3 key data migration best practices

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You’ve grown your business by leaps and bounds.

You’ve gone from a one-person shop out of your living room to 15 plus employees in an office space that will accommodate your projected growth. You have a solid customer base and an excel spreadsheet with thousands of contacts. You and your team are ready to take things to the next level, as they say.

Despite all the positive vibes, you feel a sense of dread about a process that you know is coming but you just wish would fix itself: Migrating your data to a more robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software system.

You know adopting a more dynamic CRM will empower your team to be more productive, to generate more qualified leads and to close them at a higher rate.

But you're hesitant to look too closely at your existing database out of fear of what you’ll find.

The data migration process can seem overwhelming.

Illumine8 is here to help with some CRM migration best practices that will enable you to successfully navigate the migration process.

Honestly, it’s not as bad as you think, and here are some first steps you can take toward a successful data migration.

Have a Strategy

This sounds so obvious, right? But you’d be very surprised how many organizations jump in head first, drawn in by the bells and whistles of some new shiny software product, and wind up struggling mightily or only utilizing a tiny portion of the CRM’s capabilities.

Build a strategy and stick to it. If you need third party help, get it and then work hand-in-hand with them so that when their work is done, your team is equipped to protect the data integrity and effectiveness of your new software system.

As much as you want it to be, the data migration process is not a simple copy and paste operation. You need to look at this like any strategic endeavor: you need to plan, collaborate and implement with purpose and monitoring. Here are a few things you can do to make the process easier:

  • Identify reliable and trusted team members and form a CRM migration team to manage the process
  • Meet regularly and collaborate from start to finish, meaning from CRM software selection through CRM training, implementation and beyond
  • As part of your strategy, request that your core migration workgroup become CRM ambassadors to the organization. Let these early adopters train the rest of the team.
  • Roll out a rewards/incentive program with the new CRM launch so that employees are motivated to adhere to data entry and CRM policies. One or two rogue team members entering data chaotically can cause a major bottleneck for the process moving forward.

Live the Mantra: “Junk in. Junk Out.”

The HubSpot CRM is great. And it's free. We’ve deployed it for our clients and it integrates seamlessly with marketing and sales efforts. There are other dynamic CRMs out there, too.

But they are utterly useless if you migrate over junky, inconsistently formatted and incomplete data. When it comes to CRM migration and management, there is no truer phrase than “Junk in. Junk out.” Here are a few steps to avoiding polluting your shiny new CRM with rubbish:

  • Use a template. 
    Even if the data you are migrating is squeaky clean, has been de-duplicated and is as up-to-date as possible, you and your team will have to make adjustments to it before migrating to the new CRM system. The way you enter data, the fields you use and even your abbreviations and acronyms will not be a one-to-one match with the desired data standards of your new CRM. 
    • Once you have worked with your third party vendor for a bit, you should be on the same page about how your legacy data (i.e. the data as it is currently constituted pre-migration) needs to be altered to ensure a smooth transition to the new system. A template will be built, and then it’s up to your team to do the labor to get your legacy data ready for a smooth transition.
    • Examples of template standardization could include your field types, how you abbreviate states, how you handle second addresses, job titles, etc.
  • Start Fresh.
    Just because you always recorded spouse’s names in the past, does not mean your new CRM has to. Use the migration as an opportunity to reevaluate what data is essential to your business. As you transition data to the new CRM template, don’t become too attached to data just because it’s there. Be ruthless about editing fields. This is your chance to start fresh. You want both clean data and the right data migrated to your new system.
  • Create a Handbook.
    As part of your CRM migration strategy, roll out a handbook for your core CRM team to use as they go through the migration process. In addition, create a handbook for all team members to use post-migration. Similar to a brand document that details the proper use of fonts, logos and document standards, this CRM handbook documents the do’s and don’t of ongoing data entry and management. The handbook creates built-in accountability for all employees and will help limit any confusion and/or non-compliance with CRM standards.

Define or Redefine the Lead Scoring Process

Like the “Junk In. Junk Out” proverb, bringing your marketing and sales teams together to define and agree to a lead scoring process is critical to the migration and the successful use of your new CRM.

For example, when does your marketing team’s CRM activity end and the sales team’s process begin? What defines a lead and how do both teams define that lead’s readiness to buy?

Many organizations struggle with getting marketing and sales aligned. As part of the CRM migration strategy mentioned earlier, key members of the sales and marketing teams should be part of the core migration team and the lead scoring process should be defined (if it has not been previously) or tweaked to align with the new CRM system.

You want to ensure clean data gets migrated, and then marketing and sales teams are equipped to work together to maximize your new CRM’s capabilities to increase closing rates.

Continuing to grow your business is an exciting time. It’s also a time of strong anxiety on multiple fronts. Use these three best practices as stress reliever to get you moving forward with your CRM migration strategy.

As always, Illumine8 is here to lend our CRM migration, marketing and sales expertise should you need it. Contact us today to discuss how we can help.

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