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How can you get maximum value and utility out of your CRM by maximizing adoption?

Hero BG

x min read

Mar 18, 2021

This blog was developed from the SAMPS webinar of same name on February 11th, 2021. The webinar was hosted by Andy Bertera, Exec. Director of Marketing & Sales, New England Biolabs, with panelists Mark Hozza, CEO and President, Sarstedt, Inc., and Lydia Willing, Corporate Sales Director, NRGene. Both Andy and Mark are members of the SAMPS Board of Directors.

As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Is the same true of your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system? Many of us are investing in training and sophisticated tools to make it easier for Sales and Marketing to interact with your CRM system. But do they work? How can you get the level of adoption that you would like?

How do you convey the importance of CRM adoption to your team?

First, it is important to ensure that everyone understands that your CRM system is a corporate-wide solution that the whole organization is relying on being accurate, complete, and up to date.

Secondly, it must be understood that your CRM system is not going to fix problems that already existed in your organization prior to its implementation. You need to make sure that your commercial processes are fully operational and well-aligned with what it is you are trying to do in your CRM.

Lastly, training is vital for the ongoing success of the platform – both for onboarding new staff and refreshing the knowledge of well-tenured individuals. The CRM system must become part of their daily activities, in same way as checking email is. You must make the system easy for them to use and easy for them to get the information that they need to do their jobs. In other words, it must be perceived as a tool that works for them!

Should use of your CRM system be mandatory?

A CRM system can only really live up to its potential if everybody is using it and using it in the same, consistent manner. If everyone uses it differently, the platform becomes a “personal data tracker” for the individual user and does not really provide the wider organization much benefit.

To achieve consistent use, it is critical that everyone in the organization is aligned in terms of definitions and processes – what an opportunity is, what a customer is versus an account, when to record a customer interaction and when not to, etc. If everyone has different interpretations of what certain words mean or when an opportunity moves from one stage of the customer buying cycle to another, you are not going to get the consistency in use and reporting that you need.

A poll at this webinar revealed that use of their CRM system was mandatory for 81% of attendees.

Does use of your CRM system apply equally to all customer-facing parts of your organization?

If Marketing, Service and Support are all using the same CRM system as Sales, it gives the entire organization visibility to all the interactions and touchpoints that are taking place with their customers. Put simply, it allows everybody to know what has been going on. If you are in Sales and you are walking into a customer’s lab, you know exactly what the history is, if they have had any problems recently and whether there is a solution to them.

Is the “carrot” or the “stick” better for gaining high levels of CRM adoption?

The simple answer to this question is “both”. Depending on the circumstances and the behaviors of the individuals involved, both have their place.

If you have been operating successfully with the same CRM platform for some time, one of the best ways to encourage adoption is to simply say, “if it's not in the CRM, it doesn't exist”. This highlights to all concerned the importance of the CRM platform in decision making, both at an individual performance and corporate level. However, if you are trying to add a new feature or roll out a new process to your CRM, the “carrot” may give better results; for example, offering a reward for those who quickly adopt the new way of working.

What advice would you give someone who is rolling out their first CRM system?

Firstly, focus on what is important to the organization and clearly define what it is you are hoping to achieve from the deployment of the CRM system. It is important to understand what your current sales processes really are because your new CRM platform is not going to fix things that are already broken. Take the time to define and map out the processes that you want to mirror in your CRM.

Secondly, do not turn on too many CRM features too fast; do it in a few phases, get started, get people comfortable with it, and then go from there. Add a feature, test, and perfect. Add another feature, test, and perfect.

Lastly, starting anew gives you the almost unique opportunity to build a clean database. Set some ground rules around the input of data and make sure that everyone is following them from the very beginning.

Additional sources of information

Introduction to CRM platforms:

SAMPS webinars relating to CRM platforms:

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