5 Ways to Improve CRM Adoption

There’s nothing worse than making a huge purchase, taking the bow off, and then having it fall short of your expectations. Talk about buyer’s remorse.

This is quite often the case with CRMs. The excitement generated throughout the sales cycle is quickly stymied once you realize that simply flipping the switch isn’t going to generate the massive ROI you anticipated because…

No one is actually using it!

Here are five tips to improve user adoption across the board and ensure your investment pays off.

Define Your Processes

What do Salesforce and David Copperfield have in common?


CRMs are amazing tools, but they aren’t magicians, at least not initially.

While you can crack the lid on your newly purchased Salesforce instance and start using it right away, it can’t do the hard work of creating your processes for you. In this case, step one for implementing a new CRM is to ensure your company has defined its own processes.

  • How will you manage deals through the sales cycle?
  • What qualifies as a lead?
  • What happens when an opportunity is won and handed off to customer success?

These are just a few questions that will need answers.

And, once you’ve defined how things should work in your company, make sure you hire the right person (or people) to manage and customize your CRM. This will pay massive dividends down the road and prevent the need for expensive and time-consuming rework in the future.

Executive Leadership Drives Adoption Downstream

Drake may have started from the bottom, but user adoption starts at the top.

All kidding aside, I once worked with a sales leader who said he didn’t need Salesforce to tell him about his team’s deals because he knew all of them in his head. He then proceeded to ask when we could start pulling insightful reports from the system.

Huh? I was dumbfounded.

CRM adoption starts at the top. The culture and expectations start with the leadership team. “If it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist” should be the slogan that echoes through the hallways.

Weekly pipeline reviews and forecast calls should be driven from Salesforce reports and dashboards and never using Excel, emails, or off-the-cuff conversations because someone has stored that info in their brain. If you want insights from the system, the data needs to be in there first.

The best example I’ve ever heard about a leader driving the culture around CRM adoption was from a fellow sales operations pro I met at my first visit to Dreamforce. She worked at Dell and explained how Michael Dell himself regularly logged into Salesforce and commented on opportunities in the pipeline. He’d call out reps who hadn’t logged in over the past week and would give props where due, say, if Suzie just landed a 7-figure deal.

How’s that for accountability?

What’s In It For Me?

Often times, a CRM can feel like it’s only there to benefit sales managers or worse, give them the opportunity to micromanage their reps. While that can certainly happen, the true benefit of a system like Salesforce is that it gives reps time back in their day to focus on selling.

I can already hear the complaints…

Salesperson: “I’d have more time to focus on selling if I didn’t have to enter all this data into Salesforce.”

So hear me out.

A CRM is a connector and a time saver. If done properly, it serves as your company’s system of record, a one-stop shop for anyone to find out everything they need to know about an account or contact. It allows for collaboration between departments that have historically operated in their own silos without giving much thought to others outside their bubble. Best of all, this data can be shared without emailing 27 different versions of an Excel spreadsheet around.

All of this means more time back in a rep’s day, improved insights on clients and prospects, and in turn, a quicker sales cycles. The key here is getting that messaging right so your team buys in and uses it.

Get Feedback From Users

This might be one of the hardest parts for us sales operations folks since we mostly enjoy hiding out behind our dual monitors and nerding out to things like systems, processes, or even Excel. Sometimes, though, you have to talk to people.

Yes, real humans.

Real humans who use the system daily will have input for you. They’ll let you know about the things that suck, like awkwardly placed validation rules or inconvenient bottlenecks. In addition, they may use the system differently than you do. Watching them walk through your sandbox build-out is a great way to get immediate feedback and address issues that never crossed your mind.

Getting your users involved during the planning and testing phase of a project is a great way to engage them, get feedback, and perhaps even land yourself a champion along the way. And hey, everyone can use a champion.

Data Quality Matters

CRM adoption suffers when your data is bad. The solution? Clean up your data!

Obviously, this is easier said than done, but there are ways to you can manage it.

First, be sure you’re requiring the right data up front, Goldilocks style — not too much, not too little. Next, ensure your team is adding the right information. You can use a combination of field requirements (use wisely!) and validation rules to ensure you’re getting the info you need and that it’s in the right format.

In addition, you’ll want to focus on bigger cleanups as your Salesforce instance will inevitably get messy over time. This is where you’ll want to automate your data cleansing to standardize addresses and phone numbers, populate missing data, clean up record ownership, and dedupe records.

The resulting improved user experience for your team will increase trust in your database, thereby driving adoption. Greater adoption means you’ll finally see that massive ROI you were expecting from implementing a tool like Salesforce all along.

Enjoy the Payback

After employing these strategies, you should begin to see user adoption improve. Keep in mind, though, driving CRM adoption is a constant effort, never a one-and-done scenario. Always communicate the broader benefit, keep your team accountable, and continue improving your CRM to optimize the experience for the people using it every day. By doing so, you’ll benefit from improved operations, a better customer experience, and finally, see the payback you were hoping for all along.

Want to learn more about how InsightSquared can help your sales team improve CRM adoption? Our library of pre-built sales reports pulls insights from your historical CRM data — from day one. Get in touch with us here.


Stefanie Tial is the Director of Commercial Operations at The Rainmaker Group and the creator of Next Level Sales Ops, a site dedicated to hungry sales ops pros looking to level up in their careers. She has helped build out the sales operations function at two Atlanta-based software companies and been part of $1.84B in acquisitions as a result. She’s currently working on a third.