The 5 Sales Staff You'll Need to Adopt & Succeed With a CRM

Discover how you can get your sales team to actually use your customer relationship management (CRM) software.

Written by: Leslie Ye



You’ve decided you need customer relationship management (CRM) software. Today’s the day you begin tracking prospect interactions, logging deal data, and leveraging that information to sell more, better, and faster ... or not. 

What if six months go by, and only a fraction of your team regularly enters information in the system? What if the money you spent goes to waste?

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 — because your entire sales staff can benefit from the implementation and active use of a CRM. 

Let's get a picture of what kinds of sales reps can most effectively leverage a CRM and some tips on how to motivate your sales team to get on board with a new system.

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Importance of CRM Adoption

In this changing sales landscape, leveraging a CRM is becoming a must. One can up your productivity, offer essential insights, increase efficiency, and foster collaboration — smoothing and streamlining the day-to-day operations of staff members at every level of your sales department.

And those are just some of the reasons CRMs have become such an integral part of business success today. That's why many companies have invested in finding the right software for their team.

Here are some of the sales staff roles that stand to gain a lot from leveraging a CRM.

1. Sales Development Representative (SDR)

SDRs are expected to facilitate prospects' movement through their sales pipelines — to nurture and qualify leads until they're primed for closing by higher-level reps. That means they need resources that allow them to contact leads in the right way, at the right time, in keeping with the right cadence. 

CRMs often include features that enable those kinds of connections. That can include functions like contact management, email automation, personal pipeline management, and company insights. SDRs can leverage those features to field interested leads and keep them engaged until they're ready to be passed off. 

2. Account Executive (AE)

AEs support existing client accounts. Their job is to sustain relationships with clients whose business is either relatively inexpensive to maintain or valuable enough to warrant pulling some of the effort, resources, and attention that would otherwise be used to acquire new accounts. 

An AE needs to track and maintain a lot of customer data to keep tabs on accounts' characteristics, contact information, and potential needs. That's where a CRM comes in. It allows them to both store and make use of key customer data — including through reports and sales forecasts. 

3. Outside Salesperson

Outside Sales reps can gain a lot from having their pending deals and details of past wins and losses readily accessible. A CRM gives them that kind of flexibility without the potential for human error that comes with storing that kind of information on a spreadsheet. 

They also can benefit from certain contact management features. A CRM allows them to stay on top of prospect interactions by giving them immediate insight into which contacts might need a phone call or followup email. And a solid meeting scheduling resource can help them smooth out the process of finally connecting with deal-ready prospects.  

4. Inside Salesperson 

An inside salesperson's professional world is almost completely digital, so it's only fitting that a CRM — the ultimate digital resource for sales professionals — is often a central component of their day-to-day. 

Inside sales reps need access to sound contact management tools. After all, they conduct most of their efforts through mediums like virtual meetings, videoconferencing, phone calls.

CRMs can provide just that. A solid system can also offer a hub for prospect and customer data for these kinds of reps to pull from — making for better-informed and more thoughtful outreach.

5. Sales Operations Manager

Sales operations managers aim to reduce friction in the sales process, making their reps' day-to-day activities smoother and simpler. They're also often responsible for supervising a team of sales operations specialists.

A CRM can help a sales operations manager clearly define their team's ideal sales process to keep reps on the same page. Features like dashboards also let them quickly and reliably understand team performance and activity, and custom reporting can let them identify new opportunities and potential room for improvement.

CRM Adoption Rates

When you look at sales statistics, you see that CRMs have already made a lasting impact on many organizations.

The CRM is one of today's most popular sales tools. And according to Salesforce, it's among the top three tools and technologies for creating personalized interactions with customers to garner loyalty and generate better marketing ROI.

So, whether it’s your first time around the block or you’re having another go at this kind of software, here are 10 tactical tips to help you ensure that you implement your CRM successfully.

1. Explain the CRM's value.

Any sales rep worth their 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 has many benefits for your sales team as a whole, including the ability to easily analyze performance, track selling trends, and assess your sales team’s health. But, like all prospects, your reps need to know why a CRM is beneficial to them on the individual level, too.

Here are some rep-centric benefits of CRM software:

  • Track prospect interaction in one location
  • Store notes about prospects that other reps and internal team members can refer to and update
  • Visualize sales forecasts and other metrics and analytics related to individual and team performance
  • Streamline processes like prospecting and adding contacts with the help of automation

2. Ask reps and sales teams to test different CRMs.

One of the great things about CRM software is that it mostly exists in the cloud, so it’s easily trialed. Many CRM software providers operate under a freemium model — like HubSpot.

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 the right CRM for your needs.

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, service, marketing, etc.)
  • Automatically logs interactions without reps having to manually enter them
  • Customizable so it can fit your company’s sales process
  • Provides high-level statistics like call activity, sales forecasts, and deals in progress by stage
  • Has reporting capabilities as robust as your needs
  • Easy to navigate

Don’t just adopt any 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 the CRM part of training and onboarding.

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, and include training in every new hire training thereafter. For CRM software to truly take, and for it to be set up for your business's growth, it has to be part of your reps' DNA from day one.

5. Provide reps with pre-set views and dashboards.

Don’t hand your team a completely empty CRM. Help them by doing some simple organizing of their prospects — by territory, deal stage, or anything else 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 let them work with reports pre-populated with data.

6. Offer 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 regularly having similar difficulties 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 to help foster use of the software.

Managers should set expectations about what they need to get all the necessary information for pipeline reviews from the CRM. Then, have salespeople fill in any gaps.

It’ll become habit for reps to complete this prep before their one-on-ones, and will eventually become second nature to update the CRM as they go about their days.

8. Offer an incentive for CRM usage.

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 setting 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 staple 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.

9. Encourage cross-team collaboration and communication.

One of the best parts of a CRM is the ability to seamlessly communicate and collaborate with other teams, like Marketing. This collaboration is critical to any business's success — it's also crucial to your sales reps' work.

For example, they need to be able to communicate with Marketing about factors like contacts, content for prospects, deadlines. A CRM makes this easy and offers a single location for both teams to communicate and share information in.

By encouraging your reps to take advantage of this aspect of the CRM, they'll have a better understanding of the ways the software can simplify their more mundane tasks that typically take up valuable time. This will also show reps how straightforward cross-team communication can be with a CRM.

10. Get leadership to use the CRM, too.

When your reps see leadership using the CRM, they may be more inclined to adopt the software into their routines. Additionally, it'll show reps that leadership values what the CRM brings to the table. And, that the software can offer benefits for every team member.

For example, reps may use the CRM to store contact information, track deals, and communicate with other reps or team members. Meanwhile, leadership may use the CRM to pull data, track team-wide success and growth, create goals, and gain insight into the entire pipeline.

When everyone is using the same tool, everyone is on the same page — this enhances communication and keeps all team members focused and motivated.

Get Your Sales Team Excited About Your CRM

A CRM can make the lives of your sales org simpler. The software streamlines their day-to-day tasks and gives reps back valuable time.

Not to mention, a CRM can benefit your business as a whole and other teams, too — including Marketing and Service. So, it'll serve you to use some of the ideas listed above to get your team excited about your CRM.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Topics: CRM Adoption

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