If asked, salespeople have a way of describing themselves. Commonplace are descriptors such as outgoing, sociable, competitive, results-orientated. When asked what they don’t like or what they could improve at you’ll often hear things like admin, processes, paperwork, reporting. And herein lies the basic problem of every sales manager – how to get salespeople enjoying CRM.
The said sales manager will often get to the stage where they’re fed up of pulling reports together from cobbled spreadsheets, word docs, bits of paper, text messages, conversations and the like – never mind trying to forecast what sales might come in next month. And it’ll be decided that it’s time for a CRM to solve the problem. So they’ll get budget approved, do their research, make a decision on the best product and roll it out in quick time – after all the sooner it’s in place the sooner their job gets easier.
Except this is where failed CRM projects start.
The sales manager will naturally be biased towards solving their needs and will overlook anyone else’s, especially the salespeople who will be using it most – the same folk are who aren’t good at admin and don’t like doing it. A battle commences. Months later salespeople are heard complaining at the amount of unnecessary admin they do now and the sales manager still can’t rely on the data at hand to accurately report or forecast.
There is a better way however. And it’s the same way you start selling anything, from addressing the customer’s pain point. Except in this case the customer’s are the salespeople.
Design everything from their perspective. Treat them individually and find out what daily tasks are most cumbersome and what activities can be automated to save time. Take into consideration their unique challenges. Build these in first. Get easy wins. You might be itching to monitor their call schedules or look at meeting notes or see who their frequent contacts are, but you must wait. Deliver the first wins to salespeople. The reports will come when they’re fully indoctrinated in using it.
Keep it simple. Almost all CRM’s when you first start will default to showing you every available field in every available module. It looks complicated and it is! Resist the urge to leave fields in if you’re not sure about their use. Chances are if you’re not sure then you don’t need it. Delete it. You can always come back later if you find you really miss a field that’s not there. The fewer fields and the fewer steps to follow the better, especially at first.
Leads must be allocated through the CRM. No matter how they come in or how easy it is to just leave a note to call a customer back all leads must be allocated through CRM. You’ll not get buy in from sales until you do. The instant gratification from seeing a new lead notification to a sales rep is rewarding, don’t underestimate it.
Use the carrot and stick in equal measure. Here’s where your people management skills come in. You need to be tough enough to enforce use, but if you’ve provided enough wins in the design (carrot) this shouldn’t be too hard. Refuse to accept the old spreadsheets and old excuses. You’ll only get value when everyone is 100% on board. There’s no harm in providing incentives for good CRM use, especially to keep it as a focus to the wider team, but resist making a monetary reward. The benefit to them as users should be enough.
Remember above all else, a CRM is only as good as the data going into it. Make the data entry as easy as possible and the resulting tasks as automated as possible and you’ll be well on your way to getting your salespeople loving your CRM.