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Trajectory Blog

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7 Strategies for Increasing CRM Adoption

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Every CRM project I’ve been involved in, whether as a sales representative/end user, internal project SME or NetSuite consultant at Trajectory, has included at least one meeting where the question is raised of whether the sales team will actually USE it. It usually starts with someone asking for suggestions on driving user adoption, followed by deafening silence and very little eye contact.

This is not a new problem – everyone in the room likely already knows what the sales reps’ objections will be: “I don’t have time for extra admin work”, “If I can’t access it on the road it’s useless to me”, “I’m hitting my numbers, just let me run my business my way”. A quick google search on CRM Adoption produces links to thousands of blog posts (one of which may have brought you here!) and yet it persists as a looming issue on CRM projects. Unfortunately there’s no silver bullet solution, and the right approach will depend on a number of variables including the composition of the sales team and the scale/scope of the CRM project. That said, below are 7 strategies for driving CRM adoption by Sales Teams, incorporating and summing up various lessons I’ve learned over the years:

1 – Talk about it EARLY!
Don’t wait till training or go-live, start driving towards user engagement as early as possible – ideally sometime around kickoff. Identify members of the sales team (not management, actual reps) that have expressed opinions (positive or negative) on the current tools and include them in requirements sessions and solution blueprint feedback. If they don’t have time for direct involvement in the project, consider scheduling a few internal ‘focus groups’ and invite as many as possible to attend. It will almost certainly identify use cases and gaps that would otherwise be missed until testing or (even worse) training, and makes the clear point that the team’s input is valued. Knowing who has strong opinions on the system will also come in handy for strategy #4…more on that later.

2 – What’s in it for ME?
Reality check – your salespeople likely won’t care that the new system will improve visibility on the forecast, calculate pipeline velocity metrics or integrate with your online order system. They just won’t. So focus instead on how using the CRM will benefit THEM! Simple things like eliminating the risk of a lost notebook with all your meetings, next steps and critical client strategies, reducing the time to get up to speed on a new client list after a promotion or territory shuffle via instant access to all of the history, or shorter forecast/funnel reviews with management because your boss already knows all about your deals in advance. The trick is that these benefits depend on habitual use of the system as part of daily routine – everyone knows that only flossing the day before you go to the dentist is useless.

3 – Talk about it OFTEN!!
Leverage every opportunity you can find or manufacture to expose users to the application and how they will use it. I’ve seen clients institute weekly ’Study Hall’ sessions where anyone can drop in and play with the application. Another approach is getting 10 minutes on the agenda for a weekly sales meeting, town hall, etc to demo something flashy – dashboards, electronic signature for contracts, real-time inventory availability accessed on a tablet – something quick to generate excitement. It will increase general familiarity with the system because they’ll keep seeing it in different contexts and you’ll reap the benefits when it’s time for user acceptance testing or training.

4 – Identify PowerUsers and Champions.
Remember back when we engaged the team early and often? Hopefully through that process you’ll identify reps with strong opinions or past experience (good or bad) with CRM applications as well as technically savvy folks who have an easier time picking up any new system. They can be a powerful resource if identified early and leveraged properly. They can be in the trenches endorsing the benefits and value to the team, commenting (ideally loudly and publicly) on how this new process does NOT, in fact, add significant admin work or helping their peers with simple questions and providing unofficial level 1 tech support. During one particularly hectic go-live for hundreds of users, we identified a handful of these power users to be the go-to resource for their colleagues for the first 2 weeks. I met with that group daily to review feedback, answer questions and triage larger issues that needed attention. It was hugely beneficial to the team as a whole, and selfishly it also really helped me keep my inbox under control!

5 – Carrot and Stick in Equal Measure
I worked with a sales VP once who was very passionate about this topic, and her philosophy was crystal clear – if it isn’t in CRM, it didn’t happen. This was top-down direction to the sales team that did not waver and no one was excluded – senior reps, top performers, new hires, everyone was made aware that it was part of their job to use the CRM. It’s important for senior management to be clear about expectations, but you can also have some fun with it. The same login audit trail and activity reports that identify users that are NOT using the system can also be used to reward those who are. Set up quick contests for most contacts added, least duplicates accidentally created, cleanest pipeline, etc and offer prizes to the winners. Never forget – sales people are fundamentally competitive by nature (it’s part of what makes them effective!) and watching someone else get rewarded instead of you can be a surprisingly powerful motivator.

6 – Keep it CLEAN!
Bad data is the easiest way to sour everyone’s opinion on the system, and can quickly corrupt all of the other strategies I’ve mentioned. If users don’t trust that the system has accurate and valuable information, they will not use it. The challenge is that the users are also the main SOURCE for CRM data, and aren’t always vigilant about data quality. This topic would justify a post all to itself (stay tuned!) but for now I’ll just say it is imperative to have a data quality strategy for your CRM, develop business processes and UI that prevents data anomalies where possible, and ensure that the necessary maintenance and validation actions are executed regularly. If you build it, they will come. But if you MAINTAIN it, they will come BACK!

7 – Don’t Stop!
Just like data quality, driving system adoption doesn’t stop just because the project is over. Use surveys to solicit feedback, and regularly refine and update your training documentation. Establish and track a knowledge base or FAQ so that common questions can be answered quickly and easily. Develop a change request process to let users suggest improvements, and get them on the roadmap. If done right, you’ll find yourself with a self-sustaining loop of system projects that can improve future adoption by engaged users!}

NetSuite Consulting Partner
Call: 647.259.0710
Email: hello@trajectoryinc.com