Recently, Small Biz in :15 on location traveled to Austin, Texas for Zoho Day 2022 to talk with the Head of Marketing, Zoho CRM at Zoho, Gopal Sripada.
The topic of this conversation is one that is common to any business looking to implement a tool to optimize their operations. What to avoid when deploying said technology, which in this case is Customer relationship management (CRM). And according to Gopal, “CRM deployment could become a nightmare if you’re not planning your requirements very well.”
Check out the full interview with Gopal Sripada above on YouTube or listen on SoundCloud using the player at the bottom of the page.
Challenges of Deploying CRM
Gopal started out by explaining the challenges of deploying a CRM solution for a business, he goes on to say:
CRM deployment could become a nightmare if you’re not planning your requirements very well. And one of the most important things before even deploying CRM is you need to talk to your stakeholders: sales, Marketing, Customer Support, then CTO and CIO. If it is a mid-range company, then gather all those requirements and try to model them. So most of the companies, what they do, they purchase CRM and then they start to do the reverse engineering, then they go for feasibility and sort of rather, it could be a bottom-up approach.
The Three Stop-Process to Succesful Deployment
According to Gopal, most companies go in a hurry mode. They go for a license, then they start hiring consultants, then they go for feasibility. And according to Gopal, “… Instead of deploying CRM yesterday, it will take 18 months, one year and so on and so forth.” However, Gopal says there is a better way:
1. It’s always better to gather your requirements in advance, document them well, then go for a vendor selection and then go for implementation. If that mistake is avoided in the beginning, most of the CRM implementation could be a cakewalk.
2. Once the CRM is rolled out there will be issues and to that Gopal says, they should have a sandbox. /rather than deploying the actual features in real life environment they should try first in a sandbox inbox environment. Then if everyone is happy with that, then roll it out to the entire company.
3. Periodically, sales and marketing, come up with new strategies, new territories, and other implementations. Be ready to prune your CRM system as well as dividing your sales system into different territories. So utilizing your territory management, sales performance management functions, and documenting every piece of change that you make in your workflow automation or business process management will keep everyone updated to make sure that things are not going out of context.
Gopal adds, “If these three things are addressed properly, CRM implementation could reap a lot of benefits in a shorter time spent.”
Shawn: Let’s talk about smaller businesses. Businesses with you were saying about all the different stakeholders. Let’s say the businesses with fewer stakeholders but still maybe have no experience with the software at all. What are the major pitfalls that they can hit when they’re first starting to dip their toe in the water of selecting this kind of technology and using it?
Gopal: Mid markets have one kind of mindset and their needs are different. But whereas start-ups and small businesses need to start something out of the box they need some set of standard functionalities that are available without heavy customization or without heavy workflow automation configurations. Low code, no code, pro code, right?
I would perhaps recommend for small businesses to go with vanilla products that are out of the box that connectors are available. If they do that, they will start unpacking the system as quickly as they could and they could start growing as the CRM system implementation also will grow as their business grows.
So instead of going for a complex workflow automation business process management system, they could go for a smaller variance of CRM like Bigin that we have. So Bigin could be the ideal software for smaller businesses. They need not actually do a lot of customization, they need to do a lot of workflow automation configurations. They can roll it out in 24 hours. They could actually see the difference day in, day out. As they grow, they could definitely go for bigger ones.
Shawn: So let’s talk about that a little more. Let’s talk about Bigin in particular. That’s a simpler application for businesses that don’t know what they’re doing yet with CRM. Let’s back up and say that we’re talking about something that’s kind of product agnostic. So at the moment, not just Bigin.
I’m just starting out and I have no idea what tool to choose. I know what CRMs are. I know that they’re supposed to help me automate customer relations, but I have no idea what to choose. Do I choose an email marketing thing that also has CRM qualities? Do I choose a full-blown technology? What do I really need? Let’s say I have an eCommerce business or a service business.
Gopal: So the small businesses, they can’t afford to go for consultants and deploy more third-party stuff. So rather they could go for syndicated content. There are blogs there, they could read and understand some set of processes that they could follow. And there are so many third-party review sites there. They could pick a couple of tools from the list like marketing, sales, and support.
So rather than waiting or spending a lot of money or time on choosing the right component or right tool, they could try any tool actually by just within 24 hours or within a week, right? They could actually read a lot of great content available on websites, small business-centric focus websites.
So those sites actually give more information to small business startup entrepreneurs to kickstart their CRM implementation. That is where our small business analysts produce a lot of great content if they read a couple of blogs from them, right? They could actually give more motivation to start something unlike you have to approach bigger consultants and all three blog articles give more information to startup owners or entrepreneurs to start deployment.
For example, you have a one-person company. You could actually choose these products. So instead of questioning their credibility, just go and try it out. Because most of the products today rate offer freemium models. The freemium is like a boon for small businesses. They could actually go for a freemium and then still they could unpack and try a couple of things. If it is good, use it and try one more freemium package rather than having a long commitment and buying ten seats, 100 seats. Just go buy a monthly subscription model. Rather than committing to an annual subscription, go for a monthly subscription. If you like it in three months, down the line you add more seats because that is the flexibility that the subscription economy gives to small business owners.
Gopal ends the talk by saying, “So there is a concept called fail fast. If you want to fail faster, rather than waiting for 18 months and then oh, this is not working.”
Small Biz Tip in 15 Seconds or Less
Whether it is CRM or another tool you are looking to implement in your small business, here are two must tips you should consider to get you on the right path.
- Avoid purchasing software without talking with your people first.
- Make sure the software you purchase meets their needs or your efforts may be in vain.
Thanks again to Gopal Sripada. If you enjoyed the conversation please leave a comment and let us know what topics you’d like to see covered in future programs. For more small business news and tips, join email@example.com.
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