May 2015

Quote of the month:  

People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it ~ George Bernard Shaw

"CRM User Adoption Strategies & Best Practices”
by David Faye, CEO, Faye Business Systems Group, Inc.

CRM Software is one of the fastest growing and most important categories of software today. 10 years ago, many people didn’t know what CRM software was.  5 years ago, many people knew about CRM software but didn’t think it was for them.

Today, business people recognize that they need CRM software to stay closer to their customers and remain on equal or greater footing than their competitors who are implementing and using CRM software with great success.

We know what it is. We know what it does. We know we need it.  We buy it. We implement it.  And then, no one uses it. What’s up with that?

Lack of user adoption is the single biggest impediment to the successful implementation and use of CRM software.  It’s not like that for accounting and financial software.  It’s not like that for shopping carts and e-commerce platforms.  It’s the unique and singular cross to bear in the CRM space.   Why is this?   And, more importantly, what can be done about it?

80% of CRM users say that technology has failed to help them grow sales.    So…what do they do?   They stop using technology.   CRM is one of the only software categories that, without proper management, can be seen as “optional”.     Accounting Software is not optional.   You can’t print a check without the software.   However, salespeople can make calls, go on meetings, generate proposals, and close deals without any software.   Accordingly, it takes a different approach to get users to use the software.

For success, CRM deployment must take into account five best practices:

  1. Accountability
  2. Patience
  3. Understanding the why
  4. Having an internal champion
  5. Attitude

Failure of the deployment can occur from insufficient attention to any one or combination of shortcomings in these areas.


CRM Software is not like accounting software. Accounting software users have to use the software to do their jobs. If they want to generate an invoice, they have to use the software. If they want to send a check to a vendor, they have to use the software. Salespeople don’t HAVE to use CRM software. They can meet with customers or prospects without using the software. They can track their opportunities without using the software. They can keep an address book of all their contacts without using CRM Software. So…how do you get them to use the software? There are a number of ways to force/encourage/incentivize/browbeat your team into using the software:

  • Require a weekly report of activities to be submitted by users. The report is only acceptable if generated from the CRM software.
  • Have a weekly meeting reviewing the pipeline data in the CRM software.
  • Require all quotes to be generated from within the CRM software.
  • Remove access to all other systems except the CRM software. The only way to get customer data is through the CRM software.

There are many ways accountability comes into play with a new piece of software. The point isn’t to implement one of the above ideas. The point is to give thought to how you will get users to use the software. You need to have a plan for this. There is study after study of failed CRM implementations, because users decline to adopt the software. Have a plan for this.


Perfection comes with patience. Are you a perfectionist? This probably works for you in some parts of your life. It’s not going to work here. You just need to get going. We need to accept that you won’t know exactly how it’s going to work before you get started. Do the best you can, and then roll it out. The key is to “roll it out”. You can always tweak later.

Ensuring the success of your CRM is to make sure you don’t get overly consumed with getting every feature you want in the first release. One of the keys to a successful CRM implementation is adopting a phased approach. Don’t try to do it all at once. A first phase could be based on getting a few salespeople using the software. Phase 2 could be getting the rest of the salespeople using the software. Phase 3 could bring in Customer Service. Phase 4 could involve Marketing. And so on…. If you can avoid doing it all at once, you should. And, if you think you can’t avoid doing it all at once, you should rethink your plan.

During each phase, make sure you are constantly evaluating effectiveness.  Keep a detailed track record of the things that are working and the things that are not.  Make sure everything is transparent and that team members keep an open dialogue going about what is working and what isn’t working.  This is one of the most effective ways to ensure that adoption is occurring right out of the gates. If someone on the team is not having a single issue, or isn’t speaking up, address them. Asking them how it’s going. Ask them what they like, or don’t like.  Make sure to keep them engaged. 

Once you’ve come to an acceptable period for review, then come up with a list of all the different ways you want to change or tweak the program. That’s what it is meant to do.  Make the software work for you…don’t just accept that this is the way it is and it’s set in stone. 

Understanding the Why

Why are you implementing CRM Software? Do you know? Do you have three things that are critical to achieve to make the CRM software a success? These could be things like:

  • Give my sales reps the ability to enter sales orders and quotes from the road on their iPad.
  • Give my sales reps the ability to see customer sales history from the road without having to log into our ERP software
  • Give management visibility of weekly rep sales activities
  • Give management visibility of the sales pipeline at any point in time
  • Give any person in the organization the ability to have a 360 degree view of a customer’s interactions with us, including customer service calls, sales opportunities, sales history, etc.

Obviously, there are other reasons, but these are some common ones.  And as always, evaluate the effectiveness of these objectives.  If sales reps and management are achieving the objectives you’ve laid out, how has it changed things for them? Do they find they can do their job better, with a deeper understanding of their customers?  If not, why?

Who Is Your Internal Champion?

There needs to be one product evangelist that absolutely loves CRM software. They run around the office yelling about how great it is. When anyone has a problem, they run over to the person’s desk and fix it. When anyone complains, they run over and minimize the complaint. Need a new field added? The champion jumps on it and does it right then and there. Need a report? The champion shows you how quick and easy it is. Can’t figure out how to sync your email? The champion is there to show you which button to click. This is as important as anything. If there isn’t an obvious or natural person in this role, appoint someone. You’ll save yourself lots of heartache (and $$$) in the short and long run.

Make sure you do what you can to give this person the resources they need to generate and keep buzz going around the software.  In a perfect world, you’d want this same person to take leadership of the whole implementation and make it a success, but it doesn’t always work out that way.  Commitment is the key and taking on new software is a major decision.  Don’t just leave it to your internal champion.  It is also your job to help this person, keep them on focused on getting everyone else on board with as much enthusiasm as possible. 

Attitude Will Take You Everywhere

Finally, having the right attitude is going to be crucial to get everyone in your organization on board with the new CRM.  We know your internal champion has the right attitude, but if your VP of Sales hates the CRM and isn’t using it then I can guarantee that a few of your Sales Reps aren’t using it either.

When adopting a CRM you must live by the motto: “if it’s not in the CRM then it doesn’t exist.” There is no question that change doesn’t come easy for most of us, but setting clear expectations and having the attitude that you will live and die by your CRM is going to pay dividends in the end.  Maybe live and die is a bit harsh, but having the right attitude is everything.  Someone in your company spent valuable resources finding, purchasing and implementing the CRM.  This isn’t just a passive e-mail program or a set-it-and-forget-it system. CRM is a powerful tool that is going to do so many positive things for your company. Getting everyone on the same page starts with having the right attitude. 

There are no guarantees for a successful implementation of CRM Software.   However, you can put the odds in your favor by making sure your strategy, processes, technology, and people are in line and by having a user adoption strategy in place before the implementation occurs.   Don’t be a statistic.  Be the company that sells more using technology as it’s meant to be used.       


David Faye is an entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience in building businesses and helping organizations grow primarily through the effective use of software and information technology. As the CEO of Faye Business Systems Group, he has built an industry leading software company specializing in implementation, development, and support relating to cloud based CRM, ERP, Accounting, and Marketing Automation Software. He has extensive expertise in SugarCRM, Act-On, Sage 100 ERP, NetSuite, and the development of custom software.

Contact David Faye

Listen To This Interview with David Faye

Click here to view a recording of a presentation I recently gave on these Five Best Practices for CRM User Adoption.

David Faye Supports Boy Scouts of America