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5 important people you absolutely need for CRM success

CRM success

Post summary:

  • The role of people in implementation
  • Dream team of CRM success
  • One person you need to exclude
  • Importance of training

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) projects always start with a lot of expectations. People expect a CRM system to improve productivity, boost sales, streamline operations, and save money.

But even though the CRM industry is indeed booming with an anticipated growth of $36.4 billion by the year 2017, over a decade of research shows that from 30% to 65% of CRM projects fail. CSO Insights claims that less than 40% of CRM projects demonstrate full scale end-user adoption.

And the main reasons for such poor adoption rates have little to do with technology.

The main problems that stand in the way of CRM success are very much related to the organizational culture, lack of strategy and business goals, and, most importantly, the people involved, who account for 42% of problems.

CRM implementation problems

Let’s take a look at how and why people play such an important role in the implementation of a CRM software.

It’s all about people

One of the fundamental mistakes made during CRM implementation is that it is viewed just as a mere technology hook-up.

CRM adoption is not about technology – it is about the people using it!

Usually business owners who invest in a CRM software are led to believe that it is the software itself that will improve their business.

Spending thousands of dollars on a CRM solution turns out useless, if you don’t take care of the people who are supposed to use it. Why? Because those are the people who improve your customer relations, not the software!

“CRM technology has provided us with better tools, but it is still people who do the work of an organization and are ultimately responsible for its success,” states The Centre for Organizational Design.

According to Insight Managing Consulting, 64% of CRM implementation success depends on the support of the people within the organization.

Key CRM success factors in implementation

The dream team of CRM adoption

Since CRM implementation is a journey, not a one-off software project, you’ll need a team to make sure it works right and stays with you for a long time.

Be ready that not all members of your team will see the benefits of CRM immediately and embrace it with open arms. Yet, you still need various personalities to make CRM work.

Let's take a look at a typical team that can be found in many companies that face the challenge of CRM adoption, and how a dream team can help you achieve CRM success.

Can you recognize yourself in one of them?

1. A raving fan aka the cheerleader

It goes without saying that this is a very important person for CRM adoption.

Not only does he know why CRM is a great idea, but he is also equipped with CRM statistics, key findings, charts and numbers that flaunt CRM’s benefits. He believes in CRM success no matter what.

Typically, a cheerleader is a project manager who likes to experiment with the new ways of working and attaining great results. He already knows a lot about the system and is eager to help everyone to enjoy using CRM on a daily basis. Now, who wouldn’t like to be reminded that the good times are about to come?

2. A skeptic

Let me guess what you are thinking now: “How can a skeptic be useful in CRM adoption?” Surprised as you may be, but this person is paramount for a smooth on-boarding and CRM success.

A skeptic is likely to be a results-oriented sales manager. Naturally, he is impatient about anything that takes time to yield results. What he wants is sales hitting the roof right here and right now. If noticeable benefits are not materializing “out of thin air”, then this person will continue to distrust the innovation.

In fact, skepticism is an expected and healthy part of CRM kick-off process, studies claim, as 71% of people, especially those in sales, will demand evidence before they fully embrace the new software.

CRM Implementation faces skepticism

But you need this character, as he is literally your strongest motivation in your CRM adoption escapade!

It is the skeptic who will push you to come up with a plan and stick to it. He will remind you of things that you might have overlooked. He will show you what in the CRM solution that you are trying to implement is too complex or redundant for the way you do business. In fact, the skeptic is likely to point out how CRM should be adjusted to suit your company’s business needs and goals.

3. A charismatic leader

CRM adoption has a top-down approach. Without the top-management buy-in all CRM initiatives are doomed to fail. If the leaders don’t show example of using CRM on a daily basis, the rest of the employees are likely to give up on it pretty soon.

According to Peerstone Research, the lack of support from senior executives tops the reasons of why CRM onboarding fails.

Why CRM project fail

A charismatic leader (possibly a managing director or a CEO) is the one who demonstrates his personal commitment to the new project by incorporating CRM into his daily communication with the employees.

Sharing data, generating reports, following up on tasks, if done via CRM, can be a perfect set of exemplary use of the new system. In other words – actions speak louder than words when it comes to CRM adoption.

4. An IT dude

Obviously, you need him to help you understand the technical side of the software and solve any installation and implementation problems that may arise. Also, having a skilled IT person around will take the initial frustration away, as he helps the company to maintain the operations of a CRM software.

This dude is especially important if you have an On-Premise CRM solution that requires someone to look after the server and perform data migration. Not to mention bugs, system tuning, data protection, and other technical support issues that a non-IT minded person would be scared of.

5. An empirical tester

An aspiring sales person or an administrator by day, the empirical tester will play with the CRM system, testing the workflow, settings, categories, fields and other bits and bobs. He will find little, but helpful tips, try out all the buttons and links, and will have hundreds of questions.

The tester will not stop until he sees that the CRM system actually works and makes sense. And once he does, he usually becomes a passionate CRM advocate. Therefore, the testers are as important as the enthusiasts and the leaders – as they strengthen the system adoption by discovering its unique functionality.

There's a black sheep in every flock

But the picture wouldn’t be complete without one more character lurking in the CRM implementation team.

It is the hater.

Way worse than the skeptic, this person not only doubts the system, he is also “on a mission” to prove that the whole idea was wrong.

The hater is likely to be a top sales guy who knows it all already. He is comfortable with his ways, which made him succeed and close a lot of deals. He does not want change, and he will be waiting for anything to go wrong.

The hater just loves the moment when something goes wrong to be able to say victoriously “I told you so!”

But this one character does not get the privilege to be on our CRM adoption dream team, you can very well do without him.

The importance of training

All these characters usually represent different departments in a company, perform different duties and have their own goals.

So, it is important that people in sales, marketing, admin, IT, and management share the same well-defined goals that they want to reach after they’ve decided to make CRM their revenue-driving tool.

Finally, it is the ongoing and systematized training that is key to a smooth adoption process and CRM success. Don’t think a few implementation sessions will suffice. After all, it is not like you are installing a new Windows update on everyone’s computer.

Admit it – CRM can be complex at the beginning. So, it is a good idea to train the employees consistently on how they can use CRM in their daily work; i.e. focus on the basic, role-based functionality. Leave the complex bells and whistles for later.


When dealing with a CRM adoption, companies shouldn’t focus only on the technical side of the project, as this leads to either failure or haphazard success. It is the people’s hearts and then minds that you need to win.

And since CRM user-adoption is a team effort, you will need a set of common goals and an implementation strategy, ensure top management support, launch an incentive system, demonstrate ROIs, and, above all, provide an ongoing training.

No doubt about it – CRM adoption can be a long, often costly and time-consuming process, but if implemented right it can change everything: starting from your daily routines, ways you treat your customers or convert your leads, to your revenues and even your business profile.

How do you achieve CRM success? Is there anyone we missed from the dream team list?

If you want to learn how to make your employees embrace CRM on-boarding, check our free "CRM end-user adoption" guide here.

Or if you're looking to get started with CRM, sign up to get a free, personalized demo.

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