4 Best Practices for Successful CRM Adoption


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So, you’ve gone through the trouble of researching a CRM, selecting the ideal software for your company, finding an implementation partner, and finally deciding that implementing a CRM is crucial for your business. With all that hard work behind you, you’ve decided it’s time to start focusing on adoption of the software.

The bad news is you’re too late. You should’ve been contemplating adoption as soon as the software was introduced to your company.

CRM adoption is difficult because it often involves a change in organizational culture. There are going to be many people tied to your company that will need guidance, convincing, and training. Organizations use a myriad of tactics to assure CRM adoption, so start by involving users and stakeholders in the early stages.

1. Involve Users at the Early Stages
A groundbreaking event like a CRM implementation should not be sprung on users last minute. Involving users in the beginning would provide them with a chance to warm up to the software.

Employees at the ground level tend to view CRM as a form of control or way of monitoring instead of a way to make business processes more efficient. Therefore, a newly implemented CRM is often met with a negative response. And, a last-minute integration will only intensify those negative responses.

Making sure users are thoroughly trained and prepared for the software before go-live is critical. If you start to train users after implementation, ROI may decrease because productivity would be unfocused. Another idea for involving users is to create a user panel that would assist, discuss and possibly solve issues for employees.

2. Facilitate Representation
Involvement in the implementation process shouldn’t solely focus on users. All of the stakeholders should be given the opportunity to take part and have a platform to ask questions and express concerns throughout the project. This is especially the case for customers; they need to interact with the new software, experience it first hand, see the impacts and have the ability to provide feedback.

Also, choosing CRM leaders or ambassadors to represent different factions of your organization is an idea. These ambassadors can show other users how to properly utilize the software and serve as liaisons, from employees to higher-ups, providing a positive environment to voice concerns and help circulate important questions can be key.

Furthermore, lack of leadership and ownership of the CRM can be a problem and may need to be addressed. Leadership adoption, especially executive adoption, is necessary. For example, ensuring that your sales executives have the necessary tools (i.e., dashboards, reports, etc.) to successfully manage their sales teams and provide training is highly recommended. If not, there will be a discrepancy in strategy that may ultimately hurt your business.

3. Implement Strategy
Clear goals and direction are vital for CRM implementation and adoption. Clearly define what you want to achieve with CRM and make sure to create a strategy on how to accomplish these goals. Also, remind users and keep them engaged by communicating your strategy regularly throughout the use of CRM. This can double as a roadmap or a routine guide for reference.

Have a plan in place to measure adoption instead of just assuming which users are and aren’t adjusting properly. This way, you can accurately assess pain points. Sometimes poor ROI is confused with poor adoption. Implementing organizational change management at the onset of a CRM implementation may help reduce the negative emotions around the technical changes in an organization.

4. Training
Training is key to successful user adoption. As stated earlier, involve the users at the onset of the CRM implementation and throughout, to ensure all of the features and functionalities work properly. In addition, create a team of power users to perform User Acceptance Testing periodically – not only will you receive instant feedback on how well the CRM works (or not), you’ll also achieve a jump start on training and forming a group of users that can become SME’s at the time of rollout.

For best results, consider the venue, a specific training environment and most importantly, make sure the data is as accurate as can be:

• Offer hands on sessions or webinars – offer several times and dates.
• Create 3-4-minute videos and have them available.
• Provide a Reference Guide.

Training Environment
• Provide an environment that mirrors what the user will see in production.
• Create relevant data needed to perform exercises that match features and functionality.

It is very important that the data is represented accurately in CRM. The first thing users see is their data and if it is incorrect, you may have already lost their attention in regards to the features and functionality, because they are focused on how and why their data is wrong.

Also, create a short survey regarding the sessions to ensure you are meeting the users’ needs.

For instance, demonstrate how your employees will be the beneficiaries of the CRM. How will it get work done for them in a more efficient manner and increase return on investment? CRM automates tasks such as sending reports, invoices, aggregating contacts, allowing visibility of valuable customer information and making it shareable between teams. If your employees are aware of these things, I bet they will be interested in learning more.

Lastly, gamification is an excellent way to enhance excitement around training. When there is competition involved in a CRM adoption, your employees won’t even realize they’re at work! Gamification is a great way to break employees into small teams and facilitate group learning.

Final Thoughts
No CRM adoption will be seamless. It requires heavy-duty planning, devotion, and engagement at all levels of any organization. If you factor in those aspects ahead of time, your CRM will be off to the races!

Kjell Kahlenberg
As Director of Customer Engagement Solutions of Indusa, Kjell is a subject matter expert on Microsoft Dynamics CRM with deep experience across sales, customer care, and marketing disciplines. He has led large enterprise CRM deployments across various industries and business models. Kjell focuses on solution advisory, consulting, architecting, project and program governance, and overall customer engagement.


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