The advantages of having a CRM are undeniable. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is capable of organizing loads of customer data, shortens the sales process, and drives productivity and sales up the roof. However, without a proper strategy, it can be very easy to fail. Nobody wants that, yet CRM adoption success rates are still very low. A survey by Merkle Inc. shows that 63% of CRM projects fail. The main difference between those who succeed and those who fail, is the presence of a solid CRM adoption strategy.
Each company may be different, but the most common fundamentals in successfully adopting a CRM remain. Here are a few guidelines to help you and your company create this solid strategy.
Transparency and Communication
A good CRM adoption strategy starts with good communication. There are many stakeholders in adopting a CRM program: we have the executives, the end-users, CRM developers, and even the CRM trainers. They are all part of the process, thus, having a successful CRM project requires a team effort. To achieve this the following need to be communicated to the entire team:
- Why your company needs to start using a CRM program
- How the CRM will fill in gaps and help improve the company
- What having a CRM will demand from each person
- The SMART(Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realisable, Time-bound) goals that your company is aiming for in using CRM
Make sure it is clear to everyone why the company is making the shift, as well as how it will happen. Before you decide to purchase a CRM(or even before you consider that your company needs one), ask your employees first. Communicate with them. Do they need this software? Do they have any current difficulties? What are their suggestions to improve the existing workflow? Involving others in the company is part of communication, which leads to the next guideline:
As the primary adopters of the CRM, your users ought to be involved from the start. Let them know that their input is valued and that you’re not just ordering them to use new, unfamiliar software, to make their lives miserable. Users, and other stakeholders, will value the success of something that they feel they are involved in. They become invested. It raises their team spirit and it’s not just about following what the higher-ups said, it’s about making this a success together. Actively involving users in the decision-making processes, like choosing the right service, picking out needed features, and even using the CRM and giving feedback, etc. is a sure way to increase user adoption.
Lead by Example
The CEO and chairman of Merkle, Inc., David Williams, once said:
The most significant CRM initiatives are driven from the top, and this report will serve as a powerful reference guide for senior executives looking to get closer to their customers and achieve superior results.
CRM is not only for the average office employee, they are also for the executives, the managers, the supervisors, and anyone with significant authority. For it to truly become beneficial and produce results, it has to be used and adopted by the leaders as well.
First of all, CRM is not only a customer and lead management tool, it is also a database. A place to store all your customer’s information, including contacts, leads, and sales analytics. Imagine a user diligently trying to adopt the CRM program, only for their boss to ask for another contact list on a spreadsheet or a sales forecast on a word file? It beats the purpose of using the said CRM, demotivating the user to try in the first place.
Secondly, when leaders try to use and adopt the new software, it communicates to the company’s users that CRM is important enough that even the higher-ups are using them. Besides, it won’t hurt to learn the workings of CRM, as it can benefit almost everyone in the company, from taking notes and automating emails, to having better sales data.
Conduct Regular Training
In the CRM implementation stage, and even after, training is very important. No matter how techy your users or your company may seem, it will still be best for them to be trained and to understand the features, controls, and how to use the CRM software in general.
Set a schedule for training. This can be through a webinar, a live seminar, or through small team meetings. Have longer, and more frequent training sessions during the start. The beginning stages will be hard as people are resistant to change after all. Once the users have slowly warmed up to using the CRM, you can opt for less frequent sessions.
However, it is still important to continue training even if your company has been fully adopted. You want to make sure that the users are always fully equipped with knowledge of the latest features. These touch-up training sessions can be done quarterly, or even annually, depending on the need.
Another tip is to avail of any free CRM training materials. Some CRM providers offer free training guides, so make sure to take advantage of those. You can also opt to hire or outsource training to a CRM expert, this can be external, or someone from the CRM provider you are currently subscribed to.
Ensure the CRM’s Ease of Use
One of the biggest barriers to CRM adoption is the CRM’s ease of use. A study found that among users, 65% consider ”ease of use” to be a top priority in choosing a CRM service. It tells us that, to increase the rate of adoption, we need to make it easier for users to utilize the software.
One way to make it easier for users is to choose a CRM with simple, user-friendly features. One important feature nowadays is mobility. Choose a CRM with a mobile phone integration. With this, your users can access the CRM program using their mobile phones.
Another way to make it highly adoptable is by reducing manual data entry. Users don’t want to get caught up in administrative tasks such as these. With tons of data, it takes time and effort that should’ve been spent doing real productive work. The best way to eliminate manual data entry is by subscribing to a Voice to CRM solution. Users don’t have to navigate through tabs and menus, all they have to do is speak, and the data is entered, right where you need it. It automates the time-consuming task of typing etc. After all, speaking is faster and easier than typing.
Always remember that the goal here is to make it easier for your company, and therefore, your users, to adopt the CRM software, encourage them to make it a part of their daily workflow.