Is your CRM like a can of Coke?

We all know the unmistakable sound of a can opening.

tssSSS kr-POP.

It has been proven that we actually respond to that sound, and it affects how we feel about what we're about to drink. There's excitement. Anticipation. You know that you're about to get that oh so sweet sugary high.

Then someone asks you to take a quick look at the report they're working on, and you put it down. You get a phone call on the way back. Then there's a meeting. Then lunch. Then another meeting. Then you try and catch up on the volume of emails that built up over the past few hours. Your eyes glance to the edge of your table and you notice the can, opened but not drunk.

It's gone flat. How disappointing.

I hear this same story over and over again. Not because I frequently interrupt people as they are about to drink their favourite fizzy drink, but more because I regularly talk to organisations who've invested in CRM and not got what they wanted out of it. There was excitement. Anticipation. That oh so sweet sugary high (maybe). "TssSSS kr-POP."

But then there were a series of distractions, and the CRM program... went flat. Going flat is worse than going downhill. When something goes downhill, you're actively motivated to take action to prevent future cost. When its flat, you're not realising the benefits, but likely aren't feeling enough pain to do something about it.

Keeping a CRM running well isn’t easy. Far too often, companies don’t invest the necessary effort into sustaining adoption.

When the technology is rolled out, employees are bombarded with excessive amounts of information, from classroom sessions and tests, to workbooks and videos. "TssSSS kr-POP."

Because of this overload, staff often zero-in on the areas of the solution that are relevant to their role today, and miss much of the content that will help them tomorrow.

Over time, this can lead to a disconnect amongst the teams within an organisation. Without an environment of team collaboration, you’re at risk of stifling the growth of your CRM and the success it can offer.

You might be dealing with these issues right now.

So what can you do to make sure that your CRM encourages collaborative discussion, so that you can reap the benefits?

It all starts with building a community.

Identify the champions of your business

CRMs that have been running in a business for many years often have healthy user bases that are well-versed in the technology. You don’t have to worry about training staff in the ins-and-outs of using the product. They know this by now.

Instead, you’re at the point where your staff are curious about how others in the company are using the solution.

They want to learn what other people know that they don’t. Because, while users will often share their CRM experiences with those immediately around them, they rarely get circulated beyond that.

But creating a collaborative culture doesn’t happen overnight.

Begin by identifying the champions for each line of business in your organisation.

By bringing people from different areas of your business together in small, regular forums, you’ll facilitate conversation and the sharing of ideas. Users will discover new features and processes from their peers that they previously didn’t know existed.

And because you’ve entrusted the thought leaders in your organisation to spearhead these efforts, the benefits will naturally trickle down into the various teams within your organisation.

If you start building an internal community of champions today, the rest will follow.

Let your employees do the educating

One of the biggest issues we’ve seen businesses deal with is finding engaging ways to promote adoption amongst their staff.

Adults don’t learn like kids do, and many people have a natural resistance to the regular classroom learning structure.

If you’re only providing very basic training to your staff, with no thought of continued support and guidance, you’ll find that they’ll all eventually struggle at some point.

Think about how you can foster an environment where people can learn and receive support, without feeling like they’re being taught or preached to.

Indirect training is one of the best ways of combating these issues. It can be folded into a ‘day in the life of…’ style session, so that CRM training becomes baked into other employee engagement activities.

Once you have begun promoting these types of discussions amongst your user base, you’ll find that your employees will naturally begin to train one another. Everyone needs somebody that they feel comfortable discussing the CRM with to address any issues they’re having, ideally in the same office.

Once people know that there’s somebody in the business that’s willing to help them, you’ll see the adoption of your CRM begin to grow.

Collaboration isn’t groundbreaking, it’s essential

Making it a priority to investigate and monitor the collaborative efforts of your solution can be a massive plus, not just for your CRM but for your organisation as a whole.

It’s not groundbreaking stuff. CEOs have always pushed the notion of cross-functional teamwork.

But if you’re finding that the success of your CRM has begun to flounder, your staff should be the first place you look. Ask them who finds it invaluable, and the responses will tell you all you need to know.

Identify the advocates in your business today and begin facilitating an open dialogue that promotes innovation, growth and efficiency tomorrow.


Enjoyed this story? Please feel free to use the comments box to say you love it, hate it, or have better ideas. Or just to share your favourite fizzy drink.

tssSSS kr-POP.