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CRM saves time, increases communication, and boosts profits. Why then can it be so difficult to get some employees onboard with your implementation plans?

One of the biggest hurdles frequently cited with the launching of a new CRM system (or any other form of computerized resource management) is that of employee buy-in. We asked the experts how to get around this problem. Here’s what they said.

Involve Employees in Product Selection

A common refrain from experts is that every successful CRM implementation begins before a CRM system is ever selected in the first place. Even if you have a product in mind already, it’s important to involve at least some key stakeholders in the process in order to make the ultimate selection of a product a group decision that everyone feels comfortable with. If nothing else, it will help you determine what specific functionality you need. “This will give you insight into what features your employees feel will make it easier for them to do their jobs,” says Luke Wallace, a market researcher with small business CRM reviews company, Software Advice.” If you choose software with at least a few of those things, they’re more likely to use it.”

Remember that your initial forays into CRM needn’t be an all-or-nothing affair. “Many CRM systems come with free trials so that you can test them out before making any decisions,” says GetApp CRM market researcher Suzie Blaszkiewicz. “Ask members of the team who will be using the CRM often to try out one or two different systems for a week, and then get feedback.”

Use CRM to Replace Work, Not Add to It

Once you have a CRM in place, you’ll need to take steps to ensure it is used intelligently. Bryan Clayton, CEO of online lawn care company GreenPal, says his first attempt to implement CRM was a “total disaster.” “We basically purchased the software and paid an IT professional to install it and the result after six months was that nobody used it,” he says. The reason: “What I didn’t realize was that I was just adding one more task to our salespeople’s list of things to do.”

Later, after learning from his mistakes, Clayton tried again with a new system. He says, “To ensure a successful implementation this time around, I broke down the existing tasks and workflows that our salespeople were already conducting and replaced tasks with new software-related tasks. For instance, previously our receptionist would take many of the new incoming leads from the phone and write them down onto a lead sheet and give it to a salesperson. We replaced that analog task with a digital task and made her job to enter it into the lead into the CRM program, and then a salesperson would work out of the software from that point on.” Clayton says GreenPal was able to get buy-in because the old analog systems were done away with, saving everyone time and effort.

Establish CRM as the Source of “Universal Truth”

Resistance is natural, as workers will often revert to what they already know any time a procedural change is implemented. That can’t be an option, says Jordan Wan, CEO of sales recruiting software firm CloserIQ. “Develop a stance of, ‘If it doesn’t exist in CRM, it doesn’t exist,’” he says. “With a larger sales organization, there are many policies such as commissions, handoff, and territory policies that require just one source of truth. Setting a precedent in which correct CRM usage leads to the most favorable outcomes for each rep will help motivate them to use it consistently.”

By establishing the CRM system as the “bible” for your organization, you avoid confusion and conflict. That said, be careful with levying punishments for failure to use the system. “Negative reinforcement can backfire,” says Wallace. “Instead of punishing the wrong behavior, keep promoting the benefits of the software while incentivizing the right behavior. Consider rewarding those who have achieved an important departmental goal while using the new system.”

Create Key Messaging: Failure Is Not an Option

What if the CRM system doesn’t work out? You can always go back to the old way of doing things, right? Wrong, says Sebastien Dupéré, CEO of Dupray, which markets steam cleaning equipment globally. “Adoption has been a problem for us in the past,” says Dupéré, “and we have dealt with it in a variety of ways. First and foremost, we clearly identified that going back to the old technology was not an option. Once you firmly (but respectfully) communicate this to your employees, they will likely feel as if they have no choice but to get on board. The important thing with this tactic is to ensure that the delivery is appropriate and does not offend them.”

 

 

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About the Author: Christopher Null is an award-winning business and technology journalist. His work frequently appears on Wired, PC World, and TechBeacon. Follow him on Twitter @christophernull.