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A CRM implementation is more of a cultural change than a technological change. That’s because adopting a new system requires changing habits, and changing habits is hard. It’s hard for those who want to change, let alone those who do not.

Most people demand change, but resist it when it comes. Resistance to change is natural, so it’s crucial to help CRM users through the process of embracing change. When it comes to CRM adoption, users need your help, they need your reinforcement, and they
need that culture of accountability. 

It's a new year and it's time for successful CRM adoption. Developed by CRM integration expert, Michael Hanna, here are some steps to take to encourage empowerment and accountability throughout the CRM process in 2015.

Establish Objectives

From the start, create a sense of ownership among your users. Establish written CRM objectives and include CRM users in the process. These objectives will act as a guidepost for you and your users. Simplicity is your first objective. Every organization wants to ensure ease of use, otherwise it will be very difficult to adopt. 

Hold Yourself Accountable

Once you've established your (reasonable) objectives, you want to hold yourself accountable. Discipline yourself to periodically check throughout the process that you are aligned with
your objectives. 

Form a Committee

The committee should consist of key internal influencers from each sales group that can shape the CRM plan. The sales group can be an inside sales team, BDRs, demand gen reps, enterprise reps, field reps, reps spanning different global regions, or a sampling of different representatives of each team. You don’t need a huge team, but you need enough people for adequate representation. 

Beta Test

Have the committee beta test the deployment before you go live. Let them play with the CRM for a few weeks in a real-life scenario, for instance, launch it just to them, and get their feedback. There's inevitably going to be hiccups that you hadn't anticipated, and it’s better to hear it from them first in test mode. That way, it’s easier to adapt and update before it’s rolled out to everyone. 

Launch a Survey

The committee is important, but it doesn’t include everyone’s voice. Therefore, in order to gather more widespread input, launch a survey for all CRM users. Ask them specific questions about what they need to succeed in their roles. If you've got an existing CRM system already in play, ask them about the challenges of that CRM system. Oftentimes you can solve big problems with simple changes. In addition, you’re demonstrating that you’re listening and you want to incorporate their ideas and opinions in the CRM process. 

Share Survey Results

Communication is key, especially how you're communicating during the launch. Share key themes from the internal survey. The message is, “We've asked you, you spoke up, we heard you, and here's what we did about it.” 

Train in Workshop Mode

Take a workshop approach to your training, not a seminar approach. Show CRM users how to use it, let them try it themselves, and let them wrestle it. Include exercises that are real and relevant, not hypothetical. Try to train them face-to-face. Travel. Be with the CRM users. Get them in a room, read their faces, hold their hands, and give them hugs. Do whatever they need in order to make this work.

If possible, have committee members present during certain training modules. That way it’s a peer-to-peer experience. These peers often have their own tips and advice that adds credibility and experience. 

Review Metrics, Reports and Dashboards

Be transparent and share results of your CRM implementation. Establish success metrics and hold yourself accountable to those metrics and goals. Know what success looks like in the eyes of your team, your executives, and your users.

Oftentimes the big reveal of the dashboards in a CRM is the ah-ha moment for users. When they see the dashboards, they see a total view of their sales data, such as territories, leads, total opportunities, forecasts, key accounts, etc. Tears fall from eyes, the heavens open, the angels sing, the ah-ha moments come from the training, the reports and the dashboards. It's a beautiful way to capture their entire picture, so include it in your CRM training. 

Assign Action Items

Don’t walk away — or don’t hang up that phone — without knowing next steps and deadlines from team member. Gather commitment on next steps so you want to assign action items, and provide (explicit) deadlines. 

Keep a List of Feedback

Encourage communication and feedback of the CRM, including questions and challenges. Keep all of this feedback in one centralized, consolidated place that you can quickly reference. It will also help you identify recurrent themes. Give everyone access to it so they can see the feedback as well. Users can reference it whenever they have a question or concern. 

Schedule a Regroup

Schedule regular meetings to review the list of feedback, such as a weekly cadence. Discuss the reoccurring themes and work on a plan for CRM updates that address user challenges.

Invite different people to your regroups, such as highly transactional groups like BDRs, inside sales teams, etc. Hold reps accountable for managing their businesses accurately and in a timely manner in the CRM system. 

Recognize Users

For those users who are adjusting well to the new CRM, providing feedback and incorporating it into their everyday business lives, give them a pat on the back.

Ensure Quality Data

Ensuring the data in your CRM is quality is a crucial to having data integrity. Without data integrity, your CRM will have duplicate data, unstandardized or inconsistent data, and missing data. Preparing for these data mishaps in advance, as well as having tools in place to clean and prevent them from happening, will ensure CRM system integrity.

Distrust in data may be the number one reason why your CRM users will refuse to log in to your CRM. Data quality will not only promote user adoption, but will help you make smart business decisions as a result of quality information. 

The CRM adoption process is a journey, not a destination. When I asked CRM integration expert, Michael Hanna, if the CRM adoption process is ever done, his answer was simply, “No, it’s not.” 

About the Author

fDonato Diorio is the CEO of RingLead with primary responsibility of combining the teams, technology and vision of RingLead and Broadlook Technologies, a data technology company founded by Donato. Donato started his career as a software engineer and quickly became a specialist in process automation. Software architect first, top billing recruiter second, Donato combined his two careers; technology and talent selection to found Broadlook Technologies in 2002. A recognized thought leader and speaker on data quality and recruitment; two diverse areas technology dependent and process-driven, Donato’s mantra is “Build technology that is the right balance between automation and human interaction.” Executing this vision has delivered consistent innovation for Broadlook and now the RingLead-Broadlook combination.

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