CRM – 10 Critical Factors


Getting the Adoption Right

Getting your new CRM system adopted enthusiastically by everyone in the organisation will be the biggest factor in determining if the system will be a success. Reluctant users will add the minimum data that they can get away with, or simply ignore it and continue to use their existing personal systems. Carrots are better than sticks, but sticks may occasionally be necessary.

  1. Roll the system out starting from the top, not the bottom. Get senior management bought in first, and let them be seen using and benefiting from it. Use of the system will then associated with seniority and the first new users will feel privileged to have access. Getting managers to use it first will also mean that managers will use the system to manage from day one, and can then help and supervise their team’s adoption.
  2. In each department, and at each level of roll-out, choose the first user as somebody who both has a positive attitude to the CRM system and who commands their peers’ respect. When that person enthuses about the system then their colleagues will approach adoption in a positive light. If you can get the most respected sales person using it first, and then he or she tells colleagues how it helps him or her, the rest will follow. But be aware that if an opinion former forms a negative impression of the system that attitude will spread even faster.
  3. Get the sales administrators on side, and give them ownership of the data. A good sales administrator will spot data errors and sloppy coding by sales people, and will either clean the data up or nag them to fix it.
  4. Make sure that all managers use the system as the prime source of information when it has been rolled out to their teams. If a manager is discussing a customer or prospect with the account executive, the manager should bring the account record up on the screen and use that to drive the discussion. During the conversation it will be obvious to the manager if the data is up to date, especially contact names and opportunity status, and it will be obvious to the account manager that such omissions are being noted. If the CEO does this as well, then the behaviour will be reinforced down throughout the organisation. But be aware that if the manager criticises the detailed content of the data on the system, the sales person might be tempted to enter less data next time.
  5. Use the consolidated reports, such as sales forecasting, to manage the organisation. Those reports only work if the underlying data is correct. If sales teams go back to using spreadsheets to forecast sales, the onus on getting the opportunities correct in the CRM system is diminished.
  6. There are many reasons why some account executives would prefer to avoid using the CRM system. A CRM system gives visibility of the account manager’s prospects, contacts and opportunities. Some sales people are reluctant to expose this information, fearing critical review or that their value to the organisation is diminished if their contact and pipeline is no longer their secret domain. Some are simply uncomfortable with the technology, and some simply can’t be bothered. You can introduce rules as sticks to encourage reluctant sales people. The Accounts department can not pay commission if the closed opportunity is not on the system. Sales Managers should take account executives to task if opportunities are regularly entered as late or closing stage. Ultimately, it can form part of an MBO bonus (management by objectives) as a carrot, a criticism during a review or a ultimately a disciplinary matter.
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