Few businesses would argue the value of a good CRM solution anymore.  But adoption remains a significant challenge.  Our own research shows that 40 percent or more of organizations continue to struggle with getting their teams to adopt CRM.  So here are 20 ideas to consider to help drive the adoption of CRM within your organization.

Our experience is that both a carrot and a stick are necessary in order to get strong CRM adoption.  In fact, carrots and sticks aren’t enough.  Who came up with that whole “carrot and stick” thing anyway?  Would you really change your behavior for a carrot or a stick?  That’s like saying, “do something you don’t want to do and you’ll earn yourself some celery,” or, “if you don’t do this, then I’ll hit you with a twig.”  Seriously?  Maybe a better metaphor would be that you should use both a puppy and a bullwhip.  Now that’s motivating. Being big fans of puppies, we’ve prioritized the list below with the puppies first and the bullwhips at the end. 

It goes without saying that you should work with a good partner to tailor your CRM solution to work the way your business does and to be easy for your users – so with that as a given, here are some less obvious adoption options to consider …

1. Integrate CRM with Internal Data

Make your CRM solution the only solution that your team needs to use by putting all of the information from other internal systems that they need (such as accounting, shipping, etc) into it.

2. Integrate CRM with External Data

There is a wealth of data out there that can make your team smarter and more efficient.  InsideView is probably the best solution currently available for integrated lead generation and data enrichment.  Data.com (from Salesforce) and BroadLook are also strong options. Stay tuned - more on this specifically in an upcoming entry.

3. Ensure Data is High Quality

Nothing is more frustrating than for someone to spend time in CRM only to find out that they have to go somewhere else to verify that they are working with good data.  Options 1 and 2 are good starting points for delivering good data.  But don’t stop there, keeping data clean is an ongoing process.

4. CRM: It’s Not Just for Sales Anymore

The more people that use CRM … the more people will want to use CRM.  As sales, management, marketing, customer service and other groups start to use the system then it will become a hub for collaborating around customer and prospect relationships.

5. Get Marketing to Put Really Good Leads Into CRM

Yes, this is much easier said than done.  But if word gets out that CRM is the only place to get those good leads, then those highly competitive sales reps are going to make a point of getting in there to find those leads.

6. Migrate a Critical Process into CRM

Want to get a guaranteed 100% adoption of at least one part of CRM within 1 week?  Simple.  Put expense reporting into CRM.  I guarantee that every person that has to submit an expense will use CRM.  And, by learning this one process, they will be learning many of the fundamentals of using your CRM system!

7. Start with Early Adopters

Some teams tend to manage change faster than others.  Inside Sales tends to adopt faster than Outside Sales.  Marketing tends to adopt faster than Inside Sales.  Service and Call Center tend to adopt faster than Marketing.  And some individual sales teams will adopt faster than others.  So figure out who will go furthest the fastest and start with them.

8. Consider Your Admins

Businesses tend to think that CRM is all about the sales, service or marketing teams.  But they sometimes forget that the administrators within those departments (and within management) often have a much better idea of how the business actually runs than do the individuals on those teams.  You know who I’m talking about!  These administrative people might actually be a more important first set of adopters than anyone else.

9. Make it Fun

CRM systems can keep “score” of adoption.  You can award points for things like creating records, updating contacts, sharing social posts and so forth.  Recognize your best users in team meetings with special awards (we like to call these CReMmies – but that’s just us).  In fact, there is a whole new word that has been created that describes making business technology fun: it’s called “gamification.”  Game on!

10. Assign Power Users for Support, Training and Mentoring

Make sure that the folks who will be using CRM have plenty of support nearby.  If they have to call IT every time they have a question, they’ll likely just give up at some point.  Having a “champion” or “power user” within their group is a huge help.  No one will know their processes like someone right on their own team.  Make a point of identifying these folks and giving them a special level of training and support – even put them into a special “user group” that meets periodically to cross-train each other.

11. Train, Train and then do Some More Training

“Modern systems should be so intuitive to operate that no training is required.”  Heard that before?  Well it’s bologna.  A CRM solution is a toolbox and it is made for highly skilled craftsmen (or maybe craftspeople) to deliver results.  And it’s a big toolbox.  Sure, there are a few tools in there that will be very intuitive.  But there will be many that take some training.  And not all of them can be learned all at once – it’ll take time.  And new ones are being introduced all the time.  If you don’t want to train your team to use CRM, then save yourself a lot of money and give them Microsoft Outlook and an iPad and settle for average performance.  If you want a high performance team, invest in planning and implementing a tailored CRM solution and in plenty of training.

12. Give the People What They Want

With all of the options available for accessing CRM solutions today, there is no excuse for not giving it to people how they want it.  On their desktop.  In their browser.  On their phone or tablet.  Integrated with Microsoft Outlook. Anywhere, anytime, any device.

13. Listen and Improve

Why did you invest in a CRM solution?  So you can better listen to your customers and prospects and improve how you market to, sell and serve them.  Do the same with the people who are using your CRM solution – listen to them and make their lives better.  And never stop listening.  Nothing changes faster than your customers – so you should expect your CRM solution to be the fastest changing system that your organization supports.

14. Answer Questions with Links

When someone asks a question that they should asked the CRM system, then answer them with a link.  Here, I’ll start the email for you, “Great question [name].  We actually track that information in our CRM system.  Here is a link to the that answers that question: [copy/paste URL here].”  After a few hundred emails with links in them, it will start to dawn on some of your slow adopters that they might be able to get that answer themselves!  For those who are particularly slow, you can attach the email you sent before, “[Name] – you can still go to the same link I sent you last week to answer that question.  I’m attaching the previous email.  Feel free to add it to your shortcuts in your browser.”

Notice the subtle transition from puppy dog to bullwhip right in a single option.  Pretty slick eh?

15. Use CRM to Run Your Meetings

If your Sales/Service/Marketing Managers use CRM to run their meetings, your teams will quickly make sure that they update their habits to be sure that the things important to them are in CRM.  The mantra should be, “if it’s not in CRM, it didn’t happen.”  Next time someone tries to introduce a new topic (a deal they’re working, a call that got sideways, a pending event) in a meeting, tell them you’re not talking about it because if it wasn’t important enough to put it into CRM, then it’s not worth your time.

16. Track Usage – Publicly

No one likes to see their name at the bottom of the list.  For those who are holding out on adopting CRM, show some dashboards to the whole team that sorts everyone from high to low in terms of their usage of CRM.  Most of the stragglers will at least figure out how to do the bare minimum to get their names off of the naughty list … and that’s a start!

17. Tie Compensation to Usage

Yikes!  But it can work.  Create a model where your employees must log all time entries, billable hours, PTO, etc. in your CRM in order to get paid correctly and on time.

18. Tie Your CFO Reports to CRM

If your Chief Financial Officer starts to look to the CRM pipeline for an accurate forecast (rather than just adding 20% to last year’s results), guess what will happen?  Your CFO will start putting pressure on your head of sales to have that pipeline up to date and accurate in CRM each month.  Then guess what?  DING DING DING – that’s right – your Sales Director will put pressure on her managers to get their teams to keep their pipelines up to date.  And, before you know it, everyone has their opportunities updated in CRM.  And if a Sales Rep is not putting accurate information into CRM, guess who will know?  Give up?  The CFO!

19. Fire Someone

No one is supposed to put something that negative into a blog are they?  And would this really work?  Sure it does.  And you have to be bold to do it because, guess what?  The worst hold-out for using CRM is almost always one of your top performers.  But a pretty good body of research shows that collaborating through a CRM solution will deliver results.  And as long as one person gets to be exempt, then there will always be problems with others and the whole idea of collaboration will fall apart.

20. What’s Your Idea?

I’m all out of ideas.  I just couldn’t finish a blog with an odd number of ideas.  I also couldn’t bear to finish with something as negative as “fire someone” as the last item.  So you provide idea #20 – give it a shot in the comments below and make it a puppy – not a bullwhip!

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