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4 min read

How to maximise user adoption when implementing a new CRM

The last thing your business needs is to have spent money on a shiny new CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, only for it not to be used. With data from LinkedIn (2020) stating that 97% of sales professionals consider a CRM ‘important’ or ‘very important’, the advantages of a CRM are no secret.

From facilitating the creation, delivery and tracking of sales and marketing activity, to providing data for monitoring performance and aiding continuous improvement, the most successful businesses will undoubtedly have a CRM at their heart.  

Despite the obvious value of a CRM, though, a common problem remains getting teams to use it, meaning that often, the full impact of your tech is never realised. That’s because many organisations overlook the importance of CRM implementation.

Far more than simply introducing a new piece of technology into your business, the successful launch, acceptance, and optimisation of a CRM is a long-term, continual process which aligns closely with change management and digital transformation.

It’s about looking at the bigger picture, and beyond just rolling out new tech. Here, we’ll explore ways in which you can use digital transformation best practices to ensure your CRM’s used across your entire organisation.


It all starts with company culture

Getting people on board with anything in your business, must start with a great company culture. Does everyone understand your ethos? Is everyone enthused about where you’re going? Do they understand how they can contribute to your company’s success? And are they ambassadors of your brand who enjoy being part of your workplace?

A large barrier to user adoption with any new technology, or even a new process, is a lack of employee engagement. When individuals feel part of a team and that they’re actively contributing to a shared set of goals, they’re more likely demonstrate greater commitment; and that includes the fostering of systems and processes. 

Considering CRM user adoption as a change management scenario (and remembering that most people aren’t keen on change) provides you with a great opportunity to revisit your culture. Once you’ve got that right, bringing people along for the journey is much easier than simply insisting people use a new system.


Always put strategy first

Launching or upgrading a CRM should be done in line with your overall business strategy. Analysing your business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risks is a great first step to identifying growth prospects, new markets, products, or services. Once you’re sure of where you’re headed and have set objectives for how you’ll get there, you’re ready to look at how technology can help.

Linked closely to company culture is the importance of communicating this strategy. That doesn’t mean a company update to coincide only with the implementation of a CRM, but ongoing and regular communication with everyone in every department.

Building an understanding, and some excitement, around what you’re hoping to achieve is a sure-fire way of encouraging CRM user adoption. When people understand the importance of having everything in one place for monitoring and measuring progress, the more likely they are to want to actively contribute. That’s why it’s crucial that the benefits of your new tech - from making their lives easier, to saving them time and increasing productivity - are communicated regularly.

Make sure you share your ‘why’, your ‘how’ and your ‘what’ to staff. Provide frequent strategic updates and reiterate the important role your CRM will play in you achieving united success.


Encouraging user adoption through standardising processes

Once you’ve defined your strategy, look at standardisation. Unifying processes and laying out standard best practices and procedures will really help in getting people to use your CRM. Highlighting this benefit is one of the best ways to encourage user adoption and linking back to culture and strategy, standardising processes can promote team spirit and a feeling of everyone working towards shared goals.

Having a set of standard process promotes efficiency in a business. It encourages collaboration, communication, and transparency, and means that data is better quality, analysis more accurate and reporting, more valuable.

Standardisation further equates to greater productivity. Information can be accessed quicker, and with everyone trained in one, consistent way of carrying out a task, there’s less room for error and more people are able to pick up responsibilities should a team member be absent or move on.

To ensure people using your CRM, make standardisation part of your overall business philosophy. If having routine ways of doing things is common across all areas of your business, then it won’t feel alien when employees are asked to use your CRM.


Getting the best CRM for you

Once you’re happy you’ve a robust culture, strategy, and processes to underpin technology, then it’s time to look at your CRM.

When it comes to choices, there’s no one-size-fits all and it’s vital to find a system that’s suitable for your organisation. You want a CRM that integrates seamlessly with your processes. It needs to work for your users and if it doesn’t, they’re not going to be optimistic about logging into it each day.

When a CRM isn’t fit for a business, users will opt to go back to more manual ways of recording things. They’ll revert to using spreadsheets, email addresses accessed only by them, and more manual methods, rather than logging information centrally for everyone to view and access.                                                                                             

It’s equally as important to ensure your CRM’s fit for the individuals using it. The aim of technology is to make things simpler, so be sure you fully understand what different roles involve and aren’t implementing a system that makes processes more difficult than they should be.

Most CRMs can be configured to the needs of a specific business and its so it’s worth talking to your provider about ways to configure your system, so it feels tailor-made.


Onboard and train your CRM users

One of the most obvious ways to encourage user adoption of your CRM is to train your teams. But offering a one-off training session and expecting everyone to ‘roll with it’ isn’t conducive to success.

Instead, we advise ongoing, tailored developmental sessions that suit the individual needs of your users. Consider having a keen departmental ‘champion’ who can be trained up first and can instil their enthusiasm for the system and its benefits onto others - not just during implementation but consistently going forwards.

It’s best to offer user-specific insights that will demonstrate to individuals how their role will be improved. Think of training sessions as not only a way to improve users’ knowledge, but as a means of promoting your system and creating excitement around it too.

Change, including the introduction of new tools and ways of working, is daunting for lots of people. If leaders are understanding and empathetic of that, then uptake of your system will be greater.


Incentives can help

While incentives are unlikely to work on their own, when put in place as part of a wider plan to improve user adoption, they can be useful.

Reward those who use your CRM consistently. Consider running competitions based on metrics pulled from your database and remind staff that inputting their data will contribute to the overall statistics for their individual or team performance. 

Refresh knowhow with formal training sessions that result in professional certifications. Or, use your CRM ‘champions’ as mentors who can provide continuous development opportunities.

As HubSpot Solutions partners, we understand that user adoption can be a huge barrier to achieving your business goals and revenue growth. The use of your CRM can’t be optional but it’s important get employees onside through looking at your overall business methodology, rather than CRM usage in isolation. Tackle user adoption in the same way you would any other digital transformation, and don’t hesitate to get in touch for further advice.


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