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Adopting a CRM can be a game changer for any small or medium-sized business (SMB).

After all, many companies come to Salesforce relying only on a spreadsheet-based system, wherein everything from sales reports to customer records – and beyond – is tediously squeezed into Excel sheets that have been painstakingly tweaked to fit their needs (as best as possible).

However, implementing the right CRM tools can be liberating for any SMB. Why? With a CRM system firmly in place, customer information can flow a lot more freely between employees and teams. Not to mention, that information can also be easily accessed virtually anywhere and on any device. This means that even simple tasks like looking up a prospect’s email address or checking in on a sales cycle require only a few simple clicks. All the information you ever need is always all in one place. Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

But change can be difficult, even if it’s a change for the better. Fortunately, as resistant to change as many people may be, we also know that growing pains are only temporary. Smart planning can make change management much easier for everyone involved.

What Is Change Management?

Change management is the term applied to everything an organization does to plan and execute wide-scale change. People oftentimes approach change management from two angles:  1) The “soft side,” also known as organizational change management (OCM), which pertains to how people are affected and supported and 2) the “hard side,” which revolves around the processes, systems, and technologies being changed. We’ll look at how both sides play a role in this process below.

Making the leap from spreadsheets to CRM will have a big and lasting impact on the people and processes in your organization – but only if the change management process is managed correctly.  Ready to get started? Here are a few best practices that will help you drive the adoption and long-term success of your new CRM strategy.

Craft a CRM Strategy

CRM can do a lot to help your business run more efficiently and grow. To do this, you must define a clear business strategy up front, one that will ultimately guide your CRM implementation and help you better customize it to support your business’s overall goals. In the meantime, however, here are a few tips especially worth calling out:

  • Define your strategy: Strategy is what makes your vision achievable.
  • Define your business objectives: Business objectives are where vision and strategy get translated into day-to-day work. View your move to CRM as an opportunity to review and optimize how you work.
  • Get your leaders on board: Executive sponsorship is vital for your overall vision, CRM strategy, and business objectives for a successful rollout.

You’re probably thinking, “Don’t all three of these tips touch on the people side of change management?” You’re right, they do! The soft and hard sides of change management aren’t mutually exclusive. The point here is that before installing any new technology, it’s wise to develop a business strategy to inform how your new CRM can best support new ways of approaching day-to-day work.

Much of the change management centres around scaffolding the change with formal structure. It may not be rocket science, but it does require thoughtful planning, communication, and follow-through.

Analyze and Automate, Wisely

Analytics and automation are two powerful elements of any CRM that can really make a difference in a business’s day-to-day operations, especially if you’ve been managing everything in spreadsheets up to this point. Harnessing the power and productivity latent in these features can free your teams from repetitive tasks and even surface actionable insights from data that will help your teams work smarter.

Before analyzing data or building any automation, however, you’ll want to make a plan. Here are a few tips you absolutely will want to keep the top of mind:

  • Don’t just automate for the sake of automation
    Keep it simple. Automation that trigger managerial approvals, for example, can slow things down unintentionally. Automation is a wonderful thing. Just make sure that you use it to simplify and streamline your team’s day-to-day operations – not add extra layers or steps that over-complicate simple processes.
  • Make sure your analytics are purposeful
    Auto-generated charts and graphs are fun to look at but just be sure that someone on your team actually has a use for them before you build them out.
  • Analytics are not meant to be static
    As your business evolves, your data needs will need to evolve, too. Be sure to update your dashboards and reporting tools regularly to ensure they match up to your business needs at all times.

Gather and Import Your Data

Take stock of your data as you prepare to implement your new CRM with these four steps:

  1. Gather up all of your existing data by pulling it all into one master file (if possible).
  1. Standardize your data by combing through it to make sure it’s “clean.” Did you put the first and last names in the correct fields? Does the data in the address and email fields actually represent valid postal and email addresses? Simple clean up like this will make a world of difference once you import your data into your new CRM system.

(If the thought of weeding out duplicate entries from your database makes you cringe, Salesforce offers a deduping functionality via the Import Wizard and Data Loader tools to make it a lot easier to delete duplicates.)

  1. Make backups – and adopt a data backup strategy, especially if you don’t already have one in place.
  1. Import data into your new CRM. If you’re moving to Salesforce, we’ve got plenty of resources to help you get up and running, fast. And before you say goodbye to your old system, take the time to warm up to your new CRM. As with any major change, there’s always a bit of a learning curve that takes place whenever onboarding onto a new system. You’ll want to make sure you understand how your new CRM works and that all of your customer data is showing up correctly and in the right place before saying farewell to your once beloved spreadsheets.

Plan for Success

Making the leap from spreadsheets to CRM is a great thing for your business. A CRM is designed to adapt to your needs, maximize efficiency, increase productivity, and grow alongside your business. Whether you are a  team of two or two hundred, effective change management can help maximize your CRM investment – and pay off in a big way in the long-term.

For more information, be sure to check out our additional resources on change management and Salesforce implementation today.

Thinking of making the leap from spreadsheets to a CRM? Try out our new CRM built for small businesses, Salesforce Essentials.

Credit: NOAH KRAVITZ | Source: https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2018/07/crm-essentials-change-management-smb.html

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