Customer relationship management systems, or CRMs, are a critical tool for independent financial advisors to keep track of their clients and prospects, monitor their sales pipeline and perform many routine administrative tasks. Using a CRM system effectively can boost your firm’s efficiency, capabilities, and ultimately your profitability.
Yet the journey to get to this ideal state can have a number of speedbumps, or even be derailed, by the CRM’s implementation. One advisory firm ran into a roadblock because the new application was dumping data into the wrong input field of the existing CRM system. As a result, valuable staff time was taken up with manual adjustments to what should have been an automated process.
Proper implementation is essential to ensuring the CRM system is well utilized to create lasting efficiencies and prevent future headaches.
Start With a Solid Plan
Ensuring a successful CRM implementation requires careful upfront planning. First step: Form an implementation team. For most firms, this team can consist of a project champion, an application expert, and a product manager.
- The role of project champion is usually filled by the top brass. Many times the CEO or president will have the strategic vision for the CRM’s goals and design.
- The application expert is the person who is adept at all the technical aspects of the system. If you don’t have someone on staff who can fill this role, you may need to hire an outside consultant to help with implementation.
- The product manager will handle day-to-day system administration once the CRM system is implemented. He or she may receive training from the application expert, especially if the expert is a hired consultant. Your CRM product manager should possess the technical skills needed to manage the system, as well as understand your firm’s business processes and how the CRM system will integrate with them.
Get Staff Cooperation and Buy-In
In most instances, it’s the people, not the CRM technology, that determine the ultimate success or failure of a CRM system implementation. While they may understand its benefits, some staff may not want to adopt it because they’d rather stick with what they know. The importance of getting cooperation and buy-in from staff members who will be working with the new CRM system cannot be overemphasized.
This starts with getting staff involved in the process early on — including giving them input into the selection of the system itself. Include staff members who will use the system regularly in the testing and review process leading up to system selection. This will give them a greater sense of ownership and familiarity with the system, which will help ease implementation. Even if these folks do not engage in the testing at this phase, the fact that you offered it will be appreciated.
Also make sure staff members understand why the new CRM system is being implemented. Explain the practical benefits of the system in a way they can understand — not only how the system will benefit the firm, but also how it will make doing their jobs faster and easier.
Set SMART Goals for Your CRM System