Questions, Questions, and More Questions about CRM User Adoption


I attended a meeting last week with a company considering the purchase of CRM Software, and specifically SugarCRM Software.    The big topic, as it always seems to be, is how they get their salespeople to use it.   While this is a really valid question, I can’t wait for the day when the question goes away.   When meeting with companies about accounting or ERP software, no one ever asks “how do I get my users to use the software?”   What is it about CRM that drives this conversation?    Why isn’t it just assumed that sales people, support people, etc. will use the software an organization purchases to make them more productive?

I think part of it is that some salespeople believe they can do their job without it.    A controller or accounts payable clerk would never think they could do their job without financial software.   An inventory manager would never believe he could manage inventory without software.   Did it take a long time for accounting people to think that actual accounting software is more effective than Excel?   Yet, here we are in 2015 and some salespeople still believe they can manage their prospects and customer relationships without any real software application to support them.   Are we, in the CRM industry, doing a crappy job of promoting and evangelizing what the software does?

Rather than spend yet another blog explaining strategies for ensuring user adoption, and there are a bunch here, here, here AND here. I’d rather just pose the question…why do we have to create strategies for this?   Why isn’t it self-evident?     I think part of it is definitely a management issue.   If management goes to the trouble of purchasing and implementing software, they need to expect and demand usage of it.   If management purchased some new accounting software, what would they say if their AP Clerk handed them a hand-written check to sign?   Would there be a WTF moment?    Of course there would.   So…when management purchases and implements new CRM software, why do they allow their salespeople to submit pipeline information in a spreadsheet?

Maybe those of us in the CRM industry are part of the problem also?   Maybe we need to stop talking about user “adoption” and instead talk more about user “selection”?     If you have a controller that refuses to use accounting software to manage accounts receivable, what do you do?   Right!   You likely find a new controller who will.    If you have a sales rep who won’t use CRM software to manage their pipeline….