We deal with a variety of clients, from startups to enterprises, and while some smaller businesses still use spreadsheets to track contacts and sales tasks, most businesses have a customer relationship management (CRM) system. And eventually, every brand wants, or needs, to move to a new one.
Companies switch CRMs for lots of reasons – they want more functionality, different functionality, different integrations with other tools, or the new VP of Sales just likes one tool in particular.
While the reason for switching CRMs is unique to every client, if you’re considering making the switch, there are some key considerations and tips you need to keep in mind to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Here are some pointers:
1. Choosing Your New CRM
The first thing to consider is what CRM will you migrate to?
There are lots of choices out there, from Salesforce, to smaller dedicated CRMs like Nimble, SugarCRM and so forth. There are also marketing platform CRMs such as HubSpot or Infustionsoft.
Whatever system you’re considering, keep these notes in mind:
- What’s wrong with your current CRM? Your new CRM should solve the problems you’re having with your current CRM
- Integrations – What software does it need to work with? Email marketing software is the biggest one, because contacts will have to sync both directions. Also consider CPQ software as strong integration with a tool like PandaDoc can reduce the time to create quotes.
- Data Sync – Once you figure out what your CRM needs to work with, you need to figure out how data to sync. Many tools rely on third parties like Zapier, and this can be confusing as tools to often advertise that they integrate with another platform. Once you get into it, you discover that synchronization is not native and requires the time and expense of spinning up yet another tool for data sync.
- Budget – How much will the CRM cost? This is the key limiting factor for many small and medium businesses. CRM’s often tie more advanced features to higher pricing tiers. Look at limitations on pricing tiers, such as the number of contacts, or number of emails you’re allowed to send per month which may impact price or the functionality you need.
- Growth – Once you get the budget and features figured out, consider growth for the next 24 months (since many tools bill annually). How many contacts will you be adding? How many emails will you be sending? Business success may cause you to jump to a new pricing tier.
- Ease of use – Whatever tool you buy should make your team better. Look at free and fee-based on-boarding training options to get your staff ramped up. Have your team members use the tool before you buy to see if it’s easy and intuitive.
- Training and on-boarding – Your sales team will have to learn new sales software – pick a tool that has the training options and tools that you need to get your sales team up to speed.
Here are some additional tips to keep your process on track:
- Look at extras – Tools may offer extras such as enhanced prospecting, access to lists or data, or additional features such as automation. See if any of them add significant value to your team.
- Use what you pay for – If you pay for a higher pricing tier which includes a new feature that your CRM doesn’t use, make it a priority to implement and start using that feature. Often, companies will pay for a feature, but take months to implement it due to daily workload. That’s just a waste of money.
- Get on user and support forums – When you’re getting close to selecting a CRM, get on their support forums and user groups. Look for issues integrating with the tools software you intend to use, and with features you intend to implement. Ask questions about your intended configuration. This will help you figure out if features work well, and if the CRM has strong support.
And these are key elements that are often overlooked, and can cost you in the long term:
- Review pricing, limits, and tiers thoroughly – This includes polices for going over limits set at your pricing tier. Sometimes limits can’t be exceeded, sometimes you have to pay to increase limits. Sometimes exceeding limits will automatically bump you up to a new pricing tier, for which you’re immediately billed. Consider how peaks in feature usage such as email sends, or prospect research might impact billing and plan for it.
- Consider the impact to the price of other tools – Integrating and sharing data with other tools, such as email marketing tools or CPQ software, may increase prices for those tools. For example, HubSpot charges based on the number of contacts in your database. If you’ve only had prospects and leads in your HubSpot marketing suite, then importing 20,000 contacts from your CRM will make your marketing suite price jump.
2. Use Free Trials to Test, Test, Test
Most CRMs offer a free trial period. Use it. Use it to test features and ease of use, but also use the free trial period to test migrations. This will show you how easy or difficult migration will be, and will show you how the data will look once it’s imported.
I can’t stress this enough – plan how to use the free trial period to evaluate the CRM. You should make a list of things to check including:
- Contact import
- Data appearance in the new CRM
- Synchronization with other tools you use
- Integration functionality
- Daily sales tasks performed by the sales team
- Oversight tasks performed by sales managers.
Some extra tips
One of the biggest barriers to testing new CRMs is the time required and the compensation impact on members of the sales team.
Sales team members are usually compensated by a commission structure, so they don’t want to take time away from making sales to test the new software because it costs them money.
Brands need to recognize the value and benefit of this testing prior to implementation. The equation is simple – if you buy something that’s difficult for your team to use, sales will likely go down. If you buy something that works well for your team, sales will likely go up. Invest in this testing by incentivizing your sales team to do it.
One simple way is to pay commission for your salespeople while doing the testing. Free trials are often two weeks long, so allocate half the sale team hours for testing during the trial period. Address lost compensation by averaging their weekly commissions for the previous three months and paying them half their weekly commission each week during sales testing.
3. Data Cleanup
We consider data cleanup an essential step in the CRM migration process. Save and archive stale contacts from your database.
What’s a stale contact? That’s up to each business — we start the discussion at any contact that has been inactive for over three sales cycles. So if you have a 12-month sales cycle, that’s three years.
Removing stale contacts will potentially help you cut down on costs by enabling you to select lower pricing tiers. It will also speed up the migration process because you’ll have less data to import – and after migration it will make your contacts and email lists easier to navigate.
- Archive contact information in a CSV – Delete contacts from your CRM but not from your life. Export and keep a full copy of all your contacts in a CSV file, just in case.
- Keep company records – Don’t delete companies from your CRM.
- Keep a record in your CRM that you have archived contacts in a CSV – If you remove all contacts for a company, make one contact record or a note in the company record stating that you have archived contacts in the CSV file. That will let the sales team know to go look in the CSV if the company becomes active again.
- Reach out to contacts before archiving – Call contacts and send them an email to see if they want to stay in your mailing and contact lists. This will identify contacts that are no longer valid, and removing them from mailing lists will also improve your inbox deliverability. This is also a great opportunity to re-engage dormant contacts.
- Automate identification – If you have automation tools, use them to find contacts that meet the parameters that identify them as stale.
- Get jiggy with Excel or Google Sheets – If you’re doing data cleanup, you’ll probably be doing it in Excel or Google Sheets. This part of the process can be very time consuming – or very easy. The more you know about working with data in spreadsheets, the faster this part of the process will go. Here are some links to help:
- Hire an intern – Some data is so poorly entered that it takes a human to clean it up. In this case, hiring an intern may be your best bet.
- Check the work – Whether done via automation, add-in, or manually, sales managers and the sales team will need to check the work to make sure all contacts and accounts that should be migrated are still present and valid. Split up the work, and have team members and managers check the accounts they’re responsible for. You don’t want to miss a follow-up once you’ve moved to the new CRM because a contact was accidentally removed from the migration file.
4. Historical Email Migration
One of the nicest features of some CRMs is email integration right in the contact records. Many CRMs will bring email messages into the contact record, making it easy to review communication history. If the current CRM or the new CRM supports this, it’s one of the first things your sales team will ask for.
Most CRMs that support this feature have an email connector that brings messages into the CRM for each contact. They can often only move email from the time it establishes the connection, but sales team members, rightfully, will want to keep the historical emails from the prior CRM for continuity.
Many tools specialize in historical email migration for CRMs. For example, threads.cloud can migration historical emails into HubSpot CRM. If historical migration is on your list of requirements, add it as a separate research item. It often requires a third-party tool and may cost a fee. Be sure to get an understanding of how the migration tool and pricing work.
- Always archive emails for safe keeping – Archive from the old CRM or from sales team inboxes.
- Non-contact emails may no be migrated – Many historical email migration tools work by looking in the inboxes of salespeople and copying any messages associated with contacts into the CRM. This works great for getting all emails sent to and from [email protected] – however, if, Amy uses internal software to generate RPFs, award bids, or send contracts, those emails may come from an email address that doesn’t have a contact associated with such as [email protected] or [email protected] Those emails may not be migrated. Perform test migrations to see which emails are migrated, and which are not.
5. Contact Sync
Unless you’re using an integrated sales and marketing platform, such as Acton, HubSpot, Infustionsoft, or Marketo, each of which combines sales and email marketing tools, you’ll need to synchronize contact creation and updates between your CRM and your email marketing tools.
There are many tools out there to perform contact synchronization, such as Zapier, and Piesync. Each CRM may have some built-in synchronization capability, or a recommended third-party tool. Be sure to test and test synchronization before deciding on your new CRM.
- Setup and maintenance of synchronization tools – Ask the questions. Will it “just work” once set up or will it need continued maintenance? Can a new IT person take it over easily in the event of turnover?
- Sync direction – Will changes only go from the CRM to the email marketing software, or do they need to go both directions? Whatever the answer, test it.
- Sync timing – How often do you need contacts synced? This can impact lead generation offer fulfillment, and the ability to run email marketing campaigns. Choose a tool that can synchronize as needed.
- Costs – Some sync tools are free, some are fee-based. Many offer a free version that can become fee-base. Include the costs of sync software in your budget.
CRM migration is a necessary tasks for brand growth. Use the guidelines, and tips in this article to achieve success, minimize disruption, and maximize the benefit of your new CRM