CRM Change Management: Marketing a New System to Staff Members

CRM Change Management: Marketing a New System to Staff Members

Written By: Ken Jacobsen, Jr.

from February 10, 2015

Change management is an important and sometimes difficult component of business operations. Changes large and small inevitably appear for companies, and getting employees to accept and work with those changes is crucial to continued success. There are a number of reasons why staff members don’t like change, from personality type to the fact that a major alteration to business practices means spending extra time training.

When it comes to customer relationship management software, the decision to implement or upgrade to a new solution can lead to pushback from employees. CRM has a broad scope of impact on a company: Many staff members will have to relearn how to perform certain tasks on a new system and pick up new skills as well. More than any other addition or change to a sales business, CRM will influence everyone from sales staff and marketers to administrators and even members of the executive suite. For this reason, pushback from many different areas of a business can be expected, yet generating employee buy-in to the concept of a new CRM system is also crucial.

What can business leaders do to boost change management?

Utilize existing sales skills

One unique tool that the sales-based businesses which favor CRM have is their background in presenting concepts to clients and closing deals based on effective communication. In other words, the leaders of such a company can use their sales skills to help develop acceptance of the change. The sales staff who are members of the implementation team, as well as the senior leaders who encouraged the selection of the new system, can use their sales skills to highlight the most positive features of a new system and promote its use at the company. Just as salespeople hear rebuttals from customers and then provide counter-arguments, they can do the same when employees provide objections about a new CRM system.

Get early adopters and product champions involved

The CRM Software Blog suggested using the product champion – the high-level staff member who has been involved with the implementation from the start – to help employees accept the changeover to a new system. The champion can give company-wide and team-specific presentations to address both general goals and specific changes that will occur. The department-level meetings are a great opportunity to address questions and concerns from individual staff members with positive responses, encouraging all of the employees attending the meeting.

As the implementation moves along and the CRM system goes live, the early and eager adopters of the platform can fill a similar role. These enthusiastic users will have to be identified, but they can provide guidance and support to their fellow staff members, helping to promote the change on a peer-to-peer level that some employees will have a great deal of respect for. This comprehensive approach means more employees will be reached and have their view of the new CRM platform changed for the better.

Provide ongoing support

While employee resistance to change can be addressed for the most part during the implementation phase and the weeks leading up to the new system’s go-live date, there will likely be some residual pushback after the new CRM platform is in place. Staff members may find unexpected challenges or realize the scope of new skills they’re supposed to develop only after they’re supposed to be comfortable with the new system. Businesses can combat this by offering supplemental training and troubleshooting for staff. By having this option offered on an as-needed basis, organizations can boost compliance and help employees understand the best practices for utilizing a new CRM system.