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The #1 key to successfully implementing a new CRM

Nov 21, 2016

crm 320x212.jpgAfter what could have taken months of sales calls, demos and trial runs, you’ve finally found and purchased the new CRM tool that will allow your team to get organized, streamline processes, and close deals faster.

Now what?

No matter how high-tech or pricey the platform, if you don’t structure a successful implementation, your dollars will be wasted.

So, what is the key to getting your money’s worth and starting your team out right with a new CRM?

The #1 key to a successful launch

Simple: you’ve got to designate a champion or team to own both the implementation AND the ongoing administrator duties. For the purpose of this post, we’ll refer to this person or team simply as the “champion.”

Read: A Practical Guide to CRM for Commercial Real Estate

A champion will be two things: savvy about technology, and directly accountable for implementation responsibilities. Ideally, a champion will also be enthusiastic about the new product in general. Enthusiasm is infectious, after all.

During setup, the champion will handle logistics and communicate with the vendor — but more importantly, this person will serve as your team’s voice as they relay issues and feedback from individual users to the technology provider.

But before you dump the role on an intern or a general office administrator, consider these do’s and don’ts for successful tech adoption via a tech champion.

The do’s and don’ts of launching new CRM technology

Do - Choose your champion wisely.

Sometimes the role might be a good fit for your admin or office generalist, but do not just default to those people. Above all, the champion needs to be tech-savvy and able to solve problems with agility and resourcefulness. The champion should have a keen understanding of the goals and interests of the salespeople primarily using the CRM, and should feel a vested interest in the success of the implementation in order to increase accountability. To that end, if you do end up choosing an admin, make sure they have a strong connection to and understanding of the brokerage business.

Once you’ve selected your champion, empower them to make as many decisions as possible in order to prevent bottlenecks.

Don’t - Allow too many cooks in the kitchen on day one.

While you do need a team, not just one person, leaders often empower too many people to give their input as a way of rallying support and enthusiasm. But anyone who has gone through the process once will tell you that letting too many cooks into the kitchen early on can be a major distraction. Inevitably, the loudest voices will demand the most attention, preventing your champion from prioritizing issues appropriately. Rather than allowing your champion to become overwhelmed or worse, swayed by the wrong opinions, empower them to bring in just a few stakeholders or, “power-users” to help with testing and implementation.

Try to keep this group small — three to six people — and representative of your brokerage as a whole: one executive (or, someone who chose to buy the CRM), one admin assistant and one broker or salesperson. You could also bring in people from different business lines. Then, as a way of preempting complaints, reassure the greater team that the tech is being tested and planned carefully by key representatives, led by the champion, of course.

Do - Communicate expectations and timeline to your team early.

Often, leaders and technology champions wait too long to introduce the team to a new tool. Chances are, you will need to announce and re-announce plans to adopt a new CRM before people begin to get on-board. After all, your team is incredibly busy and may be resistant to starting over with a new process.

Here are some steps the champion should follow for rallying support from the team:

  • Demonstrate goals and benefits: make sure your team knows why you’re adopting this new technology. No, it’s not to make their lives harder. You want to help them achieve their goals more efficiently. Put that message front and center.
  • Set expectations: if you expect adoption by a certain date, then make this clear to your team. You know that change-resistant person who still refuses to download the new iOS? They are going to be toughest challenge. Set goals early.
  • Provide support: offer training materials promptly and reassure your team that the champion is there to help things transition smoothly before they have a chance to fret.
  • Generate enthusiasm: Have a “Launch Party” to get everyone excited about the tool. Use it to show off the tool, announce dates and set expectations.

Don’t - Wait until implementation is complete to introduce employees to the new technology.

While you don’t want to train users too early (as they might forget what they’ve learned once the tool is launched), you should expose them to it. Your champion should provide log-ins and sneak peaks to give the team an idea of what’s coming.

Once you’re ready to train, don’t leave everyone to their own devices. Make training a group activity. Book a conference room, order lunch and make it fun by buying some gift cards to distribute as prizes for participation.

And be sure to continuously reinforce WHY the company is adopting this resource to begin with. By showing them they will receive x% increase in productivity or sales with the new service, the team will be chomping at the bit to get their hands on their login info.

The bottom line

Purchasing a new technology can be a major investment — and one that will be wasted if your staff is hesitant to get on-board. To ensure implementation and adoption run smoothly, appoint a technology champion. This person will be on the hook for coordinating both the setup and long term administrative duties. From there, it’s all about empowering the champion to galvanize and lead the team to success using the new technology.

Get more tips on preparing for a CRM implementation

Nell Gable

Written by Nell Gable

Nell Gable is a freelance writer who specializes in creating compelling content for CRE companies and startups.

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