Since April 1999, I have been involved with CRM implementations. As I reflect on what’s changed over the years, the reason for success or failure has shifted.
Back in the day, databases had to be synced back and forth. That was a fragile process, which has now been virtually eliminated with the advent of web-based CRMs, such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365. We now have real-time access to our accounts, contacts, opportunities, and activities. Formerly, 70% of failed CRM implementations were attributed to technical and accessibility issues. Thankfully, that is rarely a concern these days.
Even though technical issues have largely been resolved, some CRM implementations continue to fail. Why? The number one reason for failure is low CRM adoption.
As we think about adoption, there are two target customer groups within an organization: individual contributors (let’s call them “users”) and managers.
Users perceive CRM as a productivity tool. They want to get their jobs done better, faster, smarter. They will use CRM if they see how it benefits them and their success. If the tool helps them meet or exceed their targets, they are “all in”. If not, they will find a better way to get their jobs done.
Managers perceive CRM as a decision-making tool. They want to see how business is being conducted, so they can provide individual contributors with guidance and support along the way and ultimately make better decisions. The CRM may highlight the need for more training, for additional team members, or improved processes.
Successful CRMs often have a partner acting like a coach for both users and managers. The coach can highlight best practices and can help avoid pitfalls. And just like a sport coach, a CRM coach doesn’t expect a user or manager to be an expert in just a day or two. An expert coach will take a methodical approach starting with small steps that lead to bigger goals and accomplishments.
The role of your CRM partner is vital and, like the best coaches, will have an implementation methodology and rigorous process. They will not cut corners, because they have a proven process that works. Here at TopLine, we largely use an agile methodology, which calls for short projects (“sprints”) to get something completed, then we check with the client to make sure we are on track. We repeat this process several times until the larger project is completed. We also draw on the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology for continuous improvement. (DMAIC = Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control.)
Defining success criteria for both users and managers and then delivering a system that meets those criteria is what will enable strong adoption for your CRM. If you are having adoption challenges, perhaps you need to take a step back and look at your process and/or your success criteria. Your CRM is too important to settle for less than expected. You and your team deserve the right tools for both productivity and decision-making.
We’d love to help you improve your CRM adoption (and your CRM ROI)! Give us a call at 1-800-880-1960 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Failure is preventable! Adoption is achievable. Don’t settle for less!