The 4 C’s:  Driving CRM adoption


“Adoption” means your users have embraced the CRM.  They’re using regularly, relying on it, and consider it a part of their daily work cycle.

There’s nothing simple or easy about this.  Yet there’s nothing more important to achieve, because this is both core to getting your CRM to bear ROI fruit and core to proving that your CRM can bear fruit.  Yin and yang.

The Four C’s to Adoption Success
How do you distill the essence of successful adoption practices down to a few words?  Let’s try four:

  1. Championing
  2. Cheerleading
  3. Coaching
  4. Confirming 

First, before you do anything else, identify and gain the commitment of a corporate Champion.  The champion’s title starts with a V or a C; no one more junior will do.  And they must be in a position of authority over the users. The champion’s job is simply this:  “an authoritative stance that the CRM is a key part of our processes; it is my expectation that my managers and their reports will use this system regularly.  I will be watching.” The champion doesn’t have to be any sort of big-time user of the CRM, but they should definitely be looking at the dashboards and setting the expectation to “show me” within the system.

Next, while you’re in the process of designing and implementing your system, identify Cheerleaders within each team or functional group.  A cheerleader is an enthusiastic user of the CRM and a stakeholder in design and development.  They should have a material role in the design of the system, they should be trained thoroughly on the platform to the extent that they can be considered “superusers”, they should take a role in training to communicate how and why they gain success in their role by using it, and they should be available to their teammates as a ready reference and helpmate.

At the point of launch – and after – you will need to have comprehensive training programs developed, specific to each group of users, so you are prepared to begin Coaching your team.  Particularly when the use of a CRM is new to your team, reinforcing training will be necessary on an ongoing basis – it’s a lot to absorb. Your CRM admin will need to look for opportunities to reach out one on one to help users.  And your cheerleader should expect to spend some measurable amount of time supporting their peers.

Finally, to Confirm the value of the CRM platform in the minds of the users, find early wins to trumpet as testimonials.  In fact, you should not go looking for those wins, you should plan for those wins.  You know what the platform was developed to automate and what the KPIs are that measure success, so define one or more demonstrable successes and look for them to emerge post-launch.  Make sure they emerge.  Then wave the flag to the troops.


A Moment’s Reflection:  Did you Build It Right?

So.  Interesting.  We just talked about the core things you can do to drive adoption.  But they didn’t have much to do with how the system is constructed. That’s often the question we get from clients or prospective clients – “what can we do to the system to get more people to adopt it.”  And our first push-back is all about process – the 4 C’s from above. Those are internal business motions, with nothing to do with technology.

That does not mean, however, that the system is actually correctly built to serve the needs of the users.  And the C’s may signal that – if you struggle to find a Cheerleader who can get excited about the system, and you can’t find something to confirm that it’s producing results … well, then.  You probably DO have a poorly implemented system. Address that!

More Reflection:  Are you Keeping It Clean?

Many people overlook the fact that data hygiene is a core part of maintaining a CRM.  If your data is dirty, duplicate-ridden, missing key records, or missing key pieces of data on existing records, users are going to have a miserable time engaging with it.

That is an eminently fixable problem.  As long as you invest resources and time to defining quality standards, assigning a competent person to routinely clean it, and purchase the appropriate cleansing software.  More on this in another post to come …