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Although CRM remains the fastest growing software market today, expecting to reach $80 billion by 2025 (Source: Grand View Research), successful adoption is a challenge for many companies, with some research statistics reporting anything up to a 70% failure rate.

There are many reasons for CRM not delivering as promised, with user adoption often cited as a key factor, which can often be overlooked during the product evaluation, design or implementation stages of project.

In this blog we discover ways to set the odds for success in your favour, better engage with stakeholders and deliver higher user adoption rates and successful CRM. – and it all starts at your CRM evaluation stage!

Grand View Research – Global CRM market, by application, 2014 – 2025 (USD Million)

Leadership

Often within a business, the need for CRM is driven by one or two individuals with previous knowledge and experience of the value and benefits that CRM can bring to improving productivity and business growth.

This may be a Head of Marketing or Sales who tasks their IT representative or one of their own team to research the market and focus CRM needs on just their own department.

This may be a good starting point, but it is critical to consider the wider business needs and involve managers early in the process, for input and buy-in to the proposal. It’s important to ensure the senior team are fully conversant with the benefits that CRM can bring to both their individual departments as well as the wider business. This will help ensure that decisions to progress are well informed and based on more than just a basic cost analysis.

Early commitment from all managers will help build project credibility and confidence, drive the required changes in company culture and deliver ongoing, engagement and use of the CRM by their teams.

Stakeholder Involvement

Forrester Research found that 22% of all reported problems encountered on the road to successful CRM implementation were people-related or linked to user adoption. Therefore, it’s imperative to include your wider stakeholder community early in the process.

  • Have a clear plan of how you intend to engage with your stakeholders. BRS have a great Five-Step Approach to Stakeholder Engagement which is easily transferable to any B2B business.
  • Set up a multi-disciplined project group to assess and define key CRM requirements for the whole business, gathering information from their colleagues and disseminating it to the group for discussion and action.
  • Include end-user representatives from each department to secure early engagement and longer-term commitment. Deep practical knowledge of existing data management practices, customer interactions, activity workflows, challenges, productivity inefficiencies and improvement opportunities will result in a more comprehensive needs analysis, product evaluation, product design and implementation, all important in delivering effective CRM.
  • Set clear goals, timescales, roles and responsibilities for the task group, providing a motivational environment and encouraging positive communication to the wider stakeholders, building stronger interest and engagement with the project across the whole business.

BRS -Five Step Stakeholder Engagement Model

Making the Most of Champions and Blockers

Resistance to change can be one of the most challenging elements of managing a business and teams. The proposed adoption of a CRM can create fear and apprehension, whether it be about changing roles and responsibilities, job security, being under performance scrutiny, negative outcomes of a poorly executed project and challenges of learning new technology.

Its important management provides a platform and listens to these concerns and demonstrate such fears are unfounded, alleviating scepticism and focusing on the benefits that will help reassure stakeholders.

  • Finding genuine CRM champions early in the project will provide a good foundation for positive thought and action across the wider stakeholder community.
  • Think about the personal benefit CRM will bring to an individual’s role and their working day.
  • Identify those who will be the most vocal about their concerns and avoid them fostering negativity within the wider group. Bringing them early into the project, educating on value and the positives, giving them responsibilities to help make it a success and ultimately turning them from blockers to champions will deliver much better results.

Communicating Value

Keeping your company-wide stakeholders informed throughout the whole CRM journey, from evaluation and implementation through to adoption and ongoing mastery, as already discussed is critical to success. Good communication and supportive listening will go a long way in building trust and engagement in the project.

  • Develop a communications plan that clearly defines your CRM vision, benefits, strategy, schedule and activity to help alleviate fears and provide confidence in the decision making and positive outcomes of the project.
  • Provide regular updates via your intranet, email, newsletter or meetings with individual managers or as a wider group.
  • Give stakeholders the opportunities to voice their concerns and ideas. This may be through on-line surveys, polls and even competitions, that can bring a fun element into the proceedings.

You can also turn to your vendor for support with this activity as they should be able to supply customer success case studies and value related content that you can communicate and share with your stakeholders.

Breaking Down Departmental Barriers

So often in organisations, departmental teams work in isolation of each other. CRM provides an ideal opportunity to break down these barriers. Establishing a cross-company task group for the CRM project will help encourage wider team engagement and collaboration.

Involvement and contribution to the design, implementation and adoption of the CRM solution will help foster improved cross departmental interactions and cohesive, consistent working practices across the whole business.

Again, bringing in a fun element, such as a competition and rewards around CRM use or improvement ideas can help develop camaraderie, positivity and focus on collective sustainable CRM use and value.

CRM Education & Training

Investing in a comprehensive training program is imperative to positive user engagement and use. Including budget for both initial and ongoing education and training programmes within your CRM strategy will alleviate user fears and frustrations and help them get the most from the solution.

  • Consider companywide training with your vendor or develop product experts who take on the responsibilities of training other users. If you have large numbers of staff a model of train the trainer can also work well, where your own staff ‘super users’ become the trainers of other staff members.
  • Make the most of Vendor comprehensive support resources and easily accessible free training materials such as webinars, videos, user manuals, FAQs, in-product help as well as a user community forum and regular educational communications.
  • Develop a CRM User Handbook, setting out the design, data capture, management and use criteria, agreed workflows and user roles and responsibilities will provide a working document that can be easily referenced by all users and help contribute to delivering an effective and valuable CRM. Consider putting together a ‘day in the life of’ document for employees that are in a specific role that will use the CRM in the same way each day.

CRM Mastery & Improvement

It’s easy to become complacent, once initial CRM implementation has been successful, but sustainable user buy-in and use requires on-going commitment to the above activities.

  • Regularly communicating and promoting CRM related customer experience, productivity and process efficiency wins will demonstrate value and return on investment.
  • Developing in-house CRM expertise and encouraging users to contribute improvement ideas and seeing these implemented will help your teams engage more deeply with the solution and gain further value, both at a personal and business level.

Your vendor relationship and on-going support is also critical at this stage and essential in helping you sustain user buy-in and continued development of your CRM value and contribution to business growth.