10 essential steps for a successful CRM implementation

Here is your to do list for a more efficient work with your future CRM system


November 24, 2022 | Read time: 8 min



The success of your business stands more in the strategy you adopt than in the technology you choose. Based on this statement we can say that a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system is far more than a set of tools. 


Apart from the basic function for sales, marketing, and client service, in this digital age, a CRM solution brings insights into the buyer’s preferences, timely offers, and provides a personalized approach. It aligns clients, businesses, employees, and technology into a solid strategy for understanding the market, industry, and customer drivers. Using a CRM platform is pretty much standard business practice, as 91% of organizations with more than 11 employees are using one. Your business might also need a CRM system to grow.

The truth is that not every CRM system boosts sales and empowers business success. It’s not a set-and-forget recipe. In most cases, setting up a CRM is the most overwhelming part of the journey. So let’s bring some light to the intricacies of a successful CRM implementation.

What is a CRM implementation?

A CRM implementation is practically incorporating the CRM system into your business. It starts with selecting the right software solution for your goals and ends with streamlining your business processes.

Implementation isn’t always a piece of cake as you must identify the problems that the CRM solves, find the most appropriate CRM system, test it, and set it up. Last but not least the implementation implies migrating all your data, onboarding the team, educating them on the benefits of a CRM, and adding all the third-party integrations that make the CRM operation as smooth as possible.

Hopefully, this article will show you a CRM implementation plan that will save you time and money in the long run.



Step 1: Identify your specific business needs

The first and most important step in CRM implementation is discovering your specific business needs. It’s essential to make a list of requirements across departments and match them to a clear objective for the CRM implementation. For example, ask yourself: 

Next, map out all the sales and marketing processes inside your business, every source of leads you use to fill your sales pipeline with new opportunities, and all the threats and opportunities your business has.  Also, consider the number of people that will be using the software, and the teams and departments they belong to. Finally, list the sales and marketing processes you expect to streamline with the CRM, using it to create a checklist of main features in your new system:

This should give you an overview of your sales organization to sustain with the CRM, and the features you need the most from the software.


Step 2: Define your CRM goals and objectives

Once you have the big picture regarding your business needs, translate them into goals and objectives to achieve with a CRM. Around one-third (33%) of all Customer Relationship Management (CRM) projects fail. So, taking the time and deciding on the most important goals for your business can save a fortune.

At this stage it’s important to remain realistic, a CRM, no matter how powerful, won’t be able to triple your revenue without a clear strategy and a solid action plan. We propose some SMART goals a CRM can help your business achieve:

You can create your own goals, relevant to your specific business situation.


Step 3: Plan a budget for your CRM implementation

In the long run, a solid CRM system will make you more efficient and save you a lot of money. For the moment, however, it’s likely going to be a down payment.

When planning your budget, think of both CRM implementation and subscription fees. Some providers use a subscription-based pricing model and offer different features in different pricing formulas. Most of the time, if your business aims to scale, the basic plan won’t be enough and you’ll end up needing features that aren’t included in the cheapest plan and you’ll have to pay extra. We recommend making a list of features so you know what you need from the start. Also, integrations can either be a cost-saving or a great cost if you don’t also consider them first.

Always ensure that you keep a budget buffer of 15% of the total sum to make the implementation hassle-free.


Step 4: Shop around for the best CRM

CRM providers might offer many and varied feature packs, that’s why you must write down the features you absolutely need in a CRM. Analyze features, compare pricing models, and read outside reviews. You must compare everything up to support and service. Remember that the solutions offered should be easily integrated with all departments in your company.

You can look at ratings from independent, third-party sources, and read reviews from real users. Digging through comments is worth the effort. It gives clarity of what the CRM system is actually like to use.

Once you have a pool of choices, it’s time to shortlist the best options. It’s always advised to try first and test out all the features it offers before you commit long-term. Most CRMs offer a free trial. Ensure that you can test out every feature you intend to use.

It’s also recommended to find out how good the customer support is. You’ll probably need it after purchasing the CRM system, so see if they are responsive enough.


Step 5: Assemble a core CRM team

Once the CRM software has been selected, and the goals are set, it’s finally time to implement your new CRM system. But first, let’s assemble the team responsible for taking part in every stage of the implementation process. 

This group of employees is responsible for ensuring that the CRM is adopted in your company and used to its full potential. You can designate existing team members to oversee the CRM:

This team needs to be involved in every step of the implementation process and remain well-informed about everything.


Step 6: Migrate existing customer data

This step can either be performed manually or using data migration tools.  The data can come from a previous CRM platform, a lead management tool, a series of spreadsheets, or the previous CMS.

If it’s your first time using a CRM system, and you’ve only ever used spreadsheets to manage your customer data before, you might want to go over all the spreadsheets and discard out-of-date stuff before looking into merging duplicate data.

Given the complexity of the process, we recommend working with a CRM consultant to migrate this information for you from your current platform.


Step 7: Third-party tech stack integration

For the seamless working of the CRM software, it’s time to connect all the other tools your team uses to the shiny new CRM system:


Step 8:  Team training and onboarding

After the CRM system is ready, it’s time to get people to use it, and building a comprehensive onboarding and training plan is critical.

CRM is something people often overlook, and you must give your team ample time to get to know the software. Also, allow some downtime from their regular work tasks. There will also be holdouts who don’t like new things. If you communicate clearly how CRM is a tool that helps their work, not add to it, they will be less reluctant.

If you work with a CRM consulting company, they will onboard everyone starting with the top-management team. They will explain how to use the solution, educate everyone about the benefits of CRM, and highlight the importance of an up-to-date CRM. They will also show how to use all features of the system and explain the smallest specific tasks in the CRM.

It’s advised to create an organizational CRM playbook, outlining all the details and usage of the CRM solution. This onboarding should be presented to each new employee when he joins the company.


Step 9: Customize the CRM to fit business workflows

Based on all the processes outlined in your CRM implementation plan, you need to customize your system to fit your workflows. This includes the ability to automate manual tasks (touchpoints in the sales process) and to integrate with the other tools you’re already using (email marketing tools you use to nurture prospects throughout the customer journey). Other customizations include: setting the CRM dashboard, creating the sales pipeline, and setting customized reports.

For example, if your sales team operates a 5-step phone call and email strategy, you can set that strategy in the CRM with automated call reminders and automated emails. The more you customize your CRM, the easier it will be for your colleagues to use it.


Step 10: Continuous Evaluation and Improvement

Finally, it’s time to take a step back and measure the success of your CRM implementation. In order to do that, measure your success rates against the goals and objectives you outlined in step 2.

There are plenty of KPI’s can be used to measure your CRM implementation success, including sales metrics, marketing metrics, and customer metrics. For example, you can measure:

Another important feedback is talking to your colleagues about how they feel about the CRM software. Hear their problems out and look for solutions together. Once you’ve evaluated the results, you might want to adjust your plans. That might mean that everyone uses the CRM correctly and updates the information regularly, or even if you have the right objectives set with the right processes in place.

Remain agile to your shifting business needs, benchmark your CRM, hear the concerns of your team and you will rectify all the CRM mistakes on the way.



Following these 10 steps will help you ensure a successful CRM implementation project. Good luck!

If you feel you don’t have the internal resources to take on a well-invested CRM approach, since it involves a significant amount of time and resources, work with an independent CRM consultancy company. We are here to support you through your CRM implementation journey, from selecting the most appropriate CRM solution, to ongoing maintenance and support to keep things running smoothly.