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The Secret Sauce to Improve CRM Adoption: Persona-Led CRM Implementation

Monday June 24, 2019, by Shilpa Subramaniam

“Less than 40% of businesses have a CRM adoption rate over 90%” – CSO Insights

Low CRM adoption rates and have been typically linked to the mindset with which the system is designed. While most organizations focus on their needs, it is a user-centric mindset that makes the difference in utilization rates. It has been evident that the user-persona-led CRM implementations improve CRM adoption by at least 30% to 40%. However, the key is to first define your CRM goals that are aligned with your organization’s business goals. These goals then must be translated to sub-goals for the personas.

In this blog we will talk about what the internal user personas are, how one can use persona-led execution, and the approach one must take to improve overall CRM implementation and adoption.

Defining the Right User Personas

User persona is not a new concept in the sales and marketing world. However, we mostly use the word “persona” when defining the customer category. It is a rarity but essential to use the same concept during the CRM implementation.

Internal user personas are of two types: one at the horizontal level – Sales, Marketing and the Service teams, and the other at vertical level covering business roles under each horizontal. The picture below gives a broad structure of the internal personas.

You can define these personas based on your business and the goals that you’ve set for the CRM.

Pro Tip: This is a good time for you to rethink the business roles and make it customer experience centric.

User Persona-Led Implementation Approach

The out of the box CRM comes with few horizontal user personas, but vertical user personas need a custom configuration. This customization adds to the complexity and demands that the user either be well-versed with the technical tweaks or spend at least 30% of their time on administrative activities, such as data entry, creating workflows and at times searching for the feature.

Even before you come to the technical aspects of customizing the CRM for personas, it is essential to define what the users need.

In a recent engagement with a large manufacturing company, we took the “Day in the life” approach. It helped us make the entire CRM implementation extremely user persona-centric and journey based rather than a set of disparate touchpoints

Day in the life approach

This approach takes one sub-persona, e.g., a sales manager, and identifies all the everyday activities of that persona on any given day. A sales manager wants to get a full view of opportunities first thing in the morning; then they look through tasks for the day, shortlist top leads to be followed up, meetings to attend and so on.

For our engagement with this manufacturing company, our team of experts conducted half-day workshops with Sales Managers and their Regional Sales Head to define their “Day in the life” routine and identified the activities that go along with the day. Such identified tasks need to form at least 90% of the events that the Sales Manager performs every day.

Pro Tip: Day in a life approach is an excellent opportunity for you to model the Sales Manager’s (or any other persona’s) behavior based on that of the high performing Sales Manager.

Once the “Day in the life” activities are identified, we recommend you first identify the out-of-the-box features in a CRM that can be used and then think of customization.

Critical things to consider

As you follow the “day in a life” approach, these pointers will guide you to a right implementation and help win over the users:

Set the goals for CRM

User-persona-led or not, one must first set the business goals for the CRM even before the implementation starts. To achieve this, we need to partner very closely with the business sponsor and define the goals and priorities. As we have discussed earlier, CRM is not an IT solution but must be business driven. These goals will then need to be translated into a solution roadmap and the feature implementation needs to be prioritized based on the business impact and priorities. Throughout the discovery process the business sponsor should be periodically engaged as we break down the goals into set of functionalities.

Get the user inputs early in the implementation process

Since this is user-persona-led implementation, the user inputs cannot be an afterthought. The users must be taken into confidence early in the process to understand their needs, challenges and expectations.

Be prepared for mini proof of concepts

The user confidence goes up when they see a prototype immediately. So, you need to be prepared to show a quick wireframe, two vs three column layout, mobile rendition etc. For this, you need to have a small team that can rapidly create mini proof of concepts during the discovery and design phases.

And this leads to greater adoption

In our experience, we have noticed that the user’s perspective of the CRM changes as soon as it is custom-designed for the persona. Here’s an example of how it can help the user, in this example, a Sales Manager:

The CRM is more relevant:

The CRM application becomes a lot more relevant to the Sales Manager now. They can get access to all the information in a single window and can plan the day efficiently. They will be able to work out of the CRM and has more bandwidth for what they are good at – Sales.

Working through champions to take ownership of CRM:

Since the Sales Manager was made part of the first workshop, they own the CRM and act as a champion to increase the adoption by spreading the word on CRM benefits to their peers.

Efficiencies lead to rapid improvement in Customer experience:

The Sales Manager is a lot more efficient now and can focus their time on engaging the customer and improving the experience by offering new deals.

Reduction in iterations and sudden surprises:

A non-persona led execution would mean many change requests and iterations. These mid-way customizations can have a detrimental impact on CRM performance. The persona-led implementation ensures that the iterations and uncertainties are minimal and hence gives unlocks significant bandwidth.

We have noticed at least a 30% to 40% improvement in the user adoption when the CRM is implemented based on user personas and their roles. Remember, getting the roles right and its alignment are key bolster utilization rates.

The big question

Does your CRM have a user persona-led strategy? Talk to our CRM experts who can help you through the process and help you improve the overall CRM adoption.

Bonus: Read our point of view on the evolving form of CRM in this user centric age here.


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