How Do I Get My Sales Team to Use the CRM System?

After looking at the CRM system, a rookie sales manager realized that her team was not making much use of the tool. In addition, the data she found in the CRM system was outdated and incomplete. She then asked herself a question many sales managers have asked: How do I get my sales team to use the CRM system and use it properly?

An effective CRM system should not only be an effective sales management tool, it must also be an effective sales tool. CRM systems should make the job of both the sales manager and the salesperson easier and more effective, not harder! In addition, users need to be trained on the system and the sales manager must take responsibility for incorporating use of the CRM system into the team and company culture.

From a sales manager’s perspective, the CRM system must be able to provide a few key capabilities. The system must reveal the status, value, and timing of revenue in the sales pipeline so the manager can be sure corporate revenue goals are being met. In addition, the sales manager must be sure that each member of the sales team is effectively contributing to the overall team goals. If there are problems with progress for the team or for a salesperson, the CRM system provides the sales manager the tools to analyze an individual salesperson’s pipeline and level of activity across leads, accounts, contacts and opportunities so she can suggest corrective action. Managing a sales team effectively without this information is nearly impossible.

From a salesperson’s perspective, the CRM System is and should be viewed as a tremendous asset, an essential tool in closing business and meeting goals. Unfortunately, in many organizations, CRM is viewed as an administrative burden that benefits management while penalizing salespeople. Effective CRM, on the other hand, has been designed with input from the sales team. It has been designed as a system that benefits sellers by making it easier to reach goals and increase income. Examples of what salespeople want a CRM system to provide include:

  • The ability to rapidly record and retrieve information both from the CRM system itself as well as from integrated corporate and 3rd party systems such as ERP systems or 3rd party data providers.
  • Mobile access from the field.
  • Automated quote and proposal creation
  • Tracking of all the details too numerous to remember about accounts, contacts, opportunities, activities, renewal dates, contract windows, etc.
  • Recording reminders that personalize and deepen relationships with clients including birthdays, anniversaries, children, spouses, hobbies, etc.
  • The ability to segment customers by product or service needs, size, industry, location, buying influences, etc. Segmentation allows sellers to target sales and marketing efforts efficiently and effectively.
  • Goal and progress tracking.

Keep in mind that sales teams are different across industries and organizations so it is important to learn what your sales team wants and needs and to then incorporate those capabilities within your system.

Many sales managers have devised and tried reward and punishment schemes to get their team to use the CRM system. For instance, salespeople have been threatened with compensation penalties for not logging a certain number of records or activities in the system. In other cases, a bonus has been offered in return for meeting data entry objectives. In the long-term, focusing on data entry does not drive the behavior that leads to effective CRM usage. Instead, I recommend that sales managers and companies make CRM part of the culture.

I want to reiterate again that making your CRM system part of the team and company culture starts with ensuring your system meets the needs of both the sales team and sales management. Once the system and related processes have been established, the sales manager must ensure that all team members have received training on how to use the system and how use of the system benefits the seller and the company. Making the CRM system part of the culture is then established by using CRM as the central hub for all sales team communication and activity. For instance, all sales meetings should be based on reporting dashboards and data that live in the CRM system. All goal attainment metrics, including sales compensation, should be based upon data in the CRM system. When people have questions about customer orders, customer service issues, or other customer data they should be directed to the CRM system. Does your team have approval processes? Quote and proposal workflows? Access to these processes should be through the CRM system.

When sales management creates an effective CRM system that benefits management and salespeople, it does. When the team culture and sales process treats the CRM system as a valuable tool, it will be. Effective CRM systems contain accurate and complete information that enable managers and salespeople to meet and exceed individual, team, and company results.

About Peter Katz

Peter is a business and information technology consultant that helps organizations grow faster and operate more efficiently using Customer Relationship Management software. He has acquired deep experience across delivery, pre-sales and sales roles within the mid-market and enterprise IT consulting space and has spent more than 15 years focused specifically on CRM solutions.

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