Driving Adoption of Your CRM Solution

One of the biggest challenges faced by CRM projects is user adoption and gaining effective engagement with the people that will be using the system.  Now the CRM projects we are engaged in are rarely the typical sales and service types of projects most people think of when they think of CRM.  Regardless the need to provide a solution that is easily adopted by the user community is key to the successful delivery of a CRM implementation.

The following are some key strategies that come from my early days as a CRM consultant.  They are as relevant today as they were then.

  1. Communicate value from three perspectives. Any solution must be able to demonstrate value and synergy to the users, management, and the external stakeholder (customer, partner, citizen, etc.).  In an effective CRM deployment users will experience better access to information, improved effectiveness and less overall administration.  Management will have better visibility, improved ability to coach their teams, and more effectiveness in allocating resources.  Most importantly, your CRM deployment must improve the customer’s experience in doing business with you.
  2. Focus on effectiveness, not control. Be clear that the purpose for your CRM deployment is not to be “big brother”, but to allow them to be more effective at serving your stakeholders.
  3. Talk to your user community. Users are generally very aware about those areas within your company that impede their productivity, and are happy to tell you.  Talking to them not only allows them to identify those areas that can be improved, but it also engages them in the process…makes them a part of it.
  4. Productivity is the result of efficiency, effectiveness and teamwork. The next lesson is that user productivity is really a function of 3 things:  Efficiency, or reducing the time required to perform specific tasks.  Effectiveness, improving the quality of the proposal, service experience, or relationship that a rep has with a customer.  And teamwork, the ability of the entire user community from multiple business units and geographies to not only sell and service, but to understand a customer in a coordinated, collaborative way.
  5. Keep it simple. It is often actually easier to build complexity than it is to build something very simple.  The challenge in buying users into their new CRM system is to keep it simple.  Phase in your implementation in such a way that users bite off small bits at a time and allow them to experience the incremental improvements along the way.  Dynamics CRM provides a great start with its native Outlook experience that is familiar to most users.
  6. Broad before deep – focus on the team. Deploy your CRM solution so that it supports broadly all of people within a certain business unit or customer segment, as opposed to deploying by job role.  For example, in an oil and gas services company with many divisions, deploy broadly to all people within the drilling division, rather than to simply just the sales people in drilling, servicing and rentals.
  7. It is not good enough to have executive sponsorship, you must have executive adoption. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been involved in a project where at go live I mention getting the Senior VP or the CEO rolled out to, and someone says, “oh he/she is never going to use this…”  Users can immediately sense when their management teams are not looking at the information that they are providing.  The reality is that the instant an executive goes outside the CRM system to get information that is supposed to be in the solution, the credibility of the system is destroyed.
  8. Give to Get. This is my favourite principle in gaining the buy in of users for their CRM system.  The idea is that the CRM system will only ask the users to maintain information that will be used to provide a ‘service’ that is of value.  In other words, if a sales rep maintains accurate sales information in the CRM application, we will never ask that sales rep to produce a sales report.  We will only ask you to give information to the system where you will get something back in return.