Implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) tool for your business can be both exciting and challenging. While a new CRM has the potential to better manage growth and accelerate workflows, adopting new software often requires team members to learn new procedures that can upset established daily routines.
In fact, according to CIO Insights, a mere 47% of businesses with a CRM in place have an adoption rate of over 90%. Therefore, achieving employee buy-in is a critical component of a successful CRM implementation process. Your team’s engagement, motivation, and cooperation will play a role in the overall return on investment you get from your CRM.
Let’s look at some tips on how to get sales professionals invested in your CRM rollout:
1. Get Your Team Involved Early
Team members naturally invest in processes in which they’re heavily involved, so get key team members involved at the front end of the selection and implementation process. During the research phase, have team members contribute by providing their top CRM choices and include sales reps on CRM demo calls with vendors. Participating in the sales process turns your team into decision-makers, which leads to higher engagement.
During the demo process, ask sales reps to pay attention to their user experience. How do they feel using the product? What are their likes and dislikes? What features are most important to them? The goal is to encourage them to envision what it would be like to use the CRM. As a bonus, experiencing the CRM ahead of time shortens the learning curve.
That said, if you’ve already selected a CRM without their input, you can still get them involved. Connect your agents with CRM vendors, account managers, or customer success reps to open up communication between these groups during training or whenever a new CRM initiative is rolled out. Direct communication with your CRM vendor can help your team feel engaged in the overall process.
2. Regularly Ask for Feedback
To gain the team’s investment in your CRM strategy, work backward. Start by asking employees to make a list of all inefficient processes in their roles and the company as a whole. Which systems and operations would CRM improve for them? What additional software can integrate with the CRM and make their jobs easier? Creating this list reminds employees why CRM is critical to the success of their company.
If you need help identifying potential CRMs that could meet your needs, we encourage you to check out our guide on choosing a CRM. However, be sure to also ask for feedback at strategic intervals during the selection process. Often, teams don’t know what they don’t know about the capability of a CRM until after they have experienced more than one demo, and it will be just as important for you to check in on your team with follow-up questions and practice active listening during these sessions to build trust in the CRM process.
3. Create an Initial & Ongoing Training Plan
Like any business initiative, gaining buy-in for your CRM requires forethought. Create a plan that outlines training and use it to pinpoint future opportunities to increase buy-in.
If CRM is new for your company, create a timeline for implementation. Include timelines for when you’ll introduce it to the team, dates for ongoing training, and an estimate of how many hours of training will be needed. Establishing a timeline is essential. Without start and end dates in mind, you run the risk of spending too much time on CRM training.
Next, create a schedule for future training, but don’t schedule it too tightly. As a rule of thumb, don’t schedule a week-long training as this can overwhelm your team. Instead, block off an hour or two per day over a month to lay a solid learning foundation. Once the initial training is complete, plan for future follow-up training.
Pro tip: While having the whole company involved in CRM training may be necessary, it can quickly get out of hand if you try to cover too much in a single training session. For example, your finance department doesn’t need to learn the same information as the sales team. Avoid wasting your employees’ time by lumping everyone into one group session. Plan and determine which department will receive training specific to their roles.
4. Establish an Individual or Team of Experts
Before beginning any CRM software implementation or training plan, decide who should be the point of contact responsible for testing out your CRM’s features and troubleshooting problems that might arise through normal day-to-day use. While it is good if this person has some technical savvy, ultimately it is best if this person also will be expected to use the CRM every day as part of their regular work. In most cases, this will be a sales manager.
Once you have established who your team’s expert is, give them access to resources like user groups and encourage them to attend additional training hosted by your CRM company. However, you should also make it clear that whoever is named as the team’s CRM expert will also be expected to set and enforce guidelines to ensure the consistency and accuracy of data input.
As your company expands, you may also want to consider hiring a sales operations employee whose job it will be to keep your employees motivated to use CRM correctly. A sales operations manager provides guidance, training, and supervision for your CRM. They’ll be your designated CRM expert and possess in-depth knowledge of the technical aspects. Their goal is to provide a frictionless sales process and make sure salespeople succeed in their day-to-day activities.
The salary for a sales ops employee is between $60,000 and $90,000. While this may seem like a sizable investment, correct usage and maintenance of your CRM results in significant return on investment (ROI). Sales operations employees are responsible for the onboarding and training of new employees and can eliminate reliance on third-party or consulting services. The time, money, and resources you’ll save when hiring an in-house sales operations employee usually justifies the cost.
5. Roll Policies Out Slowly
Policies and rules around CRM will evolve as your company grows and shifts. Start by having foundational rules. Do not overwhelm employees with a bunch of rules and policies from the outset. They will not be able to retain an extensive list of rules. Don’t ask too much of your team, as you’ll risk losing their buy-in.
Make learning the CRM achievable by introducing bite-sized lessons and rules. This is where proper scheduling and goal setting comes into play. Your training plan should have set dates for future training to space things out and give workers a chance to absorb what they’ve learned so far. Be sure to also set short- and long-term goals for what you hope your CRM will achieve for your business.
6. Make It Personal
Achieving employee buy-in comes down to making CRM benefits personal for team members. If employees don’t see how using the software will directly impact their job, they won’t be motivated to learn about it and may view the CRM as just another administrative task. Help your team understand that while using CRM may seem time-consuming, it ultimately reduces administrative tasks and saves time.
Personalize the CRM experience by demonstrating how it improves business processes and benefits their specific roles. One mistake companies tend to make is stressing the importance of CRM to the sales and marketing team, but not to executives. Include C-level employees in implementation and training to send the message that CRM is critical for the entire company.
Make training mandatory for everyone in the company and set the expectation that attendance without cell phones and laptops is encouraged. In return, reassure workers you’ll keep sessions short and space them out appropriately. For salespeople especially, allow them time to make sure their customers and prospects are taken care of in a timely fashion during training days. The goal is to prove to your team that CRM will boost productivity, not decrease it.
Finally, consider gamifying the training experience to increase enthusiastic participation. You can use sales gamification software to measure participation on leaderboards and award badges or other motivational tools. However, not everyone responds to formal competitions with relish. Perhaps your team is driven by informal gamification like the chance to win a small prize for perfect attendance.
Achieving employee buy-in is necessary for your CRM implementation to succeed. If the software is new to your company, prepare for a steeper learning curve and take steps to make adoption smoother for your team. Even with an experienced team of users, the key to getting acceptance for a new business app is to involve your employees in planning for it right from the start.