Today's busy professional spends a good deal of time tripping over technology. Somewhere along the way, we've convinced ourselves that the very tools invented to make our lives easier seem to do exactly the opposite. As part of a team of solution experts, I've been given the opportunity to witness firsthand the perils and pitfalls of CRM adoption. (And, the best practices too.)

Speaking as someone with minimal technical expertise and absolutely no development background, I recently stumbled upon a striking realization. Today's CRM systems are SO much more simple than we give them credit for being. I've discovered that for end users specifically, all I really need to know about CRM I learned in Kindergarten.  

1) The early bird gets the worm
We see this all the time - a team's earliest adopters are often times the most successful. The moment you have the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon, do so. You'll have ample time for trial, error, and suggestions - often before the system goes live - and  you can continue to hone your skills by helping train others. If you don't know what you don't know, this is a great way to find out!

2) If at first you don't succeed, try, try again
A CRM system is a scalable, repeatable business process. Your professional development around this tool will never truly end - and why would you want it to? Don't be frustrated if you don't comprehend all capabilities and functions after one round of training. Try to make it a part of your weekly activities to devote a set time each week to picking up one new trick or taking a deeper dive into something you don't yet fully understand. 

3) Sharing is caring
Did you just discover a great use of your CRM? Don't keep it a secret! Shout it loud so others can benefit from it. One of my favorite features specifically in Microsoft Dynamics 2013 is the Yammer integration and how it easily facilitates discussion between team members. This can lead to better care of clients, quicker close time on leads, and offer great perspective in the day-to-day operations of a business. 

4) If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all
One important thing to remember when working in a CRM is that, like with anything online, what you post may never truly go away. CRM is not a sounding board to air frustrations or let personal feelings over-ride business relationships. Be honest, but professional in all that you enter into the system. No name-calling! 

5) Secrets are lies, and bad manners besides
The silent treatment is certainly not the best use of a CRM. Have a comment? Add it! Attending a meeting? Schedule it! Discussing contracts with a prospect? Enter it! Engaging with a current client to add on services? Record it! The idea here is full transparency so that everyone in your organization can work together more effectively and grow the business.

6) Clean up your own mess
"Junk in, junk out" is a phrase we hear all too often in this line of business. Sure, Marketing is often eager to dump masses of leads in, while Sales and Client Relations can often hesitate to clean the system - either because it's overwhelming, or they find it unnecessary. Work together, and find a system that works for your team. Perhaps Marketing can create a dummy Record Owner to hold leads for nurture and it's on Sales to go in and claim. Maybe institute a CRM Power Hour weekly, bi-weekly or monthly to flush open leads into disqualified records or nurture cycles. Set up a personal view that keeps warm and hot leads top of mind, and review often. 

7) Don't count your chickens before they've hatched
This one is all about pipeline management. If you don't update records, team members and management cannot help you - or celebrate you! But if you're pouring hunches and hopes into your pipeline, you're also doing a disservice to yourself and anyone in the analytics or forecasting realm of your company. Again, junk in, junk out...

8) Don't run with scissors
Yes, a CRM solution is in fact more simple and intuitive than many of us give it credit for. However, it is still a live extension of your business that people all over the office (and depending on the size of your company, all over the world) rely on daily. Raise a hand. Ask questions when unsure. Look it up on the internet. Contact C5 Insight. Governance coupled with ongoing education are important to ensure all continues to run smoothly!

9) Play fair
Not your lead or account? Don't work it.
Didn't enter it into the CRM system so others would know you're actively working it? Don't complain if someone else takes the ball and runs with it.
Share your toys and remember - you're all from the same sandbox. 

10) Hold hands (and look both ways) when you cross the street
Congratulations - you're ready to step confidently into the wide wonderful world of relationship management! Stick together with your team mates, keep communication open and honest, and never stop learning.


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