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An 8-step guide to Pipedrive CRM implementation



CRM software is a substantial investment that requires careful consideration and implementation. Failing to choose the right software and execute a proper plan can lead to complications, increased risk, and wasted resources. However, following a proven pattern can increase the chances of success and achieve long-term sales and marketing goals. In this article, we will guide you on how to find, integrate, and effectively use a new CRM system, providing you with the foundation for lasting success in your business.

pd deal won

What is a CRM implementation (and why does it matter)?

Implementing a CRM is integrating CRM software into your organisation's workflows to enhance customer management, sales, and marketing processes. It encompasses various aspects, including setting goals, selecting the right tool, migrating data, training staff, and refining your CRM strategy.

The implementation process is crucial in how effectively your teams leverage technology to achieve your company's performance objectives. When done correctly, it can boost productivity and empower your staff to make informed decisions based on data, thus creating value for your customers. According to a survey conducted by Columbus, 81% of executives credited their CRM system for enabling seamless customer experiences.

Unfortunately, many CRM rollouts fail because companies rush into implementation without a proper strategy. This often leads to technology misalignment, dissatisfaction among sales teams, and a system that falls short of delivering expected results.

To avoid unnecessary costs and stress, following a proven roadmap that guides you through the implementation process is essential.

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Eight steps to achieve a successful CRM implementation

We created the following step-by-step guide to help you nail your CRM implementation, whether it’s your first system or you’ve decided to change.

1. Evaluate requirements and establish objectives

To successfully implement a CRM system, it is crucial to clearly understand your organisation's needs and goals.

Start by identifying the pain points and inefficiencies in your current sales and marketing processes. While personal experience can be helpful, gathering input from your team will provide a deeper understanding of what needs to be addressed. Consider using surveys and focus groups to gather this information.

It is essential to have multiple goals, but make sure they are measurable so that you can assess the ROI of your CRM implementation. For example, you may want to shorten your sales cycle, improve cross-team collaboration, or enhance the performance of other software solutions you use. These needs will guide your CRM implementation strategy.

This is where key performance indicators (KPIs) come into play. KPIs are metrics that you can use to measure the effectiveness of your CRM implementation. By choosing the right KPIs, you can translate your objectives into tangible outcomes for which your team can strive. For instance, if your goal is to make your sales process more efficient, you could use the average sales cycle length as a KPI. Customer sentiment scores could be a suitable KPI for enhancing customer experiences.

In summary, your needs inspire goals, which then inform the selection of KPIs. Here are some ideas to consider:

Identifying your pain point Goal and KPI
Closing deals can be a time-consuming process.

Objective: Accelerate the sales process

Decrease the average duration of the sales cycle by two weeks

Our customer base is shifting towards our competitors.

Objective: Enhance customer loyalty

Achieve a 25% increase in customer retention rate (CRR)

Leads keep going cold

Objective: Improve deal conversion

Aim to achieve a win rate of 20%

Once you have established metrics for each goal, you must consider where you can obtain the necessary data. Your new CRM system should provide sales-related metrics such as average sales cycle length, CAC, customer retention rate (CRR), and the number of deals in the sales pipeline. It is beneficial to compare this data with the records you have kept in spreadsheets or previous CRM systems. Additionally, for other growth metrics, you may need to utilise email marketing software, conduct employee surveys, utilise website analytics tools, and implement project management systems.

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2. Select the ideal CRM platform

Selecting the ideal CRM platform is comparable to choosing the perfect vehicle for a road trip: it is essential for a seamless journey.

Your requirements will be unique, but prioritising user-friendliness, scalability, integration, and automation capabilities is generally beneficial. Here's why:

  1. User-friendliness: The ease of adopting new software directly impacts the efficiency of your implementation. Look for a user-friendly interface, omnichannel support, and ample training options.
  2. Scalability: As your business evolves post-implementation, your chosen CRM software must be able to keep up. Cloud-based CRMs with ample storage and flexible pricing options are typically the most scalable.
  3. Integrations: Connecting with other software allows you to customise your CRM to suit your specific needs. Leading CRMs offer marketplaces for app integrations, enabling you to merge your tools into a single streamlined dashboard.
  4. Automation: Workflow automation features eliminate administrative tasks, empowering team members to accomplish more while minimising the risk of human error.

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3. Build your implementation team

A well-structured implementation team is crucial for the success of your CRM project. These individuals will play a vital role in ensuring that the implementation aligns with your business goals and operates efficiently.

Some CRM vendors offer expertise to handle this aspect for you, either as part of your package or for an additional fee. However, if your vendor does not provide this service, you must build your team from scratch.

The roles and responsibilities within your organisation may vary based on its size, but a fully staffed in-house implementation team typically includes:

  • A project manager orchestrates the team, makes important decisions to keep everyone on track, and handles unexpected challenges.
  • A data analyst: They organise company data before, during, and after the CRM implementation project plan to maintain data quality and relevance.
  • An application developer: They handle the technical aspects of implementation, solving problems, and customising the software to meet complex needs.
  • Test engineers: They actively seek challenges to ensure issues are corrected during implementation, preventing disruptions in the future.
  • Project advocate: They have the time and enthusiasm to explore the change in detail, understand challenges and benefits, and act as a communication link between everyday users and other team members.
  • User group representatives: They provide first-hand insight into pain points from sales, marketing, and other departments. Their input can help make wider adoption seamless.

Small businesses may have condensed teams but should ensure core responsibilities are covered. At the very least, aim to include a project manager (e.g., the sales manager) and user group representatives. The former can handle data management and customisation, while future users can stress-test the software.

If you lack the necessary skills or experience to lead the project, consider hiring a CRM implementation consultant or service. These professionals understand the reasons behind CRM implementation failures and can help ensure your project's success.

4. Forecast the cost and returns

When budgeting for CRM implementation, it is essential to consider the costs that can vary depending on the size and needs of your team. Consider expenses such as software licenses, training, data migration, and any necessary customisations.

Licensing costs are relatively easy to determine as most CRM vendors provide pricing information online. If there are multiple pricing tiers, compare the features to find the best fit for your company.

Your choice of software will influence the costs of data migration, training, and customisation. For example, an on-premise CRM implementation may require expensive expert support in all three areas. However, a simple cloud CRM may already include these features.

Consider how your organisation's growth and development may impact its CRM needs. Opting for scalable software that allows for add-ons and integrations can provide long-term benefits, even if the initial cost is higher. Otherwise, you may spend more on another system in the future.

To get an idea of the potential returns on investment, look for real-world examples of cost savings, time savings, and revenue growth. Seek out case studies involving companies similar to yours.

To illustrate this, you can find a fascinating case study on how Tifanny successfully grew her business to £2 million using Pipedrive. Check it out here.

5. Prepare your data for migration

Ensure that your data is ready to be migrated to the new CRM system by following these steps:

1. Clean and organise your customer data, eliminating duplicate contacts and deleting outdated information.

2. To ensure data accuracy, take the time to correct any obvious errors, such as spelling mistakes.

3. Prioritise data quality over data volume to maximise the profitability of your business.

According to a study by Validity, poor-quality CRM data can result in a loss of more than 10% of annual revenue. To avoid this, invest resources into a robust CRM data quality plan.

4. Consider the long-term benefits of implementing scalable CRM software for future add-ons and integrations. While the initial cost may be higher, it can save you from investing in another system.

During this stage of the CRM implementation process, it is crucial to prioritise data quality over data volume for the profitability of your business.

According to a study by Validity, 44% of CRM users reported that their companies experience a loss of more than 10% of annual revenue due to poor-quality CRM data. Additionally, nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents stated that they would consider leaving their role if insufficient resources were available for a robust CRM data quality plan.

6. Onboard your initial users (and address any initial challenges)

Before implementing your CRM system across the entire organisation, it is advisable to onboard a select group of users, ideally those who are part of your CRM implementation team.

This initial testing phase allows you to proactively identify and address any initial challenges before they significantly impact your business operations.

For instance, if your sales representatives find that the system's default pipeline view does not align with your company's specific sales process, you can collaborate with them to customise the steps accordingly. By doing so, the wider team can seamlessly use the system when the time comes.

Involving your staff at this stage also fosters buy-in from your team, demonstrating that you value their experiences and opinions.

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7. Introduce the new CRM to the broader team

Once you have addressed the concerns of your test group and configured the system according to your business needs, it is time to involve the entire team.

The way you handle this step will significantly impact user adoption and the long-term effectiveness of your CRM. According to a survey conducted by Columbus, 53% of respondents expressed that better onboarding and training would make their CRM system more effective.

It is essential to communicate the benefits of implementing a new CRM to your end users during onboarding. By explaining how the CRM will streamline specific business processes and make their jobs more accessible and enjoyable, you can foster enthusiasm and encourage proper system usage, including entering, maintaining, and accessing customer data.

If possible, help users set up custom dashboards to provide immediate access to the most relevant data. This will demonstrate how the technology can adapt to their specific needs and further promote the adoption of the CRM system.

8. Collect feedback and optimise your CRM strategy

Facilitate ongoing communication within your organisation to gather feedback on the system's performance. Users' positive and negative comments will assist in identifying and resolving inefficiencies, as well as identifying opportunities for improving your returns and adapting your CRM strategy as your business evolves.

For example, suppose you initially roll out your CRM to sales and marketing teams and they report saving an average of three hours per week through automation. In that case, you can extend these benefits by granting customer support agents access permissions.

In addition to day-to-day discussions, there are several effective methods for collecting feedback:

  1. Focus groups: Bring together a sample group of users to informally review their experiences thus far.
  2. Questionnaires: Pose the same questions to multiple users to gather their thoughts and identify patterns in their responses.
  3. One-to-one sessions: Incorporate a "CRM and general technology" component into employee progress meetings, allowing staff to offer suggestions.

Regularly revisit these methods to ensure that your chosen CRM software continues to meet the needs of your business.

Even the most successful implementations can face unforeseen challenges. If something doesn't go as planned, there's no need to worry. Work with your internal team and vendor to identify the most effective solutions. It's possible that resolving the issue may involve integrating a new feature, adding an add-on, or implementing automation.


The best CRM for your business is one that helps both now and later. It’s worth the time to make a comprehensive CRM requirements checklist and get input from everyone at your company to decide what you need as your business grows.

Contact Flowbird today to learn more about the latest Pipedrive product updates. Discover how our services can help increase your business's visibility and revenue.

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