If you’re still using spreadsheets to manage your customers, this year is the time to stop and get on board with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Seriously — just stop with clunky spreadsheets that have versioning problems, siloed information, lengthy data analyzation and the inability to scale with your business.

Using a CRM for your small business instead of spreadsheets has many benefits. But, even if you already made the leap to a new CRM or are ready to do so this year, there’s still one very important piece of the transition you must keep in mind. User adoption.

According to Forrester, a lack of user adoption is responsible for 70 percent of failed CRM projects. Humans are naturally resistant to change – and your team is no different. There are several reasons why they won’t want to make the switch to a new CRM, like:

  • Productivity might be down while your team ramps up a new process.
  • Your team might be opposed to using a new system because they haven’t been trained properly.
  • If you haven’t explained how a CRM will add value to their role, they won’t see the point in using it.
  • Lack of adoption from peers or managers can discourage your team from embracing new technology.

The reasons for a lack of adoption for your new CRM software can go on and on. But, don’t worry. There are a number of steps you can take for your business to ensure your investment in CRM software doesn’t go to waste:

Step 1: Over Communicate

It’s important every single employee within your company understands why a CRM is critical to business success. Before you adopt the software, bring together a group of key stakeholders or managers to communicate down to their teams about what is coming and expectations for each team and employee.

Step 2: Get Buy In

Sit down with every single employee and understand their pain points in your current system, and what they need to do to get their job done better. Not only will this help you pick the right CRM software, but it should help get your employees pumped up that you’re adopting a way for them to be more efficient and effective in their job. And eliminating the stuff that gives them a daily headache.

Step 3: Set an Adoption Schedule

It’s likely easier for your employees to slowly adopt a new system in chunks. Roll out a plan that will fold learning the new CRM into pieces of time that are manageable for everyone, and schedule training sessions based on priority of what you need your team to understand and use most quickly. Require that certain training sessions are finished by specific dates, and send many reminder emails or calendar invites for these training sessions. Perhaps look into incentivizing completion of the training courses.

Step 4: Get Leadership Participation

If your company’s leaders aren’t using the CRM, then how can you expect the employees to want to adopt it? Make sure your leadership team understands how important their participation is. They don’t get to skip out on training sessions because they’re too busy or have important meetings.

Step 5: Provide Follow-Up

Don’t think your job is done after the initial training sessions are checked off. Make sure you provide additional follow-up training for those who learn slower or might have been sick or absent. Also, take the time to schedule check-in meetings with teams and leaders, and provide a way for employees to give consistent feedback on how the CRM is working for them in their daily jobs.

Step 6: Ensure Proper CRM Setup & Offer a Quick Reference Guide

It’ll be easier for employees to understand how this new CRM will benefit them if it’s already filled with data and there’s a quick reference guide. If they sign-in to the new CRM and it’s empty, they’ll have a hard time understanding what it does and why. Make sure the data is all setup to feed in correctly, and that there are process flows, custom filters and custom buttons created for the processes for your business. Customize your CRM to work for your business, don’t just expect the out-of-the-box solution to be the answer.

Step 7: Leverage CRM Reporting

Tie your team’s goals to data in your CRM to make it extra sticky. Sales and marketing reports pulled from your CRM ensure that your sales team is tied to boosting performance with the tool.

Step 8: Encourage Employees to Get Additional Training

Every single small business CRM platform offers additional training and power-user training. The more your employees can understand the power of the CRM you’ve adopted for your small business, the better they’ll be at using it. Considering incentivizing additional trainings for your employees each quarter.

User adoption is the crux of success for your new CRM software. By adhering to the tips outlined above, you’ll be setting your business up for success this year and making sure your investment in a small business CRM isn’t a giant red hole in your budget.