The use of customer relationship management (CRM) software has steadily risen over the last few decades. Now we find ourselves in the CRM era, in which most companies are using a CRM solution to manage various parts of their business. However, the top challenge for companies using this software is CRM adoption.
The growth and importance of CRM software
In the early days of CRM software, most companies that used it were large, enterprise businesses. But as is the case with many types of software, over time it became more user-friendly and accessible by a larger audience. In fact, research by BuyereZone—reported by Econsultancy—indicates that 91% of companies with 11 or more employees now leverage CRM software to automate tasks, increase productivity, and drive business growth.
Here’s an easy comparison to help reinforce this point: Do you remember when Myspace came out? If you were in the loop, you might even remember its predecessor, Friendster. At the time, these social media sites were used mainly by young people.
Then Facebook arrived, spread across the globe, and 15 years later, my mother uses it more than I do. Adoption of social sites—much like CRM software—grew steadily to the point that now nearly everyone is using them.
CRM is now essential for business success
These days, it’s a challenge to be competitive in your respective space without the help of a CRM solution. Leveraging CRM and other software to streamline processes has become table stakes for companies that want to grow and remain profitable.
A CRM solution can increase productivity, align your teams, increase collaboration, and allow you to build longer-lasting relationships with your customers. However, the biggest challenge that companies face when leveraging this software is CRM adoption among employees.
Many companies purchase and implement a CRM solution, only to find that many employees are averse to using it. They have their established processes and forcing them to change those and adopt new practices can be an uphill struggle.
But, this does not have to be the case. By following a few tips and best practices, you can encourage employees to use your solution and significantly increase CRM adoption among your workforce. Below, we dig into these tips and tricks that will help you generate the greatest return on your CRM investment.
6 CRM adoption best practices
Change is difficult to stomach for many people. They are comfortable with their current process and carry the perspective that if it’s not broken, why fix it? That, however, misses the point. There may be nothing broken with your current process. But that doesn’t mean that it’s perfect and there’s no room for improvement.
In today’s fast-paced, super competitive business landscape, companies must keep an eye on constant improvement to remain competitive. Otherwise, they will be left in the dust of those that embrace emerging trends and best practices.
Here are six CRM adoption best practices that will increase usage and, through that, improve the results of your efforts and drive faster, more sustainable revenue growth.
1. Involve your employees in the planning process
If your employees feel involved from the beginning of your search for a CRM solution, they will feel more invested in the effort and will have a vested interest in successfully using the system. Making your CRM purchase decision a team effort will certainly increase CRM adoption rates.
Here are a few ways to accomplish this:
Survey your employees
Ask them which parts of their jobs are the most time-consuming. What could you automate for them to save them time to focus on more important tasks? If they are familiar with CRM software, ask them directly which functionality would help them the most to increase productivity and make their lives easier.
Gain feedback from everyone
Employees from nearly every team in your business will likely be using your CRM solution, so be sure to gain feedback from employees in marketing, sales, finance, customer support, etc. Then collate that feedback to start to form a clear picture of your teams’ needs.
Ask executives and key decision makers what they need
CRM software is incredibly useful for executives and directors. They aren’t using the system as heavily as other employees, but they do like to maintain constant insight into the results of every team’s efforts.
Dashboards with easy access to key CRM reporting and metrics enable them to constantly keep a finger on how the company is moving the dial. So, ask executives which metrics they need to see on a routine basis and ensure the system you choose provides those metrics.
2. Do your research before purchasing a solution
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of CRM software providers out there and selecting the right solution to meet your needs is incredibly important. Every business is unique and so are their business goals, use cases, and needs.
When researching your options and assessing the competition, ask yourself some important questions to inform your decision. These include, but are not limited to:
How user-friendly is the system?
Early CRM solutions were clunky, complicated to learn, and came with a steep learning curve. These early systems were not intuitive or user-friendly and required loads of training for users to master the system.
That has all changed. Many CRM solutions today can be learned easily and include drag and drop functionality that allows users who are not tech-savvy to come up to speed quickly. That is why it’s very important to select a solution that is intuitive and easy-to-use. The easier it is to learn new functions in the system quickly, the higher your CRM adoption rate will be.
Does it meet all your requirements?
During your planning process, you will have defined the specific requirements that your CRM solution should provide to meet your needs. Make a checklist of these and ensure that the system you select meets every requirement you have. If it doesn’t, there is certainly another provider whose software does.
What do other users say about your potential CRM?
Once you have a shortlist of options, take the time to read user reviews. G2 Crowd and Capterra are great sites on which to read user reviews. These reviews can be extremely helpful. For example, if users constantly complain about bugs or poor customer support, you’ll know to be wary of that particular solution.
How strong is their customer support presence?
Having access to world-class customer support is incredibly important, especially when implementing and learning a new CRM system. Ask the potential provider to explain their support process. Ask them if they provide customer support service level agreements which lay out the terms and conditions they must adhere to when it comes to support. If the provider doesn’t offer SLAs, you should look elsewhere. Learn more about service level agreements.
3. Look for a robust implementation and onboarding program
When implementing a new software system, you need assurance from your vendor that you will receive extensive training and onboarding for all employees. Those first few months represent the most critical time for your employees to latch onto the new system—or not.
Users need to feel comfortable from day one, and the quality of the onboarding program offered by your vendor will be a defining factor in overall CRM adoption rates. If you receive extensive training and personalized attention from your implementation and onboarding specialist, users will feel comfortable from the beginning.
If your onboarding specialist rushes through the process, users will easily get lost and give up on trying to learn the system. Learn what an effective CRM implementation and onboarding program should look like.
4. Ensure your team has mobile access
With so many employees working remotely and while on the move, selecting a CRM solution that provides mobile access is quite important. Mobile access allows users to work while on the go and never miss a beat.
5. Enforce required workflow steps
Incorporate required steps that users must do to complete certain tasks. Doing so means that users can’t compete required aspects of their jobs without completing these required steps, which increases CRM adoption rates.
For example, make certain fields required for a sales rep to enter a new opportunity or contact into the system. Requiring them to complete these steps will force them to use the system when they would otherwise skip these steps and stick to their traditional process.
6. Reward the most active users
There are many ways that you can monitor usage per user in your CRM solution. For sales reps, you can monitor the number of calls they log, the volume of leads they convert into prospects, and the accuracy of the data they enter.
CRM systems typically include project management capabilities, so you can monitor the percentage of assigned tasks they mark as complete and use that to measure their individual usage.
Then, you can offer awards to those who are most active in the system. That reward could be a bonus, a free day off, or anything else that you think will entice your users to dig in and use the system more frequently.
Taking this approach also adds an element of competition to the process, which is a great motivator in the workplace. Humans, by nature, typically enjoy competition and engaging in it motivates them to work harder and focus more on the results of their work.
Pro tip: When you announce your CRM usage competition, ensure that everyone understands the task at hand completely. Hold a new competition every month or quarter. And each time you reward a winner, be sure to communicate that to the entire company. This will motivate others to strive for that top position, as winning that reward will provide a sense of pride and recognition to the winner.
Customer relationship management software is here to stay. Competition is growing at a staggering rate, which is bringing prices down and increasing the quality of the solutions available to you.
Unlike the days of the past when only large enterprise companies could afford a CRM solution, smaller and growing businesses with limited resources can now acquire a CRM system for free.
Plus, with the arrival of the all-in-one CRM—which includes complete CRM capabilities, as well as sales enablement, marketing automation, and help desk modules in the same system—smaller businesses can manage nearly every business function from the same solution. This aligns your teams and allows everyone to work with the same data, as it’s all stored in one centralized database, which is updated in real-time for all to see.
Using CRM software has been shown to dramatically increase productivity across teams. CRM solutions automate loads of manual, time-consuming work so that your employees can focus more time and energy on higher-value tasks, such as forming strategy, measuring results, and nurturing customer relationships.
However, despite all the undeniable benefits you receive from leveraging a CRM solution, it’s imperative that the system is being used to the fullest of its capacity. Otherwise, you’ll waste time and resources, and actually reduce productivity. Your teams will work in silos rather than collaborating at a high level.
This is why CRM adoption is such a critical element of successful CRM usage.
It’s no secret that we are partial to Agile CRM and believe that it is a great fit for many businesses, being an all-in-one CRM. It’s a highly intuitive system, and users generally see high CRM adoption rates when using it.
In the words of one satisfied Agile CRM customer—Vanessa Pierre, owner of MVP Legal Solutions—who supports her clients that use Agile CRM, “We have seen 100% adoption of Agile CRM among our clients.” 100% CRM adoption rates are uncommon but certainly attainable. You can read Vanessa’s story here.
But, although we’re partial to our own solution, we don’t recommend that you jump head first into it without doing your homework and asking the important questions covered above. Each business is unique, with unique needs, and it’s super important that you take your time, don’t rush into any decision, and ensure that the CRM you select meets all your requirements.
If you follow the CRM adoption best practices listed above, you’ll be well equipped to identify the right CRM for your needs and maintain high levels of CRM adoption.
Do you have any additional tips for increasing CRM adoption rates among your workforce? Let us know about it in the comments section below!
Oh, and one quick note: for the record, I never used Myspace or Friendster—just saying!
Good luck, and feel free to ask any question you want in the comments section below—we’ll be happy to provide answers or guidance where needed.