We work with clients daily to assess CRMs and select tools that bring them the most value. But we don’t just do it for other people; we’ve also lived it for ourselves. Internally, after our acquisition of Oakbrook Solutions in June 2023, we needed to combine the technology tools into one streamlined experience. This journey included choosing how to combine two CRMs into one. After a comprehensive review that included exploring the options of moving everyone to either of the firm’s two systems or selecting a totally new CRM, we decided to migrate all of our team to Salesforce Sales Cloud that one of the firms already had in place.
There is much complexity involved in selecting a new CRM and the subsequent migration from a legacy system so, we wrote a series of articles that dive deep into this process so that firms can understand the best ways to evaluate tools and manage the firmwide changes required to implement them. We base our guidance on our experience doing it for ourselves and other firms.
This first article is an overview of the complete process that looks at why a CRM change usually occurs and the steps involved in getting a new system up and running as a valuable tool for the firm.
Why Wealth Management Firms Make CRM Changes
There are many reasons firms consider a new CRM or need to enhance their existing one. The most common ones are:
- A merger or acquisition that requires firms to choose a CRM or bring in an entirely new one.
- Firm growth that requires a CRM that can grow with the firm, accommodating larger client bases and increasing data volumes.
- Improving integration needs with essential tools and platforms, such as financial planning software and portfolio management systems.
- A lack of adoption of the current technology caused by the perception of the CRM creating “more work” for advisors (Note: effective communications can often help avoid this; we’ll discuss this topic in a future post).
- Enhancing user experience with modern interfaces, intuitive navigation and customization options to align with unique workflows, ultimately driving user adoption and productivity.
Seven Keys to a Successful CRM Implementation
- Establish strategic goals—you can avoid unnecessary waste by outlining what you need as a firm in the areas of marketing (lead generation and pipeline filling); sales management (pipeline, reporting); service management (case routing), client engagement and employee adoption and usability.
- Conduct due diligence—review options and compare them against your current tool. Make sure to match the potential products with your strategic goals and recognize that you don’t know what you don’t know (this is a good place to ask for outside expert help).
- Negotiate the contract—this area demands its own article, but key to signing an appropriate deal is striking a balance between not buying more than you need and planning for your firm’s possible growth and need for additional licenses.
- Begin implementation/migration—this step includes building a technical work plan with a sequence of tasks for conversion. Tasks can include refreshing company branding, analyzing user profiles and permissions, analyzing data fields in legacy systems, adding new fields, and deduping data from legacy systems.
- Communicate with leaders and other members of the firm regularly — a robust communications plan that sets and maintains expectations and lays the groundwork for user adoption is often overlooked. We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have internal firm champions that evangelize the new CRM.
- Review workflows —understand your current state processes and design the CRM for the future state in CRM. Automating repetitive processes will save you time and money.
- Develop templates —having data templates for data conversion to ensure smooth translation and accurate data load into the new CRM.
Each firm has it’s own nuances. As such, you may have additional key steps for you firm. From our own experience, following this process helped our data conversion and release to production go extremely well.
Getting It Right Matters
When wealth management firms encounter challenges in the implementation of a new CRM system and fail to achieve the expected levels of user adoption or desired capabilities, it can trigger a significant setback. In such instances, firms may find themselves compelled to reassess their CRM strategy and, in more extreme cases, go back to the drawing board. This means revisiting the entire process of selecting, implementing and integrating a CRM system.
This cycle of revisiting and restarting consumes additional time and effort as well as introduces the risk of further disruptions to daily operations. It underscores the importance of careful planning and thorough consideration during the initial stages of CRM implementation to avoid the need for costly and time-consuming revisions. A well thought-out and successful implementation sets the foundation for seamless operations and positions wealth management firms for sustained growth.
This is the first article in our CRM series. Our next article will cover best practices for CRM implementation.
Articles in CRM Series
- Transitioning Your Legacy System to a New Solution
- Best Practices for Customization
- Contract Negotiation
Use expert support for your CRM implementation to ensure you get it right the first time. Get in touch to learn more.