CRM Adoption Is A Journey
Cloud Computing Outlook

CRM Adoption is a Journey

By Jason Davis, Vice President , Salesforce implementation at PlainsCapital Bank

Jason Davis, Vice President , Salesforce implementation at PlainsCapital Bank

CRM implementations do not always have the success at the beginning that everyone has hoped for. CRM systems are not the type of system you can turn on the switch and walk away from, but a living breathing system that must grow and change with your company and users’ expectations. The process of implementing and modifying the technology is easy compared to the habit change that faces your sales team when moving to a new CRM system. While using a new CRM there will be a change to your sales team’s well established routines, getting them to adopt and boils down to: does this system help your sales team do their job better and easier than the process they had before. Keep in mind that the users of this system are the ones who generate revenue for your company. Putting key information at their fingertips and taking mundane tasks off their plate to free them to have more time in front of the customer to sell more should be every one’s goal. To do this takes continual effort from both the business and technical teams to keep your CRM system relevant and then training your team so they understand how to take advantage of it.

Continuous Feedback and Changes

Has the usage of your CRM system gone from a fire hose to a trickle? Does sales management have to push your sales team to use the system? This gets old after a while for all involved and they eventually grow weary of it. Talk to your customers/users and make sure you implement an ongoing process to gather feedback from all levels as Executives, Sales Managers, Sales Reps and those in supporting roles all have different perspectives on the processes they would like to see implemented and changed. This should become something that is done on an ongoing basis with changes happening after each round of feedback. Compared to custom development, making configuration changes in Salesforce is fast and something that can be done in hours. In fact, you will spend more time on your internal governance activities – filling out docs and conducting testing - than it will take to make the changes your users requested.


Although Salesforce is easy to use, it requires training for everyone to understand its use in your environment. Sales people are an interesting bunch, they want to be trained by someone who has walked in their shoes and can relate the system to them in their terms. Train the Trainer can be a good way to approach this, provided you have the time and resources to put a program together. Regardless of the approach, this system will evolve and training must keep up so that users can understand all the changes they have requested and your team has implemented. This means training is something that needs to happen regularly – think quarterly - just to keep up. In addition, most adult learners need to hear, see, and touch the material at least three times before they are going to “get it.” Delivering training multiple ways through multiple channels (e.g. video/on-line, in-person training, and through manuals) can help people retain what they have learned and reach them in their learning style. A new training technology considered by me is adding to our mix is on-screen training. It works like this: inside the application the user can choose a business task/scenario they need help with and then get GPS like guidance through the task as they do it (for more info check out WalkMe and their competitors). It should be a great alternative to creating training videos and training manuals as the material will be right there on the screen so it saves the user from having to remember the content of the video or read a document as they go.

"Salesforce is easy to use, it requires training for everyone to understand its use in your environment"

Staffing considerations

If training was not enough there is much more to keep your Salesforce team busy. They are the ones who must patiently answer the user support calls they get from all levels of users. They must ensure the input that was gathered from feedback sessions and support calls gets translated into a solution your users envisioned and is simple for them to use (harder than it sounds). Focus must then be turned to data management as duplicate records, record ownership, and all the other headaches caused by human data entry can be an issue – even if you take systematic steps to keep it clean. Another data centric task is integrating Salesforce with your other systems. This can be one of the more challenging technical aspects of Salesforce, but something your internal team will need to continue to stay on top of, especially as you add and change your other internal systems. Take other systems that your sales team has to look up information in and pull that information into Salesforce. If they are filling out information in Salesforce ensure that information transfers over to other systems. This allows them to take full advantage of the mobile functionality that Salesforce offers and prevent re-keying data into other systems. The more useful data you can surface in Salesforce and processes you can automate through it, the better your adoption will be. It is important to staff your internal team appropriately to ensure the continued success of the system.

As a speaker at a recent Salesforce conference said – “Reduce the hate, automate” – make the system work for the people and not the other way around. When people see that you are making changes – their changes - they will become your champions which will strengthen the adoption of your CRM system. This will allow your company to start getting a better return on their software subscription.

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