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CRM adoption: why adoption rates are dismal and how to fix them

four people gather at a conference room and the man leading the meeting is frustrated

Today, few workplace tools are as ubiquitous to companies as CRM systems. Most organizations use some kind of CRM to manage contacts and accelerate business workflows. Still, CRM adoption issues abound—and when adoption rates suffer, it results in frustrated users and missed opportunities.

Whether you’re trying to move your entire company to new software, or you’re trying to get your team to standardize how they use the CRM they already have, understanding why CRM adoption is a challenge is the first step to solving the problem. In this article, you’ll learn what the most common issues are with CRM adoption, and how to solve each one.

CRM adoption statistics that prove deployment is a challenge

The market for customer relationship management software has skyrocketed in recent years. It is now the biggest software market in the world.

Despite their ubiquity, there’s mounting evidence that CRM systems aren’t being used to their full potential. Low CRM adoption rates frequently lead to a low-value system with incomplete records, and a low-value system leads to even lower CRM adoption rates. This is a large part of the reason why up to 70% of CRM project fail

In this article, you’ll discover 4 of the most common reasons CRM adoption is low among teams and what you can do to make your customer relationship management software rollout more successful. 

What is CRM adoption?

CRM adoption is the percentage of companies or end-users that actually use a CRM tool, compared to the total number of seats purchased.

Traditional CRM software often suffers from low adoption rates due to a variety of factors, including unnecessary complexity, poor user experience, lack of training, and challenging onboarding processes. 

The challenge facing deal team leads and sales managers is spurring end-user adoption. The dealmakers who are working directly with their CRM tool are the key to successful user adoption rates. Unless they wholeheartedly embrace the CRM platform, the process will be a wasted exercise. 

Low or slow end-user CRM adoption leads to inefficiencies in businesses processes and ultimately a decline in revenue.

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Here are a few of the biggest challenges to full CRM adoption, and the solutions to overcome them:

Issue #1: The CRM is difficult to use

Most CRM platforms are tailor-made for sales managers and leaders. This makes sense. Managers and leaders are the key decision makers in terms of CRM purchase decisions, so many suppliers focus on optimizing the CRM features that are most applicable to decision makers—those that pertain to reporting, pipeline visibility, and forecasting. 

The result is that ease of use for those team members who will depend on the platform for routine work falls lower on the priority list. Many CRMs aren’t intuitive; some are even downright cumbersome, making them time-consuming for salespeople and deal teams to use.

Manual entry of customer data is a particular pain point. According to data gathered by Pattern, a now-deprecated sales note-taking platform, 71% of deal-focused CRM users feel that they spend too much time on data entry. This time expenditure drives these same users to avoid CRM data entry altogether. The same dataset showed that 79% of opportunity-related data collected by sales reps is never entered in their CRM.

close deals faster with a CRM driven by relationship intelligence. Want to learn how? Click here to talk to our team now

Another common pitfall of CRMs is the fact that they tend to monitor customers, not relationships. Customers in traiditona sales CRM ecosystems are managed the same way as transactions. 

The need for an improved, more intelligent CRM is especially pronounced among professional and financial services including venture capital, private equity, investing banking, and consulting. In these industries, relationships have become increasingly complex with the increased cadence of communication and are inaccurately assessed by many standard CRM platforms.

 

The solution: Automating contact data entry. 

Intelligent CRM platforms supported by relationship intelligence eliminate manual contact data entry by automatically capturing data and interactions from email, calendar events, call logging, and contact information. 

With automated data capture, data entry and contact management is seamless, boosting CRM user adoption rates while freeing up deal teams to focus on strengthening relationships. 

Issue #2: A few CRM platforms dominate the marketplace

Many market segments are highly concentrated—a single company or a handful of companies own much of the market for a given product or service. Google is the behemoth of the search engine world. Coca-Cola and Pepsi are the world beverage leaders.

The CRM software industry is no exception to this rule. Salesforce is the clear leader. One-third of CRM system users use Salesforce, and a handful of other giants (Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP) combine with Salesforce to make up 75% of the market share.

Many companies opt for a CRM industry leader before realizing it isn’t right for their needs. It’s never easy challenging the status quo, especially when market dominance prevails. Turning one’s back away from Salesforce requires a bit of a leap of faith. There’s a perception that the market leader is always best, in every situation. As the old adage goes: “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.”

Many companies can’t gain a true appreciation of other CRM options during a trial period, because the majority of a company’s customer information has to be added before users can see real benefits.

 

The solution: A lightweight platform with more efficient onboarding. 

Live demos enable you to test more user-oriented relationship intelligence CRM platforms with your team’s data, so when you’re ready to make the switch, all of your information is already in your new CRM—saving time on deployment and training. 

Additionally, many of today’s leading CRM systems are designed with the end-user in mind to make the deployment, onboarding, and training process fast, smooth, and easy, so you will get less resistance from your team members and get them more excited about using the new CRM.

Issue #3: Acceptance of mediocrity

In his book "The Hard Thing About Hard Things,” Ben Horowitz explains that innovations that only offer an improvement of 2 to 3 times over existing solutions are unlikely to motivate high levels of adoption. He argues that a new solution must offer a 10x improvement in order for customers to be motivated to adopt it.

close deals faster with a CRM driven by relationship intelligence. Want to learn how? Click here to talk to our team now

Despite the low adoption rates of CRMs, it’s estimated that approximately 70% to 80% of businesses intend to continue using their existing CRM systems. Most businesses are satisfied with the status quo. They adhere to a “good enough” mentality. 

Unfortunately, this mentality leads companies to miss out on other solutions that may offer a significant advantage over those offered by Salesforce and the handful of other dominant CRM providers. 

 

The solution: Striving for purpose-built CRM platforms.

Instead of trying to customize clunky old systems, or accepting that the CRM status quo is as good as it’s going to get, leading deal teams are embracing and adopting technologies that are focused on the end-user experience and fit into their specific business workflows.

Issue #4: Lack of support for the new technology

Once a CRM is implemented, many organizations lose focus and fail to support their team members in learning how to use their new platform. Lack of training leads to frustrated employees and lower support for the new tools, which discourages employees from adopting the new CRM.

All customer relationships software requires post-implementation support, and teams will need ways to ask questions and work out issues as they are learning how to use the CRM’s features. Failing to provide users with sufficient support leads to a profound lack of enthusiasm and underutilization of the product. 

 

The solution: Providing an easy-to-use solution and ensuring ongoing support. 

The best path to high adoption rates is choosing a CRM solution that is easy to use, intuitive, and preferably involves as little manual data entry as possible. 

 

Choose your CRM implementation wisely, then provide your team with support including:

  • Customized training content, based on specific user needs
  • Easily accessible support in the form of FAQs to representatives from the CRM vendor’s team for platform-related issues 

Metrics to monitor and measure CRM adoption rates

To increase CRM adoption, your adoption strategy should track CRM usage as well as encourage it. There are three primary metrics to monitor that will tell you everything you need to know about how your people are using their new system or existing CRM.

Metric 1: User behavior

User behavior metrics help you quantify how often and to what depth your team is using the CRM. These data points include:

  • Contact creation
  • Task completion
  • Emails sent (if your CRM includes an email feature)
  • Deal status updates

 

Metric 2: Goals

Set up goals for each individual and team that will be using the CRM, and measure, track, and evaluate their progress toward goals regularly. Intelligent CRM platforms are equipped with built-in business intelligence solutions which monitor and visualize your goals, making it easier than ever to review whether you’re on track to meet them and plan ways to improve your dealmaking process. 

 

Metric 3: User feedback

Encourage your team to give feedback on their experience with the CRM, and share suggestions for improvements. Letting them know their opinion matters gives them ownership over the outcome—and it will help you keep your finger on the pulse of the user experience.

With automation, you can make the most of your CRM

Sales managers for traditional sales teams and leadership supporting financial and professional services teams are responsible for making sure their teams understand the benefits of using customer relationship management platforms and how they can make business workflows easier. The strategies above can help improve your CRM user adoption and give managers the opportunity to help their teams best optimize their workflows with a new platform.

Achieving high CRM adoption rates doesn’t happen overnight—it requires ongoing time and energy. That said, one of the fastest routes to a successful CRM project that provides the best possible user experience is choosing the right CRM platform. 

Affinity streamlines all your business processes into a single source of truth with automated data capture and data enrichment that can save your team hundreds of hours of time. 

With Affinity, teams can focus on nurturing relationships and finding the next quality deal. By eliminating contact data entry and offering relationship intelligence—insights into your teams collective network, business connections, and client interaction that help find, manage, and close more deals—Affinity can get your new CRM system up and running quickly, and its intuitive design ensures your team members won’t require hours of training to use the platform.

close deals faster with a CRM driven by relationship intelligence. Want to learn how? Click here to talk to our team now