Sadly, this is a common refrain. And it really doesn’t need to be that way. Here are a few tips to help you get your team using your CRM so that you can start getting value out of it.

Make sure it works

Kind of obvious. So much so that I nearly didn’t include this. But in many cases, some simple hurdles are standing in the way of your CRM being used. Maybe an extra sign-on, long load times or screens that just don’t work? Whatever they are, get great technical people to focus on getting these barriers out of the way. Not everything is cheap or easy to fix, but sometimes the solutions just require some focussed attention.

Show the team how it helps them

In many cases, a CRM has been purchased by a senior management team with their own goals in mind. Goals like better forecasting, more visibility of the sales pipeline, clarity on sales activity. The CRM might even have been set up to make sure these goals were delivered. The problem is, it doesn’t work if the sales teams don’t put the information in! I have heard more than once “they will do it because we tell them to”. That isn’t the most effective way to change behaviour. Unless you are willing to fire your best salesperson for not using the CRM (which I have never seen happen!) then it is an empty threat. Try these ideas instead:

  • Help them sell more

    This is the best trick of all. Can you help your sales team better interact with customers? Often presenting consolidated customer information front and centre in the CRM will provide new selling insights. Another great “what’s in it for me” is helping the team make better decisions about how to use time. This could be highlighting the best or most important things they could be doing today to grow their sales. For example, what is the highest value deal they are working on? Or is there an existing customer that has recently changed ordering patterns?

  • Help them be productive

    Sometimes simple sales productivity can be the most attractive thing about a CRM system. If something a rep enters then triggers automated action instead of a huge round of admin it can make a big difference. For some teams, it can be as easy as pre-filling document templates from the CRM so that the information doesn’t need to be copied across. For other teams, it might involve sending information captured in the CRM automatically across to the order processing systems. Or just helping them plan a more efficient sequence of sales calls.

  • Make it essential

    Mandatory usage can be a very powerful tool, but be careful when using it to make sure you don’t get unintended consequences. If you can make the data entered by your team in the CRM an essential part of your process, then it is no longer optional to use the CRM. For example, if a new customer can’t have a credit account without CRM data. Or a sale cannot be complete without detail in the CRM. This will force CRM usage, but not necessarily the type of usage that will really drive your business forward or deliver an ROI. Used sparingly though and with the other tools, this can be an effective way to get the team on to the system in the first place.

Manager reinforcement

Sales managers are always important, no matter what other steps you take. When a sales manager is meeting with their team individually or as a group, it is critical that they use CRM data as the basis for their discussion. Ideally “if it isn’t in the CRM, it didn’t happen”. A manager can coach on CRM usage, but even better is coaching on sales behaviours based on CRM data. The best managers can coach on the higher-order decision making. For example, how to do sales activity planning driven by quality CRM data and usage.

Implementing these tips might be tricky if your CRM as not been set up with this kind of use in mind. Or if underlying system problems or inconsistent use has left you with messy data and a lot of negativity in your team. But a little bit of time focussed on these areas can yield big rewards. For many sales teams, this extra 20% of work will then give 80% of the value of the CRM!

I am keen to know which of these things have worked for you in the past, particularly CRM users who are getting a lot of value out of their system. Let me know in the comments below.

Would you like help with solving these thorny problems? Contact me to have a discussion about how this is going in your business.