CRM Adoption: 7 Ways to Improve User Adoption

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CRM adoption

CRMs power high-performing sales teams. Their benefits are comprehensive for sales organizations – they provide better organization flows, cleaner account data, drive sales productivity and performance, eliminate manual tasks, and much more.

However, simply implementing a CRM isn’t enough. A CRM software isn’t a magical solution that instantaneously closes more deals and drives more revenue.

What are the best ways to increase your CRM adoption rate?

  1. Involve your employees in the change process
  2. Personalize your CRM experience
  3. Create a CRM onboarding & training plan
  4. Provide your users with on-demand performance support
  5. Monitor adoption rates of different CRM features and functions for additional training opportunities
  6. Highlight early CRM improvements and wins
  7. Offer incentives to increase engagement

In order to take advantage of all the benefits your CRM has to offer, your organization must have high levels of user adoption. And that’s more than just adding an onboarding event to the calendar and providing a link to additional online CRM resources.

It means creating an entire employee CRM training and continuous support strategy to drive user adoption that empowers employees.

According to our CRM research of over 500 enterprise companies that recently implemented a new CRM:

  • Improved CRM adoption rates saved an average of $8.7 million.
  • 90% of companies said improved CRM adoption led to higher sales rep productivity and reduced sales cycle time.
  • 70% of enterprises said personalized CRM guidance and self-help training improved their overall CRM use and adoption rates.

The Risk of Poor CRM Adoption

CRMs are significant investments that provide real business value – but without a clear CRM digital adoption strategy, your sales team is set up for failure.

In fact, research from Forrester found that 47% of CRM implementations fail, and similar research from Merkle Group revealed an even higher failure rate of 63%. Slow and low user adoption of CRM is an undeniable contributor to implementation failures. 

These failures are costly to enterprise organizations. For example, Cigna’s infamous failed CRM system implementation reportedly cost the organization around $1 billion across lost revenue, technology costs, and change implementation costs.

7 Benefits of Strong CRM Adoption Rates

While it’s obvious that a strong CRM adoption rate means your workforce is actually using your new CRM investment — but why does it matter?

Here are a few of the benefits a strong CRM user adoption strategy brings to your organization:

1. Increased sales team efficiency

New CRMs bring together automation and big data to turn manual, repetitive tasks into automated ones – allowing your sales team to focus more on important customer relationships. With a high adoption rate, these CRM tools allow your employees to become more productive and efficient in their day-to-day.

2. Stay current with competition

By driving user adoption of a new CRM, your organization can take advantage of cutting-edge features in customer-relationship technology – giving your organization an advantage over your competitors.

3. Reduced support questions

With better CRM proficiency and adoption, your team will not have to rely on your IT team to answer CRM support-related questions – allowing them to be self-reliant and expert CRM users.

4. Improved customer satisfaction

Strong CRM adoption rates empower businesses to better understand their customers’ needs and preferences, which allows them to provide personalized service and support. This, in turn, leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

5. Better data management and analysis

Strong CRM adoption rates provide a ton of insightful customer data, which can be used to identify trends, make informed decisions, and drive business growth. By analyzing this data, businesses can gain valuable insights into their customers’ behavior and preferences, as well as the effectiveness of their sales and marketing efforts.


6. Enhanced collaboration and communication

A CRM system that is widely adopted throughout an organization can facilitate better collaboration and communication among teams, as everyone has access to the same customer data and can work together more effectively to serve customers.

7. Increased revenue and profitability

Ultimately, strong CRM adoption rates can lead to increased revenue and profitability for businesses. By improving customer satisfaction, efficiency, and data management, businesses can drive sales, reduce costs, and improve their bottom line.

6 Common CRM Adoption Challenges

CRM systems are powerful tools that help businesses manage and analyze customer data, streamline business processes, and improve customer relationships. However, implementing a CRM system is not without its challenges. 

From resistance to change to data quality issues, businesses must navigate a variety of obstacles when adopting a CRM system. Understanding these challenges is critical for businesses looking to successfully implement and benefit from a CRM system. 

Here are the top six challenges to anticipate with CRM adoption:

1. Resistance to change

Employees may resist changes to their established work processes and may be hesitant to adopt new technology, which can slow down productivity and derail morale. They may worry that the new system will be difficult to use, will disrupt their work, or simply isn’t worth the time and effort to learn. This resistance can make it difficult to encourage employees to adopt the CRM system, even if it is ultimately beneficial for the organization.

Maurer resistance to change

2. Lack of training and education

Insufficient training and education on how to use a CRM system can lead to low adoption rates and reduced productivity. Employees may not fully understand how to use the system or the benefits it can provide. Without proper training, employees may be hesitant to use the system or may use it incorrectly, leading to data quality issues or inefficiencies.

3. Integration with existing systems

Integrating the CRM system with other business systems can be complex, leading to data compatibility issues. If the CRM system is not integrated with these existing systems, employees may need to switch between systems, leading to frustrating roadblocks and potential errors.

4. Data quality issues

Poor data quality can lead to inaccurate reporting and decision-making, which can negatively impact business performance. And if employees don’t trust the data in the CRM system, they may be hesitant to use it or may not use it at all. 

Data quality issues can arise if employees fail to enter data accurately, if data is not updated regularly, or if data is imported from other systems without adequate quality control.

5. Implementation costs

Implementing a CRM system can be expensive. Organizations may need to invest significant resources in deploying and customizing the new system, which can include costs associated with purchasing the software, hiring consultants or developers to customize the system, and training employees. These costs can create a barrier to adoption, particularly for smaller organizations or those with limited resources.

6. Security concerns

Businesses must ensure that customer data is kept secure and protected from unauthorized access. Organizations may be hesitant to store sensitive customer data in a new system without adequate security measures in place. This can include concerns about data breaches, unauthorized access, and data loss. If employees do not trust the security of the system, they may be reluctant to adopt it fully.

How to Improve CRM User Adoption

CRM adoption doesn’t happen on its own. Your HR, IT, and sales departments must come together to provide a comprehensive CRM adoption strategy that supports your CRM users on their adoption journey.

Here are seven ways to improve your CRM adoption for your sales organization.

1. Involve your employees in the change process

Your employees are the ones that will be actually using a new CRM every day. That is where your CRM implementation project will succeed or fail.

Make your individual sales team members – and any customer-facing team members – core stakeholders during the organizational change research and buying phase, as well as during the CRM implementation and adoption phases. Ask for feedback and gauge any resistance to change in their sentiments. 

Feedback should be included before making a final decision on a new CRM. This allows leaders to understand pain points and areas of improvement that a new CRM can provide solutions for.

Feedback from end-users of your new CRM will also provide insights into what areas of training and support they need to adopt the tool properly.

Be sure to find your internal team members who are trusted across your broader sales organization. Allow them to mediate – and champion – your new CRM implementation. This is critical to driving CRM adoption.


2. Personalize your CRM experience

Your legacy CRM feels more comfortable with your employees because that is what they’re accustomed to. It has certain terminology and custom fields.

While you shouldn’t migrate over all your existing processes, note what works. When you migrate your CRM data, be sure to bring over the things that were working and any CRM terminology that will help mitigate confusion and help drive adoption from day one.

3. Create a CRM onboarding & training plan

With your learning and development (L&D) team, create a plan to lessen the impact of your CRM switch and shorten the time-to-productivity time for your CRM users with a robust onboarding and training strategy.

Use internal CRM experts, third-party consultants, and your CRM provider’s customer success team to pull together common FAQs and processes for your new CRM and your team’s sales workflows. 

Create a variety of employee training types and formats, such as video tutorials, in-person seminars, online courses, and certificates, to provide a comprehensive training and onboarding experience.

Task_list_user assistance

4. Provide your users on-demand performance support

Your CRM system will have many, many advanced features. Realistically, you won’t be able to teach your employees how to be expert CRM users over the course of a few weeks.

The best investment is to create a system of on-demand performance support for your sales team. This type of training allows you to create online self-help content for your team members that provide answers and support in the flow of work.

With a digital adoption platform (DAP), sales leaders can create in-app, guided workforces that take end-users through onboarding and training with step-by-step walkthroughs. This type of in-app learning allows your employees to learn by doing.

A DAP such as Whatfix allows teams to embed a self-help FAQ directly into their CRM, allowing employees access to an internal knowledge base of helpful CRM tips, tutorials, external resource links, and process documentation – without ever having to leave the CRM interface.

Drive CRM adoption with Whatfix's in-app guidance and help content.

5. Monitor adoption rates of different CRM features and functions for additional training opportunities

Your training and onboarding won’t be perfect. But by analyzing the data and usage of your CRM and its various features, you’ll be able to paint a picture of how it is and isn’t being used.

With Whatfix, as well as many common corporate LMS platforms, your organization can monitor which features are not being properly adopted and hone in on training and support resources to help provide additional help for those more advanced, intricate CRM features.


Don’t just rely on CRM usage data. Go directly to your CRM users and ask what they’re struggling with.

Send out surveys to gauge the levels of employee self-confidence your CRM users have with the tool – and the areas they would like additional support.

6. Highlight early CRM improvements and wins

No matter how user-centric your CRM adoption strategy is, you’ll still have team members who are stubborn and have low adoption rates. Nothing provides better support for using your new CRM than hard data.

Pull the win rates, sales performance KPIs, and additional sales metrics of your team members who have fully adopted your new CRM. Now compare those metrics to the team members who are rejecting your new CRM tool and processes.

Don’t withhold this information. Make it publicly available to your sales reps and other CRM users. When these team members see that those who have properly adopted the new CRM are closing more deals and crushing their goals, their tone will shift.

7. Offer incentives to increase engagement

By offering rewards or recognition to employees who use the CRM system effectively, organizations can encourage greater usage and effectiveness. 

Incentives not only create a sense of ownership and accountability among employees, but they also boost morale and motivation, leading to increased engagement with the system. When employees feel recognized and rewarded for their efforts, they are more likely to continue using the CRM system and providing valuable input. 

Ultimately, incentivizing employees is a powerful way to improve CRM adoption and drive success for your organization.

Drive engagement and improve your CRM adoption rate with Whatfix

Whatfix’s CRM adoption platform empowers sales organizations by reducing initial friction and expanding individuals to grow their CRM capabilities. 

Whatfix provides personalized, guided experiences that are designed to increase CRM proficiency, productivity, and performance. Drive your organization’s CRM adoption with in-app training, guided walkthroughs, onboarding task lists, tooltips, embedded self-help knowledge bases, and much more. 

Whatfix directly integrates with Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Netsuite, Oracle Cloud, SAP, and all popular enterprise CRM software.

See the benefits yourself and sign up for a Whatfix demo now!

Table of Contents

While it’s obvious that a strong CRM adoption rate means your workforce is actually using your new CRM investment — but why does it matter?

Here are a few of the benefits a strong CRM user adoption strategy brings to your organization:

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