Did you know that less than 40% of businesses have a CRM adoption rate above 90%? That means 60% of all businesses have poor CRM adoption. If this sounds like your current situation, the good news is you’re not alone. The bad news? No one is using the CRM your company invested thousands of dollars in.

There are many reasons businesses might struggle with CRM adoption: employees see data entry as a chore, people don’t want to take the time to learn something new, the expectations feel overwhelming, teams assume the program won’t “work” for what they need, etc.

Incentives and gamification can be successful motivators, but what happens when you’ve “tried it all” and still cannot get the adoption rate you need? Change your approach.

Your users are ignoring the CRM because they can. This isn’t to say you’re not pushing its use enough. The real reason they ignore it is because it is not indispensable to them. Could sales reps ignore email? Could a services department ignore their telephony system? Nope! Because the users see those systems as essentials for their work. If you alter the way your teams think about the CRM, you’ll alter the rate at which they adopt your CRM.

So, how do you do that?

Approach managers the same way you’d approach a customer. When you’re trying to sell something to a customer, you take the time to understand their needs and frustrations first. Once you know their roadblocks, you know how to sell them on the solutions to those roadblocks.

Understand what each team’s biggest challenges are. Meet with each manager and ask them to lay out what their team struggles with. Then, use the CRM to provide the solution. For example, if the sales manager says his team struggles with low win rates, you could generate a CRM report of pipeline data to show him where in the sales cycle his prospects are dropping off. Are there patterns? Odds are, there are indeed patterns, and by shedding new light on that issue you’re creating something exciting and empowering for the manager to run with.

Too busy for individual meetings? Send out a survey to these managers. Surveys should be short and ask direct questions about their struggles. Reserve a comment space for questions and clarifications for a more telling survey result.

When the manager takes these insights back to his team, he can sometimes be met with pushback. “We already give you reports, but you never look at them,” they might say.

Although it may not seem like it, this pushback is a win for CRM adoption. Combing through detailed reports is time consuming. But, use the CRM to generate clear and concise reports and you make the manager’s task more efficient. He’ll be able to understand the value of that data faster and respond to more of the requests laid before him.

This leads to my next point: data overload.

While the idea of having mountains of data aggregated in one system is thrilling, it can also become overwhelming if it’s not properly managed. Companies that cut down the QUANTITY of reports and focus on the QUALITY, do better with CRM adoption than those who do not.

Instead of pulling 100+ multi-page reports from the CRM, carefully select 25 data points that are compelling for each team and generate 10 simple but comprehensive reports from that data. This cuts down on the confusion, the perceived effort to create a report, and the time to assess report results. The data is straightforward but multi-faceted, telling the story the managers need to hear. If you aren’t sure where to begin with organizing your reports, ask your CRM training partner for help.

A final note about increasing CRM adoption…

The number one reason companies struggle with adoption is manual data entry. Employees don’t want to take the time to enter all the information in the CRM. Mitigate that issue by using data automation wherever possible.

Optimize with CRM tools like relationship intelligence, which will do the bulk of the research and data entry for users. For example, SugarCRM offers a tool called Hint, which uses the name and email address entered in the CRM to scan the digital universe and fill in the blanks on social profiles, company stats, educational history, and more. According to Nucleus research, Hint saves sales reps an average of 17 minutes per lead.

In general, relationship intelligence can save 5.5 hours per week on manual data entry. Integrated systems like telephony or ERP can also cut down on this data entry. When these programs are connected to your CRM, they fill in the data gaps and help build more complete profiles, which enhances the level of reporting you can do and cuts down on double data entry between systems.

Don’t let your CRM adoption lag. Start getting your teams excited about the CRM. Make them feel the CRM is indispensable and they won’t be able to ignore it any longer.

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