Be Prepared: 5 Things You Must Bring to Your First Meeting with a CRM Consultant
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in March 2015 but was refreshed in 2018 to keep it accurate and relevant.
Have you ever done a kitchen remodel? If so, you know how important it is to come to the table with a plan, rather than just telling the designer, "I want my new kitchen to make me love cooking." Instead, you’ll be asking yourself “What finishes do I want?” and “How much am I ready to spend?”
These seem like obvious first steps to any building endeavor, yet when it comes to Salesforce, many people are underprepared. The better planned you come to your first meeting with a CRM consultant, the more likely you are to succeed.
Here are the top five things you should consider before you speak to a consultant:
1. Know why now
There are good and bad reasons as to why a project did not start sooner. Consider what happened before and what you learned from it to bring you to this point.
As consultants, we have opinions about this, naturally. “Good reasons” can typically be addressed more quickly because circumstances have changed. For example, you've had an increase in the CRM project budget, there’s new leadership, or you do not have internal Salesforce skills and realized you need outside help.
Whereas “bad reasons” are less tangible and may need you to do a bit more legwork. For example, you didn't have an executive buy-in or there were internal political disagreements.
Knowing why now is the right time can help you and your consultants know about potential yellow lights that may need to be addressed.
2. Identify your team and gather buy-in
In order to gather and prioritize requirements effectively, you’ll need to know who will assume the necessary project roles at the very beginning of your project. Additionally, you’ll need to engage leaders and their key staff in every department that is impacted by this project to make sure you have buy-in before you begin.
Consider who will fill these roles:
- Project Lead/Project Manager - the one point of contact who will communicate on a regular basis with the consulting partner and is empowered to make key decisions on the CRM project
- Executive Sponsor - an executive that has a vested interest in project success
- Champion - a person that will help you internally advocate for project success
- Stakeholders/end users - anyone else from your organization who needs to be kept up to date with project status updates and changes, this could include board members, Salesforce admins, or senior management
In order to have a successful project, you not only need people to support the project but also be in alignment on project goals. Have a conversation with your team about who will fill these roles and how you will communicate project updates to them.
If you are finding your leadership isn’t fully on board, let’s discuss the situation and evaluate whether we can help you build a plan to sell your internal team.
3. Prioritize Your CRM Requirements
Know what is truly important to you. If you’ve been itching to find a better way to do a routine task, now is the time. This is an opportunity to improve workflows and processes, so let’s get all the ideas on the table to determine what should be focused on.
Additionally, you’ll want to think about the people behind the project. We encourage you to have a few quick conversations with your team about expectations for how this project could affect them. Once we begin work together, we’ll give you great tools for gathering this more detailed input through user stories and personas.
4. Determine the Cost of the Status Quo
Something about your current set up is inefficient, or else you wouldn’t be here. Determining what these inefficiencies can help you better understand how this project will benefit you one, three, or five years down the road.
For example, let’s say your team spends 15 hours a week performing manual data entry. Now take their cost per hour and determine what you’re spending on this manual task every week, month, and year. Consider how much time and money could be saved if you were able to streamline this process. Consider how much morale may increase and turnover may decrease with this change.
This is a taste of the value-mapping exercises we will walk you through to determine tangible and intangible costs (such as morale) so we connect them to decision maker priorities.
5. Know your CRM budget
Hiding your budget does not get you a better deal. Much like renovating a kitchen, your Salesforce instance will have many options. It goes without saying that the more you spend, the more you will get. The variation in pricing among reputable vendors is not likely to exceed 15%, so at best, you are only wasting time by hiding your budget.
So what do you do if you have no idea how much to budget for a CRM deployment? First, evaluate your needs by looking at your project’s total cost of ownership. Next, ask peers in your industry what they have spent on similar projects. Finally, check out our comprehensive budgeting whitepaper. This resource helps you determine all tech and human side of your project, plus it comes with a handy interactive worksheet to help you get started. Download the How to budget for a Salesforce project whitepaper here.
There is no silver bullet for project success, but if you follow these steps to plan ahead, you will be able to hit the ground running at your first consultant meeting and get cookin’!
Ready to go? Let’s chat!