How to Ensure CRM Success Through Internal Communications

By Geoffrey James

Sales management should approach CRM as a communication challenge. To ensure a smooth implementation you should create multiple communication channels and feedback mechanisms that can deliver information about the vision, objectives, planning and development of your CRM system.

Once you’ve decided to investigate and choose a CRM system, create an overview document that answers employees’ questions, which typically include:

  • Who has been selected to participate in the initiative?
  • What were the selection criteria?
  • How many people have been included in the initiative?
  • How long will the initiative last?
  • How quickly will the initiative spread outside the initial user group?
  • What will persons participating in the user group need to do?
  • Will persons participating in the initiative get PCs?
  • Will there be additional people brought on to support the initiative?
  • Will the initiative lead to a decrease in the number of jobs within the company?
  • Whose job will change as a result of the initiative?

By answering these questions up front you can reduce or even eliminate rumors and speculation that later might lead to employee resistance to the system. More significantly, such a document gives you the opportunity to begin creating employee enthusiasm for the CRM project and even secure their help in making it a success.

After you’ve defined the project with an overview document, create multiple channels of communication the various stakeholders can use to work through whatever issues emerge from the CRM selection and implementation process. Effective communication and feedback channels might include any of the following:

  • a section on your Intranet dedicated to the CRM project
  • articles in company newsletters or periodicals
  • articles in specific department communications
  • presentations at company special events
  • project status presentations at departmental management meetings
  • email updates on a regular basis
  • letters from executive sponsors
  • implementation and early adopter blogs

These channels are useful not only for the employees who will eventually use the system, but also might become the vehicles by which the various leaders of the CRM project coordinate activities. Ideally, you want to get a wide range of people involved, including:

  • the primary executive sponsor
  • the technical project leader
  • the sales project leader
  • the power users and initial adopters
  • the IT department
  • the software vendor
  • external consultants and integrators
  • key customers (optional)

As a general rule, CRM is one area where communication between the various stakeholders helps lead the project to a successful conclusion.

The above is adapted from information provided by noted CRM consultant and expert Barton Goldenberg, president of ISM, Inc., an independent firm founded in 1985 that focuses on CRM research, market analysis and consulting. Mr. Goldenberg has helped numerous companies select and implement successful CRM systems. He can be contacted at 301-656-8448 or through www.ismguide.com.