User adoption is the key

Excerpt from an interview with John M., a manager of a 10 member sales team

Me: What is the craziest thing that you have done to increase CRM adoption in your team?

John: Well, at the end of the week I would lock my sales team up till every single member has completed the data entry process. If someone was missing, I ended up logging in and updating those metrics myself.

This response made me wonder, on what stage of ‘employee-needs conjoint analysis’ would “need-to-escape-office-for-the-weekend” pop out as a possibly successful incentive scheme to gain adoption? John’s method though successful, is not really scalable.(pun intended)

In this era of rapid development in technology, where the organisations are striving for steady revenue growth and resource maximization, managers often find themselves bundled with multi-level processes & tools. The business case for implementing a CRM system looks seemingly obvious to most. Especially, if it comes with an ability to track everything from top to bottom of the sales funnel, thousands of add-ons to automate the sales process, and a zillion possibilities of metrics, models and insights.

The journey from CRM procurement to visibility in sales process, transparency in performance management, productivity improvement and other magical benefits of Automated Customer Relationship Management systems looks as easy as shopping for a new bag, but, in reality is a massive undertaking. According to Salesforce user report 2017, 65% of organisations reported user adoption to be one of their biggest Salesforce challenge. Like any other CRM systems, Salesforce depends on mindfully designed workflows that automate sales processes while increasing visibility and transparency in the organisation.

The first point of dissonance that implementation teams come across is identifying user requirements from the system and then translating the same into customized work-flows with metrics integration. Every level of management has their sets of WANTS and NEEDS from any CRM system. (see below)

Senior Management :
Need : Defined metrics that clearly showcase KPIs and dependencies.
Want : Readable, usable, and applicable insights that can be translated into action-items to improve performance, sales, and productivity.

Need : Automated, real-time, team and individual performance reports.
Want : KPI fulfillment and productivity improvement.

Sales representative :
Need : Automated process, accessibility to relevant data, more sales.
Want : Less time on processes and more time on the field.

As we move lower down the sales funnel the self-implied benefits of CRM systems get stripped down to productivity improvement by process automation and data collection. For a representative, data entry becomes a mundane task with seemingly little or no impact on personal KPIs. This expectation gap triggers a series of behavioural patterns within the organisation. Sales representatives find CRM entry a waste of time—a mundane task that adds little or no value to their goal which is to SELL. In absence of the right incentive, this feeling of “wasted time” clubbed with compliance pressures evolves to a perceived presence of “control mechanisms that inhibit growth and freedom”. This perception then functions as a self-enforcing inhibitor to adoption.

Where CRMs deliver the most value for leading companies

User adoption directly impacts the quality of metrics and evaluation. This becomes the beginning of a never ending expectation gap. Senior Management lacks visibility and hence pushes managers to drive adoption; managers push representatives (often not so mindfully). This meaningless push drives disengagement further, and the good old carrot-and-stick approach to motivation fails again.

Similar to democracy, open markets, economy etc., CRM as a system relies on the assumption that every actor understands and appreciates their individual role in achieving perceived success for all. In a productivity driven world-view you can only motivate the actors using the carrot-and-stick approach. The good thing about monetary incentives is that they tie-in perfectly with results. On the contrary, the not so good aspect is the fact that monetary incentives can only do so much for so long. Though successful in influencing results, the carrot-and-stick approach fails miserably in influencing behaviours.

In the CRM world, mindful methodologies, processes, and workflows create a common view of “what success looks like” but user adoption is rarely incentivized and if done, it is seldom on time (owing to the assumption that all wants and needs — just like rights and duties — transfer effortlessly across multiple levels of the organisation).

Translating one actor’s need to another actor's want is more than just process/work-flow mapping. It's a craft of harnessing physiological triggers/needs to influence and incentivize desired behaviours.

The first step is acceptance of the fact that certain elements of CRM adoption are mundane and boring to begin with, and in no way tie-in to the direct KPIs of the “doing” teams (especially in case of sales teams, where the carrot is usually tied to the total sales).

Step two is to take a deeper dive into psychology of incentives and provide visible intrinsic incentives at every step of the adoption cycle. (derived from basic human needs of growth, ownership, social status etc.)

Take Candy Crush as an example. The task at hand in literal term is nothing more than moving and matching bricks. But, the game design taps into almost all physiological needs and thereby creating an unsaid “want” for moving and matching bricks in almost all demographics.

Mindfully curated rules of the game at every level of the shift, along with clear and direct incentives can change the way teams feel about the task at hand. People, by default like doing meaningful things but don’t necessarily share the same definition of what is meaningful. Pleasure focused world view relies on the belief that with the right tools and process, it is possible to create systems where wants and needs are no longer differentiated but beautifully aligned to unleash the true potential of an engaged player. Imagine business processes that don’t seem painful to comply with, imagine having a basket of incentives that help you target specific behaviours to boost employee productivity and above all imagine instant feedback at every point of the process.

Playlyfe's flagship product Catalyst clubs all that with specially curated insights showcasing the real time movers and shakers of your sales team. How? We'll tell you in our next post! (If you are getting impatient and don't want to wait for the next post, check out