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CRM Implementation and Change Management

By December 16, 2014

By: Tal Frankfurt, Founder and CEO of Cloud for Good

A recent interaction with a prospect reminded me of a sociology experiment from 1960. In this experiment five monkeys were placed in a cage, with a batch of bananas hung from the ceiling (beyond the reach of the monkeys) and a ladder right underneath it. It only took a few seconds and one of the monkeys begun climbing to grab the bananas. As it did, a researcher sprayed it with a stream of cold water. Soon, each of the monkeys learned not to climb the ladder. Furthermore, if any of them started to, the others would hold them back forcefully.

Once all five monkeys were conditioned that no banana is worth climbing that ladder, the researchers introduced a new monkey and removed one of the original monkeys. And wouldn’t you know it – the new monkey spots the great bananas and starts going up the ladder. The other monkeys – knowing the drill – jump on the new monkey, and beat him up.

Slowly the researchers replaced all the original monkeys with new monkeys who had never been sprayed with cold water. The incredible thing is that none of the new monkeys would go up the ladder either. The rules had been set, because, “That’s just the way we have always done things around here.”

You can see where I am going with this, right? We learn from each other and we don’t want to let down our friends, family, and colleagues. It is very rarely that we stop to examine the rules we have been handed down.

Implementing new technology like a CRM requires stopping and examining your processes. Implementing new technology to support old procedures could have a huge cost. Much more than the cost of the implementation, it stalls progress. It defeats innovation.

I believe that addressing and implementing the change comes down to three things: involvement, value, and good management.


People don’t resist change per se, but they do resist being changed by others. Your staff should be involved in the implementation process from the beginning. In many cases, the end users are the ones who have a deep understanding of the day-to-day operations. They know what will work and what won’t. Get them involved as early as possible and constantly engage them for feedback. Create a group of people who can champion for the implementation and encourage them to share the value of the change.


“What’s in it for me?” Your staff must benefit from the change in ways that are important for them. A financial reward is an option but it is much more likely to succeed with a non-financial reward. Your new CRM should provide better tools to do the job more efficiently. Some examples are:

  • A friendlier user experience that makes it easier for the staff to enter information
  • Customizable reporting tool to allow your staff to get the data out when they need it
  • Automation to make the system work for your staff

Good Management

A good change management program should be planned down to the last detail; however, it should be flexible enough to change. An old military saying is that no plan survives the first contact with the enemy. Change cannot be a command; it should emerge from everyone who is involved with the new CRM. At the same time, managers should set a good example. I have seen too many implementations when managers are mandating a system is used but not using it themselves (have you ever asked to see a report in Excel instead of just looking at a dashboard/ report in Salesforce?).

These principles may apply to any process of change, not just to CRM change. Making change happen and making change stick requires a structured, phased approach to change management:

Step 1: Assess and Prepare

During this phase you will asses your staff capability to implement a change and identify the key people who will become your change agents.

Create your change team from within your organization and provide them the tools to lead the change. Each person should have a specific role in the process including executive sponsor, project manager, system administrator, power users, and end users. During this step you also want to use the team to start building the momentum and promoting the change.

Step 2: Go Live

This is a celebratory step to recognize the hard work that was done and the value from the new CRM. This step is crucial because it recognizes all those who were involved in the implementation and also marks the boundary between the implementation of the system and the post go-live support to ensure that your CRM is included in the daily operations of your organization.

Step 3: Maintain and Optimize

This is an import step because it hands over the responsibility and ownership of the new system to the users. The step should last as long as it is required to embed the change into the organization.

While we often talk about user adoption as a factor in failed CRM implementations, a change management program can literally be the difference between success or failure.

About the Author
Tal FrankfurtTal Frankfurt is Founder and CEO of Cloud for Good, a certified B Corporation and an Inc.500 company, that works with organizations to create and implement strategic Salesforce solutions. While working as a spokesperson and director of resource development for a nonprofit organization, Tal was looking for tools to better manage his constituents (donors, volunteers, the media etc.). He heard about The and this started a snowball effect. The rest, as they say, is history. He founded and led a Salesforce Nonprofit User Group and was exposed to the growing need for many nonprofits to integrate technology tools such as Salesforce to achieve their mission. Subsequently, Tal founded Cloud for Good, a consulting firm that works primarily with nonprofit organizations and educational institutions.

​​Tal ​was chosen in 2010 to be one of the first Salesforce MVP Program members and has maintained that status to date. Watch a short video about Cloud for Good’s services.