In part two of a three-part series on common CRM implementation issues and how to avoid them, we look at change management and adoption strategy.
For those embarking on a CRM project, it is critical to avoid the same mistakes others have so frequently, and innocently, made in the past.
In the previous post, we discussed how CRM solutions are not financially governed, which makes CRM data and transactions (almost) optional when it comes to generating sales. We also highlighted why it’s important for business executives to own and lead the project.
In this post, we will cover the importance of implementing a change management and adoption strategy – particularly when migrating from an on-premise CRM to the cloud.
Why a CRM Change Management Strategy Matters
When it’s time to implement a new CRM system or migrate an existing one to the cloud – such as Dynamics 365 CE – it is important to consider who will be using it, including their work habits and how comfortable they are with technology.
Some people adapt to change very well and some even drive change initiatives (also known as “Change Agents”), while others simply fear change and are terrified of new systems or new methods.
Whenever you hear the phrase: “We have always done it that way,” understand and make a note that the person saying it — and perhaps the entire department — will not adjust to a new system very well. As someone who has implemented and managed many CRM and ERP projects successfully, that statement warns me to proceed with caution. It’s like saying “I don’t adjust to changes very well” or “I am unwilling to change my process.”
Understanding the people, their work methods and cultural barriers will allow you to develop a change management strategy that provides an individualized plan to get people working in the new solution and in the least disruptive way possible. You will also be able to create a CRM adoption strategy that defines and evangelizes the benefits of using the CRM system to each affected group of users.
Without a change management strategy, here’s what you can expect when you launch:
- 20% of users will be ready to work, willing and able to use the CRM
- 30% of users will need some assistance and handholding but will be proficient within a couple of months
- 50% of users will continue to operate as if the CRM technology doesn’t exist at all
The result is likely a failed implementation – whether the end comes within a few days or a few months. At a minimum, the organization may feel it is not getting the value out of the CRM investment. The outcome is always data degradation, inaccurate reporting, and frustrated users. The business starts to realize that it isn’t going to get the value from the significant investment that was just made.
A change management strategy looks at the profiles of each user type and accommodates the communication, training, and empathy necessary prior to and during your CRM launch. Achieving a high level of alignment on why the new CRM solution is important to the organization, and making sure that everyone feels properly enabled to operate the system correctly is paramount.
Let’s use a real-life example…
A company wants to migrate away from a homegrown on-premise sales contacts database, and move to a true cloud-based CRM like Dynamics 365 CE. The generation of seasoned users embraces using the old system they have become very comfortable with — but don’t use consistently. They have used it for years and are happy about the fact there are few controls in place to make sure they are using it properly, i.e. they can work around the system.
The people driving business development and customer experience transformation, however, are much more familiar with modern solutions that can drive new customer acquisition and retention. They understand the importance of managing the processes and data in a standardized fashion. A model that creates a single source of the truth for all customer interaction.
In this typical scenario, there are obvious gaps in needs and perspectives between the group that has traditionally worked within the old solution, and what the user community can expect to experience in the new CRM world as a result of the BD Transformation. The business needs to be able to empathize with the users and understand the pain that can accompany transformative projects.
After all, this is part of their daily routine. Going live without addressing these things will likely doom it to failure. A strategy around people and process change will be essential for heading off the pain associated with change as much as possible and driving ownership of the new solution.
Where does adoption fit into all of this?
People tend to adopt a solution more readily once they understand “What’s in it for me?” The adoption component of the overall change strategy looks at the affected groups and attempts to provide a value proposition at each level in exchange for proper use.
Using a sales hierarchy, for example, here’s what that would look like:
- Vice President of Sales
- Director of Sales
- Sales Manager
- Territory Sales Representatives
The adoption game plan would look at each level in this hierarchy and define a return on investment” for their time spent using the CRM solution; this is a value proposition. It would also likely include accelerators and techniques that help make the interaction with CRM as frictionless as possible.
For example, if the sales manager drives performance discussions based on financial metrics only, the conversation may fall on deaf ears because it doesn’t help them connect outcome with sales behaviors. If that same sales manager pulls in CRM sales activity information as an overlay to that financial information, it provides real context as to what activity generates specific financial results.
But, if the sales manager defines KPIs that can be measured in CRM and uses CRM reporting to drive performance discussions while celebrating wins and incentivizing along the way, the sales representatives will know their activities have value and will support CRM usage.
Sales representatives need to be given good reasons to use the system beyond good data and reporting. You must design a method that allows the sales representatives to easily find and change sales.
Understanding how people work, what motivates them and what creates friction in their world is important to developing and executing a meaningful change management strategy that helps optimize adoption. Transformational projects like the implementation of a new CRM solution significantly impact the way people do their job, and change takes time. Engaging early and often and sticking with it through KPI measures and ongoing communication are keys to successful adoption.