Top 5 Tips for Getting CRM Board Approval
How to smash your business case presentation
Author Andrew Martin | General Manager | Formus Professional Software
Standing in front of your company Board, making the business case for implementing a new business intelligence (BI) or customer relationship management (CRM) system is never easy. From experience, I know it can take several repeat meetings before approval is given. From experience, I also know what can typically cause it to fall at the first hurdle.
The single most common failing is that the case is made with far too narrow a scope; thinking about a specific problem or department, rather than the business as a whole.
Very few Boards are going to sanction what can be a sizable investment (of time and money) on something which only scratches your particular itch.
In any business, working in silos is never a great idea. Taking a more holistic, company-wide view is essential.
There are hundreds of possible benefits of having a fit-for-purpose CRM solution in place. Of those, I think there are five which could feature in almost any business case, regardless of the size of the company or the industry it operates in.
Featuring all five might be overkill (or inappropriate) but you should be factoring in at least some of these to highlight the benefits of CRM to the company and prove you've done your homework.
1. Highlight The Value
Ok, so this might be the obvious one. A good Customer Relationship Management solution allows for better, quicker and more efficient interactions with your customer. It’s what gives rise to the much talked about “single version of the truth” that businesses want – i.e. when every engagement with a customer is captured consistently and in one place. Sales and marketing people will always want this – but when spelling out the benefits to the broader business, this alone may not be enough.
2. Focus on forecasting
If you really want to press a few Board-level buttons, bring forecasting into the mix.
The way robust CRM data can be used to give an accurate overview of a business’ sales pipeline is incredibly valuable to any senior executive.
Having to make big financial decisions that may affect the future of the business is a top priority for decision makers and mangers alike. Accurate, astute forecasting is a must.
3. Consider Better Insights for ALL
Analysis of the data captured within your CRM can reveal so much, across the board – whether that’s about market trends, shifting customer buying habits or the efficacy of recent marketing activity.
Similar to the forecasting point, knowing what’s happening now and what’s working well will inevitably lead to making better, more well-informed decisions about current business activity
4. Look at Error Reduction & Efficiency
Working with a CRM system means that business process flows can’t be shortcut or circumvented, unlike in a manual system.
That might not sound particularly exciting until you translate that into a regulatory or compliance environment and think about the implications of staff not adhering to GDPR or money laundering rules, for example. That tends to get people’s attention.
5. Staff Satisfaction and Productivity
It’s always worth thinking about the people who have to work with your CRM system.
It’s not always an easy job, especially if the existing system is clunky or even manually-driven.
Bringing in a new system can provide a massive morale boost to those people slogging away at the coalface. A more efficient system also frees up those staff members to be engaged in more value-adding activities elsewhere. It’s never about getting rid of them (you’ll want to be upfront about that, as it’s a common fear); just about redeploying their time to better effect.
But Let’s Not Stop There!
If you can articulate several of those benefits in a CRM business case, your chances of success will have just increased significantly.
Persisting with the benefits – and resisting the temptation to merely rubbish the previous solution – is also advisable. Several people on that Board may well have sanctioned the previous solution, after all. It sounds like an obvious piece of advice but you’d be surprised how many times I see people fixating on what the previous solution couldn’t do, rather than what the new one can.
Showing that you’ve already considered the possibility of phased implementation also seems to go down well with Boards.
The idea of paying for and implementing a new CRM solution in one fell swoop can leave some senior execs feeling a little queasy.
Far better, I think, to scope out what a solution’s minimum requirements are and then work upwards from there. Start with what it must do and should do. Leave what it could do (or trying to work around what it won’t do) for another day, if you think this will make the difference between getting a green light or not.
Support & Technology
Finally, be as comfortable as possible with all the technical detail of the solution you’re proposing. Yes, that might be challenging but even the best business case can unravel very quickly under Board interrogation if you’ve misunderstood its technical specifications.
When you see this sort of technical information being relayed up and down the management chain by non-technical people, it can quickly resemble a game of Chinese whispers.
I’d suggest, in this case to seek out a representative. Someone who has worked with business system best practice across a wide array of businesses and knows the technology. They can offer the technical answers you or the board might ordinarily struggle for as you present your case.