Four Quick Ways to Get Your Sales Reps to Embrace CRM

By Geoffrey James

Let’s face it – some sales reps just don’t want to use CRM. Sometimes its because the CRM system is old and clunky, but more often it’s because sales management never sold the idea of CRM to the sales force. Here are four quick ways to help convince your reps to embrace CRM.

1. Praise, don’t punish. Rather than wearing your manager hat and twisting the arms of your employees, when it comes to CRM treat your sales reps as customers. Never punish them for not using the system. Would you punish a customer for not buying? Instead, offer your sales force the perks and special offers you might offer customers. Give early adopters and enthusiastic users additional bonuses and extra days off. Establish a special prize for the sales rep who uses the CRM system most effectively. Publicly praise sales reps who embrace CRM and make it part of their daily work lives. Make sure enthusiastic CRM users are given extra credit and compensation during their employee reviews.

2. Emphasize busywork reduction. Sales reps hate busywork, so any CRM features that eliminate clerical hassles inevitably create enthusiasm. For example, many companies manage their forecasts by compiling data from various spreadsheets, a process that’s frustrating, time consuming and extremely prone to error. Today’s CRM systems can collect forecasting data automatically, eliminating many hours of busywork for sales reps. Similarly, at some companies the paper mechanics of moving a sale from opportunity to product shipment is so burdensome that sales reps can only handle a limited number of deals in the pipeline. Most CRM implementations, however, minimize that data-entry process and make it easier and faster to move a sale from place to place within the chain.

3. Focus on sales not costs. All too often sales managers try to sell their sales team on CRM by explaining how it’s going to save the company money. Let’s be honest about this. Sales reps care about sales! So, whenever you talk about the CRM system to your reps, emphasize how much easier it will be to sell using CRM than without it. For example, if the CRM system has group calendaring, show how it will be easier to schedule the resources required to help close a sale. According to independent research, implementing a CRM system can result in a 20% boost in sales. That should come out to 20% higher commissions, right?

4. Cultivate CRM champions. When it comes to CRM, word of mouth is both your greatest ally and your greatest enemy. If the watercooler scuttlebutt is that the CRM system is a big hassle, you can basically kiss compliance good-bye. To make certain the buzz is positive, actively cultivate champions among your sales team who will tout CRM to their colleagues. By the way, the best candidates to play this role aren’t the young, gung-ho technology types but the successful sales reps the rest of the staff want to emulate. Ideally you want people who are a little resistant to technology, so it is all the more dramatic when they embrace CRM.

The above is based on a conversation with Dale Hagemeyer, research director for CRM at Gartner, a market-research firm headquartered in Stamford, CT.