The success of your CRM implementation hinges more on user adoption and data quality than any other factors. Despite the arguable progress in software features, driving user adoption remains the most difficult challenge of CRM implementation.
Much has been written on the subject, such as Microsoft's training and adoption kit. Here are some highlights from my experience:
- Adopting CRM is not painless. Help users understand that it will be hard work and sometimes frustrating, but the results will be worthwhile. Setting unrealistic expectations of an easy process will make it harder to succeed.
- Show the support of upper management. This means communications from leaders of your organization, attending meetings on the CRM project, and participating in implementation decisions. Lack of interest can be contagious.
- Establish incentives for adoption. Find those that fit with your organization's culture and which will work to motivate users. For instance, in sales force automation, use a CRM dashboard as the centerpiece of every sales meeting, and don't discuss opportunities that have not been entered.
- Be sure to save enough funding and energy to provide training for users. Provide enough training but not so much that it seems overwhelming. Don't train until your system is ready to use, at least as a proof of concept, because we forgot quickly without a chance to practice.
- During the adoption period, fix defects quickly and communicate problems to users. Don't provide excuses to abandon the system.