CRM Adoption: A Crash Course
There is a certain tool that just about every B2B business leverages in the modern selling world. That tool is the CRM.
For those that don’t know, CRM stands for customer relationship management. It is a software tool that enables a business to input records of specific conversations with specific stakeholders at specific accounts. CRM provides a 360-degree view of the customer. It enables businesses to manage customer relationships, automate sales and marketing processes, and improve customer service. The benefits of CRM adoption are numerous, specifically in its ability to improve sales productivity. As opposed to storing this information in a notebook or a seller’s head, the CRM enables teams to record valuable deal information in a central location.
CRM Adoption Rates
A common question we’re asked is “What rates should we aim for with user adoption“?. This will vary by business, but according to Torrent Consulting, key CRM adoption statistics you should follow include, 75-90% of adoption being “average” and 90%+ is above average. Identify the reps that are using the tool the most. Why do they use it, and how does it helps them do their jobs.
Some metrics that you can track to understand adoption:
- Accounts created – Check this weekly
- Leads/Contacts created – check this weekly
- Opportunities, cases, reports and dashboards – check this weekly
- User logins – check this weekly
These metrics will provide a good leading indicator of how your team is using your CRM.
CRM Adoption Challenges
It’s not a secret that change is often resisted, and that also applies to your CRM. Here are a few reasons companies struggle with low CRM adoption rates:
- Compensation: Incentives aren’t tied to driving collaboration, visibility, or consistency in your sales process. Tie commission to inputs in your CRM. I promise you’ll see more intentional efforts to put good-quality data into the system.
- Inadequate resources dedicated to training, roll-out, and helping reps get value
- Forcing reps to complete duplicative processes inside of your CRM and other places. We see this a lot with account plans
If you’re a sales or revenue operations leader, CRM user adoption is likely a top priority for you.
Let’s say you’ve just been hired to run a highly motivated sales team. They’re all skilled closers but traditional in their techniques, not typically using the selling tools provided to them. How do you boost CRM adoption rates? What are the CRM adoption challenges you’ll face? Is your sales team even using the right CRM systems?
I came up with a list of benefits you can expect to see when successfully boosting CRM user adoption. This should be agnostic to any CRM platform, the number of CRM users, and the product/company facing this adoption challenge.
Improved Sales Productivity
Salespeople are competitive by nature. A popular best practice to increase CRM adoption rates is to game-ify the process of sales activity. Let’s say I’m a rep being challenged by my manager to have the highest activity across my team on a monthly basis. You can expect to see my CRM adoption increase.
CRM adoption boosts best practices amongst sellers as well. When fellow employees I trust are able to give me feedback on call notes in the CRM, then CRM usage will go up. CRM adoption can streamline workflows and save time, allowing sales reps to focus on selling instead of administrative tasks. Automating administrative tasks, such as data entry and lead management, frees up more time for reps to focus on selling activities.
In addition, CRM adoption can also improve the accuracy and completeness of data, reducing the need for manual data entry and decreasing the likelihood of errors. This increased accuracy and completeness can result in better sales forecasting, which in turn leads to better resource allocation and more effective sales strategies.
Tie Compensation to Salesforce Inputs
One aspect that we have to touch on, is tying compensation to deals that must live in CRM. Incentives drive behavior, and salespeople want to make as much money as possible. Tying their compensation to deals and basing it on the inputs into your CRM will drive the activity and consistency needed to make Salesforce successful and actionable. Should reps not put information around key stakeholders, internal processes, challenges, and more, then they don’t get full commission. Opportunity plans are a great way to drive a process that brings other teams from marketing to customer service, and solution engineering up to speed.
When you turn CRM adoption into a game, you give your users a chance to compete.
Enhanced Data Accuracy and Quality
Consistent user adoption of CRM can ensure accurate and up-to-date data.
This is quite simple. If my employees are instructed to update CRMs on a daily basis, then the overall data quality of said CRMs will be higher. A CRM admin or sales operations POC should check the data hygiene in key accounts as part of a CRM adoption strategy.
It’s important to stress as a leader that higher CRM adoption rates amongst employees lead to a higher chance of closing (or expanding) their key accounts. It is the leader’s job to inspire their employees to increase user adoption.
Accurate data is essential for forecasting and decision-making. By using CRM to maintain accurate data, users can gain valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, and needs.
Let’s Walk Through a Common “Low CRM Adoption” Scenario
Say I’m a user (account executive) handling your top company accounts. A small amount of account or stakeholder data is stored inside our CRM, but due to a lack of training, user adoption across all employees is low. Therefore, I’m not pushed to do weekly data entry.
All of my valuable account information, the information that helped me win large accounts and build strong relationships with stakeholders, is stored in notebooks (or my head!). If user adoption rates are low, I’d rather keep my notes somewhere I’m more comfortable.
Let’s say I find a new opportunity and leave the organization. Myself, I’m also taking my non-transferable data with me as well.
When I say non-transferrable data, I’m talking about information that is difficult to store in either a notebook or CRMs, but is still critical to your business.
Non-transferrable data examples:
- Stakeholder relationships that have built up over time
- Account product adoption knowledge
- Truthful product feedback
- A white-space board pinpointing opportunities for up/cross-selling
- Understanding who reports to who in large complex accounts
As you can see, because reps tend to take their book of business with them when switching jobs, it’s critical to store account data in a place that can be accessed well after a rep initially closes.
CRM can also help identify patterns and trends in customer behavior, enabling businesses to personalize their interactions and better meet customer needs. For example, by analyzing customer data, CRM users can identify cross-selling and upselling opportunities and target customers with relevant products and services.
Improved Collaboration and Communication
It’s fair to say that the top priority for many sellers is hitting their quota. It’s an incentive that benefits both the business and the individual who found success.
The best sellers will tell you that for sales teams to be successful, they must work together. Oftentimes, organizations are bottlenecked by a gap in communication. In a competitive sales cycle, a major factor when choosing a vendor is the ease of communication and organization they maintain.
CRM solutions give salespeople a place to collaborate around valuable account data in real-time. Challenge your employees to use the software to their competitive advantage. I promise you, finding call details inside your CRM will take less time than pestering your colleagues for their notes.
By using a CRM system, team members can quickly and easily access all the relevant customer information and share updates with their colleagues. This can lead to a more efficient sales process and improved collaboration among team members.
Better Visibility and Reporting
An important aspect of sales leadership is sharing critical company insight with executives and board members. The most effective way to do this is through visual reports or dashboards.
As most leaders know, the process of digging through data and spinning up a visual to present that doesn’t look like a 3rd-grade science project can take hours and hours of work. Especially if that data is scattered amongst rep notebooks and whiteboards.
Noticing a pattern here? Effective CRM implementation is incredibly useful.
High CRM adoption leads to better visibility into the sales pipeline and activity, allowing sales leaders to make data-driven decisions for resource allocation and strategy. They can take that existing data and spin up insightful reports and dashboards that help their sales team win as many deals as possible.
Useful CRM Sales Reports Include:
- Sales Pipeline Report – Does your team have adequate coverage to hit goals (4:1) ratio is usually needed to ensure numbers will be hit.
- Lead Source Analysis Report – Where are the leads coming from that turn into pipeline? Or into revenue? Understanding this helps improve lead prioritization and GTM strategy
- Sales Performance Dashboard
- Sales Forecasting Dashboard
- Customer Onboarding & Progress Reporting
CRM software can track sales performance metrics, such as conversion rates, deal size, and win rates. This information is used to identify areas for improvement and adjust sales strategies accordingly. There are many ways a sales leader can leverage CRM reports to increase visibility. Who knows, maybe AE adoption rates will go up if a boss is in the CRM tool.
Increased Efficiency and Effectiveness of Training
There’s a good reason why so many sales enablement roles are tied to CRM knowledge nowadays.
The main reason is that on top of being an effective selling tool, a CRM is great for training new employees.
Because of the rapid advancement in tech and software, most CRMs give you the capability to store files.
By diving into a CRM system, new reps can learn best practices for selling their new product. They can also get introduced to their new sales process. When do successful reps engage with clients in this business? How long is the average deal going to take to close? How many stakeholders are involved in the buying process?
If I give new hires access to our selling data, they can ramp up and start closing deals more effectively, and quicker.
With a CRM-led enablement process, sales managers can track the progress of each new rep and identify areas where additional training may be necessary.
As you can see, high CRM adoption can provide numerous benefits to users.
Improved collaboration and communication, better visibility and reporting, and increased efficiency and effectiveness of training are just a few benefits companies experience. Sales leaders should prioritize CRM adoption and use it to enhance their sales performance and gain a competitive edge. Companies with a lack of support around tech, take note.
As technology continues to evolve before our eyes, it’s important to delineate between useful tech and fluff tech. For all the reasons listed above, CRM is an essential selling technology at most B2B companies. By leveraging the power of CRM, users can build stronger relationships with their customers, close more deals, and achieve greater success.
- Forrester, “Q2 2019 Forrester Wave: Sales Force Automation Solutions”
- Gartner, “Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation”
- CSO Insights, “Sales Enablement Optimization Study”
Q: What is a CRM system, and why is it important?
A: A CRM (customer relationship management) system is software that helps businesses manage their customer interactions and relationships. It can help track sales, marketing, customer service, and other interactions with customers. This allows businesses to provide better customer service and make more informed business decisions.
Q: What are some benefits of using a CRM system?
A: A CRM system can help businesses in a number of ways, such as improving customer relationships, increasing sales and revenue, streamlining business processes, providing better data and analytics, and improving communication and collaboration among team members. CRM features include the ability to report and forecast on pipeline, understand lead sources and campaigns that drive revenue, and other automated processes that improve the CRM experience.
Q: How can I choose the right CRM system for my business?
A: When choosing a CRM system, you should consider factors such as the size and complexity of your business, your budget, your specific needs and goals, and the features and capabilities of different CRM software options. It’s also a good idea to read reviews and compare different options before making a decision.
Q: How can I get high CRM user adoption?
A: To get your team to adopt a new CRM system, it’s important to provide thorough training and support, clearly communicate the benefits of the system, and involve team members in the selection and implementation process. It’s also important to address any concerns or resistance to change and to continually evaluate and adjust the system as needed. Incentives need to be aligned here as well, whatever behavior you want to drive, the rewards and outcomes need to reflect that desired vision.
Q: What are some common challenges with CRM adoption?
A: Some common crm adoption challenges include resistance to change, lack of user engagement, difficulty integrating the system with other tools and processes, and insufficient training and support. A properly leveraged CRM platform should account for a lot of these issues. We also see a lack of a crm adoption process, using a crawl, walk, run approach to drive value and get more out of the investment.
Q: How long does it take to see results from using a CRM system?
A: The timeline for seeing results from a CRM system can vary. Depending on factors such as the size and complexity of your business, the specific goals you’re trying to achieve, and how well the system is implemented and adopted. It may take several months to a year to see significant improvements in areas such as customer relationships, sales, and business processes.