Susan Glover Insight & Advice

The Issue Isn’t the CRM, It’s You

Published on Monday, June 18, 2018

The Issue Isn’t the CRM, It’s You

A high CRM adoption rate is reliant on your staff’s willingness to embrace it. Without it, you end up with several CRMs - also known as spreadsheets


Our article was published in Barron's


Throughout my career, I’ve had managers tell me how to do a task (incorrectly), why I should support their views (though I had my own views), and why agreeing with their decision is good for the firm (with a pat on my back and a smile on their faces). If these one-sided statements sound like your CRM buy-in strategy, then your firm’s low adoption rate shouldn’t be a surprise.


Many CRM conversations with advisors center around workflow bottlenecks, out-of-date data fields, and staff that won’t use it. Advisors believe that a new CRM will do the trick. It won’t, unless you start at the beginning – your people.


There’s a reason “people” is listed first in the phrase “people, process, and technology.” A high CRM adoption rate is dependent on your staff’s comfort level with it. Without their willingness to embrace it, you can end up with several CRMs - otherwise known as spreadsheets. Understand these firm-wide acceptance issues before looking for a new CRM:


Either the CRM is easily navigable or confusing: People process information differently. Some people can easily navigate through clicks and screens to retrieve data and follow workflows. Others find it difficult to navigate and label the CRM confusing, clunky, or useless (words from my clients). The latter group is usually branded as not tech-savvy, which isn’t the case. The majority of workflow bottlenecks result from people who prefer following their own instincts rather than what the technology dictates.

Staff understands integration isn’t seamless. They must manually gather or export data, from multiple sources, into a spreadsheet, then format and upload the data. As one vendor said to my client: “Our software seamlessly integrates with your CRM through CSV (comma-separated values).” This is really an export/import process, which is not seamless. Some people prefer to leave the data in the spreadsheet or refer to the original source.

Inconsistent data field usage leads to more spreadsheets. When I ask advisors to define household or AUM, they realize their answers don’t apply to all clients. Other data fields have the same issue. Your staff knows which CRM data fields are inaccurate or out-of-date and can point to the spreadsheets with accurate client data.


Remember, it’s “people” first.

  • People are comfortable with a CRM that is intuitive to them. This creates manageable conflicts during the decision-making and implementation process. Customized training sessions and dashboards, and hand holding may be needed until people can adapt their thought process to the CRM. It can happen, just not overnight.
  • I believe too many spreadsheets have overstayed their welcome. I also understand how the limitations of your CRM, combined with your staff’s desire to get things done correctly and quickly results in embracing spreadsheets. You need that level of understanding to be on the same page as your staff with data, integration, intuitive, and workflow bottlenecks.
  • Aim for voluntary buy-ins by allowing everyone a voice. While you won’t please all with your decisions, you can show empathy and address valid human concerns.


Then, processes and technology can fall into place.

How can we help? Contact us to discuss your technology challenge

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Author: Susan Glover

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