The success of many software tools (CRMs included) hinges on many factors…the most important, I believe, is the user adoption rate.  Ensuring all potential employees use the system will lead to better data integrity and more accurate reporting…this is vital since many strategic executive decisions are based from reports generated from the system.  There are many CRM industry experts, such as ISM’s Barton Goldenberg, that have shaped my thoughts on this subject matter over the years.  My application experience has validated those views. Here’s my take:

  • First (this goes without saying) you must purchase a CRM that has the functionality needed to sufficiently address your critical business requirements. Not getting this right will effectively reduce the success rate no matter what else you do. Choosing the correct software will be covered in its own blog article.
  • Now the hard part. The culture of your business must be ready to use the CRM…this is the case for any software that is introduced that potentially changes the routine of employees. The hard truth is that it is human nature to resist change and there is a possibility of resistance…there are many factors that play here (i.e. generational differences, computer aptitude, expectations, etc.).  The key here is setting the correct tone…in many cases, the carrot and stick approach should be used:
    • The carrot is selling the idea that the CRM will be of great value to the user allowing him/her greater performance on their job with more efficiency. In other words, it won’t be another chore they have on their daily list…it will decrease the amount of menial tasks that need to be performed. For sales reps, it could translate into less paperwork allowing them to be facing the customer more frequently resulting in higher sales and more money in their pocket.
    • The stick, in most cases, requires a top-down edict from management that requires all appropriate employees to use the CRM system. The messaging has to be consistent and it works best if management is visibly and actively involved.  The basic message is that the success of the company is reliant on their 100% involvement to ensure accurate data since their strategic decisions will be based off the reports generated from the CRM.
  • It is extremely important that the CRM vendor listens intently and learns about the “day in a life” of each type of user, knowing what data they need to capture and what processes that need to occur to enable the business to properly function. The vendor should then make recommendations based on Best Practices and experience.  The end result should produce a custom, streamlined, ease-to-use system that is molded to your business model.  One key note here…no business model remains static.  The marketplace is dynamic and over time your business model will change…the CRM must reflect these changes.  Communication channels between the CRM vendor and the client must remain open and active after the initial implementation of your CRM project so that the vendor has knowledge of these changes and modifications to the software can be performed.  Clear C2 has this “continuous involvement” approach as part of their support model for the C2CRM product.
  • Proper training for the CRM system is required in order for users to engage the system correctly…this fosters more frequent and proper usage since the system appears “easier to use” with the knowledge gained from the training. The end result is better data integrity.  In addition to the initial training during implementation, continuous and ongoing training is needed to educate users of software modifications that have taken place as a result of your changing business model.

The above “common sense” suggestions should go a long way in assuring the successful deployment and long-term usage of your CRM product.  Happy CRM hunting and hopefully you choose C2CRM!