‌‌Source: Preact 

Are you truly getting value from your CRM? Are your reps actually using it?

Imagine, you selected a great CRM that checked all the boxes for what your sales team needs, and you’ve taken the necessary steps for a successful CRM implementation. After implementation, you may have even noticed a feeling of excitement about the new CRM from your reps. But, when checking in a few weeks later, you discover that few of them are actually fully using the CRM or its sales enablement features.

This may look like a familiar scenario to you right now. According to a Merkle Group Inc. survey, 63% of CRM initiatives fail in large organizations. The missing link here is a focus on the next steps after implementation. Implementing a CRM system in your business does not always equal a success story.

One of the keys to unlocking success is following up CRM implementation with strategies to increase CRM adoption.

In this article, we’ll break down exactly what CRM adoption is, the reasons it often fails, and how can you motivate your field reps to embrace change and foster excitement about a new CRM.



What Is CRM Adoption?



The term “CRM adoption” refers to a CRM’s end users, usually the sales reps, actually using the platform. In many cases, this is expressed in a percentage. Ideally, you want your team’s CRM adoption to be at 100%.

Essentially, CRM adoption is an adoption of an entirely new way of thinking that brings data into one centralized database and puts the customer at the heart of the business. This strategic business approach unites technology with internal sales processes, your teams, and data management across your entire organization. Thus enabling your team to more effectively attract and keep customers.

But, low CRM adoption will quickly lead to more inefficiency in the entire business process. Profits can disintegrate and in the long term, a business can even turn unviable.


Why CRM Adoption Often Fails





Getting your sales reps to adopt a new CRM is not easy. Whether they’re concerned about the learning curve, don’t know how to use it, or just plain don’t like change, many hurdles can stop your reps from embracing your new technology.

Only 40% of businesses claim a 90% CRM adoption rate, according to CSO Insights, while the majority of companies struggle to encourage adoption of the system. You, of course, want to be in that 40%.

If you understand why exactly this happens, you can start to shift the scenario involving your CRM to one of success versus failure.  Here are a few of the top reasons that often cause CRM adoptions to fall short:


Wrong CRM for YOUR Business


Of course, implementing a new CRM is going to cause a degree of disruption. In the best-case scenario, this will only be a very brief and temporary disruption as the CRM is effectively implemented, and using it quickly becomes a normal part of the day.

But, many failed CRM implementation projects are because the new CRM is great in theory, with all its fancy features, but it’s not a great fit for the business or the people who will be using it the most - your sales reps.

The important thing to understand here is that your new CRM should not force you to entirely change your business or sales processes to suit your software. It should be the other way around. The CRM should be the perfect fit for your business and your sales team’s needs.


Viewing the CRM as Only a Technology Solution



The easier it is for your sales reps to see that the CRM helps them create and foster customer relationships more effectively, the easier it will be for them to understand the value of using it.

Viewing and approaching the CRM as just a software solution is one of the most common reasons CRM adoption fails. Customer relationship management is an ongoing process that enables an organization to stay focused on its customers and their mutual, beneficial needs.

You and your team have to view the CRM as the powerful customer solution that it is, not just another technology solution that is added to the mix.

Your CRM needs to be made a company-wide initiative that focuses on and starts with customer approaches which are then automated with software applications. You simply can’t just focus on the software and then ignore the rest.


Increased Manual Data Entry



Source: SalesFuel




In many cases, when a new CRM is being implemented there will be some data entry and cleanup that will be needed to get everything set up. But, if the need for increased manual data entry continues for too long and your reps have not yet bought into the value of the CRM, adoption can start to plummet quickly.

According to HubSpot, manual data entry is at the top of the list for CRM adoption challenges. More likely than not, your reps already battle a good amount of administrative work that takes away from their selling time.

You do not want to add a situation with a new CRM where it complicates their day and does not provide the value you are trying to get out of it.


Lack of Ongoing Training and Support



Launching a new CRM is not a set it and forget it situation. A lack of ongoing training and available support after the initial CRM implementation is one of the leading reasons for failed adoption.

Forcing your team to start using a new software program and then expecting them all to be thriving in it without proper training is unrealistic.

Ideally, you want to have built-in support, user-guides, and/or training within the CRM itself. Then, users can get the assistance they need in that moment as they get used to the new system. Make the effort to do what you can on your end as well to make CRM support as accessible as possible.



Benefits of CRM Adoption



As you probably know, your CRM system can help you and your team organize data, synchronize efforts, and automate sales processes. This will empower your team to find and secure new customers, as well as retain existing ones.

So, when you can optimize CRM adoption, you and your business will see some significant benefits. These include:

  • Improved productivity: With high CRM adoption, the sales processes will be streamlined, more efficient, and more productive across the whole team and result in fewer disconnects.
  • Stronger customer relationships: Using the CRM will allow your reps more time to spend with customers, further strengthening relationships.
  • Cost reduction: CRMs provide an on-demand solution that reduces errors and time wasted, resulting in cost savings in time spent fixing errors and manual administrative work.
  • Improved communication: Successful CRM adoption across sales teams results in more effective and efficient communication between team members throughout the sales process.
  • Increased customer satisfaction: Through CRM adoption, your sales team can more effectively gather and act on customer feedback and provide more tailored solutions, significantly improving customer satisfaction.



Tips to Drive CRM Adoption


1. Your CRM Should Work for Your Team



Many times, leaders will find that sales reps resist adopting a new CRM because of bad experiences in the past—either with the technology or with the transition.

To help curtail this problem and boost CRM adoption rates within your sales reps, you need to start thinking strategically at the very beginning: when choosing your CRM.

Not all CRMs are created equal. And, the fact of the matter is, the quality and fit of the CRM affects adoption rates. Your reps are more likely to take advantage of technology that’s easy to use.



Ensure your CRM is Mobile-Friendly


The most important way to get your field reps to use CRM is by getting a CRM that works for them, even out in the field.

Sales reps only spend 36.6% of their time selling on average. They don’t want to waste any more time on technology that keeps them at their desk when they could be out making sales.

The right CRM will allow your field reps to stay out in the field and work from wherever they are. They can enter the information on their mobile device so that it shares across all their devices on the cloud. They’ll be more likely to use it if they don’t lose valuable time in the office when they could be in the field making sales.


Opt for an Industry-Specific CRM



Not every industry will have a top-notch CRM custom-made for its sales reps. However, many large industries do. For example, there are several great options for Healthcare CRMs.

Consider starting your search for the perfect CRM by running a simple Google search “top CRM for [your industry].” A CRM built specifically for your industry has a much higher chance of being a good fit for your team.


Your CRM Should Be Compatible With Your Other Technology


If you aren’t planning to completely quit all your other technology, be sure that the CRM you choose has integrations with your other software.

For example, many CRMs will have integrations for lead enrichment or lead generation applications. If your team has had a lot of success with a particular application, be sure to choose a compatible CRM.

It’s important to consider how the CRM will affect your reps’ workflow. If they have to enter a bunch of redundant information in separate applications, you might want to look at other options.

Source: HubSpot




2. Familiarize Yourself With the Psychology of Change



Leaders will quickly discover that the primary struggle with getting sales reps to adopt a new CRM isn’t the learning curve itself—it’s resistance to change. So, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the psychology behind change to help ease the transition.

It’s human nature to resist change. And you are asking your reps to make a big change in their habits and day-to-day activities. This is important to acknowledge!

But, in the modern era, the familiar means death for a business. Not only has the world changed at a rapid pace, but the explosion in technology will only bring an even faster change of pace.

That’s why a survey of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies found that 94% believed that their companies would change more in the next five years than the previous five years.

How do you mesh the natural resistance to change with running a successful business, especially using CRM?


3. Make a 30-60-90 CRM Adoption Plan



A timeline and clear progression can help get everyone on board with the process, even if they are initially resistant to change. Let your reps know what is coming so that it’s not a surprise.

It’s most efficient to implement a CRM during a slower time, like the beginning of a month or quarter. Besides the time training will take, reps will likely take longer in the beginning as they learn to navigate and input into CRM. A low-pressure sales time allows your reps to concentrate on learning their CRM rather than worrying about missing out on valuable time selling.

To help you plan the gradual rollout, consider implementing a 30-60-90 plan. If you’re unfamiliar, 30-60-90 plans set distinct action items and goals for the 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day marks after something new is introduced into a system (be it a new rep or a new CRM!).

Also, once your CRM is up and running, make sure to introduce new employees to your CRM during their onboarding period. By the time they start selling, they should have all the training that they need and understand how to use it.


4. Anticipate (and Accept) Hiccups or Roadblocks



It's nearly impossible for everyone to be on board overnight. Reps can struggle to understand and adopt the new technology. So, how can you help get them over the hurdles?



Source: Salesforce




First, put all of your sales training to good use to sell your team on a new CRM. Concentrate on the features that will benefit them. Get specific in how CRM helps them make more sales, sell better, and maximize their time.

Some benefits of using a CRM include:

  • Logging interactions for reps without needing to enter them manually.
  • Sharing client information across all software, so they can access information wherever they need it.
  • Providing statistics on call activities, sales forecasts, etc so they can get a better idea of how they’re doing.
  • Receiving reminders for sales cadence that include the client information so that they can contact their clients at the right time.

You can pick a few features that are most critical to your business to get your reps started. Once they've adjusted, you can add more features incrementally.

This way, they can avoid feeling overwhelmed and feel more comfortable with the changes.


5. Keep the Transition Period Positive



World-renown psychologist and researcher B.F. Skinner discovered that positive reinforcement was the most effective way to elicit the desired behavior. Punishment, on the other hand, was not effective and didn’t work in the long run.

When it comes to CRM adoption, avoid using the stick in favor of the carrot approach. Not only will it make adoption that much easier, but it also creates a more positive company culture. Punishment could potentially isolate your team and lead to a negative work environment.

You might want to consider running contests at the beginning that directly tie into CRM use. Reward reps who logged all of their deals into CRM, for example. Make a contest to see who has the most actions taken through their CRM (such as recorded phone calls, meetings, etc.).

Although you want to avoid punishment as much as possible, you can’t make any exceptions in adopting the new CRM. Top performers will likely be harder to convert because they already have a system that works for them. But, either way, you want to make the change the status quo.



6. Get Feedback From Your Reps



Once your CRM is off and rolling, make sure to check back in with your team to make sure that everything is running smoothly. Feedback is the perfect opportunity for you to reinforce CRM use.

No one likes being forced to work with something that they struggle to use — feeling heard is a significant part of creating an inclusive culture. Collect feedback from your reps to see both where they struggle and how your CRM is contributing to their success.



Source: The Brooks Group




If multiple field reps are reporting the same problem or issue, it's worth investigating. Contact a representative from the CRM company to get answers on why they may be having a problem and the best way to solve it. By listening and getting back to them, you let your reps know that you care about their concerns and will find solutions for them.

Likewise, when a rep has success with your CRM, be sure to pay attention. Tell others about the achievements of your CRM to encourage them.

Use feedback, both constructive and positive, as a chance to get continued buy-in from your reps. It will help them to see how useful it is for business.



Optimizing Your Team’s CRM Adoption Is Possible



At the end of the day, a solid CRM can enable your team to run a better business. Unfortunately, investment in a CRM alone doesn’t equal broad user adoption. It can be tricky to get field reps to use a new CRM.

However, by having an understanding of why this happens, along with the right CRM, training, positive reinforcement, and feedback, you can get the buy-in you need to make it successful.

Analyze exactly why your CRM adoption might be struggling and utilize the steps we covered above to optimize it!