We live in a world that changes at a supersonic speed.
What seemed like cutting-edge technology ten years ago has become a household’s necessity today.
The same applies to the CRM industry: it has changed tremendously since it first appeared in the early 1990s.
Not only is there a host of CRM vendors who can cater to any business’ size, needs, and financial capabilities, but we’re now also spoilt for choice in terms of innovation.
As a result, some older CRM systems lag, incapable of offering the newest, yet already indispensable, functionality.
That’s why many companies today feel like they have outgrown the CRM system they have and, therefore, consider switching to another CRM system.
Another reason could be the current climate, which is why two out of 3 buyers (67%) are likely-to-extremely likely to change vendor this year.
So, if you’re one of those buyers considering a move to a different CRM system, this article is for you.
The fear of saying “Yes” to the CRM switch
Nobody likes change. And when it comes to CRM – there’s a lot at stake.
You think that switching to a new CRM will be just too complicated and expensive for your business. After all, a lot of time and effort was put into your current CRM system: implementation, customization, onboarding, and user training, not to mention the cost of upgrades and third-party integrations.
Another worry is, of course, the “shock-horror” of transferring your old CRM database into the new system!
To address your fears, let me, first of all, take you down memory lane.
Why did you invest in CRM in the first place?
You must have had high hopes for it: you thought it would improve productivity, take your customer relationships to the next level of loyalty, streamline your sales process, and bring more revenue in the end.
Remember those days?
Now, ask yourself – do you still want the same things for your business today?
Of course, you do!
So, what would you prefer – taking on the challenge of switching to a better CRM solution or carry on living with the failing “legacy” system?
Several factors are signaling that the time to move on from your old CRM has come.
To determine whether or not you’re ready for a CRM switch, read through the list of “symptoms” below and see whether you find any of the familiar.
1. You’ve outgrown your CRM
As a start-up, you kept things small – hiring only a handful of employees and working from a shoe-box-sized office.
Today, your company is a successful business and has fully-fledged departments; you employ more people and need more advanced tools to manage your operations successfully. This is because your company’s capacities grew together with its business goals.
An old CRM may no longer support the new functionality available to others on the market, such as:
- IP telephony (VoIP) to make calls straight from your CRM,
- Live chat to communicate with your customers in real-time,
- Scripts to automate workflows and consumer-facing business processes
- integration with unique apps to enable the use of digital signature,
- Interactive dashboards for more accessible business analytics,
- Integrated web forms to capture more high-quality leads;
- Many more modern CRM features.
As a result, your database structure gets outdated, data input methods become obsolete, functional capabilities decrease, and integrations with the latest SaaS applications for sales or marketing become impossible.
And the saddest part is that you end up creating tedious workarounds or – worse – go by working without the latest technology.
2. You need new deployment possibilities and remote access methods
The bigger your company grows, the more flexibility it requires in terms of technology.
If you have a rigid CRM deployment plan with problematic scalability and insufficient remote access possibility, you risk lagging behind your competitors in terms of efficiency and service speed.
Today, you need to be able to:
- quickly increase or decrease the number of CRM users,
- change your existing deployment mode without losing productivity,
- select the functionality required only for a specific business operation, and
- access your CRM on the go and different devices.
- For example, suppose your company has an international branch. In that case, it becomes vital for you to work with a cloud CRM solution, as it allows everyone to log into the same database in real-time – whether at the office or working remotely.
And suppose your salespeople often work in the field. In that case, it’s simply a must for them to use the mobile version of your CRM, which allows them to access and update customer information, tasks, appointments, or sales opportunities from anywhere, at any time on any device.
3. You dislike your system’s UI and UX
Today’s B2B buyer is craving for a great customer experience, not just a product.
And, the more excellent the appearance of that experience is, the better!
Each new stride that the CRM evolution takes is directed towards improving the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX).
What can be worse than struggling to understand a system that is supposed to ease your day-to-day activities and help you multitask? Nobody wants to spend time deciphering the names of buttons and fields or get lost in the labyrinth of unexplained or illogical steps.
Slow, bulky, complicated, non-intuitive CRM systems with old-fashioned or bland UI are doomed to be rejected by users and eventually sink into oblivion.
If your team hates how your current CRM looks and operates, it’s time to switch!
4. You’re confused by too many complex features.
When it comes to CRM – having a lot of features is not always a good thing.
Very often, companies overestimate their needs in terms of various CRM functions. As a result, most of the features are either not being used or needlessly complicate what is supposed to be simple contact management, sales, marketing, or customer service tasks.
The latest research by Apptivo points that CRM’s complexity is the number one reason why companies get dissatisfied with their CRM system and think about switching to another plan.
It makes more sense to have a CRM that offers dedicated user plans, consisting of a set of features necessary for a specific job.
It means that your salespeople would be working with an advanced set of sales-enhancing tools and functionality. At the same time, your Customer Success team will be able to enjoy an array of service-related functions that will help them offer comprehensive and timely help. Your marketing team will be able to focus on preparing, sending, and analyzing their marketing campaigns.
5. Your salespeople refuse to use CRM
It gets even worse when salespeople reject CRM – as salespeople need a CRM system the most!
Except that, salespeople are notorious for being the most extensive CRM “haters”.
According to research by Software Advice, the main reason why sales reps dislike CRM is that it is a time-stealer and it is difficult.
It’s a fact – if salespeople are forced to spend time on a complex and confusing system, they’ll ditch it, ruining the whole purpose of having a CRM.
That’s why, if you consider switching to a new CRM, it’s paramount to choose a system that’ll help your B2B sales team quickly enter and access important information, as well as automate the essential sales processes.
Get ready for the CRM switch.
If you self-diagnosed yourself and found a few symptoms that describe the relationship with your current CRM system, then it’s time to act.
Moving to a new CRM is not as frightening and challenging as you first thought.
You need to get properly ready for the move and do your research to find a perfect CRM match for your business.
To make the right choice, you need to:
- Clearly define what is missing in the old CRM and what new functionality you want to get in a new system;
- Re-define what business goals you want to achieve, what operations you wish to improve, and how you’re going to measure them;
- Outline the necessary steps you need to take in the CRM buying process, as well as your budget;
- Consult with your employees and take their feedback and requirements onboard;
- Analyze your database, its structure and content, and decide what needs to be transferred (use this opportunity to perform a significant data clean-up);
- Examine multiple offers and seek professional consultations.
- If carefully selected, the right solution will certainly bring the benefits you originally envisaged for your business.
Switching to a different customer relationship management platform can be quite a challenge for small businesses. You have to gain your team’s buy-in, transfer customer data and implement new workflows. Here are a few ways to approach this process and make it a less daunting transition.
Get total buy-in
If your sales team doesn’t support the switch, they’ll never use the new CRM. So, check-in with them, said Lori Harmon, VP of sales for Contrast Security and author of 42 Rules for Building a High-Velocity Inside Sales Team.
“You’ll have to sell them on why the new system is beneficial to them and not to the company or management,” she said. “Additionally, you should make sure that the new system is straightforward for them to use and provide the necessary training.”
It’s pretty common for the majority of the team to be enthusiastic, with a minority dissenting opinion. In this scenario, consider meeting privately with the holdouts to discuss their concerns.
You might ask, “What do you like about our current CRM? What do you wish was different about the potential future one? Which features are most important to you, and why?”
Usually, people are resistant because they don’t like change, not because the current CRM is superior. Convince them the cost of transitioning will be in the long run, and you’ll reach 100% buy-in.
Reaching total buy-in is more likely when you convert one or two salespeople into advocates for the product. Once you have a couple of people using the product and raving about it, it is much easier to persuade the following four or five users to get on board. And after a certain number of people have committed, there’ll be no going back.
Decide on the logistics.
As you know, data is precious — so carefully planning how you’ll import your team’s data from your current CRM to your new one is crucial.
Are you using legacy software? Moving from an in-house tool to the cloud is an intelligent business decision, but it means you can’t simply export your data to a spreadsheet and then pull that into your new CRM. Instead, you might want to hire a specialist who can facilitate the move for you.
Even if your current system is pretty up-to-date, it may have fields your new one does not. For example, maybe your existing CRM tracks how many product samples your reps have sent to individual customers, and this new one does not. Luckily, many CRMs let you add custom fields. So make sure you plan to add the relevant areas before you switch.
There are a couple of other points to consider. First, will you bring over all of your data or only records from the past year or two? Second, are there any values you’re logging right now that you don’t want to log in to the new CRM? Finally, do you have multiple databases that you need to merge and export?
Set a date
Once you’ve figured out how you’ll go about making the transition, it’s time to choose when. Setting data is essential for a couple of reasons.
It creates a sense of urgency and ownership that you need in any organization to get past the finish line. Without a firm date, it’s tough to prioritize efforts that will make a project successful.
In addition, once you’ve set a date, you can schedule ownership, training, and support — which makes it less stressful for the person driving this massive change.
Agreeing to a firm date is also crucial because you need everyone to make the switch simultaneously.
Most people are resistant to change and may hang on to using the old system because they are more familiar.
But if half of your salespeople are still logging data in the old CRM after the switch, they’ll end up losing all that information.
Clean up your pipeline
Before you begin the task of migrating your data, ask your sales reps to clean up their pipelines. Sure, it’s not the most exciting project — but why take old records with you if you won’t use them?
You want to start using a new system with data that’s as clean as possible.
We recommend asking your salespeople to take a second look at which stages their leads are at (and whether those are accurate), get rid of insufficient opportunities, fix inaccurate close dates, and declutter their “notes.”
Although this process might be time-consuming, starting fresh with your new CRM will help your sales managers “drive the business forward.
Saying goodbye to your current CRM isn’t easy — even when your organization has outgrown it. But you’ll have to do it eventually, so reduce the friction of switching by getting support from 100% of your sales team, figuring out all the essential details well in advance, setting (and sticking to) a deadline, and cleaning out your pipeline.
Refocus your mindset
Are you focused on a customer-centric strategy or new technology? It’s easy to get off track if you make switching CRMs an IT project divorced from the whole reason for it. Instead, keep your business development objective through customer relationships front and center, and you’ll be more assured of making a choice that will serve you well.
The CRM transition process is an excellent opportunity to refocus your whole team on the supreme objective of giving your customers the engagement and journey they want. With strategy top of mind, users of your CRM will be able to provide good insights into what will make their work more productive.
Involve the whole team
As we said, don’t just hand over your CRM transition to IT. Switching CRMs needs to be a collaborative process. Customer service and support, sales and marketing, and operations – they’ll all use it as they relate to customers and your business processes. How do they work? They know the jobs they need to do.
“The whole team” means everyone. Executive leadership needs to embrace your CRM strategy and use it to make it part of your corporate culture. Take a holistic approach to switch CRMs that involves all stakeholders, and you’re much more likely to get the outcomes you want.
Build a solid business case
Look at the past, present, and future. Ask your collaborative project team to look for the good and the bad of your last CRM, as well as what you need in a new one. Why is your current CRM solution either not being used or pinching you like a pair of outgrown shoes? Ask why your last implementation failed and why you’ve outgrown your existing CRM solution. Ask questions like these:
- What are your business requirements, generally and from your CRM strategy?
- How will you measure success?
- What is your ideal ROI, and what delivered outcomes do you want?
- What are potential risks or roadblocks?
- How will you leverage the knowledge of what has worked and what hasn’t?
- What is your budget for a CRM solution and professional consultation with an expert partner?
- What functionalities do sales, marketing, and support teams need and want?
Choose a solution that will work for you, not the other way around.
Make it fit your business needs, the ones your team has collaboratively identified in the previous steps.
If your users feel like they’re being pushed to comply with some system that isn’t logical or intuitive for them, you’re not going to get the buy-in necessary for it to work. Ask these questions:
- Is the new CRM customizable and agile, easy to configure to your needs?
- Can it deliver your defined outcomes?
- Is it easy to use so your employees will enjoy and embrace using it?
- Can its business processes be modified or new ones tailored to fit how your people work?
- Is the solution within your budget?
- Will the new CRM grow with you?
- Are you focused on the most critical business drivers?
The best solution will have the functionality to deliver on your business objectives and be embraced by your employees now and in the future.
Choose your CRM partner wisely.
Don’t go to this dance alone or with the wrong partner. Remember, a successful CRM switch is collaborative. Choose a partner who has your best interests in mind, understands business in general and your business specifically, and has expertise in CRM software, change management, and implementation.
How can you tell if you’re choosing the right CRM partner? Before you sign up, ask them questions like these:
- What is your relationship with the CRM software vendor? — Your partner needs to know your chosen solution inside and out.
- Who have you worked with? Are they happy? Can I talk with them?
- Have you switched organizations from our current CRM to the one we’re considering?
- Do you have a proven implementation process that you walk through with your clients?
Test-drive the new CRM with your team and your data
We all test-drive a car before we buy it, so it only makes sense to pilot the CRM system with those who will use it on a day-to-day basis. However, as important as showing the CRM system is, even more, important is that you use your actual data along with the way you usually work. This way, you’ll be able to make sure that the system works properly before going live. Thus, allowing your potential vendor to fix any problems that might exist.
Create a project pilot team that will try out the system by sampling your factual information. They will be vital in determining if your customizations are working the way they need to, testing all its functionality, and streamlining it to keep it user-friendly.
Migrate clean data
If you migrate junk data into a new CRM, it’s like polluting a pristine mountain stream, and you don’t want to do that. So instead, make sure you prepare your data with these steps:
Identify old data that is no longer relevant. For example, if you haven’t used it for four or so years, you can probably delete it, depending on retention policies.
Run integrity and duplication checks, and merge as needed
Until the CRM transition is complete and you can completely phase out the old system, data will need to be synchronized between the two. If the existing CRM doesn’t have synchronization capabilities built in, we recommend using the Starfish ETL data migration and integration application.
Plan to review the data once it’s in the new system before eliminating the previous one and do a recurring “data-hygiene” check periodically. This can all feel tedious, but the benefits are worth it.
Is the current CRM connected to other systems? Think about the obvious, things like Microsoft Outlook or Google Gmail. Have you linked it to something like MailChimp for email marketing? Lots of today’s CRMs include marketing automation, so you might be able to drop that one.
One of the main reasons for not switching CRMs was that it was also integrated with a billing platform or even a full-blown ERP system that managed data across the entire business, and unwinding all those threads was just too expensive and painful. Now, though, with the rise of open APIs and easy-to-use integration tools, it’s a whole lot easier to swap out applications without throwing the entire system into chaos and making everyone mad.
Win hearts and minds. Get and maintain buy-in.
The success of any CRM strategy is 60 percent for the people involved. So you need a plan to get buy-in from the staff – if they don’t use it, it won’t work.
Work with your chosen CRM partner to establish training touch-points at appropriate spots before, during, and after launch. It can’t be “one and done.” Make training part of your onboarding process for new hires, too.
Most importantly, find and develop CRM “champions” who love the system, know it inside out, and influence their teammates to embrace the change. Tap them to lead workshops, troubleshoot, and keep communication lines open.
You should be able to rely on your CRM partner to help you map a smooth transition from one CRM to another. If you’ve chosen well, they’re someone who has managed through this change successfully with other clients. They know how to do this, and they’ll walk with you all the way. This is one big reason to look for a partner, not just a vendor.
Consider the alternative. What is the opportunity cost to your business if you don’t make the change? On the other hand, sometimes not changing is the more significant risk.
Yes, switching CRMs isn’t easy, but it leads to a transformation for a brighter future. We’ve shared this nine-step process with you from our experience. Lots of satisfied clients can say that it works. And that it’s worth it.
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