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03.23.06


Five Steps To A Successful CRM Implementation

By David Cowgill

For the professional services person, some iterations of CRM may be confusing - many are slanted toward automating customer service operations.

But never fear, there is a whole lot more to CRM than fielding service calls. In fact, a new breed of CRM is quickly becoming a powerful solution for professional services firms, especially those with management teams that want to leverage firm-wide intellectual property to grow their client base, improve productivity and maximize profitability.

Unlike accounting or HR solutions that are primarily used by highly trained and skilled personnel within a single department, CRM is an enterprise application that is used by virtually everyone across the firm. When deployed in an organization, CRM solutions aggregate vast amounts of information to create a pool of knowledge that can be used to prospect new business, validate leads, analyze processes and more. Sounds great. But the question remains: how can a firm ensure success? Following are five simple steps that can help put your organization on the path to CRM success.

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1. Remember that Culture is King - A CRM solution is more than a new software package. It also encompasses a mindset, a way of doing business and a way of interacting with others in the firm. The success of a CRM implementation rests on the shoulders of a workforce that is willing to share information about clients and contacts. However, this "collaborative" mentality flies in the face of the culture within some professional services firms. For better or worse, many professional services practitioners are skeptical of sharing contact information for fear of losing opportunities to generate work that they can produce themselves. However, if a CRM implementation is introduced to the workforce as an opportunity to create new opportunities for all, success rates will improve significantly.

Consequently, it is especially important to publicize instances when shared information benefits the firm-at-large. Management must work toward creating a culture that is based upon "the greater good" rather than "individual gain." To reach this goal, users must see proof that the information they share will be used to improve operations and add new business that will benefit all members of the firm. It may take some time, but such a culture shift is worth the effort.

2. Set Realistic Goals - One of the greatest mistakes a management team can make is to force-feed new technology across the organization. This is particularly true with a CRM implementation. As firm management prepares for a CRM rollout, planning and patience are critical. Working with the implementation team from the software developer, management should agree upon a plan of phasing software use across the firm. Some organizations orchestrate a CRM rollout by location, others by practice group or department. Regardless, this type of phased approach gives both the firm and the implementation team an opportunity to make adjustments, manage expectations, achieve milestones and promote successes.

Read the full article.


About the Author:
David Cowgill is a Senior CRM Marketing Manager, and the CRM Blog founder.

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