IMPLEMENTATION: Four Ideas to Make CRM User Adoption Painless

Idea #1: Automate your data entry.Challenge: Sales reps don’t want to become data clerks. Unfortunately, many CRM systems force them to enter customer data and contact on a series of screens. If they’re researching customers on the Internet, the typical rep can end up cutting and pasting a dozen or more times for each customer contact. And trying to get data from business cards generally requires entering the data by hand.Solution: Install tools such as Jigsaw, which automatically imports contact data into your CRM system. That way, the rep can search for the contact (by entering the name from a business card, for instance), confirm that the person in the online database is the same as on the card or screen, and then hit a button to update the CRM database.Idea #2: Clean up your database.Challenge: In most environments, data enters the CRM system from a variety of sources. As a result, many CRM databases are chockablock with duplicate entries, partial entries and entries that are just plain incorrect. Every time a sales rep accesses bad data, it throws a roadblock in the sales process. Worst case, bad data can cause a rep to lose a sale that could otherwise have been closed.Solution: There are numerous programs that scrub databases of duplicates. Some can even dig around online and find data to expand partial entries. In most cases, you’ll need to put some mental energy into cleaning up the data (sometimes a human’s judgment is required), but when you’re done, the sales reps will have the accurate and up-to-date data. And that means more sales.Idea #3: Enable voicemail support.Challenge: Human memory is fallible, so if something important happened at a customer meeting, you’ll want to make sure that it’s recorded and saved for future reference. But sales reps are often unable (or unwilling) to stop and keystroke their impressions after they’ve just met with a client. As a result, all sorts of valuable information slips away, even if it could be highly useful later in the sales cycle.Solution: Add a voicemail capability to your CRM environment so that sales reps can call a number and record their impressions of a meeting, even as they’re driving away from the customer site. Tandem Solutions, for example, provides a personal voice- mailbox so that a rep can record the important call details. Tandem then transcribes this information and uploads it within 24 hours.Idea #4: Support smart phones as well as laptops.Challenge: While laptop computers are useful, they’re not always convenient. They’re bulky, break easily, can attract thieves, and usually require a “hot spot” to access the Internet. For many applications – checking contacts, emailing, social networking, etc. – laptops are overkill. You simply don’t need a full computer to complete certain day-to-day tasks while on the road.Solution: Many sales reps carry smart phones such as the Apple iPhone, RIM BlackBerry, and Palm Treo. These devices are more than capable of handling basic CRM functions, email, Twitter, and many other common sales applications. Ideally, a sales rep can take an entire business trip without ever needing a full laptop.