User Adoption: The most important step of all

If you are introducing any software into your business, much less something as powerful as a HubSpot CRM, the work you do around user adoption is by far the most important. More important than the architectural design the data models or the level of subscription. 

Most CRM installations fail (some say up to 70%) and while you will a read lot about what to do to ensure a successful project (including the previously linked article) many people underestimate the impact of the most basic aspect of all. 

Getting users to use it. 

Why don't people want new systems?

Many people famously hate to change. And some of the people who have told me they are really open to change are in fact the ones most resistant! Not sure what that's all about!

But it stands to reason really, doesn't it? 

They've spent a lot of time learning a system, or even a system of workarounds to the point that they can be completed almost reflexively. When you are working like that, it doesn't feel like work and you can concentrate on the stuff that actually makes a difference, like talking to clients or whatever. 

A new anything is bad news. It takes time to learn, and get proficient enough to get back to the previous level of expertise. 

In the case of salespeople with CRMs, many feel like that ramp period, or introduction period is literally going to cost them money in lost sales due to time-wasting in coming to terms with the new systems. 

Having to remember where everything is, stopping and updating the thing just at the most inconvenient time is such a pain! 

Plus there is always an element of unease around new stuff. If this can change, what else is about to be whipped away from us? 

If Adoption fails, the new system fails

One of the first lessons we learn when studying computer science, or any data discipline really, is GIGO. That's right, Garbage in, Garbage out. If there is poor, missing or incomplete data in the CRM, the outputs, reports, analysis and so forth are also poor, missing data or incomplete in other ways. 

And guess what happens when people don't use the system? The data is poor, missing or incomplete... you see how this ends right? 

This is why I say user adoption is actually the most important aspect of what you are trying to do when you are installing new software, especially a new CRM. 

But there is another more insidious reason why adoption is so important. A new CRM is often a piece in the puzzle of transformation. From small process improvement to huge re-platforming or pivoting exercises for business. 

If people don't use the new stuff, and the new ways of working, the whole change plan is doomed to failure. 

5 things to do to make sure users adopt

So what do we do to make sure the adoption process is successful? Here are 5 lessons I've learned along the way. Get these right and you've way more chance of nailing it on every measure. 

1. Start with WHY

According to renowned author Simon Sinek, it is crucial for your teams to understand the reason behind the upheaval of their systems and processes. The natural objection to change is reinforced when there isn't a solid logical, rational and/or emotional argument for why to make the change. (Hint, emotional is the best one) 

2. Involve as many people as you can.

It can be tempting to solely involve your change champions in the change program, as it saves the rest of the team from getting caught up in expensive workshops and meetings. After all, the champions are there to spread the word, right?

However, this approach presents a problem. While the champions may understand and embrace the change, the rest of the team may be clueless about why the change is happening, how to adapt, and what specific adjustments they need to make to align with the new direction.

Managing the change is not the responsibility of the champions alone. Their role is to serve as models for change, allowing others to witness it in action.

Unfortunately, champions can only do so much to bring others along if they don't fully comprehend the purpose and significance of the change.

Truth be told, not everyone will immediately grasp it.

3. Create a movement

Or infuse it with passion, purpose, or another form of personification to enable people to engage in the language of change and feel connected to the transformative process unfolding around them.

Assign the change a distinctive name - be it Transformation, Project HubSpot, or the RevOps Revolution - that embodies its essence and fosters inclusivity. Embrace various mediums like badges, posters, and email signatures as part of the change program.

Have you ever come across the term #Hubolution? It serves as a remarkable example of the personification of a change or adoption initiative.

4. Lead the change

Do not relinquish your responsibility for the change program to someone else. While delegation of action and even authority is acceptable, it is crucial to retain responsibility for yourself.

As the leader of the business or the business function, you serve as the ultimate sponsor of the change. What message does it convey to your teams when you have no awareness of what is happening or are unable to use the software yourself?

It implies that the change is not important. Instead of merely telling them, show them through your actions.

Remember, people are more likely to emulate what you do rather than what you say. As a transformation Managing Director in the commercial world, I made the transformation my sole focus. I championed it, debated for it, provided solace to people, persuaded them, incentivized them, and employed every possible means to facilitate the change.

Change does not occur spontaneously. You cannot delegate this responsibility; transformative change begins at the top.

5. Train, train and train again.

People cannot simply absorb and adapt to significant changes in their business requirements, objectives, and daily work through osmosis. They need clear explanations of why the change is necessary, practical demonstrations of how to implement it, and ongoing monitoring to ensure a smooth transition to the new systems and processes.

Change champions play a crucial role in modelling the desired behaviours and proving that change is possible. Training, mentoring, studying, and continuous learning are all essential components in making the change successful.

Regular training sessions, conducted on a weekly basis for at least three months, are vital. The aim is to train employees until they are proficient enough to train others. Teaching others is often the most effective way to solidify knowledge and skills. Therefore, creating a team of trainers and teachers within the organization is highly beneficial.

Have I missed anything obvious? What would you add to the five? Or are there any you disagree with?


Tony Dowling

FCIM | HubSpot Platinum Partner | Revenue Consultant | HubSpot Certified Trainer | South Wales HUG Leader | | 07812 582213

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