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CRM user adoption: Why it's important to get your employees on board

Guest Post by Doug Haines of DiscoverCRM. 

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Ensuring that employees adopt a new CRM is notoriously challenging so being aware of some common problems will ensure a smooth process. There is a long list of reasons for employee adoption issues. Here are four of the most common issues and underneath a few tips on how to avoid them.

  • Poor training

  • Lost data

  • Loss of control

  • Loss of efficiency

Poor training

Obviously, employees need to be trained in how to use the system. However, this part is nearly always rolled out badly. Getting the right information to the right people means that you will likely need a tailored training programme. For example, a head of sales will need to know different features to a sales executive; the head of sales will need a dashboard view of the sales team whereas the executive is more likely to need actions and a view of their pipeline, so this level of differentiation needs to be built into the training.

The amount of training also needs to be the right amount and delivered engagingly. It’s often left to line managers to dispense the details. This is often done informally and haphazardly.

So alongside a tailored programme you should dedicate some focussed calendar time to this training and find someone who can deliver it in the best way. I’ve had mixed results with training companies; they’re often expensive, but if you have the budget it can work well. Private trainers tend to be cheaper than hiring from the company who provided the CRM but are variable in quality.

Lost data

Whether the data has come from a Google doc, another CRM or paper there is a good chance that some important data may get lost along the way. There are a few ways to minimize this risk. The most common data that is lost is history because this is notoriously difficult to port across, without this data it can be hard to understand the background to an account.

Firstly, have a period when the old data is kept so employees can relax that it exists in the old format, then, ideally keep this indefinitely – it’s surprising what can crop up years later where you need an old contract from your last CRM. I had a client who had an issue with a referral percentage on a contract from seven years ago, having the data available saved them $25,000 . Secondly, you need to do some centralized testing and also give staff a period of testing in the new CRM to check that the data is all there. Build out a testing programme and ask employees to follow it and report back.

Loss of control

Employees who live in a CRM will often become attached to its nuances and derive a lot of pride from being able to use it well. If you change this, there can be a real feeling of losing control. Some employees will have been using a particular CRM for years and feel completely at home using it – think how frustrated people get when Facebook change a feature.  For people who are ingrained in the process of using their CRM, changing can be even more profound.

This is a difficult point to address, but you can mitigate the negative feelings by giving really clear information on why the change is happening and a timeline for implementation. Also, if employees like certain aspects of the incumbent CRM it is worth investigating what they like about it. For example, employees often like the UX of the CRM, some old systems may look very 90s but are very usable; another benefit of old systems is they often do less but are also simpler to use.

Maybe if there is so much attachment for the incumbent CRM a change isn’t the best idea, although often people are just resistant because of the inconvenience a change brings.

Loss of efficiency

If the team isn’t able to get the data they need in a new CRM, it can cause serious disruptions. A sales team I was working with took over six months to get back to speed after changing CRM – the sales director thinks it cost them over £3m.

In consulting these key employees, you need to find out what is the most important data for them and ensure that this is prioritised in the new CRM. They need to know where to find that data and how it will be formatted. One technique that works is running the new CRM alongside the old system for a time and move over a few employees to test the new system and highlight confusing elements.

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Doug Haines writes for Discover CRM. He has had a wide range of experience both using and implementing CRM systems, and is experienced with Salesforce, RSS and Pipeline Deals to name a few.


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