You’ve found the one: the CRM tool that will change everything. You know it will help you better qualify leads, close more deals and spend less time on manual tasks. It’s customizable and easy to use.
But there’s one big step you need to take before you can start implementing it: you need to convince your boss, team, colleagues and/or other decision-makers it’s the right sales tool for your company.
You need more than just budget approval, you need a fast and easy adoption so you can start seeing better sales results (and ROI) sooner.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to make your case for a CRM and prove it’s worth the investment, both if you’re just getting started with a CRM solution or you’re switching from a different CRM tool.
- Collect evidence to support your CRM needs
- Identify key CRM features that will help your business
- Find out which of your tools the CRM will integrate with
- Prepare a cost-benefit analysis
- Develop an implementation plan
- Rally internal support
- Present to your boss
- Present to your team
- Present to other stakeholders
- Prepare your Plan B
- Go forth and win them over
Collect evidence to support your CRM needs
You should already have a general idea of how a CRM tool will address one or more of your company’s major pain points.
However, the pitch to your team will be much more convincing if it’s backed up by proof.
If this is going to be your team’s first time using a CRM, you’re probably currently using spreadsheets to manage your lead and customer data at the moment. Spreadsheets are great—especially in the early stage of business—but you know you’ve outgrown them.
Look for data that supports the move from spreadsheets to a CRM. For example:
- Your team is selling more, so it takes much longer to update and maintain information
- There’s a lot of repetitive work, such as following up after X days, that could be automated
- Your outside sales reps can’t use spreadsheets efficiently on the go
- Sensitive client data isn’t as secure as it should be in spreadsheets
- It’s harder to collaborate in spreadsheets, as people use them in different ways
The more specific you get about the benefits of CRM, the better. Use numbers whenever you can, such as a number of lost deals due to inefficiency or the number of hours that could be saved on admin.
If you’re switching from your current CRM, identify reasons to switch. For example:
- Is it lacking a key feature?
- Is it unable to keep up with your company’s growth?
- If you’re doing a CRM system comparison, have you noticed your current CRM is falling behind its competitors?
To collect this information, talk to your teammates and store all their feedback in one place.
Jared Houghton, co-founder of sales productivity software company Ambition, recommends asking each sales rep: “How focused are you in your outreach efforts? What’s your pipeline look like? How well are you tracking your current opportunities?”
Once you have those answers, you can map them to the CRM’s specific features.
Next, get feedback from companies that are already using the product. Many SaaS product sites have a “Customers”, “Testimonials” or “Case Studies” page. Pick a couple of the organizations on that list and ask them what they like, what they don’t like, and what results they’ve seen. If you can find those similar to your industry and/or company size, even better. If you can’t get in touch, read their customer stories to find out more.
You can also ask the SaaS representative to introduce you to current customers, but be aware they will only give you the names of the happiest ones.
Identify key CRM features that will help your business
As you document your key pain points and collect the information (like numbers and comments from sales reps) that supports it, you’ll likely notice some similarities and patterns.
Divide these into categories and then list the must-have CRM features that address each pain-point category.
For inspiration, here are a few examples of features and the pain points they tackle.
Feature: Team collaboration (team reports, revenue forecast, live dashboards, etc.)
- Data about leads and sales is stored in spreadsheets locally, on sales reps’ computers
- Sales reps don’t know their current contribution towards team goals
- Difficult to make adjustments on the fly because up-to-date information isn’t readily available (all decisions depend on the most recent weekly report)
Feature: CRM as a single source of truth
- Searching through emails for the latest progress with a lead
- Maintaining a separate document with email templates
- A separate calendar with sales appointments that isn’t connected to lead information
Some other key features you may find in your research are customizability, powerful reporting and agility/simplicity of use.
Your list of pain points will also be super helpful when talking to a member of the CRM’s sales team. They should be able to help you identify CRM features that will supercharge your sales process.
Find out which of your tools the CRM will integrate with
Are you already using great tools that support your sales activities? If so, it may be more important to look for a CRM that integrates with it than the one that replaces it.
In other words, you don’t need an all-size-fits-all CRM, you need the one that will give you flexibility and customization that makes it powerful on your terms.
Here are some categories of tools you’ll likely want your CRM to integrate with:
- Customer support
- Phone solutions
- Lead generation
- Email marketing
- Marketing automation
- Proposals and contracts
- Accounting and invoicing
Remember: your CRM doesn’t need to do everything under the sun, it just needs to easily integrate with tools that make you efficient and focused.
Prepare a cost-benefit analysis
Another impactful step you can take to build a business case for a CRM is to show how much money, time and effort you and your team can save with it.
With the data you gathered so far, figure out approximately how much you’re losing without this product. For example, you could make an estimate like this one:
- Each salesperson will close 20% more deals with a new CRM
- The average deal is $5,000
- Your sales team makes 20 deals per month
With these numbers, you can say: “We’re losing $20,000 every 30 days if we don’t buy this software.”
Next, calculate how much the software will cost. Houghton says there’s the sticker price (say, $60 per user per month) and there are also sometimes associated costs for installation, onboarding, support and so on. Even if the vendor doesn’t charge extra, account for the money you’ll lose while your team is moving to the platform—especially if you’ll be paying for two solutions as you move from one to the other.
Finally, calculate the return on investment (ROI). With everything included, the product might cost $6,000 a year, but you’ll be making $30,000 more. So your ROI will be $24,000 a year—and that’s if your sales team doesn’t get bigger.
“Ultimately, the investment you make up front pays off in customers that you keep longer and who are thus much more profitable,” says Chris Bucholtz, who runs content marketing for CRM complement CallidusCloud.
Develop an implementation plan
When it comes to buying new products, inertia often holds us back. So, before you get company-wide buy-in for your CRM, Bucholtz says you’ll need to present a solid action plan for your sales team.
Here’s what to consider:
- When will training and onboarding take place? If this will interfere with the team’s daily activities, how will you make up for the drop in productivity?
- How will this tool work with the ones you already use? If it’s replacing another tool, how will you phase out the old one?
- Who will be involved? Will you be leading the project, or will someone else be in charge?
“A CRM is a complex purchase,” Bucholtz says. “Integration, onboarding and adoption require thought and foresight.”
If you’ll be using a CRM for the first time, the switch will likely be quite intense for your sales reps. As you plan your CRM implementation, map out how the CRM’s features and functionalities will replace processes that lived in spreadsheets until now.
Be sure to slightly overestimate the time the team will need to fully transition to the CRM. This will help with any unforeseen roadblocks.
If you’re switching from a different CRM, it will probably be an easier transition. You can create a simple list of new CRM features and possibilities and how they relate to (and improve upon) the functionalities of your previous CRM. You may even be able to just import all your data across using a tool like Import2.
In both cases, make sure you’ve created the space for everyone to ask questions and share feedback. Don’t rush the process—getting this right will give you great results in the long run.
Rally internal support
Showing there’s a strong demand for this CRM will understandably help your case with your decision-makers.
“Managers know the CRM is as much the reps’ system as it is theirs,” Houghton says. “You’re going to be living in it every day and if it’s not an enjoyable experience for you, then no one will get the value they want out of it.”
With that in mind, go back to the stakeholders you initially talked to and ask if they’d be open to sharing their thoughts.
You might say, “Hey, I talked to Sienna about the new CRM, and she said she’d consider it. I know you were excited about switching to one we can open on our phones—would you be willing to tell her that?”
It’s also a good idea to ask your decision-maker(s) about any reservations they may have. Maybe they’re concerned about how reliable your choice is, or how expensive, or how secure. Once you know what’s holding him or her back, you can figure out how to address the issue.
Present to your boss
Once you’ve got quotes from customers and your sales team, estimates on cost and savings, and an implementation plan, you’re ready to present.
How you do this will depend on what you know about your boss. Do they like carefully planned, detailed presentations, or would they be more receptive to a casual conversation over lunch? Do they always zero in on the data, or are they more of a “gut feeling” decision-maker?
By customizing your approach to your manager’s style, you’ll definitely increase your odds of success.
Present to your team
If you’re a sales manager and you need your team’s input on the new CRM, here are some tips to get the best insights from them.
Walk them through what their day-to-day will look like with this CRM. For example, how much more time will they gain back to focus on selling instead of manual admin tasks?
Use a real-life recent example to demonstrate the advantages of CRM compared to their current sales process. For example, if a deal was lost because the rep followed up too late, you can show how the new CRM helps with automated follow-ups.
Show them that this is about them. Get them to have a trial run of the proposed CRM solutions and ask for feedback and detailed input. If you’ve followed the strategy from the first section of this guide and asked them questions early on, you can have a 1:1 meeting with each rep and personalize the way you present your CRM selection to their needs.
This will help you not only with getting valuable feedback but also with CRM adoption later on.
Present to other stakeholders
There’s a chance you and your team are fully on board with the new CRM solution, but there are other decision-makers that still need convincing.
They might be in departments such as:
While your goals are focused on your sales process and strategies, a new CRM impacts these departments in entirely different ways.
The best way you can prepare to present to these stakeholders is by understanding their short-term and long-term goals for the business and how you and your team play a role in it. From here, you can show how this CRM will impact them.
Here are some examples of goals these stakeholders may have:
- IT: Fully secured business data, advanced encryption, compliance across the board
- Marketing: High close rate of leads they’ve generated for your team thanks to segmentation, tagging, etc.
- Finance: Best ROI based on the way they’ve allocated budget for software
Remember that these people don’t need every detail about the CRM—they need to know how it contributes to their objectives, so use that to tailor your presentation to each of them. It will be a much easier ‘yes’.
Prepare your Plan B
What if, even after all that, your decision-makers still aren’t on board? You have two options. First, you can move on. You never know if they’ll come back in six months or a year and say, “We’ve been thinking. Let’s go with that CRM you suggested”.
To make this more likely, create a document with everything you’ve presented, including:
- Your sales team’s pain points
- Benefits of the specific solution you’ve chosen
- Direct quotes from your sales reps’ feedback
- Success stories from CRM’s customers similar to your company
- Frequently asked questions and answers you’ve identified during your research
Make this document shareable and available to your decision-makers so they can refer back to it at any time.
Your second option is to propose a trial run. Most CRMs offer a free trial so your team can try out all the features and test the fit without any cost.
“A trial allows you to compare the new CRM solution directly against your existing one to get a real apples-to-apples view of impact,” Bucholtz says.
Tell your decision-makers you understand the concerns about X and Y, but before the final decision is made, you’d like to do the trial. By the end of the month, when your company’s productivity has shot up (along with its revenue), they might finally be convinced.
Go forth and win them over
Remember that more often than not, people are resistant to change. The idea of change can create uncertainty and fear of failure. It feels risky.
That’s why the best thing you can do is to answer the why behind the switch to a (new) CRM with data, examples and planning. Track the time spent on sales tasks. Collect numbers like close rates and lost reasons. Quantify everything that can be done better with your new solution.
Then, by mapping out the positive impact of the CRM to each person you need to convince, you’ll create buy-in and trust. You’ll be winning with your new CRM in no time.
If you want to find out how Pipedrive CRM can help you and your team, why not try Pipedrive free for 14 days.