Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Small Business CRM Integration Checklist

Craig M. Jamieson writes: Let’s start with the disclaimer … I am a small business guy and I don’t even pretend to comprehend the needs, let alone the implementation requirements, of even medium size businesses. With the exception of managing divisions for some larger corporations, I have never exceeded 65 employees and maybe 7 or 8 salespeople. As my areas are sales and sales management, I have very strong feelings that, for most small businesses, CRM or Social CRM is a sales-first application.

Want vs. need

Just because CRM has the capability to perform certain functions, this does not necessarily mean that you need it for your business. Still, the “I want” factor can be a powerful magnet. Who doesn’t want bacon and cheese on their burger?
As a small or even micro business, CRM is something that is generally well designed for your sales staff and then, if you really need it, customer service and marketing can be powerful  secondary implementations primarily since all three disciplines should be closely aligned. However, If you are expecting your sales staff to assume all of these responsibilities, and you are just now starting to automate your selling process, your are probably writing a recipe for business disaster.
I represent a small business Social CRM, Nimble, and I can tell you that it is designed for salespeople and that it will increase your sales revenues. I would think that this would be enough yet, I am always talking to people who want …
  • Full-on marketing automation
  • Extensive customer service capabilities
  • Accounting and ecommerce integration
  • Inventory control
  • Project and case management
  • Vendor relations and control
That’s just for starters. They might have 5 or 6 users and their budget often is under $25 per user per month. Want vs. need combined with Cristal champagne tastes on a decidedly cheap beer budget. Please don’t get me wrong. If your business has valid needs for these features, and you have the staff and resources (personnel and dollars) to successfully implement these systems. more power to you! Unfortunately, most small businesses that I talk to do not but, there is still that bacon and cheese thing that is constantly being addressed and it all smells much too delicious to ignore.

Check the fine print

Let’s talk about integrations for a moment. Just about every CRM on the market will talk about how you will be able to integrate with a variety of third-party applications in order to increase the capabilities of your CRM investment. For that matter, this is one of the ways that your CRM will grow with you as your needs grow. While this might all sound awesome, as with most things, the devil is in the details and you must be sure to  ….
  • Will this third-party application perform in the manner needed for your business?
  • What is the cost? Remember that this will be added to your CRM purchase or monthly subscription.
  • Define how it will integrate.
    • Is the integration directly between this application and your CRM or is it being facilitated by a third-party data connector such as Zapier? If a data connector is being used, this might also be an additional cost and you will also want to verify that a triggered action will not result in a duplicate record.
    • Is data being synced one-way between the applications, two-way, or is data being thrown over the fence (exported and nothing more)?
    • What fields are being synced?
    • Will record edits that are made in one application be automatically reflected in the other application?
    • Will you be able to see records from each application displayed in the other application and how is this accomplished?
    • Read only or read and edit?
I am not making any judgement calls one way or another. Those calls are for you to make and you alone. You just want to make sure that you are fully aware of what you might be buying into.

Take it slow

My best suggestion is that, if you are just starting out, take it slow. Start with your most critical task only and use that to develop and to test your implementation procedures. Once everything is running smoothly, only then consider moving onto your other departments.
The processes that you developed with your initial implementation will be easily, and effectively, duplicated with your next steps. Trust me. There will be more than enough chaos going on with your first department automation but, you will survive. This survivability rate will decrease exponentially if you attempt to do too much all at once.
Craig M. Jamiesos has authored“The Small Business’ Guide to Social CRM” is available on Amazon and it will take you step-by-step through the CRM / Social CRM selection and implementation process for less than the price of  a burger and a beer.


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