CRM Migration Checklist: Why, what, and how?

7 min readDec 14, 2020

Data is the oil for a business engine. While some companies still manage to store all the customer data in spreadsheets, it’s far more common to use a CRM — Customer Relationship Management software. Typically a CRM platform enables the storing, tracking, and analyzing critical interactions between customers and a company.

Being one of the most important investments a business can make, your CRM must process and actionize data at the highest efficiency levels. If it’s not, it’s time to consider changing your CRM.

Yes, CRM migration can be daunting. Because migrating from one CRM to another, or implementing one for the first time, is complex and will have ripple effects across revenue teams for years to come, many experts recommend an implementation partner.

If you’ve read this far, let’s assume you’re gathering facts. And so, let’s start with some best practices based on our experiences as both a HubSpot Advanced Implementation Certified partner and a SalesLoft partner.

Why Migrate CRMs?
CRM migration is a bit more complicated than just moving your data from one software to another.

You probably work tirelessly along with a sales team to find, nurture, and win over new prospects. So, it’s vital to have the best CRM possible that fits your sales needs. What are those? An efficient work process, a well-defined sales funnel, improved sales cycle velocity, and of course, lots of leads.

You may be thinking, “Our CRM is good enough. There are some data and automation I wish was better, but is it really worth the headaches to migrate to a new CRM?”
These are the two most common reasons for migrating your customer relationship data to a new system.

1) You need clean(er) data
Migrating your data from an old CRM to a new one won’t magically solve your data hygiene. However, CRM migration always starts with a clean-up.

Most SDRs execute triple-digit activities every day (researching, personalizing emails, sending emails, making cold calls, replying to responses, updating CRM data, sending appointment reminders, etc). Essentially, these prospecting motions can be boiled down to this: how effective is a sales rep at turning CRM data into qualified leads and sales opportunities.

What if they could get the data faster and do more with it when it matters most? That’s what a good-fit CRM can do. No outdated or incomplete files. Smooth handoffs from SDR to Sales Exec. Complete views of individual customer journeys. Structured and actionable data is easier to find, use, analyze, and enrich the information stored.

Whether you perform it in-house or outsource to an implementation specialist to build a more performance-based CRM, make sure the data is more readily available than before the migration.

Pro Tip: Do not bulk-delete everything that seems irrelevant. Create a backup always, then determine which data is critical and necessary and which data can be discarded or enriched.

2) You need more (and better) functionality
There is no shortage of reasons for needing increased CRM functionality.

Reasons that you need a better CRM platform
Any one of these reasons is enough to switch CRMs. Your company, team, or sales funnel grows, so there is no shame ever in staying up-to-date.

Your new CRM should solve the problems you’re having with your current CRM.

Pro Tip: Document the specific functionality you need to solve your customer relationship challenges before comparing CRMs. You might be surprised which CRMs meet your requirements when you pinpoint your needs before surveying solutions.

How to Do It? CRM Migration Best Practices
When CRM data migration is a priority for your sales and marketing teams, there are three common paths towards achieving this business goal: Utilize a CRM interface, use a migration tool, or tap an implementation specialist.

Upload existing data through a CRM interface

You can upload all the data from your legacy software into the archive or spreadsheet and upload it to the new CRM via the user interface. Most CRMs allow you to export data in the format of a .csv file.

Sounds simple; however, success relies on the compatibility of your old files with the new system. Implementation specialists are well versed in solving these compatibility issues.

Deploy a CRM migration tool

This option involves using a third-party CRM migration application. Depending on your needs or preferences, some of the most popular tools are Pentaho Data Integration, Talend Open Studio, or Import/Export Wizards.

These tools will do all the manual transferring, but it will work only if both your new and old systems are similar enough, which happens rarely.

Hire a CRM Migration specialist

For a complex and critical business problem, sophisticated and expert solutions are required.

An implementation specialist evaluates your sales enablement processes, audits your current data, assets, and workflow to find the areas that need improvement. Then, they tailor your integrations with custom fields and mappings.

Later those will be tested before actually filling your new systems with up-to-date data. Also, such a specialist can validate, enrich, or expand any contact existing in your CRM.

What to Do?
Preliminary CRM Migration Checklist
Now, when you’ve chosen the approach you’ll take, what’s next? A CRM migration project plan and a checklist of steps will get the best results possible.

Search and compare

There is a wide variety of CRMs available, so the best is to decide based on your needs and niche.

Hubspot is known for being the easiest to use with a vast learning and training resource center to make adoption as painless as possible. Additionally, HubSpot has one of the most emergent Content Management Systems to rival WordPress and consolidate all top of funnel marketing and sales in one place.

Salesforce has the highest G2 rating and boasts a pretty insane advanced feature set. Your team managers will be able to customize almost anything. Both of them will be great if you want to use your CRM for a mix of marketing and sales.

Zoho is a CRM featuring more social media bells and whistles, with integrations of Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, while Less Annoying CRM is one of the most affordable for small businesses and startups.

The list is expansive, with more than 919 Customer Relationship Management Software products listed on Capterra, but you get the point. There are enough options to find something that will fit your goals.

As soon as you narrow down your choices and select the right CRM, start comparing it to your legacy CRM. This way, you’ll make sure you’ve chosen something better than you already had.

Prepare and analyze

As soon as decision-makers approve of the CRM migration, the preparation begins. Your revenue teams must be up-to-date with a change like this since they are its primary users. Plus, their adoption of the CRM will heavily weigh on future sales success.

So, spread awareness of the upcoming event, start educating them on the new system. Not only will it make the transition process more efficient, but you’ll get the most dedicated testers ever that will find any bugs or glitches if there are any.

The next step is to go through the data you already have in your legacy CRM. Consider this an audit of your sales funnel, assets, and workflows to determine which areas need improvement.

Check for duplicate or outdated contacts, add missing data entries, and fix inconsistent data. Such a clean-up will create a fresh start for your new CRM.

Pro Tip: Go through every use case of how your team members use the platform. It will give you an idea if something is outdated and doesn’t need to be transferred to the new CRM.

Map and backup

Data mapping is an intricate process of determining where your data will reside in the CRM after the migration.

For instance, you have a customer named John. John went through your pipeline two weeks after a successful call and now is one of the most loyal customers you have.

Your new CRM must have a place for John, where he will be in a group he belongs to. Check all the possible groups that need to be included in the map, which will secure the transfer.

Now, it’s time for a backup. You must have an option for a retreat in case any troubles arise during a CRM migration. While most likely it will go without a glitch, you cannot risk losing your data. Also, you can use your backup to compare if the data was transferred correctly after the migration.

Test and Implement

Now, it’s time for the CRM migration to happen. Start from tailoring your integration with your custom fields, sync logic, and field mappings. You are almost ready for the transfer. Before that, run a couple of tests.

It puts a lot at stake if you transfer all your data at once, so it’s better to start with a couple of trials with different data sets. If an error occurs, don’t be alarmed, this is a time and place to clear that up.

And finally, it’s time to press the “Migrate” button!
So the choice is yours. You can go through the CRM data migration steps by yourself or hire CIENCE to take care of that for you.




CIENCE offers managed services for lead generation. Our trained teams generate targeted leads and qualified appointments for your business.