The Essential CRM Guide

Putting the Right CRM Team Together: This article is an excerpt from our free CRM Essentials ebook series.

Updated February 2024

Putting the right team together is a vital aspect for the success of your CRM system. Consider the impact of the CRM system on your business, in particular how widespread the use of the system will be and which departments will be affected. It makes sense to include in your CRM selection team employees from all of the departments that will be affected. It also makes sense to select your team on the basis of which people are least likely to support it.

This is more than the old saying about keeping your friends close, but your enemies closer; although there is an element of that here. The more compelling reason is that if you can win the doubters and critics over to your way of thinking by including them in the decision-making process, half the battle for business-wide acceptance is won.

The reasons for selecting a multi-discipline team go beyond gaining acceptance for your CRM system. When you specify your business requirements and define your CRM requirements, a multi-discipline team will give you as broad a view of the business as possible. Keep in mind that the team, to be effective, should not exceed ten people. This is a case where less is more. You should also remember that this process, while it has to be thorough, must not be long and drawn out. In fact, by keeping the team small you encourage your staff to get on with it. They realize that there is nobody else to do the job, so they just have to get on with it. Reinforce this attitude by letting them know you have faith in their ability to get the job done.

The purpose of the team

Before you can begin looking at CRM systems on the market, you must know what your business requirements are. This is not your wish list for the CRM system, nor is it your goals and expectations for the CRM system. This is the stuff that needs to happen for the business to run effectively and efficiently. The team you put together will, initially, be responsible for defining what those requirements are. After that, the team will define the requirements of your CRM system. It might be that the same team is involved in both of these key processes, but expect some people to fall out for one reason or another.

The ideal team for this phase of the project are people who know the business as well as you do, and this often means department managers. You may find some managers reluctant to get involved in the project, claiming that they are too busy. That’s OK. Remember, you do not want anybody on the team who is not a volunteer.

You have three ways to find the team members you want.

  • Call a staff meeting of all the potential team members and ask for volunteers for the project. This approach is a bit dodgy, as you rely entirely on the staff to step forward and offer their services.
  • The second method is to talk to each possible team member individually. This gives you the chance to hand pick team members. They will still have to volunteer, so your talk to each possible team member will have to be couched in terms of asking them for advice or guidance rather than a request to them to join the team.
  • The third approach is to hold a general meeting and follow that up with individual meetings with the staff you have identified as being crucial to the project.

Whichever way you choose, there are two issues you should highlight. The first issue is that this is an opportunity for those staff who have strong feelings about CRM to get involved in deciding the what and how of the project. The second issue is that you only want volunteers for this project team, which nobody is being asked to do this against their will.

The second and third methods, that of talking to staff about their participation individually, may be time consuming but the results are likely to be more fruitful. The reasons for this should be obvious – apart from being able to effectively hand pick your team. If you know what motivates each possible team member, you can tailor your pitch accordingly.

In a rather dated but still relevant white paper published on the ProjectPerfect website in 2007, Neville Turbit talks about the different motivations people have for doing something. According to Turbit, everybody’s motivating criteria sits somewhere on a scale ranging from goal oriented, through influence oriented, to people oriented.

  • People oriented individuals are motivated by the relationship between themselves and the people they come into contact with. Teams and interaction with team members is critical to their achievement. These are people who are most productive in a group environment.
  • Influence oriented people are concerned with their status in the organization. They see each task as an opportunity to display their skill and ability. How other people perceive them is important. They like to be associated with people who have a level of influence in the organization. Influence oriented people are willing to compromise to get something done if the alternative is that it is not done at all.
  • Goal oriented people are motivated by achieving things. They are focused on targets and like nothing better than the challenge of setting and reaching a goal. They can, in some cases, be so focused on their goal that their relationships with the people around them are negatively affected. Says Turbit of goal oriented people:
  • They can sometimes be very dogmatic and unbending in their desire to achieve. If you want a person to walk to the North Pole on their own, this is the sort of person to do it. (Turbit, 2007.)

Of course, as with all things in life, very few people are completely at the one extreme or the other. You will probably find that some people are somewhere between goal oriented and influence oriented, and some are somewhere between influence oriented and people oriented.

The tricky part for you is being able to recognize what motivates each person and then address them in those terms. According to Neville Turbit, you can tell the type of motivation by watching and listening to people. Here are a few tips to help you:

  • People-oriented people tend to use the words ‘we’ and ‘us’. They have good relationships, or would like to have good relationships with people on a personal as well as business level. They are the people most likely to organize staff social events. They dislike tasks where they work on their own and there is little or no chance to interact with other people.
  • Influence-oriented people often use what might sound like vague and ambiguous terms, but they are simply leaving their options open for a change of direction. They often sound like they are qualifying their position by saying things such as, ‘one option is…’, ‘there are several solutions, including…’ They will often want to know what other people think before taking a stance. If a task requires interaction with influential people (particularly superiors) they will put their hand up for it.
  • Goal-oriented people are probably the easiest to spot. They are definite. They use phrases such as, ‘failure is not an option’, ‘whatever it takes, we will achieve…’. They want decisions made now, and consultative decision making is something you do only if you must. Often they are perceived as poor communicators, but they are people who get things done at all costs.

How will you know when you have put a good project team together? The simplest and most effective test we have come across is to ask each member of the team who the project depends on. If each person you ask points to someone else and says ‘that’s the person in charge’, the team is a liability.

However, if each team member claims responsibility for getting things done, and states unequivocally that their contribution is key to the entire CRM project, you have a good CRM team. When everybody in the team believes that their efforts are key to the results and believes that success depends on them, you have a team that is a valuable asset with a better than average chance of success.