When most business owners decide their business needs a customer relationship management (CRM) system, they put together a list of “must-haves” for the systems they’re considering. (We’ve even shared the 9 features your business should look for in a CRM.)
What many business owners fail to consider is juuust how prepared they are to actually implement a CRM. Don’t get me wrong—CRMs are great investments that help business owners save time. But to get the most out of your CRM, you may need to look inward.
Time to get introspective. Here are 7 questions to ask yourself before you jump into the deep end with a brand new CRM.
1. Do you really have time to set it up right now?
This question may not sound fair at first. After all, CRM systems are meant to save you time, not add more work to your plate! So the biggest mistake many business owners make is agonizing over which CRM to choose, investing good money in one, and then letting it sit collecting dust.
Think about whether or not you have time now to set up the system for success. Here are a few more tips on how to avoid underutilizing a new CRM.
2. Will you need help?
Sometimes implementing a new CRM isn’t a one-man (or one-woman) job. It all depends on the size of your business, the capabilities of your team, and the amount of data you need to move over.
If you anticipate needing help, think about whether or not your staff has the time or ability to help. If not, can you afford outside resources to get the ball rolling?
3. What systems (or software) do you want the CRM to replace?
You’re likely looking at a new CRM because the current tool you’re using to manage your contact and customer data isn’t cutting it anymore. But before you buy a new CRM and ditch the old tool, think about everything you use that tool for.
Once your new CRM is in place, will you actually get to turn that old tool off? If not, you may be creating more work for yourself and your team.
4. Do you want more than a database?
Once you consider which systems you plan to replace, check yourself on your real intentions for the new CRM. Are you simply swapping your old database for a new, fancier one? Or do you want to do more with the data you’re storing?
Make sure you’re prepared to use your CRM to its full potential. CRMs are meant to help you gain insight into this data that you might not otherwise get with more rudimentary tools. They’re also meant to plug into tools like text and email marketing, coupons and promotions, even your social media accounts. Because when you do these things, your CRM turns into a lead nurturing and customer engagement tool (like Thryv).
5. Have you calculated your ideal return on investment (ROI)?
With most CRM systems, you get what you pay for. So before you drop any amount of moolah on a new software, think about how it will help you grow your business with current and potential customers. (Think following up on older leads, nurturing current customers to come back more often, and various upsell opportunities.)
Will this increase in engagement translate into enough revenue to offset your investment? If not, it may make sense to pump the breaks or find a less expensive CRM option.
6. Are you willing to struggle through it?
Change is hard. Changing how you’ve worked for months or years is really, really hard (especially when you have a team to manage and customers to serve). Before you turn on a new CRM, ask yourself if you’re truly willing to adjust to using a new system.
Even the most customizable CRMs have specific ways they organize and name fields of data. They may also categorize or group records in ways you’re not used to. Chances are how you use your CRM will differ from how you use your contact and customer data today. You’ll need to be open to struggling through the learning curve of viewing and using this data in a different way.
7. How will you stay motivated to use the new system?
It’s also hard to build good habits. Even if you feel good about the 6 questions above, there’s still a chance your engagement with a new tool will die off after the initial excitement of the tool wanes.
Think of ways to motivate yourself, and your team, to continue using your CRM just as heavily months down the road. That’s ultimately the only way you’ll get the value you hope to get out of it for years to come.