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User Adoption: The Death of Your CRM

You’ve spent weeks, maybe months researching a customer relationship management solution. You’ve agonized and scrutinized, spending hours of precious time weighing the benefits and costs of what seem like an overwhelming number of options. Finally, with the decision made, you apprehensively fork over the companies hard earned duckets with one hand, while crossing your fingers with the other.

 

Will it accomplish what you want? Will it help manage opportunities?  Will the vendor provide support when needed? Will it actually result in increased sales? All valid concerns. But concerns made completely irrelevant if your team doesn’t use it.

 

User adoption is one of the primary causes of failed software implementation initiatives. But there are steps you can take to help ensure your team will be on board.

 

Like many companies, your sales team may be comprised of a plethora of characters, from the seasoned veteran with eons of experience, who does things ‘his way’, to the new gal, eager to please and hungry. Some will take to the system readily and effortlessly, while others may require a bit more cajoling, hand-holding (or arm-twisting) and training. Getting all of these various team members on the same page may be a matter of simply following a few suggestions.  Here are some ideas to help ensure your team adopts your new CRM system.

 

Executive Sponsorship.

The first step, well, really isn’t a step at all, but is a condition under which many CRM initiative may be launched.   If the CRM project is part of an executive owned strategic initiative, then the project becomes a component of the executive’s objectives and the chances of successful user adoption are very high. A mandate from brass is strong motivation for team members to comply, especially if not complying results in serious and unfortunate consequences from higher up. But barring strong support from the executive level additional effort may need to be applied to ensure everyone gets, and stays, on board.

 

Assign the Right Project Lead.

Putting the right person in charge of overseeing the implementation and operation of the CRM system will have a substantial impact on its success.  This individual must be sharp, knowledgeable with a strong proclivity for logical, process driven thought. She or he should possess the drive, ability and know-how to take the project on and make it successful.  The candidate must understand the internal workflow and areas that will be improved by CRM, as well as understand the capabilities of the CRM system and know how to map them together.

 

Prepare the Team in Advance.

Its human nature to bristle in defiance at an abrupt, mandated change.  Any parent who’s ever dragged a child from the playground without first giving the tike a heads up, knows this.  A little warning always makes the transition smoother.  Give your people plenty of lead time so they can get their heads around the change in advance.  Take this a step further by involving them in the conversation. Asking for their input includes them in the decision-making process, which will make them feel vested in the new direction.  The team will be much more likely to adopt new technology if they were instrumental in choosing it.

 

Preparing the team may also require dispelling some fears of the new change.  Whether its trepidation about technology or simply an attachment to the old way of doing things, suspicion and reluctance to change may create road blocks to your CRM efforts. For instance, management visibility into pipeline activity is a standard benefit of CRM, and there may be sales team members who see this as an intrusion.  For them, you could point out that visibility means management and support staff can be better prepared to assist in closing that big deal or managing that difficult client.

 

Rolling the CRM Technology out “The Right Way”.

Utilize Services from the CRM vendor.

 

Chances are, your CRM vendor has customer resources such as videos, tutorials and live customer support.  These resources should be explored regularly and employed extensively.  Your vendor is the expert on the CRM you’ve implemented and, as such, should be tapped into often to help ensure things are done right and the solution’s capabilities are maximized.  Your vendor can provide best practices, and because they have experience solving business challenges using their product, offer innovative and creative solutions to challenges you may encounter.

 

Start out Slow.

 

Don’t do too much in phase 1, ease the team into the system with the basics.  Start with something easy like entering Contacts and Activities into the system, then gradually introduce more complicated activities, such as adding Opportunity Management, then start generating Price quotations etc. Needless to say, a few runs down the bunny hill will give the team more confidence when it’s time to take on the diamond run.

 

Take Out the Trash.

The old adage, garbage in garbage out is apropos here.  If the data in your system is poorly organized it can make using the system an arduous, confusing and exasperating ordeal. There’s nothing more frustrating than preforming a search in the new CRM system and getting four versions of the same person in your search results.  Redundant, confusing, and conflicting information is the fast track to building resistance to usage. Spend the necessary time to clean up your data and ensure its properly formatted.   If data is clean, reliable, and organized the system is much more likely to be utilized.

 

Utilize the CRM as Part of a Work Process.

Your CRM system can be configured to require team members use it to advance the status of a deal. In other words, you can’t follow a required process without using the CRM system.  For example, utilization of the CRM system to convert a Won Opportunity into a Sales Order is required before the system will allow you to submit your orders.  This leaves no choice for team members.  They must use the system to complete the sales process.

 

The Report of Shame.

Shaming is a common occurrence you may have witnessed online.  Whether its celebrities being shamed for inappropriate comments or sports stars being called out for sub-par performances and unbecoming behavior, shaming seems to be the latest practice used to get the deviant to straighten up and fly right. Why not use this little technique to drum up little accountability in your CRM efforts?

 

Your CRM generates a variety of reports, and these reports, for example the Weekly Pipeline report, can be automatically sent to every executive.  No salesperson wants an exec to see a big goose egg next to his or her name.  This can be a strong motivator for sales team members to enter their opportunities and keep them up to date.

 

Monitor CRM usage.

Having the team to do their part by using the CRM system is essential, but could prove pointless if sales managers and team leaders aren’t doing their part.  Diligent monitoring of if, and how the system is being used, is essential to the program’s success.

 

Is the right type and amount of data being entered? Is data being entered correctly and in a timely fashion?  These are all factors that affect the quality, and ultimately, the usefulness of the data in the system.  Knowing the extent to which your CRM is being used will help you determine the necessary steps to take to ensure team members are adhering to usage guidelines and using the system to its full potential.

 

Getting up to speed on your CRM system may take a little work initially, but the benefits of a successfully applied CRM program ultimately far exceed the time and effort needed to implement and learn it. Successfully navigating the learning curve of your CRM solution will undoubtedly result in higher user adoption of the technology your company has invested man hours, money and resources to execute.  Invest the additional time and effort it may take to get everyone on board, and your company will reap the time and money savings this effective and useful solution offers.