Akin to your child's graduation or wedding, when your small business innovates and improves their business by migrating to a better CRM, it is a momentous occasion. The possibilities enabled by the new system are mouth watering and exciting.
However, in all the excitement to get moved over, there are some simple things that can get overlooked. These things can cause great problems down the road and cause you to doubt your choice, or worse, give up and stay with your old system (which you KNOW doesn't work for you anymore).
When I started at Keap back in 2011, I helped over 200 new customers get started on their new CRM. Through working with all those different businesses, I found some common missteps that are easy to proactively avoid.
If you are considering moving your business to a new CRM, here are five things you really need to be aware of before you pull the trigger and start migrating.
1. Underestimating the work involved
Think back to the last time you moved house; it was a sizable effort, no?
From the initial decision to move, to finding a new place to live, to packing, to actually moving and finally unpacking, it is a VERY complex and involved process.
Migrating to a new CRM has the same level of complexity and should be treated as such. You are digitally moving, which means you need to plan thoroughly and execute as expected.
This means your CRM migration is going to take time. Potentially a lot of time depending on how many different "rooms" you have to "pack" (spreadsheets, other digital systems, paper systems, etc.) and "unpack".
Make sure you give yourself plenty of lead time for the move, especially if you aren't the most tech-savvy because there will be time spent learning.
If you have a team to help with the migration, it will still take time. Possibly more time because you also have to plan the training for different roles and to make the necessary reporting adjustments.
The point is, give yourself enough time and plan for MORE time than you expected. As with moving your physical home, unexpected things will crop up. Give yourself a buffer to handles these as they occur.
Conversely, if you rush through a CRM migration, you might end up causing more harm than good. Which is no bueno.
2. Implementing before defining
While this is particularly true for automation, moving over ANY process into a new CRM requires a thorough understanding of what is being done right now, today.
Too often, a new CRM user will start building out their "processes" before sitting down and mapping out what those processes are in the first place. Then, as they get deeper down the rabbit hole they realize they forgot something, or that they have created something that conflicts with or complicates another process.
Here is an example: A new CRM user creates a "Contact Us" web form that creates a task for some sales rep to follow up when the form is submitted. Then, as they are building out their sales pipeline, they realize this "Contact Us" mechanism doesn't put those leads into the sales pipeline which means their reps will now have TWO places to track leads.
A classic example of putting the cart before the horse.
When migrating to a CRM, the best thing you can do is sit down in front of a big piece of paper or a whiteboard and map out all existing processes and workflows for you current system. How do you currently collect new leads and what happens to them? How does your sales process work? What happens with fulfillment once a lead converts into a customer?
As a success coach, this was often where the reality of how complex a CRM migration would sink in. You REALLY have to get granular with every detail of your current process. For most small businesses, these are loosely defined and shared tribally as new employees join the team.
You have to be able to explicitly say, "When a new lead comes in we do A. Then, the next step is to do B" and so on.
Until you've got your core processes figured out very clearly, implementing anything in your new CRM is like target practice wearing a blindfold; it probably won't work as well as you'd hoped.
3. Hammering nails with a screwdriver
There is a bit of wisdom out there that states, "When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." The lesson being conveyed is to use the right tool for the job at hand.
Often, when switching to a new CRM, there is new functionality you can leverage. It is highly beneficial to understand these new functions. Sometimes, using a particular function properly will greatly improve a currently inefficient process.
For example, let's look at the idea of lead scoring. Lead scoring is a marketing/sales tactic that awards a certain amount of points for different actions (opting into your newsletter, downloading a lead magnet, etc.). The theory is that those with more points should be contacted first as they are the most engaged.
Does your new CRM have lead scoring? If so, learn how to properly use it. While you can probably find other ways to do it, in doing so you are effectively hammering a nail with a screwdriver.
Do your best to use the native functionality of your new CRM as it was designed. This is where the existing user community is handy. Make friends with people that are already using the CRM to which you plan to migrate. Chances are they've run into the same questions (and answers) that you have right now.
4. Not maximizing lead/customer segmentation
This notion piggybacks off the previous one. When you are using the native functionality of your new CRM as it is expected, there are often opportunities to improve your existing process.
In most cases creating better, more intentional experiences for your leads and customers is a big opportunity. One of the big dreams a CRM enables is the ability to deliberately create meaningful relationships and leave a clear digital paper trail.
When migrating over your current processes, look for opportunities to further target your messaging and actions. Do you have a newsletter opt-in? Maybe you can segment out your leads from customers upon opt-in and deliver a different welcome email depending on who they are.
If you have multiple products/services, are you tracking which specific offers a lead is qualified for or do you lump everyone into the same bucket and leave manual notes for their product interests?
Hopefully, once you've mapped out your current processes, you'll see opportunities to leverage your new CRM for powerful segmentation. After all, the more relevant and timely your messages are, the more effective they should be!
5. Dipping one toe in the water
Out of all the hiccups listed above, this is BY FAR the biggest dream killer. If you make all four of the mistakes above, you can still find success. However, if you handle all four of those and still drop the ball on this one, your failure is effectively guaranteed.
You HAVE to commit to a complete migration and daily habitual use of a new CRM.
Think of the moving analogy earlier. You don't pack up and move, but then still sleep at your old place. That doesn't work. It makes no sense.
However, when migrating to a new CRM, I can't tell you how many times I've seen people build their new processes and start to use them while still clinging on to their old system. Its such a burden and causes unnecessary stress.
Think of it this way: Imagine you have an old car that you want to replace. So you go to the dealership and buy a new car. Then, you keep your feet on the pedals of your old car and lean out the window and try to steer the new one.
You'd probably rip yourself in half or at least cause some serious injuries.
Don't do this when you migrate to a new CRM. Either commit to diving in headfirst and migrating then using the new system daily or don't even consider it.
Will it be scary? Yes.
Will there be a bumpy transition period? Maybe, but you can minimize that.
Will it be worth the effort? Absolutely!