The most common phrase we hear now when we try to get something done in sales is, “Oh, there’s a tool for that”. But what if there was just one tool to rule them all? Customer Relationship Management tools have cemented their place in the sales technology stack over the years because CRM implementation comes with multi-pronged benefits: It accelerates revenue and drives productivity.
The LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2021 found that 42% of salespeople said they would use CRM software “significantly more”. In the same study, nearly 7 in 10 (68%) respondents said their CRM system was “very important” to closing deals.
The CRM landscape is evolving and making way for modern AI-powered CRMs that offer more advanced capabilities like lead scoring and suggesting the next-best-action. As a CRM software user, you need to use these features to get the most out of technology.
About nine out of ten companies that implemented a CRM saw revenue growth, while 70% improved conversion rates.
In this post, we’ll talk about how you can set yourself up for success and be among these high performers. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The four pillars of CRM implementation
- Setting up your CRM
- Using the best features to maximize success
CRM is no longer just a repository of data. You really have to leverage it as a hub of insights that you can tap into to understand how buyers are interacting with you.
– Jeff Davis, B2B Growth Strategist, Author of Create Togetherness
Four pillars of CRM implementation
There are four primary pillars for each CRM implementation, with each one boosting your chance of success.
In this phase, define the metrics that will determine the success of your CRM implementation. In most cases, RoI is the top metric — The 2022 G2 Grid Report for CRM estimates a payback period of 15 months on average for a CRM.
In 2021 we captured the other vital metrics organizations look for with a CRM implementation. We found that organizations are looking for market penetration and customer lifetime value as top metrics apart from revenue.
These metrics offer a picture of what sales leaders are looking for when implementing a CRM.
Nearly half the respondents (46%) in the Freshworks-Forrester survey said changing existing business processes was their biggest hurdle when implementing CRM in the past.
When you go in for CRM implementation, many of your business processes also need to change to factor the technology into the daily operations.
For instance, by using workflows, businesses can automate customer onboarding by sending welcome emails and “getting started” materials at the right time. You can then follow up with periodic tips and hacks. Workflows also allow you to scale when new customers are added to the list.
Here are three questions you can answer to get started:
- What tasks can you automate?
- How will customer conversations happen through the CRM solution?
- What data do salespeople need to input at each stage of the pipeline?
People — sales representatives, sales managers, and sales leaders — are the most critical aspect of your CRM implementation. Unless people use it in their day-to-day, you will not see the benefits. The Freshworks-Forrester survey found that gaining user acceptance of technology is a substantial post-implementation challenge for 25% of organizations. How can you ensure the technology is adopted?
Most modern SaaS technology, including CRM software, is now implemented on the cloud. This saves organizations from having to deploy additional infrastructure to support the technology.
However, ensure that your CRM integrates with salespeople’s existing tools.
Simple steps to implement your CRM
Once you’ve got your four pillars in place, it’s time to actually implement your CRM software.
But what does CRM implementation mean? It could be as easy as signing up with your email address and getting started with the software. If you already use other sales tools, the CRM implementation process would integrate your existing tools with your new CRM.
Ultimately, the goal of a CRM is to be a single source of truth that can help your sales teams personalize engagement, shorten the sales cycle, and accelerate revenue with context-driven sales. The time, processes, and effort it takes for a CRM implementation are based on your current tech ecosystem, the roadmap you have in place, and adoption.
Let’s look at the average implementation time for CRMs serving organizations with 51-1000 employees.
According to G2, among the “leaders” of the CRM segment, Freshsales has the shortest implementation time — 1.1 months.
The ideal CRM doesn’t have to rely heavily on IT support, and instead, sales reps, managers, and leaders can get started with CRM by just signing up with their email address.
Let’s go through the essential steps for CRM implementation with the example of a modern, all-in-one CRM: Freshsales.
These setup steps will also give you an idea of how easy implementing a CRM should be in the ideal scenario and the features you need for a smooth CRM implementation.
Streamline CRM usage with roles and permissions
Every team member has a diverse set of tasks to perform in the CRM. Sales managers may need to create or edit sales forecasts, but SDRs may not need access to this.
With granular-level permission options, you can create or customize roles from the list of seven roles available. This will ensure that your team has the right data to perform their job.
Set create, view, edit, or delete permissions for everything in your CRM for each role. Some of the features you can set permissions for include:
- Sales Forecast
- Sales Activities
- Activity Goals
- Lead Generation
Save time and effort with easy import of contacts
Whether you have your contacts in an Excel file or a CSV, it’s easy to import your contacts into Freshsales CRM. Based on the number of contacts you have, it’s also possible to get your customer data migrated onto the CRM through the provider.
Once you’ve selected your file, you now need to map the fields present in your Excel to the ones in the CRM. An intuitive CRM like Freshsales does most of the work, suggesting which fields to map.
Once you’ve imported your contacts, you can directly add them to journeys, nurture campaigns, and more. This will ensure that you are always in constant communication with your leads, and bring them closer to conversion.
You can also add the deal status along with their contact information. This will help sales teams understand how deals are progressing with each contact.
Enable collaboration, see where your deals are at
Deals are the lifeblood of sales, and without doubt, the best status for a deal to be in is “closed”. Here’s how simple it is to add or modify deal information in Freshsales CRM:
With Freshsales, you can:
- Create deals automatically while converting qualified leads
- Add different products to deals and easily move deals up the pipeline with drag-and-drop
- Allow multiple salespersons to work on a big deal
And you’re done. The most basic data is now in your CRM, and you can set your sales activities in motion.
But now, let’s move on to the most critical part of the CRM implementation process.
Using the best CRM features to maximize success
Once you’re done with the basics of CRM implementation, it’s time to swamp the pipeline with quality leads, assign leads to reps, and forecast revenue. Let’s look at a few common problems and how to solve them with Customer Relationship Management.
I am an SDR. We have too many prospects right now, and I’m not sure how to go after the ones that are most likely to convert
Solution: You can use Freshsales’ predictive contact scoring capabilities to target sales-ready leads. Lead scoring will help you surface the best leads by factoring in the following:
- Interactions with your brand— whether it’s through your website, email, or chat
- Based on your ideal buyer persona
- Based on geography, industry, and other such factors
The scoring system is customizable, and you can add or deduct points for specific criteria: For instance:
- If the lead is in your operational industry, add ten points to the lead score
- If the lead isn’t a business leader, deduct five points from the lead score
I am a sales manager who needs more accurate sales forecasts
Solution: Freshsales uses AI-driven, pipeline-based sales forecasting to ensure accuracy. With a CRM like Freshsales, you can:
- Track sales over multiple timeframes
- Identify the value of deals in each pipeline stage
- Generate visual reports without complex setups or coding
I’m a sales rep who finds it tough to schedule and manage my outreach across email, SMS, and phone calls.
Solution: Setting up sales sequences can help you with automation. With this feature, you can automatically manage your outreach.
With sales sequences, you can:
- Automatically run a sequence of actions for the chosen audience on specific days
- Use smart sequences to customize outreach based on your prospects’ activities
- Nurture leads, re-engage cold leads, send welcome emails, and manage follow-ups
- Freddy AI can spot deals that are about to go rotten and suggest which leads to reaching out to
- Ensure a high degree of automation, thereby reducing your team’s workload
You’ve just had a glimpse of a few features you can leverage to get the most out of your CRM implementation.
In our research with Forrester, we found the top non-negotiable attributes that buyers of a CRM look for.
The first was the ease of integration with other systems. The CRM solution had to integrate into the existing tech ecosystem and work alongside all the other tools a seller needs to do their job.
The second attribute was that the solution must be user-friendly and intuitive, with only the necessary functionalities.
Functionalities such as AI-based predictive contact scoring and workflows will help sales representatives and sales managers boost productivity and close deals faster.
Functionalities such as pipeline management and AI-driven sales forecasting will help sales leaders plan better and identify bottlenecks in the sales process.
CRM implementation is all about creating an environment where your sales team can maximize their productivity and accelerate revenue.
Your CRM should give back more time for your salespeople to actually get in there and sell more, and this can be done only if you have the right CRM implemented in the right way.