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Selling to sales: Six secrets to internal CRM adoption

21st Mar 2014
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Salespeople are experts at getting prospects to do what they want.

The real question is: how do you convince your salespeople to do what you want and use your CRM?

We work with thousands of CRM software buyers, and based on hundreds of CRM software reviews, we’ve found that internal adoption of the system is one of the biggest challenges sales organisations face. In fact, according to a recent study, over 66% of companies say they have a hard time raising CRM adoption rates over 50%.

Fortunately, your CRM doesn’t have to be doomed to failure before it even gets off the ground. Below, I’ve listed six strategies to encourage internal adoption of your CRM software, whether you’re just preparing to implement a new system or ready to cry because no one will use the one you bought.

1. Do as you say
The easiest strategy is to ensure that your executives and others in management use the system. By doing so, you’ll help communicate that it’s an important endeavour for the company, not a waste of time, and an enterprise-wide effort. Plus, if those who are leading your sales and customer service strategy take a hands-on approach to adopting the CRM, they’ll likely inspire new, more efficient ways of using the software to meet your end goals.

2. Give users a say
Your users are the key to usage, so start by asking these questions to get a better idea of any underlying issues:

  • What is your sales process?
  • What frustrates you about your CRM software?
  • Does the system require you to do anything that you see as useless?
  • What do you wish it would do that it doesn’t?
  • What do you wish you didn’t have to do?

These questions help you identify the processes that your salespeople use and get a better picture of how they currently interact with the system. The answers should also reveal areas where efficiency or user satisfaction can be improved.

From your findings, you can construct a generalised sales process that provides a big-picture of the steps that occur on the way to a sale. You should configure your CRM to support your sales process rather than some ideal model that differs from reality. If your CRM is not capable of supporting your process, it could be time to look for other solutions.

For example, many sales processes start like this:

  1. Marketing identifies a prospect and passes it to sales.
  2. Salesperson makes first contact.
  3. Salesperson determines potential opportunities.

Now, different salespeople might make that initial contact differently – some via phone, some via email, maybe even some by carrier pigeon! Whatever their method, the important thing is that they can enter key information about what happened during their first contact.

By clearly mapping the CRM functionality to the steps in your sales process, adoption rates will rise because the functions of the system will seem more relevant and helpful to the users. Also, to make it even more appealing to your users, you may consider configuring the software on a per-user or per-team basis so that the CRM supports each salesperson’s specific sales process.

3. Incentivise usage
Using rewards to incentivise your workforce is a great way to ramp up involvement. It’s important to keep the goals team-oriented rather than individually-centered to promote cooperation and sharing of lessons learned among system users. You might try to:

  • Celebrate milestones. Consider setting high-level goals (like reaching X-many sales) and including a visual display of the team’s progress toward the next milestone in your CRM. When they reach it, commemorate the occasion with a pizza-party lunch or another fun event that lets the team celebrate their winning achievement.
  • Reward diligent usage. Try setting a weekly, per-person goal for actions like updating lead status, converting leads to opportunities, or generating new leads. If the team’s average meets the entry goal, consider letting everyone leave an hour early on Friday. The time that a well-used system saves will be many times that, and the team will appreciate that they have a concrete and personal benefit from using the system. As the system becomes more widely adopted, you can even raise the goal!

4. Make training helpful and gradual
If you overwhelm your users, they will shut down and become highly resistant to a system they perceive as too much trouble to bother with. Make sure that you introduce your CRM one functional stage at a time so that users become comfortable with one feature and its applications before they move on to the next.

Though training should be gradual, it should never really end. You should have someone knowledgeable about the software walk the sales floor when the program first goes live to answer any questions. If you have a CRM expert readily available, your salespeople will be able to  solve their issues up-front and overcome their qualms with the system rather than working around them and possibly never getting optimal use out of the software. After all the heavy work, don’t forget to conduct ongoing maintenance training to keep your people and your software in sync!

5. Sell the benefit
At the end of the day, selling to sales is similar to selling to other people: they want to see the benefit. Allow your users to discover benefits on their own, but also make sure they know that proper use of the system will:

  • Save them time searching for contact info.
  • Help them remember and centralize obscure facts.
  • Allow them to set reminders for follow-up calls or appointments.
  • Track selling patterns to determine the most effective methods (and save time by avoiding ineffective methods).
  • Give them social media info on prospects and their companies.
  • Perform automatic forecasting to eliminate end-of-the-month crunch time for reporting.
  • Smooth the transfer of leads from marketing to sales.
  • Streamline lead qualification criteria from marketing and present it in a meaningful way.

6. Market internally
To sell the benefit, you will need to market internally to your users.

This means communicating about the system before, during, and after implementation. Let future users know when the search is being conducted, when a product has been selected, and when it’s expected to go live. Publicize training dates and possibly turn them into training parties to encourage involvement.

Put up posters with key facts like “X system can help you reduce time spent on administrative tasks by 20%” or other facts that sold you on the system. Make sure that your sales people know about the system and its benefits to maximize adoption rates.

Whether CRM is a thing of your present or future, the above tips will help make it a useful tool for your team.

Katie Hollar is the marketing manager at Capterra. Follow Katie on Twitter @CapterraMktAuto.



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