a CRM system, CRM Growth Strategy will help you to select one that is right for your business model and industry. The next step is comparing a few products to make your CRM selection. If your business already has a CRM system in place, we move straight to the Develop phase.

Selection process

When you’ve gone through our Step One Design phase, CRM Growth Strategy will have information to identify up to three CRM systems and review them. We do a trial run by configuring some core elements of the systems and evaluate the pros and cons for each one.

This selection process allows clients like Laura to understand and visualize the CRM capabilities at a core level. She has time to review the differences and similarities among the systems and then feels empowered to make an educated decision. In this case, she knows her new CRM will fit her organization and contribute to her business strategy. It will keep her writing team’s contacts at her fingertips with one place to assign and track projects in real-time. It will also manage new and existing clients with automated reminders to connect with them when they are ready to get their project started or discuss the next one.

Develop phase

Setting up a CRM system requires three steps:

  1. Custom configuration for the business
  2. Validate that the customizations are working correctly through testing
  3. Import the data into the new system

Each step is discussed with the client to verify we are on the right track to meet their needs.

Configuring the CRM System

We start by reviewing the CRM system's data model and evaluating which fields are relevant for Laura's business and which ones are not—hiding the ones that are not relevant if the CRM allows for that function. Some systems give you a lot of flexibility, while others have less.

Then we begin adding custom fields to Contacts, Accounts, and Opportunity records. This will help Laura to create reports and filters in her system to access information like:

  • All the contacts who are existing customers.
  • All the organizations that are in the marketing consulting industry.
  • All the opportunities who hired Laura's writing business for ongoing monthly content.

Next, we configure the Sales Pipeline stages. This is important because the sales pipeline is the best tool for Laura to make sure new business engagements don't fall through the cracks. You can automate many processes depending on the functionality of the system. For example, some CRMs allow you to easily automate tasks and reminders based on sales cycle stages and the salespeople assigned to them.

For Laura, it was essential to have the ability to delegate work to her copywriters rather than salespeople. Because of that, she chose a CRM system that had a partner portal. We configured the partner portal to give Laura the ability to assign the work to her team instead. This involved configuring user access to make sure the copywriters only saw their own tasks. Laura didn't want them to view each other's records in the system. We also added a field to the task record to track the cost of each assignment so she could easily pull a report later and know what she paid her copywriters.

Validating the configuration

This phase is both crucial and challenging because we need to go through the system with Laura before her data is imported. The data is what gives her context and helps her understand the system better. But we couldn’t use the actual data until we knew for sure what fields were necessary for the system to begin sorting, tracking, and automating information and tasks.

After completing the configuration, we tested the system with Laura:

  •  We used real data from her day-to-day business and went through the process of adding a contact, adding an account, and adding an opportunity record together
  • We automated individual tasks to see if they worked as expected
  • We tested the partner portal. Laura pretended to be one of her copywriters to see how they would view the information in the system

 At the beginning of our meeting, Laura was concerned, but as we made progress and started adding test data, she began to see how the system configuration was aligned with how her business operates. She was ready to move to the next steps.

Importing the data

We imported Laura’s list of contacts and accounts from her Google Contacts. She was adding her current opportunities to the system manually. She felt a lot better knowing new leads would be added automatically. There would be one less task to remember.

We added her old opportunities from her accounting system as well. Now she could see from her contact and account records all the previous engagements she had with a particular client in one place.

Laura helped by adding the tasks for copywriters to the system to see who was assigned to each client.

When we met with Laura to review the data in the system, she was ecstatic! She started to see how much easier it was going to be managing her business using the CRM moving forward.

Now you know what goes into selecting the right CRM for your business and implementing it properly before it can effectively manage your daily activities.

Stay tuned for our next article on setting up a CRM system when we discuss Step Three: delivering a CRM that can analyze and display critical information.

How are you tracking your clients and potential sales? Is your business growing? Do you need a better system? Contact us to help you choose and configure cloud-based CRM solutions with access across digital devices.