CIO Magazine reports that around one-third of all client relationship management (CRM) projects fail.¹ With a statistic like that, it’s clear that CRM adoption challenges abound. 

Why do so many CRM initiatives reach this sad end? Because dozens of moving parts can contribute to (or detract from) your success.

Before purchasing a new CRM solution, you must consider factors like cybersecurity threats, cost, integration with the rest of your stack, and the logistics that go into managing the actual switch. 

Once the solution is set up, you face potential challenges with data migration and team resistance. And, of course, if the implementation goes sideways at any point, it may harm your client experience — an outcome that can negatively impact your ROI and long-term growth prospects.

So, how do you ensure your firm dodges these common CRM adoption challenges? Here are five tips to help keep the implementation process on track.



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1. Undertake Adequate Planning and Research

Your CRM will be the keeper of your firm’s most valuable resource: your client relationships. You wouldn’t trust just any tool to do this job. That’s why investing heavily in the planning and research phase is critical to successful CRM implementation.

This starts long before you Google “best CRMs for financial advisors.” Your research should begin under your own roof.

Your team will be using the CRM every day. They know what features can help them work faster, smarter, and better (and, conversely, what constitutes unnecessary bells and whistles). Their insights will prove invaluable in narrowing down your list of potential vendors.

Go straight to the source and get feedback from your team in their own words. Depending on the size of your firm, you might send around a survey, conduct a sit-down “focus group,” or host a town hall-style meeting to gather input.

Speaking with your team before the search begins in earnest doesn’t just help you identify the features and benefits you’ll want to look for. It also helps your team feel involved in the process, which will help you generate buy-in during the implementation phase.

Once you have your list of requirements, you can begin your external search. 

No matter which vendors you’re considering, you’ll want to find a solution that integrates with your existing tech, has a solid support team and robust onboarding process, and delivers on your needs.

Don’t hesitate to ask prospective technology partners for demos, case studies, and references to consider as part of your buying process.


2. Define What Success Looks Like

After you’ve selected your CRM provider, the real work begins.

What does a successful implementation look like? Your leadership team should set clear parameters for evaluating and measuring your process.

Establishing SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) can help you identify the best path forward. Once your goals are defined, assign key performance indicators, or KPIs, to each goal to help you measure progress.

These SMART goals may encompass:

  • Security concerns. Your CRM must offer complete cybersecurity and protect clients’ personal identifying information (PII).
  • Strength of your team’s adoption. Your new CRM will only be helpful if your team actually uses it.
  • Team-wide efficiency. Do you find that your new CRM helps your team to be more productive and serve clients more effectively?
  • Improvement of client relationships. Ultimately, any new tech you adopt should help you build stronger bonds with clients that result in wins for your firm.

If you’re having trouble deciding which SMART goals to set, turn to your broader business objectives. You want to align your CRM implementation goals with your big-picture vision for your firm.


3. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate (Then Communicate Again)

A lack of communication is one of the biggest unforced errors in implementing any new technology. When you leave your team in the dark about what’s happening, you create CRM adoption challenges.

Your CRM is foundational tech that will change everyone’s daily work. If you don’t speak with your team in advance and engage in effective change management techniques, you will foster frustration, resentment, and distrust among your ranks.

Begin your communication efforts well in advance of your CRM implementation date.

One of the best ways to generate early buy-in is to identify champions within your firm. Look for tech-savvy, collegial individuals excited about the potential benefits of a new CRM. Invite them to join your beta testing group that gets first dibs on trying the technology.

As they get to know and love your new CRM, they’ll share their enthusiasm with other team members. Any fear or apprehension about the new tech will quickly dissipate as the champions discuss their positive experiences.

Once everyone has access to the new CRM, your champions can continue to lead the way, helping others get up to speed.

The end of the rollout doesn’t mean the end of communication. No tech implementation will be 100% smooth, and often your team will be the first to spot bugs, glitches, or inefficiencies. 

Continue to check in with folks in the months after launch and establish a transparent process for voicing concerns or sharing suggestions for improvement. Ongoing open communication makes everyone on your team feel valued and heard.


4. Offer Extensive Training and Support

Any new tech solution will have a learning curve. How steep it is depends on an individual’s level of technical know-how, the complexity of the product itself, and the quality of your training.

If you want to encourage adoption of your CRM, you need to make it easy for everyone to get confident in the system, build up their knowledge base, and see the benefits of integrating the tech into their daily workflow.

You can accomplish all of this by offering thorough training and support.

Don’t think you need to go it alone at this stage. Your new CRM provider has been through this process before, and they’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly at other firms. Ask them for tips, resources, and any additional support they provide.

Remember, your tech provider wants your implementation to be successful, too! A good technology partner will happily run demo sessions with your team, respond to emails and requests, and share best practices to help new users become super users.


5. Cultivate a Culture of CRM Usage

One of the most significant CRM adoption challenges is a lack of team-wide adoption. If only some of you are relying on the technology, you’re missing out on opportunities to amass more client data, connect and engage further with clients, and ultimately increase your AUM.

This is why you must get your team into the habit of using your CRM daily and in every client interaction. According to psychologists, it takes an average of 59 days to form a new habit.² In those first two months after your CRM implementation, focus on cultivating a culture of CRM usage.

Think more carrot than stick. Your team has been through a significant tech-related change, and if you can make it seem exciting, positive, and fun, you’re more likely to win everyone over.

Here are some tactics you might try to incentivize continued, correct CRM usage in those critical early months:

  • Send a weekly email from leadership highlighting a new CRM trick you learned and love. Encourage your team to try it for themselves.
  • Host regular lunch and learns with your CRM champions. An informal event can sometimes encourage hesitant, overwhelmed users to stop by and ask for help.
  • Shout out CRM wins. Did your CRM just contribute to someone closing a new client or delivering a big win for an existing one? Congratulate them on your team’s internal messaging platform, and highlight how the CRM contributed to their success.

Remember, no tech implementation will ever be perfect. But there are steps you can take to set your firm up for success and avoid common CRM adoption challenges. If you’re thoughtful, committed, and positive, you can create an environment ripe for a successful implementation process.



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¹Source: “What to do when your CRM project fails”,, 2017
²Source: “Habit formation following routine-based versus time-based cue planning: A randomized controlled trial”,, 2021

Compliance Code: 2 6 4 8, Orion Advisor Technology, September 22, 2023