True Love: How to Get Your Sales Team to Embrace Your New CRM System

By Krishna Dunthoori, Founder and CEO, Apty
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We all know that CRM systems can be hugely beneficial to sales teams. According to the latest statistics, 92% of businesses report that CRM software plays an important role in achieving their revenue goals. In addition, highly successful sales organizations are 81% more likely than ineffective ones to be consistently using a CRM platform.

However, therein lies a huge challenge: getting your salespeople to adopt and embrace the full features of the new CRM system. In many ways, convincing salespeople to adopt a new CRM system requires an understanding of basic salesperson psychology. Think of the attributes that make for a successful salesperson: “stick-to-it-iveness,” resourcefulness, and determination. These are the very same attributes that can make change management so arduous.

Furthermore, a salesperson’s income is often tied to performance, which naturally leads them to resist new technologies they fear will encroach on “how I’ve always done it” and “what has always worked for me in the past.” Although your salespeople may be intellectually aware of the great benefits a CRM can bring, it can be a challenge to help them make the leap emotionally. Furthermore, the more they feel coerced, the more they will often push back – leading to friction with those leading learning-and-development initiatives.

A new approach to change management is badly needed to foster CRM adoption and empowerment among your highly valuable (yet sometimes incalcitrant) salespeople. What does this look like?

Surmounting the “Forgetting Curve”

Without additional interventions, most people who take part in discrete, one-off training sessions will be unable to recall what they’ve learned after one week; the majority of content will be forgotten after only a day or two. This means you cannot provide your salespeople with one or even two stand-alone trainings on a new technology and expect them to want (or remember how) to use it in the ensuing weeks and months. Rather, training needs to be viewed as a continuous, interactive process, not a static exercise.

It boils down to this: A mandatory, one-day training session is not going to be the magic elixir paving the way to meaningful adoption and engagement, especially among your salespeople. Such training needs to be augmented with real-time, easily digestible learning content delivered precisely at the point of need – for example, reminders, alerts, announcements, and information bubbles with supporting learning-and-development-related links and videos. There’s good news in that new advances in the market are allowing learning content creators (these can be learning-and-development, human resources, software admins, change management, or digital center of excellence professionals) to quickly and intuitively build content directly into popular CRM applications and modules, with little to no programming skills.

Lightening the Cognitive Burden

Constant switching or flicking between multiple applications can be very taxing on the human brain (we all know the mental fatigue and distraction we feel when we’ve got dozens of documents or Internet tabs open). Flicking back and forth has been known to increase the brain’s production of cortisol (the primary stress hormone) and slow us down. In fact, it’s estimated that our brains take an average of 9.5 minutes to fully adapt when we switch between applications and tasks.

In the course of training, how can we avoid this loss in productivity? The answer is simple: Don’t make users toggle and switch. To access learning content, users shouldn’t have to interrupt what they’re doing, nor should they have to make a concerted mental effort to ponder and compose questions. Rather, the information they seek should be intuitively presented or “pushed” to them. The application use, training, and learning should all happen at once, in the same place – making things so easy and convenient that engagement and proper use are increased.

Proactively Identifying “Hot Spots”

Fortunately, advances in artificial intelligence (AI) make it possible for organizations to analyze CRM app usage and identify common problem areas, such as where users are running into difficulty, experiencing frustration, and abandoning the application. AI-derived insights also allow businesses to discern which teams, regions, departments, or users across the extended enterprise are having the most difficulty adopting certain workflows. With these keen insights, learning content creators can earmark these areas as priorities for the development of educational tips and “mini curriculum.” Going a step further, organizations can identify trends and patterns in user behavior – what modules seem the most intuitive and easiest to use, and conversely, which ones seem the hardest, helping them prioritize the development of learning content as modules are updated and CRM initiatives expand.

Resistance to change is an intrinsic human trait, and, if your salespeople are like most people, chances are they’ll cling to their tried, trusted, and proven ways of doing things with extreme tenacity. That is why a new approach to change management is needed to open your salespeople’s hearts and minds to a new CRM solution that will propel their success to the next level.

Krishna Dunthoori is Founder and CEO of Apty.