Of course you want high end user adoption of your CRM system, but what are you willing to do to achieve it? How far outside the box are you willing to get?
The (Unfortunate) Gap Between Perception and Reality at One Customer
On a recent project, we were working with a new division of an existing CRM customer and the IT team said that division was struggling with end user adoption of the system. We heard quotes from IT like “it’s too many clicks” or “the sales people are lazy and just won’t enter the data they’re supposed to”. To better understand the problem, we spoke with a handful of the sales users on a 1-on-1 basis and observed them conducting their typical daily activities.
Much to my surprise, I saw the sales people entering TONS and TONS of notes about the customers they were calling on. They would record things like their nicknames, in-depth details about their current lease (this was a real estate company), known business connections, etc. Not only that, they would cross-reference the data with other external sources to make sure that the data was as accurate as possible. I was blown away and very impressed with the level of detail and accuracy. The data they entered was a sales manager and marketing executive’s dream.
Unfortunately, there was just one teeny tiny problem…the sales people were not entering all of this great data into their employer’s CRM system. Instead they were entering the data into their own system. Some were using Outlook notes, some had Excel files and some even had their own standalone CRM systems like Act!
When I asked the sales people why they didn’t enter all of this great data into the corporate CRM, the answers were consistent. “I am not going to work at this company forever, so when I leave I need to be able to take all of my data with me. I developed this data over years, it’s incredibly valuable to me.”
So it turns out that the user adoption issue had nothing to do with the system’s interface, the number of clicks or anything technical. It was 100% a business process issue! The sales people happily collected and tracked amazing data but refused to enter it into the corporate CRM because they couldn’t easily take it with them when they left the company.
Being curious, I asked the sales people “If your corporate CRM system had a button you could click and it would export all of your detailed notes on your accounts instantly, would you enter your data into the corporate CRM instead of using your separate system?” All of them resoundingly answered “yes”. They recognized that their side systems were not as efficient as their corporate CRM and it was a lot of extra manual effort for them to maintain. In addition, they still had to enter some data into their corporate CRM system to make sure they their managers had some visibility about their activities. Eliminating this duplication step would save the sales people hours each week.
The Data Portability Pitch
When I shared my findings with IT and the execs, they were shocked. They couldn’t believe that the sales people would act that way. “They should be entering that data into our CRM system, not theirs!” I tried to explain the data portability needs of the sales people and while management understood the concern, they still didn’t agree with the sales people.
I suggested that we easily create an export feature that would allow the sales people to quickly get their data when they leave, and we could even limit the export to just give the sales people to the data they personally entered. In my mind, creating the “Export my Data” feature would accomplish the best of all worlds:
- The employer gets to keep the high quality customer data and research developed by the sales team
- The sales person happily enters data knowing they can take a copy with them later
- Marketing can take advantage of the customer data to help the sales people drive more sales and awareness
- The sales teams get to use a state-of-the-art CRM system paid for and provided by their employer
Unfortunately for all parties involved, the IT and management team thought this data export feature was a little too radical and we never created the data export feature. They didn’t think others within the organization would understand why they would knowingly let sales people walk out the door with the data. We reasoned that the customer data is walking out the door with or without the export feature, but with our method at least the employer gets a copy of the data!
You can probably guess how the story ended at this customer, business as usual with the sales people entering great customer data into their own systems but not the corporate CRM. If this story sounds familiar to your organization, we would encourage you to consider adding data portability to your CRM requirements list. We think you’ll find that the easier you let the sales people get access to their data, the better quality data they’ll enter into your corporate CRM!