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Here’s Why Your CRM Onboarding Isn’t Working

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Author photo: Shabnam Kakar

Shabnam Kakar


Most sales teams bumble around when they're CRM-shopping.

They choose a tool that they heard about from someone, realize it might not be for them, and don't give too much thought about implementation. The end result is…

Low adoption. Which leads to…

  • Wasted time
  • Wasted money
  • A whole lot of missed opportunities (win rates improve by 6.4% when CRM adoption rate is greater than 75%)

The reality is, every step of the sales onboarding process contains pitfalls that lead to low CRM use.

Similarly, if the CRM your sales team chooses is a bad fit, it could prevent reps from wanting to use it at all.

The question then is: how can you solve the CRM onboarding problem?

Before you can nail down a successful CRM onboarding strategy, you need to identify the reasons why your sales team might not be adopting your CRM in the first place.

Keep reading to learn about four common sales onboarding-onto-CRM fails—and how to tackle them.

First off, realize how big a deal choosing the right CRM is.

Selecting the right CRM is one of the most important decisions your business will make.

Implementing tech that’s been said to drastically increase sales seems like a no-brainer, right? But if that’s really the case, then why aren’t all organizations enjoying the sales windfall that CRM can bring?

It’s not that they aren’t introducing CRM; it’s that a lot of companies’ onboarding strategies flop… badly.

In one study, it was found that CRM implementation had a 50% failure rate. Numerous studies support these findings, showing that CRM onboarding has a failure rate between 30 and 70%.

The reason that organizations fail to implement a CRM successfully isn’t because of bad luck. If you know what to look for in a CRM, how to choose one that fits your business, and what a good onboarding process looks like, there’s no reason why you should fail.

Now, we’ll dive into the reasons that separate the onboarding fails from the onboarding wins (and how to make sure your CRM achieves the latter).

Reason #1: Employees stick with the systems they know. 

One of the most common problems that comes with introducing a new CRM is that your team will continue to use the existing systems they’re used to (and comfortable with) over switching to a new one. These existing systems could be anything from Excel spreadsheets to written sales notes.

Even if they do start using CRM, often what happens is, there will be a “shadow system” that employees are using along with the CRM.

Which isn’t good, because it means that the data in your CRM will be incomplete.

There are a number of reasons why team members want to stick to an existing system. They might simply prefer working with something they’re familiar with over learning something completely new that they may not like as much.

Another reason could be that they’ve learned how to use the new CRM, but their old methods are easier (which says a lot about your CRM since it’s supposed to make things easier for your sales reps—not harder).

Your team might also be resistant to adopting a new system because they don’t see the point of it, which we’ll go over in our next point.

The solution: Don’t skimp on training.

One of the most common mistakes made when introducing a CRM is dedicating a mere day or two to initial training and then not providing any follow-up instruction.

Effective training isn’t a one-off activity—it’s a continuous process.

You should go into the initial CRM onboarding stage with the expectation that employees will forget a significant amount of what they learn in those first few days. In fact, it’s estimated that after six days, people will forget 75% of what they learned.

To address this problem, schedule regular follow-up CRM training as part of your overall onboarding strategy. Use this follow-up time to reinforce what you taught in the initial training sessions, as well as give your reps an opportunity to ask questions about any features they’re struggling with.

Regular training is one of the best ways of cementing a CRM into an organization.

Pro-tip: It helps if you choose a CRM that’s easy to use from the get-go.

Copper’s CRM design is inspired by Google’s design principles, meaning it’s super user-friendly and instantly familiar to many—and makes adoption a breeze.

Reason #2: The team doesn’t understand how CRM fits.

The benefit of introducing a CRM goes beyond a salesperson being able to meet their own sales quotas. The problem is, these benefits aren’t always obvious to your team.

The true power of a CRM comes when it’s adopted throughout an organization. When everyone’s entering data into the CRM, everyone gets a much clearer picture of your customers, which has its own set of perks.

For salespeople, this information is super helpful for building long-term relationships with customers because they’ll always have a record of previous interactions to refer to. This record also empowers your team to provide a stellar customer experience to your repeat customers every time, regardless of who touches the file (even if these are new hires).

Having all your customer information in one place is also enormously beneficial to marketing teams because it allows them to make business decisions based on real data, not guesswork.

For example, they can use demographic data to determine how their advertising spend is allocated, or lead source data to determine which marketing channels are most profitable.

The solution: Make sure your team knows why you’re moving to a CRM and how it’ll benefit them.

We’ve established that a CRM will benefit your sales team as a whole.

This is good news for the company, but may not be incentive enough for individual salespeople whose main concern is hitting quota.

So to get them on board, talk to your sales reps to identify the challenges that are preventing them from hitting their sales targets. Then, explain how CRM will help to address these problems.

For example, if your sales reps are stuck spending hours typing out and sending follow-up emails, show them how a CRM can do this for them automatically.

This approach can help turn new system adoption—what is often viewed as a negative thing—into something exciting that’ll make their lives easier.

Reason #3: Your new CRM’s poor UX is making more manual work for your reps.

Very few salespeople enjoy completing “paperwork” or other tedious, repetitive tasks that take away from the time they could be spending on making sales.

So, having to manually enter all of their interactions with a customer into a CRM—on top of everything else—can be (rightfully) seen as just another administrative headache.

Like we mentioned in our previous tip, unless it’s obvious that your CRM benefits your sales reps and makes it easier for them to reach their goals, there’s naturally going to be pushback. Nobody has time for manual data entry and a poor UX (user experience).

The solution: Select a CRM with a good UX (that does the admin work for them).

It’s a lot easier to convince your reps that your CRM doesn’t suck when it really doesn’t.

Taking the time to pick out a CRM that is user-friendly and intuitive will address one of the most common reasons that CRMs are underused: they’re hard to use.

If employees are struggling to navigate a CRM or they can’t find key features, then inevitably, they’ll ditch it.

And if this new CRM takes care of the manual stuff by keeping records of all your customer calls and emails, scheduling meetings, and sending follow-up emails automatically? Consider your CRM adopted!

Bonus: choosing a CRM that has a good user experience will significantly cut down on the amount of training and support that’s required, making onboarding quicker and easier. (You’re a lot more likely to use something when you’re not constantly needing to ask for help with it.)

Reason #4: The data in the CRM isn’t usable.

Ever heard the expression, “garbage in, garbage out?”

Unfortunately, this has been the experience of too many salespeople when onboarding onto new CRMs.

If the quality of data in your CRM is meaningless, your team won’t use it. And if the data is arranged in a way that doesn’t make sense, or it’s difficult to find in your CRM at all? Your team definitely won’t use it.

The solution: Make sure your data makes sense.

To combat this, make sure that processes are in place to audit the data in the CRM. This could involve cleaning up your system regularly by removing duplicate data or updating old information.

To minimize the amount of data audits, you need to keep your system’s data organized by streamlining the way your data is entered into your CRM. How? For example, use dropdown menus instead of text fields to make your data filterable.

Last but not least, choose a CRM with a well-designed UX and UI (user interface). This will help you avoid inconsistencies in the way that data is collected.

Copper’s reporting features and filters allow you to fine-tune your data and view it in a way that makes sense.

Plan for a successful onboarding. 

A well-executed CRM onboarding plan is a game changer for sales teams and organizations as a whole. And if you don’t have a plan? Then you’re planning to fail.

The reality is, the value a CRM will bring your company is too significant to miss out on. Don’t leave the success of your CRM to chance—plan for success.

Want to learn more about successfully onboarding your team onto a new CRM? Check out this real-life onboarding story.

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Instant activation, no credit card required. Give Copper a try today.

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