Top 8 Ways to Ensure CRM Success

Many customer relationship management (CRM) software implementations fail not because of technical difficulties, but rather, because sales reps simply don’t want to use the system.

Sales teams are particularly notorious for CRM adoption problems because most reps are people-oriented—not software-oriented—and thus are wary of new technology they believe will detract from these valuable interactions.

Purchasing a new CRM system and just telling reps to use it often isn’t enough to encourage adoption. The good news?

There are things you can do to motivate your sales team to use CRM software so it can be an effective tool for your business. Here are our top eight tips:

 1. Choose the Right System for Your Team

 2. Communicate Personal Benefits

 3. Involve Reps in the Purchase Decision

 4. Provide Adequate Training

 5. Make the System Easy to Access

 6. Trumpet Early Successes

 7. Reward Good Behavior

 8. Leave No Alternative

1. Choose the Right System for Your Team

One of the best ways to get sales reps to use CRM software is to choose a system that actually helps them sell more. Make sure your new tool includes features and functionality that align with how your team sells, rather than overwhelming them with unnecessary bells and whistles. Try to find a system that solves reps’ biggest problems and makes their job easier.

2. Communicate Personal Benefits

Sales reps who don’t see the personal benefits of using a CRM system will view it simply as a management tool that wastes their time. To boost adoption, sales managers must tell their reps what’s in it for them:

⇒ They’ll be more productive, since the system will automate common tasks. Many CRM systems provide follow-up reminders and options for the automatic scheduling of other tasks.

⇒ They’ll have more time for selling, since they’ll be doing less of the busywork that comes with manual methods. For instance, some CRM systems automatically pull contact information directly from email or social media communication.

⇒ They’ll be less likely to lose or misplace critical sales information, since it will all be tracked in one place. CRM systems allow reps to access where a customer is in the sales pipeline, who owns tasks related to each deal as well as reports that show key performance metrics and progress toward goals.

3. Involve Reps in the Purchase Decision

Many companies choose a CRM system without involving the people who will actually be using it. This not only supports the view that CRM is only a tool for management, it also misses an easy opportunity to gain early buy-in. What’s more, including sales reps in the selection process can help get the rest of your team on board.

Some sales reps are motivated by influence, and will be more likely to use a CRM system they’ve personally helped select. And when they realize using the system does in fact help them succeed, they’ll be more likely to encourage others to follow suit.

4. Provide Adequate Training

Without proper training, CRM implementation is a sinking ship. If sales reps don’t know how to use the system, they’ll become frustrated—and will likely blame the software, or even refuse to use it altogether.

Make sure your reps are up to speed before they use the system for sales activities by conducting training sessions and utilizing the vendor’s support programs. Also, provide ongoing help so that hiccups and questions can be addressed before they turn into hang-ups and deal-breakers.

5. Make the System Easy to Access

Sales reps don’t want to be stuck at their desks, so consider CRM systems that offer mobile access to make it simple for reps to enter data from anywhere. And of course, communicate this benefit to your team to show them that CRM use won’t add extra legwork or interrupt the sales process. The easier that reps see a system is to use, the more likely they’ll actually use it.

6. Trumpet Early Successes

Telling sales reps about the benefits of CRM software is great; but showing them is even better. Encourage early adopters who have experienced wins to share them with the team to help reps understand that they’ll sell more effectively with the system than without it. This helps generate additional buy-in and incentivizes widespread CRM use.

7. Reward Good Behavior

Whether reps don’t believe they’ll see a return on investment or they simply aren’t tech-savvy, negative reinforcement rarely works—Nobody wants to feel pressured to use something they don’t believe in or legitimately struggle with.

Instead of punishing the wrong behavior, keep promoting the benefits of the software while incentivizing the right behavior. Dave Stein, principal of Dave Stein Inc., says rewarding those who have achieved an important departmental goal while using the CRM system can really motivate a sales team.

8. Leave No Alternative

This last tactic is a bit of a cheat—but it may be necessary. Even if a sales manager has followed all other best practices, laggard sales reps may still fight against using a new CRM system. But resist the urge to make exceptions for top performers who protest: This sends the message that use of the software is optional, which could snowball into widespread adoption issues and lead management to lose employee trust.

Stand behind the CRM system as a company-wide investment made for everyone’s benefit, and wipe out all traces of your “old” methods.

According to Lori Richardson, founder and CEO of Score More Sales, some managers even their tell staff: “It’s not a deal unless it’s in the CRM.” In other words, if you want your sales reps to use the system, give them no other option.

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