Get Your Sales Force to Love Your CRM

By Kevin Doddrell

According to Gartner, more than 65 percent of all customer relationship management (CRM) projects fail. Why? The most common pitfall is that salespeople don’t view CRM as a tool that can help them. At best, they see it as just another administrative burden. At worst, they regard CRM as Big Brother.

What can sales leaders do to help salespeople overcome their defense mechanisms and resistance to change? Try paying attention to the emotional component related to CRM implementation. Here are five tips for getting your sales force to love your CRM.

  1. Share examples of success. Leaders must constantly sell the vision and communicate why the team is moving in this direction. It is critical to back up communication with actions and clearly articulate the strategy. An effective leader should cite examples and best practices from other companies.
  2. Make habit a discipline. It is the leader’s responsibility to instill discipline in the team. Habits are formed based on strength, routine, and repetition. Establish a weekly cadence of CRM reviews so the team knows what to expect.
  3. Focus on what’s in it for them. Help your sales team members understand how CRM will help them achieve their individual goals – not how CRM will help achieve management goals. Leveraging CRM technology and mobility provides sales teams with a wealth of information about current and potential customers when and where they need it. This information helps them serve customers better, which in turn helps build stronger relationships. Those relationships lead to better sales and more satisfied customers. When they understand the value of CRM, they’ll be more open to the idea of using it.
  4. Create the right coaching culture. Sales managers should conduct regular funnel reviews with their salespeople. When salespeople see their managers using data from the CRM system to conduct reviews, it sends a strong message about the managers’ expectations for system usage. Adding scientific tools that provide insight about leading, rather than just lagging indicators, can also help drive adoption and be a valuable coaching tool. Monitoring leading indicators means a sales manager has a chance to get involved sooner and coach a salesperson on how to get a deal back on track.
  5. Reward success. Using rewards is a great way to encourage salespeople, who tend to be ambitious and competitive, to use CRM; however, to promote cooperation and the sharing of lessons learned, it’s important to keep the goals team oriented rather than individually centered. Try to celebrate milestones and reward diligent usage.

Following these five steps can help you win both the hearts and minds of your salespeople. CRM systems can drive efficiency, predictability, and transparency in your organization. You’ve gone to extraordinary lengths and invested a large sum in your CRM system; make sure your sales organization is also fully committed to the cause.