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Sales NOT Using CRM? Solutions To Get Your Team Going

At least one in three Customer Relationship Management projects fail, often because sales teams don’t adopt the new process and tools. Some analysts say that number is low, claiming 2 in 3 projects fall short of expectations.

Want to ensure project success? Try some of these proven strategies early in the project. If you’ve already implemented CRM and you are struggling with end user adoption, skip ahead for fresh ideas on how to motivate your sales and service teams.

Before You Begin


The best way to ensure that your sales and service teams fully adopt Customer Relationship Management is to take the following steps BEFORE you begin implementation.

Secure Executive Support


Executive sponsorship is the number one driver of project success, according to the Project Management Institute. Start by identifying a single executive sponsor who will make this project his or her priority.

If you want to get the entire executive team on board, emphasize how this project will improve the customer experience:

  • Prospects and customers receive timely follow-ups and aren’t lost in the daily grind.
  • Efficient tools and processes save time and money.
  • Management knows exactly what sales and service teams are doing – as the old adage goes, you can only manage what you measure.


Involve Sales & Service Teams


Sales and service teams who give input during the selection process are more likely to adopt the software they help select. While some experts argue against this approach because it’s too unwieldy to manage expectations, we believe this isn’t true. Especially in small and medium-sized businesses, it’s important to listen to feedback and concerns from the sales team BEFORE a plan is set in stone.

During the selection process, encourage your teams to focus on how they will use the system for day-to-day tasks. Systems that are easy to use are adopted more quickly with less grumbling. Also, consider what environments your sales team will work in. If your team travels to client sites, they’ll need mobile access and offline access. Sales professionals don’t want to end their days back in a hotel room entering data into a system.

During Implementation


Identify a Project Owner


While the executive sponsor is responsible for securing budget and buy-in, the project owner manages the day-to-day activities. The Project Owner (or Project Manager) should be someone who understands the objectives and internal processes. The Project Owner will map the internal requirements with software capabilities and should have some comfort level with the selected software. Because these two skill sets are hard to find, some organizations pair technical resources with business analysts to achieve this need. (Hint: If you choose a simple CRM, the Project Owner will need fewer technical resources.)

Maximize Efficiency


Many sales professionals balk at using Customer Relationship Management software because it feels like they’re wasting time on “data entry” and don’t see the benefits. Avoid the data entry conundrum by integrating with existing systems such as Microsoft Outlook or QuickBooks.

Take efficiency a step further and incorporate templates to save time. Reps can send smart, professional emails in a few clicks rather than writing something from scratch. Some vendors offer features to further increase efficiency, such as planning sales routes to minimize travel time. Anytime sales and service teams see that they can do their job faster, they’ll adopt new processes quickly without grumbling.

Train Sales, Service Teams & Management


Make sure you partner with a vendor that provides support and training. Great resources include live training, videos and documentation. Some vendors provide ongoing, free training and support to keep teams productive. Give your teams time to use the system. For any new process, it takes time to ramp up and become efficient – make sure to limit distractions during the first few weeks.

Don’t stop with just one training session. Incorporate follow-up training such as a lunch & learn series. Digging into specific tips and tricks will help users get more out of the system.

After Implementation


If you’re reading this, you’ve already implemented your Customer Relationship Management software and you’re tackling the issue of end user adoption after the fact. While this isn’t ideal…we have a few ideas to help you at this stage of the project:

Address Issues Head-On


If you hear grumbling from the sales ranks, sit down with your team one-on-one and observe as each person uses the system. Note obstacles as they occur and look for solutions. If issues can be addressed with education, add training sessions to address specific topics. If there are issues with system navigation or it takes a lot of clicks to accomplish simple tasks, look into what it takes to customize the system and/or select a system that’s easier to use. Regardless of what solution you choose, communicate back to sales reps how their feedback is being addressed. The biggest detractors can be turned into the best ambassadors by resolving their concerns.

Celebrate Successes


As soon as you complete implementation, look for early customer wins. Share statistics and back those up with personal stories, ideally told by one of your star sales or service professionals. But don’t stop here…keep highlighting your sales champions who are regularly using the tools on a regular basis.

Add some umph to your program by borrowing concepts from gamification theory. Launch a contest across sales teams who are notoriously competitive by nature. Finally, some companies choose to award bonuses based on what’s recorded in the CRM. If sales commissions are based on what’s in the system, usage will follow.

Reinforce, Reinforce, Reinforce


Reinforcement is an important part of any change. Start by identifying a specific staff member to pull reports. Use these reports to perform weekly pipeline reviews, but try to avoid situations where it feels like you’re “picking” on sales professionals. Rather, use these sessions to coach professionals. Some teams come together for pipeline reviews and brainstorm ideas for how to approach key accounts.

Hint: If managers call the sales team for updates rather than pulling reports from the system, the team will get the message that the system doesn’t matter.

On the flip side, some companies take punitive action and fire employees who don’t use CRM. While this will guarantee usage, it can breed resentment against management. Rather, you can use the system to support quarterly and yearly performance reviews and take the stance that, “If it’s not in the system, it doesn’t exist.” A different method that makes sense is to review employee activities and identify opportunities that have been missed due to lack of usage, such as cross-sale and up-sale opportunities.

Improve Customer Experiences


Finally, the best use of Customer Relationship Management software is to improve the customer experience. Centralizing sales data means that anyone on the team can take care of customers – when key sales managers are out of the office you’re not stuck asking customers to repeat themselves or call back later.

Ask your sales team to identify customer pain points and identify ways that the system can help manage some of these issues, such as assigning follow-up calls or managing invoices.