The 3 Elements Necessary For Guaranteed CRM User Adoption

Clients often ask me what’s needed to guarantee user adoption on a new or re-designed CRM system.  Over the years, I’ve whittled my response to three essential elements:

  • Good Reports
  • Believable Data
  • Total Commitment from Front Line Managers

A few months ago, Gene Marks wrote an excellent article in Forbes that succinctly reinforces my advice.  His three essentials are:

1. Forget About The BS And Focus On Reports
The author recommends focusing on the reports, rather than the features, of CRM, and I agree. The mark of a high-value CRM implementation will be the usefulness of the data on DAY ONE.

  • Is the information actionable for the users?
  • Is the information useful to the Front Line Manager for 1-on-1 meetings with their direct reports?
  • Can senior management quickly see trends and forecasts?

Also, the data in your reports shouldn’t’t be limited to just what’s inside CRM. ROI, forecast variance, and velocity reporting are much more valuable when the data span multiple systems. (For example, we’ve built reporting solutions that cross CRM, accounting systems, service ticket systems, and third-party systems, which can be displayed inside CRM, in Excel, PowerPoint, or on a Reporting website. Click here to ask more questions about those solutions.)

2. Invest In An Administrator
Mr. Marks recommends a “strong administrator”. It is not uncommon for a client to commit to a CRM system without having designated a point person (or team) to oversee the information inside the database. Like mayonnaise left out in the sun at a picnic, information has a tendency to go bad over time. One person needs to be accountable for the health (completeness and accuracy) of the information, and this person should watch over the information like a hawk. The administrator should be responsible for adding new hires, reassigning former employee accounts, updating contacts, and adjusting records as necessary as companies, divisions, and locations are added, changed, and merged. If the information is inaccurate, the database is not believable, and people will create alternate (and competing) sources of information (personal contact list in Outlook, secret spreadsheets, etc.).

Supporting your administrator is an ongoing commitment. We often include a monthly support package to our CRM consultation projects, which involves assisting with system maintenance and advanced administrator training. We’ll also help develop reports which monitor data health trends.

3. Embrace It, Or Suffer 
Everyone in the user group needs to use the CRM system. Rock Star sales people are NOT exempt from updating their information!  Sometimes managers will look the other way if a high achieving sales person doesn’t keep their contacts or deals current. Once people start becoming exempt from using the system, data quality will erode right before your eyes. It’s easy to complain about a missing feature or a feature that has “too many clicks”. However, these are not valid reasons to bypass the CRM system. Every CRM project must balance features, costs, and timelines, and that means trade-offs.

Two other key factors involved in embracing the CRM system are user feedback (both positive and negative), and a clearly communicated vision of the CRM system (complete with current capabilities, planned features, future data integration points, etc.) by the CRM project sponsors.

What’s important to remember here is that once you’ve invested in your CRM system, using it is not optional. The value of the CRM system will continue to grow only if it’s a single source of truth for information, with believable forecasts and accurate relationship contacts. 

Learn more about how to guarantee CRM user adoption and maximize your CRM investment. Call us today at 312.602.4000, or email us at

Phone: 312-602-4000
222 W. Adams
Chicago, IL 60606
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