When CRM applications first emerged on the scene, there was no question they revolutionized the selling process. Mass user adoption was expected, as sales representatives now had a central location to organize their contacts and other relevant data—name, title, company, contact information, history, and myriad other information. With this data, management was better able to view, forecast, and optimally manage the sales pipeline. The problem is, CRM investments won’t do anything to improve sales if no one uses them, and even 20-plus years later, getting reps to actually enter the data is still as difficult as ever. For them, it’s sometimes just as easy to keep this info in a notebook, spreadsheet, back of a napkin—whatever their preferred method of madness may be. Entering data into CRM has often been perceived as a waste of time, taking by some estimations up to four or more hours a week. This is precious time that could be spent selling, or golfing, or eating, or making calls…anything but tedious data entry. After all, if reps have a manual system that works—what’s in it for them to make a concerted effort to change? Organizations still struggle with CRM ‘stickiness,’ as reps don't always see how entering customer data into the system can benefit them personally. And, most sales managers struggle to motivate their reps to use their CRM system, often due to an incomplete adoption strategy. According to “Navigate the Future of CRM” by Forrester Research’s William Band, there are over 200 potential adoption pitfalls—from poorly defined business requirements to difficulties integrating the CRM into current company processes. Regardless of the cause, low adoption makes companies extremely vulnerable because their most vital sales pipeline information lives only in the notebooks and brains of their sales team. Below are a few ways sales performance management (SPM) applications assist in the improvement of CRM adoption:
How CRM & SPM Systems Work Together to Improve Adoption
Pre-sales data in CRM applications is all about driving sales. Post-sales data in SPM systems can be all about making profits and, for reps, getting paid that holy grail of commission. Put the two together in a linked environment and you maximize the value of both—for management and reps alike.
- Enhanced Visibility: For reps, combining the power of CRM & SPM systems means they can visualize the entire sales ecosystem, from prospects through to their commission payment in one centralized dashboard.For example, reps can bring up a prospect they entered in their CRM system and run a “what if” estimation on that potential sale through their SPM solution—all in the same window. They can then play with how changing the terms of a deal can impact their compensation and overall quota goal—i.e. how selling a five-year deal will net out more beneficially in terms of their commission than selling a one-year deal.
- Access Anytime, Anywhere: Moreover, reps have the ability to pull up this information via their mobile device, whenever and wherever they are. No worries about leaving that notebook behind…or accidentally throwing away that napkin with critical information scribbled on it. New integrations are even enabling these capabilities to be integrated directly into a rep’s email system—allowing them to email a prospect, capture information, and estimate deals all from their Gmail.
- Transparency for Management: For management, the combination of CRM and SPM not only provides complete transparency into who they are trying to sell to, but they also offer the richest and most accurate information possible about what products have been sold, to whom, at what margins, through which channels, in which geographies, and at what price points.This is huge, because companies can leverage this data for an accurate reflection of exactly what's going on in the field over an extended period of time. Thus armed, they can better design compensation programs that shape profitable sales behaviors, keep compensation programs well-tuned and relevant, more accurately forecast commission exposures, and stay responsive to market opportunities.
If you want to make your CRM application more “sticky” when it comes to your reps, add a little SPM into the mix. Management will thank you for it too.
Additional CRM Adoption Tips & Best Practices
- Identify Reps’ Needs: What would make your reps’ ability to manage accounts easier? Identify those answers, and communicate how your new CRM implementation will meet their needs.
- Build CRM into Your Process: Streamline change management by integrating simple CRM processes such as order initiation into your sales pipeline process. If your CRM system intuitively integrates with everything else your sales reps do every day, they’ll be more likely to use it. Here are a few sales transformation tips and tactics.
- Make Data Entry Difficult to Dodge: Use data insights from your CRM during staff and team meetings to hold reps accountable.
- Train, and Train Some More: Put together a presentation of how to use CRM, and use it frequently to educate your reps. Train your sales team to use their CRM incrementally over a period of several months.
- Gain Support of Strong Sales Leaders: Get peak performers to champion your system, and then communicate their successes to the rest of the team. Sales leaders should be involved in all planning and integration stages in order to effectively communicate the benefits to their team.
- Link Use of CRM to Compensation: Incentives drive rep behavior, right? The science of human psychology and motivation is clear in this regard. Companies that build incentives for CRM user adoption are more likely to improve adoption rates. For example, companies often implement SPIFs that reward reps who input the most customer data into the system.
When used correctly, automated CRM solutions deliver immense value to sales teams. The potential insight they provide is gold in today’s business culture—from pipeline visibility and forecast accuracy, to competitive intelligence and highly informed coaching and sales training. The key, of course, is data that’s not only clean and accurate but also complete. In other words, you need to make sure your data is integrated across every source, and you desperately need your sales people to enter every piece of information into your CRM. When you combine a comprehensive CRM implementation and adoption strategy with additional applications, you create far more than mere CRM adoption. Rather, you’ll use it as your strategic tool to tap into behavioral psychology and leverage salespeople’s drive to win. What would you do with improved team collaboration, better competitive intelligence, and more customer loyalty?