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CRM Implementation: How to Do it Right [A Strategy for 2022]

CRM Implementation: How to Do it Right [A Strategy for 2022]

This article was published in 2020 and updated in 2022.

There is no denying the fact that good relationships with customers are the lifeblood of every business. The better an organization can manage communications with its clients and partners, the more chances for success it has. The pursuit of better ways to manage business connections has given rise to CRM system implementation. Today, the CRM industry is among the largest ones with estimated revenue of $80 billion by 2025.

This article gives an extensive answer to the question of how to implement a CRM system that can give a considerable boost to the growth of your company. Before taking this deep dive, let’s talk about several basic things first.

  • What’s a CRM system?
    Customer relationship management software is aimed at building robust communication bridges between businesses and their clients. The core objective of any CRM is to win and maintain customers’ loyalty and trust through effective management of business touchpoints. A well-tuned CRM underpins business operations and secures long-term profits.
  • How does it work?
    CRM software equips organizations with tools and techniques designed for effective engagement and expansion of the customer base. It also gathers business intelligence data that allows overseeing the market tendencies and adjusting sales strategies to elevate businesses up to the next level. Besides, CRMs alleviate a lot of pain points in company operations by automating routine workflows.
  • How can it cover your needs and requirements?
    At first glance, it might seem as if only large-scale enterprises with huge customer databases could profit from CRM development. It’s not the case, though. SMEs and SMBs can exploit CRM benefits as well. Here are several compelling reasons why:
    • CRMs can be thought of as magnifying glass that enables close investigation of customer needs. Knowing the true motives of your customers, you can forecast their requirements and provide targeted offers to drive their purchase decision. This will have a favorable impact on both customer buying experience and company income.
    • CRMs accelerate sales growth. Business process automation shortens sales cycles and enables speedier closure of deals. With data analytics, you get enhanced visibility into your pipeline. You can better qualify your leads and don’t let lucrative sales opportunities slip through your fingers.
    • CRMs save costs. Your employees won’t be bothered with routine repetitive tasks anymore as the CRM is going to do it for them. Instead, they can put their efforts into more profitable activities. This will result in considerable reductions in operating costs and increased revenue.

Every CRM is meant to contribute to business longevity and development. So companies of all sizes can put CRM platforms to good use to reach their goals at a minimal cost. Later in this article, we’ll investigate the CRM implementation steps to help you pin down a strategy that fits your ultimate business objectives.

CRM Software Types

Every industry poses its unique challenges and requirements. So to spot a suitable solution, you need to know a thing or two about CRM classification. CRMs are usually distinguished as follows:

  • Operational CRMs are tailored for increasing operational efficiencies. These systems allow you to pass the sales cycle quickly and efficiently helping to convert a lead relationship into long-lasting business ties. Such CRMs add to the overall performance of your organization.
  • Analytical CRMs are aimed at slicing and dicing a large amount of incoming data. They enable you to identify the trends and patterns, understand customer motivation, recognize additional up- and cross-sell opportunities, and more. These CRMs transform raw data into actionable insights.
  • Collaborative CRMs facilitate seamless information sharing with various teams and stakeholders inside your company. In this way, every customer-facing department, like sales, management, and others, utilizes the same source of data so that everybody is aligned with one actionable strategy.

However, this division is quite nominal. A blend of the above-mentioned functions is usually required for efficient management of business operations. So to meet this need, most of the out-of-the-box CRM platforms are developed as hybrids comprising analytical, operational, and collaborative functionality.

Three types of CRM Systems

General CRM Implementation Scheme in 6 Steps

When thinking about CRM development, the first question that might pop into your mind is when’s the right time to get it underway? Well, as soon as you have a sales team in place, it’s time for a CRM solution to come into play. It will help you to establish a sustainable stream of incremental revenue. It’s a proven fact that CRMs generate an average ROI of $8.71 for every dollar spent.

A successful CRM implementation model doesn’t hinge on one thing. It depends on the optimal tradeoffs between numerous aspects including business strategy, employee buy-in, market conditions, and more. We will discuss in detail here how to approach this challenging task and how to implement a CRM system that will drive your business forward at an accelerating pace. For starters, let’s consider the general implementation scheme.

Step 1. Ensure Employee Buy-In

Realizing that CRM software should prove useful to everyone who’s going to use it is the first building block in this process. You have to involve representatives of every company unit into a discussion. It’s necessary to gather their insights and experiences to uncover their true needs. Keeping them in mind, you can define a CRM implementation strategy that will best suit your workflow. This step lays the groundwork for the future success of the CRM system incorporation.

Step 2. Set the Goals, Priorities, and Metrics

After discovering the needs of your employees, you can pinpoint processes that require streamlining the most. When you start identifying ways of optimization, all the initiatives should be tied to the core business objectives. For instance, if you aim at growing your sales and expanding into new markets, sales force automation features should be topping your list. As a result, you will have a prioritized set of the underlying functionality for your CRM system implementation.

Besides, it’s highly recommended to outline specific and measurable objectives at the company and department levels during this step. You may want to keep track of such metrics like the average duration of deal closure, customer retention rate, or overall ROI. As you move forward with CRM platform integration, these metrics will help you to confirm if the new system is living up to your primary expectations.

Step 3. Choose the CRM Deployment Scheme

Depending on your company policies and business requirements, you have to opt either for cloud deployment or an on-premise one. Each scheme comes with its advantages and drawbacks. With cloud CRM, you don’t have to purchase hardware and support IT infrastructure. You are also freed from the software maintenance, as your vendor does it all for you.

Despite numerous benefits of the cloud approach, many companies are reluctant to store their sensitive data in the cloud for security reasons. Another issue is that if your Internet connection or provider servers are down, you lose access to your data. So many organizations settle for the traditional on-premise model to have complete ownership of their CRM infrastructure. However, on-premise always implies a higher level of effort for your IT department. So consider all the pros and cons carefully to decide what works best for you.

At HuskyJam, we have expertise in both on-premise and cloud deployment schemes.

If you need help with identifying the right approach for your project

contact us to get consulted on this question

Step 4. Choose a Suitable CRM Solution

CRM systems come in many shapes and sizes. So you have to carry out an in-depth analysis of the market offers to identify if you should go for a ready-made solution or develop your own platform. Using your prioritized list of features, you can get started with decision-making.

When comparing existing systems, you should pay close attention to such factors as feature sets, pricing, and quality of support. The CRM market is teeming with various solutions, but still, there might be no right one for your industry, unique workflow, or team. Another point worth mentioning here is that off-the-shelf systems usually have a hard time keeping current with rapidly evolving marketing and sales trends. So they may come with limited or dated capabilities that can prevent you from taking full advantage of the up-to-date marketing features and approaches.

If you discover that turnkey platforms can’t meet your high priority requirements, then custom CRM implementation is the way to go. To help you make an informed decision, we’ll compare the two approaches later in this article.

Step 5. Incorporate a CRM Solution and Train Your Staff

You don’t want to disrupt the everyday workflow of your employees by switching to a CRM solution overnight. No matter if you go for a pre-built platform or a custom CRM development, it should be introduced in gradual and focused phases. Start off by encouraging your team to perform just several basic tasks using the new software. Other processes can be moved to it in due course.

CRM training is a major stepping stone to the successful adoption of the new system. If you have an e-learning platform in place, you can easily produce CRM usage guidelines and make them accessible to everyone in your company. However, a mix-and-match of in-person workshops with self-paced online resources is required to secure the best results.

Step 6. Keep Track of Your Progress

When your CRM platform is in the game, you have to keep its performance metrics in check. Is customer data recorded and leveraged efficiently? Have your sales increased? Do you close deals faster now? If there’s a deviation from your expectations, look for its root cause to fix it and get your CRM efforts back on course. You might need to add a couple of features or train your employees additionally to remove the uncovered roadblocks. In this way, you will make sure that your CRM implementation strategy has accomplished its mission.

Main Steps How to Build CRM System

Employing a Turnkey CRM Solution

When settling for an off-the-shelf approach, you can find yourself in quite a pickle. Picking a suitable CRM may be tough, as lots of vendors are fighting for the market share now. For instance, industry giants like SAP and Salesforce along with emerging companies like Agile CRM and Pipedrive offer numerous features and benefits. It’s vital to keep a laser focus on your own requirements and priorities at all times during the evaluation process.

The below CRM implementation steps should ease this cumbersome decision-making for you. We start here at the third step of our general CRM implementation scheme, so you should already have clear-cut objectives and priorities defined.

Step 1. Research and Evaluate CRM Vendors

Each organization has its specific workflow model that may have a good deal of dependencies and intricacies. To locate a CRM that can be easily accommodated to your processes, look for either a highly adjustable solution or one developed specifically for your industry. After you identify such platforms, study their feature set and compare how many items they can cover from your high-priority list.

When deciding which CRM vendors can go on the shortlist, take extra care to thoroughly analyze the key areas listed below:

  • CRM implementation model: check if your workflows can be mapped with the CRM functionality.
  • Cost: confirm if the solutions under consideration fit your planned budget. See if you can learn about any hidden costs for support or licensing levels in advance. Check if you can use your preferred billing methods.
  • Support: find out which vendors offer proven support services. You need to be sure that any issues you might face can be timely addressed.
  • Software updates: investigate how often the product updates are rolled out. Explore how these updates usually affect existing customers.
  • Compliance: research if the vendors of your choice conform to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), laws, and regulations of your target countries as well as any other policies common for your industry.
  • Integrations and customizations: find out if these platforms provide an open API as you may want to use it to add your own integrations and functions. Check if any of the vendors already support the applications that you use. It’s also worth identifying in advance if you’d need to outsource any development or customization efforts that might be required.
  • Data security and safety: investigate if CRM providers have solid data security policies, advanced data encryption, and data classification in place. Check if any of them have been audited by trusted third-party entities like SOC or TrustArc. You also need to make sure that the vendors in question host their servers in the certified data centers and offer such features as disaster recovery, continuous backup, and failover functionality.

Running background checks is also worth the efforts. You can browse through available third-party review platforms like Capterra or FeaturedCustomer.com to find customer references, scores, comments, and more. You can uncover valuable insights that will help you arrive at a decision.

Step 2. Arrange Demo Sessions of Shortlisted CRM solutions

Once you’ve shortlisted the most suitable solutions, you should arrange a live demo session with each of your prospective vendors. During the demo, a CRM sales representative will show you around system features and capabilities. On the way, you have to ask as many questions as required to identify if their solution can meet your most important business needs.

If the demo convinces you that a CRM system can be a good fit, the next step is to test out a free trial version yourself. Involve employees from various departments to take part in the testing process to see if they can benefit from this particular CRM software. With inputs from different departments, you will be able to make the final decision.

Step 3. Customize and Integrate a CRM system

No matter which CRM you choose, an out-of-the-box system might not be able to fully connect all of your business departments. You will require additional integrations with other company software like company website, company social media platforms, ERP, databases, accounting, and more. In this case, you might need to hire a team of IT specialists who will deal with these tasks for you.

The following are the most popular integrations which you might need to be added to your system:

  • Email services
  • Calendar and scheduling software
  • Marketing software
  • Social media
  • Forms and data gathering software
  • Video-conferencing tools
  • Instant chatting
  • Proposal and document generation software, as well as electronic signing

Popular CRM Vendors

The below table compares several of the most popular CRM vendors to provide an overview of their capabilities and features:

Features HubSpot CRM AgileCRM Zoho CRM Pipedrive SalesFlare
Deployment Web-Based, Cloud, SaaS Web-Based, Cloud, SaaS Web-Based, Cloud, SaaS Web-Based, Cloud, SaaS Web-Based, Cloud, SaaS
Supported OSs Android, iPhone/iPad Android, iPhone/iPad Android, iPhone/iPad Android, iPhone/iPad Windows, Android, iPhone/iPad
Subscription Not provided From $8.99 per month per user From $12.00 per month per user From $15.00 per month per user From $30.00 per month per user
Free trial + + + + +
Email Marketing + + + + +
Document Tracking + + + + +
Internal Chat Integration + + + +
Lead Scoring + + + + +
Marketing Automation + + + + +
Quotes and Proposals +
Sales Intelligence + + + + +
Segmentation + + + + +
Social Media Integration +
Task Management + + + + +
Supported integrations Outlook, Gmail, CloudTalk, SurveyMonkey, LinkedIn, Slack, Zapier, and more Gmail, Google Drive, FullContact, LinkedIn, Slack, Trello, Zapier, and more Gmail, Google Drive, Asana, Slack, Trello, Wunderlist, Zapier, and more Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, Google Maps, MailChimp, Trello, Zapier, and more Landingi, Poptin, StoryChief, Leadworx, Google Leads, Slack, Todoist, and more


The Pros and Cons of The Approach

If you decide to go forward with an off-the-shelf CRM implementation strategy, you’ll get a head start with a nicely pre-configured system. You can save time and costs as there is no need to invest in a full CRM implementation cycle. It’s easy to deploy, and your vendor handles software maintenance and updates. Apart from that, most of the ready-made solutions provide you with a full product knowledgebase. User guides, online training materials, or in-person workshops can help accelerate the adoption of the new software.

However, no organization appears «out-of-the-box.» Even if you follow a generic format, you will have your own unique processes. That’s why ready-made solutions will likely not cover certain business needs of yours. Besides, they may include functionality that is unnecessary and will only complicate your flow. Your feature requests may not be handled timely, and future system improvements may be irrelevant to your organization. So to make a good decision, you need to find optimal tradeoffs between your business needs and market offers.

Custom CRM System Implementation

If you’ve come to the conclusion that your CRM system should be strictly aligned with your unique workflow and business goals, then developing a custom CRM is your way out. We cover the ins and outs of this process with the following CRM implementation steps.

Step 1. Hire a Team of IT Experts Who Know Their Trade

Finding a team of experts who have extensive expertise in CRM implementation is the first step to achieving successful results. The chosen outsourcing development company should have a portfolio with proven examples of delivered projects. They should also be able to provide you with a well-staffed team, as to develop a multi-purpose CRM system, you will need the following professionals:

  • Project Manager to coordinate the development efforts and balance the project constraints of time, cost, and quality.
  • Business Analyst to investigate your business workflow and uncover all your needs. This specialist serves as a liaison between the business side and the development team.
  • UI/UX Designer to create a compelling and easy-to-use user interface design.
  • Frontend Developer(s) to implement the web-based part of the CRM system.
  • Backend Developer(s) to implement the server-side part of the CRM system.
  • Windows/macOS/Linux Developer(s) to implement native desktop apps if required.
  • iOS/Android Developer(s) to implement mobile clients if required.
  • QA Engineer(s) to test the system regularly and ensure a high level of quality.
  • Technical Writer to create training materials, both standard guides and interactive content like videos.

Another quality you need to look for in a development company is a solid understanding of the business processes. It may sound odd at first, but your development team should have more in mind than just development. They should work together with you to draw a bigger picture of your business flow and see how CRM can best fit into it. A team with this approach and mindset will be a reliable partner that can consult you on the best ways for optimization and how to incorporate them into your CRM architecture.

Step 2. Develop CRM Implementation Strategy and Roadmap

As soon as you have an experienced team at your side, you can dive into the planning process. Together you will be able to clearly define how to implement a CRM system that is a good fit for your company. You will outline both business and technical requirements, and establish a resource-, cost-, and time-wise strategy for CRM development. Apart from generic project plans, you have to come up with a detailed product roadmap that should include all major milestones for rolling out your key features.

Step 3. Develop MVP and Try It Out

CRM system implementation is a continuous process that can easily span over months. So it’s a good idea to launch your CRM software as soon as it reaches a stage of being a minimum viable product. The MVP includes the bare minimum features that enable your employees to perform the essential tasks. The MVP version serves two purposes at once. Firstly, it allows employing CRM practices and generating ROI at the earliest development stages. Secondly, it enables your employees to provide early feedback that can be used to timely adjust any feature development if there is a need for improvement.

Step 4. Further Development and Support

CRM implementation is not a one-time process. As your business and the customer base grow, so should your CRM solution. By continuously extending your CRM feature array, you can make use of new opportunities on customer acquisition, satisfaction, and retention. During this process, you should keep the CRM performance measures in check with your business goals to make sure that they are entirely met.

The Pros and Cons of the Approach

The primary advantage of choosing a custom CRM implementation model is that you get a solution that is tailored to precisely match your business processes and needs. You don’t need to pay for extra features that you may never use. Instead, you start by implementing only the core essentials. Additional functionality and integrations can be introduced at any time later. Besides, you will save operational costs as your employees will need less time to wrap their heads around the new software.

However, custom CRM system implementation has its shortcomings as well. The upfront costs for such development are always higher than those for off-the-shelf solutions. It also requires more attention, communication, and monitoring efforts throughout the software development life cycle. All the stages from requirements gathering to staff training will demand business involvement. Despite all this, the custom CRM systems are designed to be tuned to your business flow and not the other way around. So at the end of the day, this fact prevails over the mentioned disadvantages.

At HuskyJam, we’ve developed and customized various CRM solutions. If you need help nailing down the best approach for your company and business, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Custom and out-of-the-box CRM System comparison

How Much Does It Cost to Build a CRM System?

The total budget of CRM implementation depends on various factors. The number of modules to be developed, their complexity, as well as hourly rates of your development team add to the project cost. If you decide to extend a ready-made solution or develop a custom CRM with only fundamental features, the development costs can be up from $30 000. The more advanced solution will require a bigger budget and a lengthier timeline.

The hourly rates for development efforts differ from one region to another:

  • The USA - $120-150/hour
  • Western Europe - $50-100/hour
  • Eastern Europe - $35-40/hour
  • APAC - $25-40/hour

The below tables provides approximate estimates for development costs of various project stages and features:

Development Stages and Features Approximate Hours Approximate Cost
Discovery stage (requirements gathering, architecture planning) 1 week and more $4000 and higher
UI/UX Design 24 hours and more $2400 and higher
Core Features (User Management, Lead Management, Dashboard, Basic Reporting, Basic Task Management) 2 months and more $32 000 and higher
Extended Features (Invoicing, Pipeline Management, Forecasting, Web Forms, Apps Integrations, API) 2 months and more $32 000 and higher
Extra Features (Lead Scoring, Social Networks, Multi-Currency, etc) 2 months and more $32 000 and higher
Mobile Platform Support 1 month and more per platform (iOS/Android) $16 000 and higher
Data Migration Efforts 1 week and more $4000 and higher
Quality Assurance 80 hours and more $8000 and higher
Post-launch Support on-demand/ongoing $75 per hour
The total cost of a custom CRM system with advanced features: From $130 000

If you’d like to get a quick estimate of CRM efforts for your company, you are welcome to send us your project description. Fill out our contact form to get started.

HuskyJam's Tips and Tricks in CRM Implementation

At HuskyJam, we have experience in the development of custom CRM solutions as well as in customization of the out-of-the-box ones. Here are some useful tips that are based on our practical experience. They can come in handy when tackling the task of how to implement a CRM system that fits your needs.

  • Consider your CRM implementation strategy as a chance to rethink your workflow. Carefully study how you do things to find places where they get too complicated and cumbersome. Then work through the ways of fixing them with the help of CRM capabilities, as CRM implementation is a great opportunity to develop and instill good practices.
  • Make your CRM accessible anytime, anywhere. CRM mobile version is a must, especially if you have employees working in the field, like sales representatives and customer acquisition managers. With mobile access, they can enter customer data, make important adjustments, or look up required information right during the meetings or business lunches.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of user experience. If your employees have a hard time finding their way around the new software, the chances of successful adoption become significantly lower. Your CRM system should be easy to navigate and easy to grasp. So don’t hesitate to spend more time at the UI/UX design stage to come up with a straightforward and intuitive design.
  • Carefully prepare for the data migration stage. It’s highly likely that your customer-related data is stored in different places, like spreadsheets, post-it notes apps, or employee inboxes. To move all this data into your brand new CRM, you need to get ready in advance by identifying all the sources and organizing your data. This will ensure a quick and painless migration process.
  • Make sure your employees understand the necessity and value of the CRM solution from day one. Encourage and instruct them on how to use the new software to the full to derive the most benefit out of it. One way to do this is to arrange an introductory CRM workshop with a subject matter expert. This training session should be focused on drawing a clear parallel between the processes in your business domain and each CRM feature. This can be especially useful if your CRM includes big data processing and data analytics based on AI capabilities, as people have to obtain a solid understanding of how to interpret and use this data. This will further secure successful CRM adoption.

Wrapping Up

CRM system implementation is essential for any organization dealing with numerous customer touchpoints. CRM enables you to put customer relationships at the heart of your business processes to ensure the positive customer experience. With the right CRM implementation model, you can pinpoint and remove bottlenecks in your business flow and streamline your business operations. This will directly contribute to the revenue growth for your company.

To reap all these benefits, you need to develop an effective CRM implementation strategy. At HuskyJam, we have vast hands-on experience in CRM implementation. Take a look at our project portfolio to see examples of our work. If you need to get a consultation or an estimate for your CRM project, fill in our contact form, and we’ll get in touch with you shortly. Together we’ll be able to figure out how to implement a CRM system that can cover all your business needs.

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