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How to drive CRM Adoption

A sophisticated CRM system can deliver enormous benefits, from increasing customer satisfaction and generating sales leads to boosting profits and slashing operating costs. A CRM system works by gathering information from multiple data sources and storing it in a centralized location. Once these sales leads and consumer data sets are integrated, this information is then analyzed to enable tailored marketing campaigns, superior customer service and improved decision support.


Consider, for example, a sales associate in a luxury goods retail store. The moment a customer walks in the door, the customer service representative can access key information from a Web-based CRM app using a tablet PC. Details might include a customer’s buying history, product preferences, marital status and loyalty program membership. Using these data points, the sales associate can then provide a tailored customer shopping experience, as well as take advantage of any up-sell opportunities.


In fact, 52% of high-performing salespeople indicated they are power users who take full advantage of their company’s CRM  echnology and internal systems compared to only 31% of underperforming salespeople, according to a study conducted by Steve. W. Martin, a University of Southern California Marshall School of Business professor and author of Heavy Hitter I.T. Sales Strategy: Competitive Insights from Interviews with 1,000+ Key Information Technology Decision Makers.

Obstacles ahead

Yet the success of a CRM strategy doesn’t hinge on fancy features but rather how quickly employees embrace the solution. For starters, many organizations are unaware of the powerful impact a CRM system can have on the bottom line. A recent Oracle study reveals that among companies investing in new customer service-oriented technologies, a whopping 62% don’t grasp the full importance and impact customer service can have when it’s part of an organization-wide strategic goal.
Another hindrance to widespread CRM adoption is a failure to properly customize a solution for an organization’s unique needs. “CRM vendors sell you the software, they offer you support but then they don’t really train you on how it will work for your business or what type of customization you need to have,” says Robert Barnes, a principal consultant with CRM Systems, a Canada-based marketing automation and CRM consultancy.

52% of high-performing salespeople indicated they are power users who take full advantage of their company’s CRM technology and internal systems compared to only 31% of underperforming salespeople -University of Southern California Marshall School Study

As a result, Radu recommends that leaders take the time to consider what business problems they want CRM to address, what business processes CRM will impact and how the system will grow with the company’s needs. Only by answering these questions can organizations begin to implement a CRM solution worthy of adoption.


The flipside of poor customization is tailoring a solution to a point where it’s no longer recognizable. Most CRM solutions feature three primary applications: sales force automation, marketing and service/support. For the most part, vendors tend to consolidate these three functions into a single, comprehensive suite, along with a string of other complimentary functions. But that doesn’t mean a company has to take advantage of every aspect of a CRM system, from its call center tools to campaign management features, all at once.


In fact, the software customization craze has prompted many businesses to attempt to tailor a CRM solution right down to the database level. As a result, tweaking the software to accommodate future needs and product lifecycles ends up being a costly and time-consuming endeavor, minimizing the chances of reaping a prompt return on investment. Rather, organizations that avoid biting off more than they can chew, and ease into CRM functionality, will achieve better results in the long run.

Despite numerous hurdles, there are steps companies can take to drive CRM adoption. This blog post explores the top 4 strategies for gaining CRM acceptance.


1. Aim to integrate.

These days, data lurks in all kinds of systems, from payroll to sales automation. Getting a CRM solution off the ground requires that these disparate data sets be migrated and then integrated into a single CRM system.


“It’s very important for marketing to work with the same data as the sales force,” says Radu. Consider, for example, a marketer who decides to send a “Come back soon – we miss you” promotional email to every customer that hasn’t made a purchase in the past six months.

However, what if a sales team had already contacted 90% of the company’s lapsed customers within the past two weeks as part of a sales initiative to reactivate old accounts? By failing to properly integrate a marketing automation database with a sales database, a company risks inundating customers with repeat messages, all of which can embarrass employees and impede CRM adoption.

One way to avoid such an occurrence is to hire a systems integrator. These experienced thirdparty providers can help organizations with key integration, deployment and implementation processes. What’s more, a systems integrator can enable a company to develop a master data strategy that determines which systems contain the most accurate and up-to-date information.


For instance, master data management (MDM) technology delivers a single and trusted view of the customer across the enterprise. MDM systems work by taking business-critical data from multiple systems and creating the best version of the truth – a consistent and integrated view of customer data for fuller engagement. In turn, sales and marketing teams can better understand and manage customer activity from a single vantage point for greater ROI.

2. Pay for play.

Overworked and overwhelmed, many salespeople view the introduction of a CRM system as one more task in an already hectic day. Says Radu: “Salespeople don’t want to sit and punch their information into a CRM system. They see that as administrative work and not as something very important to their job. Rather, they think as long as they have a relationship with their clients that will turn into business.”


Instead of wasting energy trying to convince sales of the business benefits of CRM, many organizations are tying compensation directly to the use of a CRM system. Greater incentives are offered for early and deep adoption, such as higher commission rates and bonuses, whereas laggards are paid less if they refuse to use the system. It’s a simple approach but one that can have an enormous impact on adoption.


Yet no matter the incentive, Radu says once salespeople start using a CRM solution, the benefits will be obvious: “The more data you put into a CRM system, the more your salesforce will use it, the more effective they will become, the more sales they will generate and the more commission they’ll make.”

3. Add mobile CRM functionality to the mix.

A CRM system needs to be where its users are in order to drive adoption. For this reason, many organizations are testing out mobile CRM applications. In fact, according to research firm IDC, 37 percent of the world’s labor force, or 1.3 billion workers, will identify as mobile workers this year. And Gartner reveals that, 80 percent of businesses will suffer revenue loss by not supporting Web-based customer service on mobile devices.


The good news is a growing number of vendors are making their CRM platforms available on mobile devices, including SAP,, SugarCRM and Sage. These apps work by allowing employees to access and log critical data, regardless of where they are, using a tablet, smartphone or laptop computer.


Case in point, a salesperson in the middle of a face-to-face negotiation can call up information on new product promotions or access updated pricing details to sweeten the deal. What’s more, these in-the-field sales reps can enter information about a client or prospect remotely. Not only does this save them hours in manual account management but it allows marketers with access to the same CRM system to review up-to-the-minute details to better shape campaigns.


Other features include the ability to view upcoming events, access contact information from a single repository and log activities for fast referral.


However, before purchasing a mobile CRM app, it’s important to determine whether it’s best to go with a mobile version of an existing CRM system, create a custom CRM app or purchase a mobile app that integrates with other CRM systems. Mobile versions of existing CRM systems are excellent for tech-savvy workforces that are comfortable handling robust features.


A custom mobile app is more likely to be embraced by salesforces with unique business processes. And purchasing a mobile app that sits atop an existing CRM system is perfect for companies unwilling to part with existing technology but eager to try out new sales and marketing tools.

4. Dazzle users with analytics.

Sales and marketing are often at odds when it comes to determining what they wish to accomplish with their CRM system. But if there’s one thing they can agree on, it’s the value of big data. By crunching customer data, from demographic information to buying behavior, marketing teams can better customize their communications and promotional offers. For example, a marketer may wish to deliver a digital coupon to shoppers’ smartphones the moment they step foot inside an electronics store. By delivering an incentive-to-buy at the precise moment of making a purchasing decision, a retailer can significantly drive sales.


In addition to generating revenue, analytics can also help cut costs. Consider, for example, a marketing team that perpetually sends out email messages offering deep discounts to every single one of its customers. But what if a small percentage of these customers were loyal shoppers, willing to pay full price for products. By diving deep into data, retailers can discover which customers should receive coupons and which customers would be willing to pay full price for a product regardless of incentive.


Leveraging these bits and bytes of information to increase sales and cut costs can spur widespread adoption of CRM among both sales and marketing teams. Unfortunately, a staggering 50 percent of marketers agree that data is the most underutilized asset in their organization, with less than 10 percent saying they currently use what data they have in a systematic way, according to a Teradata Data-Driven Marketing Survey 2013. What’s worse, about half (48 percent) of all marketers are still just using data on an ad hoc basis, while about a third (33 percent) have embedded it systematically or even strategically into their standard processes. That has to change for organizations to glean great value from their CRM systems.


A CRM solution can deliver better customer service, streamline marketing efforts and serve as a powerful sales tool. Yet a resistance to change can cause employees to balk at CRM’s benefits, thereby curbing widespread adoption. Luckily, there are steps businesses can take to earn CRM the respect it deserves. Integrating data silos, compensating employees for usage, deploying mobile CRM apps and introducing analytics are all ways organizations can make CRM a revenue-generating asset.


We can help you accomplish all of these things, and more.  Contact us.

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