5 Effective Strategies to Accelerate End-Users CRM Adoption

June 13, 2018 Gokul Suresh

Congrats on implementing your new CRM! 

That’s quite a feat, considering the months of toil and trouble, firstly for deciding on which CRM to use, then on planning out its feasibility, and then for implementing it for your team diligently.

I am sure warming all your team to the BIG CHANGE was not that easy either. Also, that you are trying your best to tolerate the consistent bickering about how the CRM has become a headache for your sales people all the time, while they decide whether it is a boon or a bane. Believe me, with time and the right kind of training, soon all those voices will simmer down.

But, how are you going to make sure that it does and it stays that way? 

Well, according to a survey conducted by Forrester Research, the biggest challenge to a successful CRM implementation is - Slow CRM Adoption

A second to that is its by-product, which is - Inadequate change management and employee training

To help you with understanding and tackling these challenges, I’ve highlighted 5 effective strategies in this article that will accelerate your End Users’ CRM Adoption and help you in training them efficiently on the platform.

Without further ado, let’s jump in.

1. Customize Your CRM For Different Job Roles

It would be foolish to just use the CRM for your sales people. Ensure that it is available, and accessible to your marketing team, customer service and also the executive leadership. With consistent data collection, the CRM will help you create the much needed synergy between the teams.

To ensure better cross-functional adoption of your CRM, the first thing you do is extensive customization. Customizing the user interface, navigation methods, functions, integrations, and even the accessible modules as per the job role is pivotal to accelerating CRM adoption. This will help your employees create processes that is specific to their needs and hence reduce confusion.

For effective customization, opt for an end-to-end CRM implementation consultant or enable in-house CRM champions.

2. Create a Rock-Solid User Onboarding Experience

Shifting the entire prospect/customer information to the new CRM is painstaking. On top of that, what if your employees don’t understand how to use the CRM effectively? What if the sophistication of the platform feels a bit too overwhelming for them?

A well-planned, rock-solid User Onboarding Experience is imminent for initiating your employees to the CRM. You could do this via a blended learning approach wherein you induct the employees with hands-on sessions on the CRM, helping them witness the value that they will be receiving by keeping their data intact, and by guiding them through the functionalities of the platform that they would be using on a daily basis.

The guidance can be done via interactive product tours, annotated videos or instructional overlays. You can also setup a must-do induction checklist on your LMS, that will help you make sure that your employees understand the basic tasks properly.

Remember to keep the initial phase of CRM adoption as simple as possible. If you push too much on the employees at the beginning, it could adversely affect your overall CRM adoption strategy.

3. Enable Employees To Help Themselves

You must already be aware of the CRM Champion concept, wherein a designated employee drives the CRM implementation, onboarding, training, troubleshooting, etc.

On a similar note, empower multiple such employees to steer the crowd. Salesforce does this brilliantly with their humongous community of users which includes MVPs (Who they award select on an yearly basis), Power users, Ambassadors, etc. They also have their free-to-use Trailhead which enables Salesforce users to learn while doing. 

As for the initial onboarding stages, you can also pair up employees with those who have experience with the CRM. Much like an onboarding buddy system through which you can speed up the CRM adoption. Practiced by Salesforce themselves, the onboarding buddy is responsible to get his/her partner comfortable with the CRM.

4. Prep the Training and Re-training program

Employee training is done effectively when it is reinforced and iterated consistently. Many of the research on employees knowledge retention justify this fact with the Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve, which is quite applicable for all corporate learning & training setup.

If the knowledge retention of your employees is poor, then its highly likely your whole CRM adoption strategy will fail. The first step to tackling this huge problem is reinforcing your CRM training on a fixed interval in a ‘learning by doing’ model. This will freshen up the concepts and the functionalities to your employees and help them become more proficient on the platform while working on it.

Another aspect is consistent engagement. In many cases, there are cracks in the employee training program because they are not engaging enough. Iterating the program with gamification, real-time interactive content, virtual meetings, etc, will help in improving the engagement rate and result in higher productivity and adoption.

For example, Whatfix is a product adoption platform that uses its real-time interactive walkthroughs to onboard, training and support users. It does so by making its content available on-demand to the users, helping them learn while working, and also get the immediate gratification on doing a task.

5. Monitor, Evaluate Performance and Rewarding Users

Across your advances for CRM adoption, make sure that you measure these 3 metrics actively:

Usage level
This would include the active number of users on the CRM, time spent, functionalities utilized, etc.

Satisfaction level
CRM adoption is moreover a people process. To ensure it is making progress, evaluate the performance of the CRM in your process, by talking to your employees about it on a regular interval. Create and maintain a feedback loop that can help you measure the satisfaction of the CRM implementation from the end users.

Proficiency level
Not all employees will have the same technical proficiency. Identify the users who have adopted the CRM effectively in their daily activity. Highlight their proficiency by rewarding them or promoting them with the title -  Power users or CRM Champions. This will help in giving them a morale boost, while inspiring the others to do the same.

These metrics are pivotal when it comes to ensuring the success for your CRM adoption. It is always advisable to do in-depth analysis of the implementation to make sure there are no kinks in the process.

Conclusion

Gartner forecasts that, CRM adoption will reach 80-85 percent by 2025. Possibly by then, there would a lot more advanced solutions that is highly focussed on product adoption and engagement.

But for now, the best bet is to go for a blended approach, wherein you mix and match the tried-and-tested traditional approaches with the new-age solutions. The ideal methodology would be to consistently iterate the strategy, straightening the wrinkles in the process, and to use smarter technologies that reduces the effort to streamline the adoption.

Featured Image Source: Customer relationship management concept man selecting CRM by Mikko Lemola Shutterstock 

About the Author

Gokul Suresh

Gokul is the Product Adoption Expert and Marketer at Whatfix. He spends his week learning and educating people about onboarding, training and support through his social media and articles. On weekends, he dons his geek hat, to crack unsolved marketing puzzles, fix random gadgets, and write his yet unfinished mystery novel. You can find the articles he's written here and reach him on @l_mgokul.

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