Not everyone likes change, especially management. Scott Berkun wrote, “No matter the organization, often once people are in management roles they tend to want to change as little as possible out of fear of losing that power. Despite all of their rhetoric about progress and change, many bosses are hard to convince to try new things.”
So, knowing management’s aversion to change, how are you going to begin the daunting task of convincing management to ditch their on-premise CRM system and transfer to a cloud-based CRM platform? Here is a collection of time-tested best practices when it comes to convincing management to get on board:
1. Collect data and industry trends that support your cause
The CRM industry is moving aggressively toward cloud-based solutions, with no signs of stopping. Inform management of current trend lines and warn management of the dangers of lagging behind. “IT application leaders supporting CRM need to understand the direction of this dynamic technology market, and develop a plan,” said Olive Huang, analyst at Gartner, in 2015.
2. Demonstrate the benefits of the cloud
When executed properly, the transition to the cloud can reap many benefits, including very real effects on the bottom line. This is due to no new hardware or IT infrastructure required, there are lower initial costs and no software licensing fees, low monthly cost for services (generally determined by the number of users), and quick set-up. If you have already signed up for cloud services to replace some of those systems, you can exhibit the benefits by giving side-by-side demonstrations. This is a good way for visual learners to be able to comprehend the differences.
3. Craft a plan and present it to management
Does it make sense to transition all of your CRM applications to the cloud, or does it make more sense to pick and choose which applications are better suited to a cloud environment? Should you transition all of your applications in year one or gradually transition your CRM architecture to the cloud over a period of years? Does it make sense to implement some type of hybrid mode, where you’ve got a combination of on-premise and cloud-based solutions for the interim period? Which cloud-based solution makes sense for your needs? Make sure you come to management with a well thought out plan. Map out goals, objectives, processes, and timelines. You can preach about a cloud-based CRM system all day, but until management sees an actionable plan, they won’t take you seriously. Put together a plan of action.
4. Present your plan for a company-wide campaign cloud awareness campaign
Raise awareness about cloud-based systems so that the cloud is on everyone’s mind. Ways to get the word out include sending newsletters that describe cloud-based offerings, a project website that provides information on possible new systems, and pep-rally style talks to encourage switching over. Once people understand what a cloud-based CRM system is, how it works, and how they’ll potentially benefit from it, they'll be more willing to make the switch.
5. Convince middle management
Invite business and product line managers to participate in the conversion by explaining the systems integration process. Show them a demo of a cloud-based system so that they can see the benefits first hand. The more people at the company who are familiar with the system, the better chance that management will hear you out. Investing time explaining the new system to the employees who will have the greatest contact with the new system is always a smart move.
6. Shorten the learning curve
If management is hesitant to transition because of the learning curve involved, calm their nerves by showing them how employees, even those who aren’t tech savvy, can climb the learning curve quickly. There are a variety of new, digital interactive tools, like WalkMe, that help to guide and engage users through new software processes in an easy-to-use, contextual fashion. They are overlaid onto cloud-based applications and help your employees begin and finish various work processes.
7. Demonstrate mobile app features
Show management the new mobile app in the cloud-based CRM system. Demonstrate how the cloud allows employees to access and update customer data whenever they are from their smartphones and tablets. They can even generate a receipt in the customer’s office, review pricing information and customer history, and scan relevant documents—all remotely and in a matter of minutes. Mobile capabilities should be appealing to management because it means that employees are more accessible than ever.
With these tips, you'll have everyone on board and in agreement that your company is missing one thing—a new cloud-based CRM system. Now that you’ve read these tips, you’re ready to schedule a meeting with management.
Michael Taylor is a software adoption specialist at WalkMe and the editor and lead author of CRM Simplified, a blog that looks at how to get the most value out of CRM software, making it easy to operate, streamlining CRM migration and user training and more.