people-looking-at-things_1_0.pngIn other words, how do we sell CRM adoption to the sales team?

Most businesses are highly dependent on their sales team for the capturing of key data needed to fulfill orders and to invoice, and hence it makes sense to get them on board with any new business system. However, although working hard to demonstrate how the system will address their issues is key, it is not all you can do.

To help organisations maximize both the initial adoption, as we all as the ongoing adoption of a CRM solution by their sales team, we have come up with a list of 10 key best practice techniques:

  • Involve your sales team early

    Ensure at least some of your sales team are involved in the CRM project at the very earliest stage possible. These employees will act as influencers and subject matter experts and by considering their ideas and opinions for the configuration of the system, they are more likely to embrace the change in working practice.

  • Nurture ‘Champions’

    Identifying and cultivating ‘champions‘ in your team for a new system is one of the most effective tactics to facilitate the adoption of CRM amongst your Sales team. It is often apparent who the more influential members of the sales team are and by harnessing their influence, you help to ensure the adoption of your new system. Appointing them as part of the project team or even setting MBO objectives should ensure their buy-in.

  • Obtain feedback

    After a few weeks – or most definitely after the first sales period end – take the time to seek feedback. Invite your CRM application vendor or implementation partner to one of your team meetings, they should be keen to help you address outstanding niggles in your implementation. Your Sales team will respect you for taking their opinions and ideas into consideration and will make 100% compliance much more likely.

  • Make it fun

    Sales people are by nature competitive, so why not put in place an incentive to reinforce adoption? A CRM system makes it easy to measure the completeness of data on key accounts, or the cleanliness of orders submitted under the new process. Rewarding your ‘CRM Heroes’ with cases of wine or commission, can go a long way.

  • Don’t be afraid to use a little coercion 

    Once properly implemented, the on-going success (and return on investment) for any business application is determined by the quality of data entered into it.

    From experience, nothing focuses the attention of your sales team like the threat of sanctions for non-compliance. Paying reduced commission where the appropriate order information is not provided, or on deals that are not properly forecasted may seem heavy handed, but having invested in a new system, doing this might just help to ensure you reap the business benefits you seek.

  • Keep data entry to a minimum

    Keep the data entry portion of their CRM entry to a minimum. Get your sales team to enter just enough data to satisfy management reporting, the more confusing & timely the process, the less likely your sales team will want to play ball. Remember, you want your sales reps selling, and not typing.

  • Invest in training

    It should go without saying that if the sales team are not taught the benefits of using a system, they are unlikely to use it and hence it really is worth investing in a couple of days training. CRM consultants work with the system day in, day out and will not only teach you how the system works, but they can advise on best practice, offer alternative ways of working & most importantly offer ‘hints and tips’ to get the most out of the system, which may not at first be obvious.

  • Roll out your CRM in phases

    Once the system is ready to ‘go-live’, start with your sales team, or at least a small proportion of. Your sales team will be the first to try and ‘break’ the system, and this will allow you to address any problems early, before rolling out to the rest of your organisation. 

  • Have clearly defined protocols

    Identify early on how leads are to be entered, assigned and followed up, and ensure everyone is on the same wavelength. Having more than one method is confusing and causes poor CRM data in the long run.

CRM Adoption – lead by example

Adopting a CRM solution is a top down initiative. A lot of sales and business leaders pay lip service to the importance of CRM but continue to request spreadsheets from their people and may never log into the system themselves. 

Senior managers should be seen using and benefiting from the system. Everything should be driven from the CRM system, so get into the habit of running your meetings and reviews from the CRM application. You should also make a conscious effort to only pass leads to your sales team via the CRM solution.

With few exceptions, the most successful CRM implementations are those embraced by the management team.