CRM Adoption: Definition, Benefits & How to Improve It

CRM adoption can help businesses improve customer service and loyalty. Learn the definition, benefits, and best ways to improve CRM adoption.

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CRM adoption is the process of integrating a CRM within a business's workforce so employees can easily leverage the software to market to their target audience, nurture leads, and maintain relationships with customers. The best way to implement these solutions is by training your team, monitoring the CRM's effectiveness, and implementing changes as needed. A well-executed adoption strategy helps encourage the team to use the CRM to its maximum potential.

How CRM Adoption Works

When businesses adopt a CRM, they follow procedures that support the integration of the software within their workforce for the long haul. These include preparing for the tool's deployment, encouraging staff to utilize it during the integration period, and performing follow-up actions as necessary to maintain a high level of adoption.

CRM adoption can be broken down into four fundamental steps:

how to adopt a crm
how to adopt a crm

Proper CRM adoption eases the transition of introducing the new software into your employees' workflows. While there are challenges to adopting a CRM, it also comes with many benefits, and there are concrete ways to improve your CRM adoption plus tips to help you do it better.

Benefits of CRM Adoption

When done successfully, CRM adoption offers numerous perks for your workers, customers, and business growth. These include higher lead and client satisfaction, increased productivity, and better decision-making, among others.

Improves Relationships With Leads & Clients

CRMs come with features and capabilities to help your staff improve how they support current clients and generate and nurture potential ones. For instance, they can give you more insight into your contacts by collecting and analyzing behavior data. Contact management features make it easier to organize client info and personalize your messaging to them.

Increases Operational Efficiency

When you adopt a CRM, you gain access to automations that can transform your team’s productivity. CRM automation helps perform simple or repetitive tasks, saving you time and allowing you to dedicate your efforts to revenue-generating activities. Automation also helps standardize workflows and approvals, keeping you on track with your responsibilities and reducing unnecessary downtime.

Allows for Data-Backed Decisions

Having easy access to key data can help you make informed business decisions and remain competitive. CRM data management features gather and analyze customer behavior and retention, revenue and sales forecasting, and other data to give you deeper insights into what’s working (and what’s not) within sales, marketing, and service.

While CRM software can offer many great benefits, you’ll only experience them if you adopt the CRM in the right way and teach your team how to fully leverage the features. Be sure to communicate relevant advantages to motivate them to learn about, and start using, the CRM. Next, we’ll look at ways organizations can enhance their CRM adoption.

6 Ways to Improve CRM Adoption

The best method to upgrade your business's CRM adoption is to first choose and set up your software, then train your team and consider their user experience. Specifically, you’ll select a CRM, customize the software and integrate it with your existing platforms, train the end users and consider their feedback, and continue supporting them to encourage proper use. While you can pick and choose certain ways below, it’s best to follow all six in order.

Choose an Appropriate CRM

The most important part of CRM adoption is first choosing the option that best fits your unique business needs. Consider pricing, features, customization, integrations, customer support, ease of use, and any other factors that are important to you and your team. While there are many CRMs to choose from, some of the top software include Freshsales, Zoho CRM, and Pipedrive.

  • Freshsales: Best sales-forward CRM for businesses needing a solid mix of robust features, affordable pricing, and ease of use (free starting price)
  • Zoho CRM: Best for organizations with a heavy marketing focus, especially omnichannel marketing, in addition to sales (free starting price)
  • Pipedrive: Best for those seeking a sales-focused CRM with basic tiers and advanced upgrades, plus the ability to add on features as needed (14-day free trial)

For more information about the top CRMs available, see our article on the best CRM software. There, you’ll find details about each option’s pricing and trials, pros and cons, functionalities, and more.

Customize the Software for Your Business

Configure your CRM system to align with your organization's specific goals and needs. Many CRM tools provide extensive options for customization. The list below provides examples of standard configurations that can enhance the software's functionality for your business:

  • Personalize the Terminology: Incorporate organizational terms in the CRM to make it more familiar and easy to understand. Custom fields in CRM software are commonly found within reports, dashboards, and document templates.
  • Define User Roles and Permissions: Incorporate roles and permissions for end users according to how certain team members will use the software. This can enhance the security of the CRM and ensure your team can benefit from using it.
  • Adjust the Default Layout: Format your layouts to include essential information and tools. For instance, various CRM reports can be customized to display certain metrics, and a dashboard can include relevant reports.

The tasks involved in customizing the CRM may be intensive and require you to hire developers or consultants to provide technical assistance. These investments can be expensive for smaller organizations, but it’s often worth it to set aside resources for setting up the CRM properly before your team uses it.

Integrate the CRM With Your Existing Technology

Simplify the software deployment process for your workers by ensuring that the CRM integrates seamlessly with their existing workflows and the other systems they use. First, integrate the software natively or via APIs, then move your data into the CRM, and finally set up the systems to automatically share data with each other.

  1. Look Into the Integrations Offered: Check whether your CRM software supports native integrations with other solutions, and integrate it accordingly if so. If native integrations aren’t offered, connect the software using third-party APIs or by building app integrations.
  2. Migrate Existing Data Into the CRM: Move any important customer relationship or other data stored in different locations into the CRM for future access. Follow the CRM’s recommended practices to input updated data and maintain data integrity.
  3. Set Up Automatic Data Sharing: Implement automatic updates so your CRM and any other existing software continue to communicate with each other, and test them to make sure everything works as expected.

Repeat this process as needed depending on how many platforms need to work in tandem with your new CRM. Integrated CRMs contribute to workflow optimization by streamlining users' work processes across the business platforms they use.

Provide Training to Your Team

Conduct comprehensive training sessions so your team can understand how to navigate the CRM software and leverage its features. This training will help your end users experience the benefits of the CRM faster and gain confidence in their ability to use the software effectively. To do this, create a curriculum, develop resources, and schedule in-person or video training.

  1. Develop a Curriculum or Training Plan: Determine the training needs of your team based on how they'll be using the CRM. Create a list of the features and capabilities that are relevant to them, then craft tutorials that demonstrate how, why and when to use them.
  2. Create or Find Training Resources: Gather resources from the CRM’s knowledge base and supplement them with your own resources that are tailored to how your company will use the software. Organize these into a searchable location.
  3. Schedule and Provide the Training: Set up live training sessions or instructional videos to be watched by a certain deadline. Deliver lessons in a way that engages your staff while clearly communicating the necessary information, or hire an external consultant with CRM expertise.

Incorporate CRM system training when introducing this new software to your workforce and onboarding new employees so they can adjust quickly to the CRM and recognize it as a vital element within the organization's workflow.

Implement User Feedback

Gaining end user feedback can help your team feel heard, and enables you to continue customizing and improving the CRM to be as helpful as possible to everyone using it. CRMs are typically scalable and can evolve alongside the organization, so modify the software based on insights from your employees to address any pain points. Decide how to collect feedback, then gather and evaluate input from the users before creating and executing a plan to address relevant concerns.

  1. Choose a Method to Get Feedback: You'll want to collect feedback from the employees that use the CRM through a collection form, survey, or questionnaire. Use feedback software that offers this capability and test it to ensure it functions appropriately.
  2. Gather Input About the CRM: Communicate the importance of this feedback to your staff, and launch the feedback system so that it's accessible to the intended members.
  3. Assess the Feedback: Review feedback from your team and look for patterns and trends in the responses. This will allow you to identify common themes pointing to potential areas of improvement.
  4. Create Action Plans to Address Concerns: Decide which CRM issues you need to tackle, depending on their importance and urgency. Work with relevant departments and leaders to form a strategy to address each pain point.
  5. Carry Out Your Improvement Plan: Inform your team about the plan and any critical factors they need to be aware of regarding the software's availability during this time. Perform your plan actions and monitor its improvements.

With consistent feedback from staff members, you'll be able to identify ways to address problems quickly, reducing any prolonged periods of dissatisfaction with the CRM system and supporting its adoption. Keep the lines of communication open not just as you adopt the CRM, but moving forward as well, so you can address issues as they come up.

Offer Continuous User Support

Provide resources to help users answer their own CRM software questions or find the right person to ask. While training can put team members in a better position to adopt CRM systems, ongoing support can keep them confident in their ability to successfully use these systems in their everyday role. Knowledge bases, guides, and points of contact can be great for this.

  • Create an Accessible Knowledge Base: Provide informative self-service guidance that addresses common questions regarding the CRM. These guides can walk users through common workflows or troubleshooting as they use the system.
  • Draft a Guide Outlining Proper Use: Include relevant information that will help staff navigate their standard operating procedures. Include advice on expected behaviors and best practices, and keep the guide updated to reflect any changes to the CRM.
  • Identify a Point of Contact for Questions: Identify a person within the organization who can quickly provide users with the help they need. Choose an administrator for this role, or a person with a high level of expertise with the CRM software.

This continued support will keep your staff members productive by addressing their CRM issues and questions after the initial training.

Apply these methods as part of your adoption, and your business is bound to see positive results. Incorporating best practices for CRM adoption can also increase the likelihood of achieving the benefits of using CRM software — coming up, we'll provide points to note for smooth adoption.

Top 3 Tips for CRM Adoption

Apply key CRM adoption pointers to set your organization up for a foolproof process. Best tried-and-true tactics to take note of include planning your strategy ahead of time, keeping an eye on your customer relationship performance indicators, and providing rewards to encourage CRM use.

  • Develop a Strategy Before Deployment: Plan your CRM deployment before choosing a platform, and consider how you'd navigate circumstances that may delay the adoption process. Assess the time your business needs to configure the new CRM software, train staff, and allow your team to adjust to the changes.
  • Track Key CRM Metrics to Measure Adoption: Track key performance metrics that reflect your end user adoption rates — for example, CRM usage metrics and login frequency rates indicate the number of employees actively using the CRM. Use these to determine the success of your adoption efforts and refine your strategy.
  • Provide Incentives to Team Members: Track your CRM adoption metrics to identify which workers have mastered the new CRM system and which haven't used it much. Reward users who have put time and effort into successfully utilizing the software to encourage adoption throughout the team.

Keep these suggestions in mind as you deploy and integrate your CRM within your workforce. Following best practices for choosing a CRM, creating an adoption strategy, tracking its success, and rewarding its use can help your business avoid some of the difficulties commonly associated with CRM adoption.

Challenges With CRM Adoption

Challenges that typically arise in CRM adoption can stem from issues with security, insufficient data quality, or team members' resistance to use the software. Although using a CRM can be a game-changer for your business, these complications can hinder the effectiveness of its adoption and lengthen the time it takes to experience its benefits.

Security Concerns

Maintain your CRM software security to the utmost standards, since customer data is stored within it. Ensure that your security measures address concerns about common security issues such as data loss, breaches in data, and unauthorized access. These measures will also help your staff feel more comfortable adding confidential customer data to the new system.

Poor Data Quality

Inaccurate data entry or CRM system misuse can result in data quality issues, so train your team to reduce the likelihood of poor data quality impacting reporting. CRMs may also perform data quality control measures to avoid business decisions based on inaccurate reporting from low-quality data. For instance, many CRM systems provide data quality metrics that determine the accuracy and quality of data stored in the CRM.

End User Resistance

Successful CRM adoption ultimately relies on your end users accepting the CRM system. If your team members don't want to exert the effort of learning to use new technology, encourage them by highlighting the benefits of adopting a CRM. Motivate them to experience these advantages themselves.

Watch out for these challenges throughout your CRM adoption process, and act quickly in response to signs of difficulties to minimize negative impacts on your business. Remember to apply the methods and tips above, as they’ll help your businesses avoid issues or handle them effectively should they occur.

Bottom Line: CRM Adoption

A CRM solution can produce great advantages for a sales team, but only when CRM adoption is carried out successfully. The tips and tricks outlined in this article can help teams offset the likelihood of experiencing challenges with their CRMs and can decrease the time it takes to reach full CRM adoption. To learn more about CRMs in general, such as the types of CRMs, the top features offered, and how to choose the right option, see our article on CRM software.

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