An empty CRM is like an empty water glass: Falling short of its full potential. And it’s a shame to see one go to waste. Whether it’s your first time around the block or you’re having another go at CRM software, here are eight tactical tips to help you ensure that you implement it successfully.
1. Explain its value.
Any sales rep worth her salt knows the key to a sale is explaining value to a prospect. So you need to sell CRM software to your team -- otherwise, they’ll behave like customers who churn.
Yes, CRM software will make it easier for you to analyze performance, track selling trends, and assess your sales team’s health. But your reps don’t care about that -- like all prospects, they want to know why this decision will be better for them. Rep-centric benefits of CRM software include:
It’s a centralized place to track prospect interaction.
It’s a place to store notes about prospects.
They provide an easy way to visualize sales forecasts.
Step into their shoes and take time to understand how they could benefit from CRM software. Then sell its value to your team.
2. Have different teams trial different CRMs.
One of the great things about CRM software is that it mostly exists in the cloud (and you can write off any systems that aren’t in the cloud -- they’re far behind the times), and so it’s easily trialed. Many CRM software providers operate under a freemium model.
Instead of picking one CRM and imposing it upon your reps, let them be part of the process. Have different teams (or different reps, if your company is smaller) try out different CRMs and collect regular feedback from them. That way, when it comes time to pick one solution over another, you already have reps with product knowledge who can help train other members of the team. More importantly, you’ll have confirmation that your reps find real value in the software.
3. Pick a good CRM.
It sounds simple, doesn’t it? But finding a CRM that’s heavyweight enough to be valuable as a managerial tool but low-touch enough to solve for your salespeople is easier said than done. Here are some things you should look for when evaluating options:
Integrates with your company’s other software (email client, calling software, file-sharing systems, marketing software, etc.)
Automatically logs interactions without reps having to manually enter them
Can be customized to fit your company’s sales process
Provides high-level statistics like call activity, sales forecasts, deals in progress by stage, etc.
Has reporting capabilities as robust as your needs
Easy to navigate
Don’t just adopt any old CRM system. Thoroughly vet your options so that when the time comes to use one, you know that it’ll meet your needs.
4. Make it part of training.
Your reps might be wary of anything that takes them away from selling, so be strategic about when you choose and roll out a CRM. Start the trials at the beginning of a month or quarter, when pressure to meet quota is lighter than at the end of a selling period, and test them for the entire period.
Train your employees and roll out an implementation at the beginning of the next period (early in the year if your company operates by yearly quota), and include training in every new hire training thereafter. For CRM software to truly take, it has to be part of your salespeople’s DNA from day one.
5. Provide reps with pre-set views and dashboards.
(Or, walk them through setting up the appropriate views by territory or vertical during training so they’re not thrown into the deep end.)
Don’t hand your team a completely empty CRM. Help them by doing some simple organizing of their prospects -- by territory, by deal stage, anything that will make a coherent picture for your reps when they first open up the CRM. Provide them a baseline level of organization so they’re not starting from scratch, and can work with reports pre-populated with data.
6. Provide follow-up tips and tricks.
Periodically collect feedback from your team to determine pain points and where they’re having success. If your reps are having similar difficulties regularly or are consistently confused about certain parts of the product, look into the issue and disseminate the solution to your team. If you can head problems and concerns off before they snowball into blockers, you’ll have a much better chance of driving adoption.
7. Incorporate CRM usage into professional development.
Your leadership team sets an example for the rest of your reps, so have every manager incorporate CRM usage into their one-on-ones with direct reports and foster use of the software. Managers should set the expectation that they need to get all the necessary information for pipeline reviews from the CRM, then have salespeople fill in missing information. It’ll become habit for reps to complete this prep before their one-on-ones, and eventually become second nature to update the CRM as they go about their days.
8. Provide an incentive.
Introduce an "If it's not in the CRM, it doesn't exist" rule. Whether it's withholding commissions, compensating reps based on activity, or at the aforementioned manager one-on-ones, set the expectation you won't attribute deals to the reps who closed them unless they're logged in the CRM.
But every stick needs a carrot, and that comes in the form of SPIFs. They're a sales standby for a reason -- they work. Run small contests tied to data only found in the CRM, such as rewarding the reps who have all of their deals logged in the CRM or their pipelines fully complete by their manager one-on-ones. Try running these contests on a weekly basis or awarding multiple smaller SPIFs so multiple reps feel the immediate benefits of using CRM.
Do you have any tips for driving internal CRM adoption? Let us know in the comments below.
Originally published Feb 8, 2016 12:00:00 PM, updated April 11 2019