10 Steps for a Successful CRM Implementation

We provide Salesforce-related insights based on our knowledge and expertise.
Author: Alyssa Lefebvre
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In this post, we’ll cover 10 steps to ensure your organisation has a successful CRM implementation. Read on to find out how!

What is a CRM Solution & Why Do I Need One?

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution is a system that captures and stores information related to prospects, customers, suppliers, partners & more in a single database. However, a CRM is much more than a database these days; CRMs contain vital workflows such as creation of leads, sales opportunities, approvals, quote generation, contract management and more. 

The market leader in the CRM industry is Salesforce. Salesforce offers solutions for sales teams, customer service teams, marketing automation, quoting, and has an AppExchange marketplace with thousands of third party vendors which solve any business challenge you can think of, and probably some you never even knew existed! 

With such a comprehensive platform, implementing a tool like Salesforce can be tricky, and can sometimes result in a poor user experience and low adoption of the tool. To avoid this, follow these ten steps to improve your CRM implementation. 

Steps to Implement

Similar to snowflakes, no two Salesforce implementations are alike. No matter how similar businesses are based on their industry, it seems every organisation has developed their own unique way of working, and that creates challenges when building a solution in a standardised tool, like a CRM system. However, if you follow best practice, you can have a successful implementation, regardless of the organisation’s quirks. 

1. Define the Scope & Assemble a Team

Defining the scope of what the CRM tool will do, at a high level, will help in assembling a team. Will the solution mainly be focused on improving sales processes? If so, the project team should have representatives from sales, sales operations, marketing, finance and legal at a minimum who will help to define the requirements for the system and review the build during the lifecycle of the project. 

There will also need to be team members who can capture and analyse the business requirements, someone to oversee the architecture of the tool, someone to configure/develop the tool, a Project Manager, a person to help test the system, and someone to help manage the adoption of the tool within the organisation. 

If an organisation is implementing a CRM tool for the first time, they may not have all of the roles they require in-house, so they will engage the services of a consultancy to supplement their internal team. Once the team has been assembled, the next step is to define the requirements! 

2. Define Requirements 



Defining requirements is a critical step in the project process and should be done by the project team as a whole. The participants should define both functional and non-functional requirements. 

If you’ve ever gathered requirements before, you’ll be familiar with the structure of “As a XXX, I need the ability to XXX, so that XXX”. What this creates is a clearly defined requirement, with an actor, a required capability, and a reason for that capability. 

An example requirement could be “As a Sales rep, I need the ability to create an Opportunity and add products to it, so that I can accurately track what I am selling to my prospects.” 

Once you’ve defined your requirements try to group them by must haves (essential to project success), should haves (need to have them, but could wait for another phase of the project), and could haves (nice to haves, not essential). This will help define the top priority requirements as it’s likely you will end up with quite a few, depending on the size of the business and its complexity. The next step is to evaluate vendors!

3. Evaluate Vendors

Evaluating vendors is a crucial step in any technology project where a new tool is being introduced. As part of the defining requirements phase, organisations may choose to send out an RFP (request for proposal) or RFI (request for information). The vendors will usually respond and acknowledge where their solution meets the prospects needs, and where it may fall short. The company can then use this to narrow down the vendors it will evaluate more closely. 

Salesforce is the market leader in CRM, but every organisation should do their due diligence when it comes to selecting a CRM for their business. 

4. Start Implementation

Once you’ve selected a vendor, it’s time to actually start implementation! One critical element to define is how you will implement the tool. Will you use an agile or waterfall methodology? There are benefits and drawbacks to both and your team should decide which method to use prior to starting implementation.  

  • Review Existing Requirements

The first step should always be to review the existing requirements and ensure they are still valid. Often the evaluation process can influence the requirements and therefore, the project team should review and add to the existing or remove any invalid requirements before starting solution design. 

  • Solution Design

Solution design is one of the most important parts of the implementation. This is where a Solution or Technical Architect will take the individual requirements and design an end to end solution. The solution design will contain process maps, documentation, mock-ups from the system, and should be extremely detailed. 

  • Development

Once the solution design has been signed off, development can begin! Development is where the solution design is put into practice. It is important that the developers and solution architect communicate frequently throughout the build phase, to ensure the solution is being built as intended. 

5. Test, Test, and Test Again

Testing is one of the most crucial elements to get right with any software implementation. Not only do developers need to do unit testing with every feature they build, there needs to be a Quality Assurance lead who performs end to end testing, regression testing, and scenario testing. 

Good quality testing will result in bugs being reported; this is a good thing! There is nothing worse than rolling out a new tool that’s full of bugs! Users will have a negative perception of the tool and this could result in poor user adoption. 

Testing should be derived from the user stories defined during the requirements gathering stage. Part of requirements gathering should be to define acceptance criteria for each user story. Acceptance criteria simply means, once a user story has been developed, how do I know it achieves the stated objective? 

Thorough and diligent testing is extremely time consuming, but it is critical to the success or failure of any technology project and should not be rushed, nor overlooked. 

6. Pilot 

Have you ever noticed that the first episode of many TV programmes is called the “Pilot” episode? This is because most production companies do not want to commit funding to an entire series if the first episode falls flat with viewers. The same logic can be applied to a CRM implementation, especially if the culture within an organisation is resistant to change. 

Piloting a tool with a small group of users prior to rolling it out to everyone can be a great strategy for a new CRM tool. This ensures you have a small group to enable, and you create a set of internal champions at the same time. Internal champions are so important when rolling out a new tool because they provide an unbiased voice within the team and can help get team members who may be more hesitant to use and trust the new tool. 

Running a pilot can be time consuming as it will mean having two processes run in parallel, but the value it can add far outweighs the negatives in most cases. Choose your top performers to participate in the pilot – this will result in better feedback and more improvement ideas as well as creating those all important champions. 

7. End User Enablement 

After you’ve run your pilot, added some enhancements based on feedback and finalised testing, it’s time to train the end users. Training and enablement is one of the most important parts of the entire implementation, but is often overlooked and rushed. Enabling users is not simply about directing them where to click and how to do tasks in the new system, it’s about communicating how the new system/process for doing something adds value to them and their role.  

End user enablement should start well before the new tool is ready to be used. Users should be informed well in advance that a new CRM is going to be rolled out, which one has been selected, and what improvements this will bring to their lives. Then, once the tool is actually ready to be rolled out, they should be trained on how to use it. 

8. Roll-Out

Once users have been enabled, it’s time to turn on the new CRM solution and roll it out to all users. Every company will handle roll out in it’s own way, but some best practices can be followed no matter what the company chooses to do: 

  • Send out regular communications with key metrics such as user logins, number of records created, opportunity values, etc. to all users 
  • Clearly communicate timelines for when old systems are being turned off or when old processes are being stopped
  • Give users plenty of notice
  • Make it easy to access training material and store it in one place

9. User Adoption

Once the tool has been turned on and users are starting to use the new CRM solution, monitoring user adoption is key. Salesforce Labs created a free set of dashboards that admins can install to help track key performance indicators for a new Salesforce implementation. 

Ongoing enablement is key to ensuring the system is being used consistently and effectively. After users have had some time to use the tool, ask for feedback on how to improve it. This will start to form the final step in a successful CRM implementation. 

10. Continuous Improvement 

Once a CRM solution has been implemented, the work is never complete. A system like Salesforce is constantly being improved and Salesforce releases new features three times per year. As an administrator of the tool, it’s important to understand how the new features can be used to improve your user’s experience. 

In addition to Salesforce’s releases, as an admin, it is important to use the feedback collected from users to form the basis of your continuous improvement strategy. As organisations change regularly, so should the system. Create a structured way of collecting feedback, sorting through it and defining what is realistic to be completed in a specific time frame. Create your own release schedule based on the needs of your organisation and stick to it. 

Ensure any new features you release have been properly defined, solutioned, tested, and rolled out properly to ensure high user adoption – essentially following a similar path for when you implemented the CRM in the first place. 


Hopefully this has given you a good overview of the steps to implement a CRM solution. While it may seem a daunting task at first, the benefits it will bring to your organisation if done correctly, will be never ending. 

Implementing a flexible and configurable CRM like Salesforce means you can be creative with your solutions to help solve complex challenges that are likely to arise in any organisation. 

Contact LeverUp to see how we can help you implement Salesforce today!