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Expert Tips for CRM Integration

CRM software such as Salesforce help businesses reach new levels of optimization and effectiveness at every stage of the sales funnel. Therefore, integrating your CRM ensures that you, your partners and your customers can gather vital sales data such as contacts, accounts leads and other necessary data across CRM systems and sales tools in order to convert leads into paying customers. Let’s face it, CRM integration is a long and arduous process with a failure rate of up to 69% according to some experts. Here are some tips from the pros on how you can make sure that that your CRM integration venture is successful. 


1. Create Clear and Specific Requirements

Requirements usually change frequently, this is simply the nature of the business, but such uncertainty can wreak havoc for you CRM integration project. All of your IT and sales people as well as software vendors must be on the same page as to what the requirements are, how the implementation will take place and what the timeframes are. At the very least, the first phases must be planned out along with the expectations which will save you a lot of money in excess costs. Such costs may include solutions that require excessive manual programming and convoluted middleware. 


2. Remember: Rome Was Not Built in One Day

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is that they try to integrate everything at once, which actually decreases the chances of a timely, on budget, and, most importantly, successful roll-out. We already mentioned that business needs change over time, which makes it even more critical to break down the project into smaller, manageable bits and pieces so you can make adjustments as you go along. Try focusing on the parts of the project that can provide immediate business payoff. This way you can get easy wins early, give your team a chance to gain experience and you can scale as you go along. 


3. Nail Down the Change Management Process

Many businesses do not have a formal methodology on handling change orders and changes to the CRM and other systems being integrated may not be defined during the integration process. This can cause chaos from an implementation, requirements and testing stand point. When defining the change management process, you will be tempted to make aggressive scheduling decisions, which is ok, if they are realistic. Try to establish an accurate timeline of your integration efforts which may include bringing in someone from the outside to help. Since CRM integration may be uncharted waters for you, it may be a good idea to supplement your experience with industry proven and seasoned consultants who can leverage years of experience integrating a wide range of CRM projects with your specific vendor. 


4. It's OK to Ask for Help

Speaking of bringing in outside help, let's face it, the infrastructure that you are trying to integrate is new and unproven. You can use test scripts and automated testing to discover problems faster and earlier in the integration process, but it is also important to make sure that you have support from vendor experts to assist you not only with eliminating technical bugs, but with best practice advice based on implementation experience. 


5. Employ a Long-Term Approach

The best way to map out the future of your CRM integration is to create a wide-ranging business case. What are you trying achieve with this CRM integration and when do you plan to go live. By setting achievable yet specific benchmarks you can track the project's success against real numbers and expectations. The absolute last thing you want is for your expectations exceed the actual goals and budget of the project. 


6. Make Your CRM Sales Oriented

Invested a lot of money in the CRM, you explained all of its features and....no one is using it. This could be for a variety of reason: there could be a lot of manual data entry, they need to be governed by yet another system or many other reasons. In order to solve this problem, consider looking for sales productivity tools that can make your life easier. Salespeople, especially the really good ones, get hundreds of e-mails per day which result in both phone and in-person meetings. They cannot possibly keep track of and update information of every single opportunity manually. So automating a simple task such as CRM data entry will already make a difference.


CRM projects are necessary for optimizing your customer service and automating business processes. You must also anticipate possible bumps in the road and take precautions to avoid the most common mistakes. The devil is always in the details. CRM integration in this regard is similar to surgery in a hospital: even one careless move can have disastrous consequences.  


Vlad Voskresensky is the Founder and CEO of Invisible.io, a company behind SmartCloud Connect. Vlad has over 20 years of experience in helping companies to connect their enterprise and personal environments.