7 Best Practices for Successful CRM Setup

Best Practices

When you invest in a new customer relationship management (CRM) solution, a lot of work goes into choosing the right software and completing the planning stages of CRM implementation — things like assembling your CRM team, assessing your needs, and defining your goals. But no matter how thoroughly you plan, even the best CRM software can’t be an effective business tool unless it’s structured to fit your organization’s unique processes and workflows.

That’s where the CRM setup process comes in. Proper CRM setup lets you customize and configure your new CRM system to keep your salesforce (and other users) operating at peak efficiency — and maximize the return on your investment. In this blog post, you’ll learn how it’s done.

CRM implementation vs. CRM setup

Depicting the sales CRM funnel

Before we get started… you might be wondering whether “implementation” and “setup” are just two ways of saying the same thing, but they’re actually different. Think of it like this:

  • CRM implementation is like buying and moving into a new house, including every step along the way: choosing a realtor, finding the right house, securing a mortgage, packing up your belongings, unpacking in your new location, etc.
  • CRM setup is more like furnishing your new house, painting the walls, and decorating to make it your own.

The two processes are closely related and there’s a lot of overlap, but they aren’t the same.

Get your CRM setup right with these seven steps

CRM setup represents a small part of the overall implementation process, but it’s still a big job. Following these best practices will help to ensure that your new technology is fine-tuned to align with your CRM strategy.

Step 1: Map your customer journey

CRM software is more than just a contact management tool. The right CRM solution can help your sales reps, marketing team, and customer service org deliver a seamless customer experience. But first, you need to understand what your customers need and how they interact with your company. Mapping out a typical customer journey will provide important insights to guide your CRM setup. For example:

  • How do prospects find out about your company?
  • How many touch points are in a typical sales cycle? What are they?
  • How long does it take to move through the sales funnel?
  • What are the key milestones and decision points in the customer journey?
  • How do your customers make purchase decisions?
  • How do you close a sale?
  • What do customers need after the sale is complete?

Once you’ve collected details about your customer journey—however simple or complex it may be—you’ll want to organize the information in a way that’s easily digestible. There are plenty of templates and examples available online to help. The important thing is to make sure you understand your customers’ end-to-end experience with your company, so you can set up your CRM system accordingly.

Step 2: Analyze your sales pipeline

CRM solutions are designed to manage the customer relationship as they move through the sales funnel — and beyond. Once you have an accurate “roadmap” of how customers interact with your company, the next step is understanding how the customer journey translates into the stages of your sales pipeline, so that each activity and touchpoint in the sales process is reflected in your CRM.

Terminology may vary, but here are some examples of typical pipeline structures:

B2B sales: Prospect → Lead → Qualified lead → Opportunity → Closed/won (or Closed/lost) → New business

B2C sales: Target → Approach → Qualify → Pitch → Address objections → Negotiate → Close deal → Post-sale follow up

Whatever your sales process looks like, capture every step from start to finish. Make sure each stage is clearly defined, with explicit parameters and rules for moving on to the next phase. This will help to ensure consistent language and processes across the sales team.

Step 3: Define all business processes that touch the sales cycle

Of course, your sales team isn’t the only group whose needs should be considered as you complete your CRM setup. Most organizations manage their marketing, customer support, and customer service activities with CRM software, so they can deliver a consistent experience at every touchpoint. Some companies even run functions like recruiting and accounts receivable operations through the CRM.

In this step, you’ll need to closely examine all the internal business processes that impact the customer journey. This way, you can give every team the tools they need to manage their business effectively through the CRM. Here are some examples:

Marketing: Awareness → Interest → Consideration → Intent → Evaluation → Decision → Retention

Recruiting: Pre-screen → Phone interview → In-person interview(s) → Reference check → Offer → Onboarding

Pro tip: Don’t forget to account for hand-offs between teams as a customer moves through their journey, since mishandling these moments can damage the customer experience.

Step 4:  Customize the CRM software to meet your needs

Up to this point, you’ve been collecting information to create a framework for your CRM setup. Now is the time to put your research to work by customizing your CRM software and creating the unique elements to store and manage your data. These include:

Custom fields: Your CRM software is likely equipped with several standard fields out of the box, to capture information like name, company, phone number, and email address. But you’ll need more than just basic contact information to manage your customer relationships. Any detail you collect about a contact can be stored in a custom field, so use the insights from your research to determine what custom fields your team will need.

Pipelines and stages: Pipelines define the end-to-end sales process within your CRM, while stages represent the individual steps within each pipeline. Most CRM software allows you to build multiple pipelines, each with its own unique stages. So you can create as many pipelines as needed to support your sales, marketing, support, and service activities.

Workflow Automation: One of the best ways to optimize your CRM and improve business efficiency is by building automations to streamline manual tasks. Different CRMs offer varying levels of automation capabilities, but there are many repetitive steps in the sales process that can benefit from automation, including:

  • Contact creation and data entry
  • Personalized email sequences
  • Logging customer interactions (like phone calls and emails)
  • Engagement tracking
  • Lead scoring
  • Status changes

Dashboards and reporting: Custom dashboard and reports allow CRM users to track their KPIs, metrics, and progress toward goals — both as individuals and across a broader team. Sales and marketing leaders often use CRM reports for forecasting and providing business updates to the C-suite.

Step 5: Import your customer data to your CRM

With all of your custom fields, pipelines, and stages in place, it’s time to migrate customer data into your new CRM. Just about every CRM offers a way to import your existing data using a .csv or Excel file. The migration process may vary, but generally it looks something like this: 

  1.     Clean up your data to ensure that the column headings map to your standard and custom fields, pipelines, and stages.
  2.     Upload your file, import the data, and wait.
  3.     Double-check to make sure data is mapping to the right fields and correct any errors that are flagged during the migration process.
  4.     Verify that your data was imported successfully by testing a few processes against your old system.

Pro tip: Insightly’s one-click data migration tool makes data import easy, allowing you to transfer data and processes over to your new CRM in two hours or less (depending on the size of your dataset).

Step 6: Integrate the CRM with third-party tools

Your new CRM needs to be compatible with the business tools your team uses every day. Integrations allow you to connect your CRM with those third-party tools, creating a single, seamless platform with all the functionality they need. A fully-integrated CRM enables your team to switch between apps and access unified customer information without leaving the CRM platform — taking efficiency to the next level.

Common integrations include:

  • Email apps (like Outlook and Gmail)
  • Lead generation tools
  • Project management tools
  • Messaging and communication platforms
  • Social media management tools
  • Live chat apps
  • Marketing automation programs
  • Support and ticketing apps
  • Accounting packages
  • Analytics tools

Pro tip: Insightly CRM has native integrations with more than a dozen common business apps, including G Suite, PandaDoc, QuickBooks, and Xero. And our AppConnect integration tool makes it easy to connect with hundreds more.

Step 7: Set up and onboard users

CRM platforms allow you to define user roles with different levels of data access. By assigning permissions, you can give each user the ability to view and/or edit the data they need to do their jobs without compromising data security or system integrity. Understanding which  departments and roles use the CRM will help you structure access levels correctly and assign the right permissions to each role. Check out Insightly’s recent blog post for in-depth advice on structuring CRM access levels, defining user roles, and assigning permissions.

Once you’ve completed your user setup, it’s finally time to bring your CRM users onboard. Of course that requires adding user accounts, but more importantly, it means thorough training and onboarding to ensure that every team member understands how the CRM works. This step is critical to CRM adoption — and ultimately, the success of your CRM strategy. Be sure to gather feedback along the way and make improvements as needed, to help smooth the transition and minimize roadblocks.

Finally, choose a CRM partner who makes setup simple!

Person entering CRM data in keyboard

Setting up a new CRM is no small task, but it’s easier when you have the right partner. Insightly offers two setup options to help get your CRM configured right from the start.

  • Self-guided: The self-guided setup and onboarding provides comprehensive support to help you get your new CRM up and running, with more than 20 educational modules to walk you through the process from start to finish.
  • Assisted: With the guided onboarding plan, experts from Insightly work with your CRM administrator on platform setup, data migration, and customization. We’ll get you started on the platform and show you how to navigate our on-demand resources for additional training. 

Proper CRM setup can help to increase user adoption, improve efficiency, and maximize the return on your technology investment. So choose a partner who can get you up and running quickly and take the guesswork out of CRM setup.

Ready to get started with a CRM?

Insightly CRM was designed to help growing teams build lasting customer relationships using a simple, scalable platform. Insightly is the only solution that aligns cross-functional teams on a shared data platform to provide a single, unified view of every customer. The end result: unprecedented transparency, better decision-making, and a seamless end-to-end customer experience.

Get started with a free trial of Insightly CRM today, or request a personalized demo to see how our simple, scalable solution can help your company achieve its business goals.