Are you one of the 75% of companies that has implemented a CRM system?  If you are, studies show that the majority of CRM-using organizations are not satisfied with the way their sales teams are making use of this technology.

CSO Insights 2011 CRM Sales Effectiveness Study-Key Trends Analysis states that 75% of companies surveyed have implemented a CRM system, and 51.5% of these firms have had their system in place for over three years.  While these firms report that communications between reps and reporting on activities has improved, CRM systems are reported to have very little impact on key business objectives.

  • Only 19% of companies reported that increased revenues was a benefit of CRM.

If CRM systems don’t help companies with their most basic goal, profiting, what about other critical selling behaviors?

  • 64.1% rate their CRM system as Somewhat Useful or Minimum/No Value in understanding consumer market.
  • 50.3% rated their CRM as Somewhat Useful or Minimum/No Value in ensuring their reps have identified key stakeholders.

Have more productive 1-on-1 meetings with your reps so you both leave happy.

Based on the figures above, it can be discerned that often CRM is limited to “rudimentary contact management, opportunity management, territory management, email, and scheduling.”  But CRM systems are incredibly useful, so why haven’t sales reps been taught how best to utilize these tools?  A discussion on LinkedIn’s CRM Experts group about CRM failure attributes sales rep ignorance to lacking a strategy, a benefit, a leader, or a consequence.  Read on for some tips to jump-start your sales team’s CRM use!

Integrate CRM into the Strategy CRM is not only a computer program, it is a way of doing business. When training your sales team you impart in them the company strategy for making sales that you, as Sales Operations Manager, already put in practice, so integrate CRM functions into that process.  You don’t want to just tell your sales reps to “use” the system, you want to teach them that there are certain processes that they will be expected to use. A CRM system is ideal for this – they need to be taught how.

Show Reps the Direct Benefit Your sales rep doesn’t care about being “cost effective” for you, they care about sales.  Your sales team must understand the benefit to the company (data visibility), to them (instant productivity, insightful customer communication through data retrieval and customer profiling). Prove to them that this CRM system will make their sales easier, if you don’t reps will be discouraged that they have to spend time putting information into the system without getting anything out of it. If they don’t believe that the system is helping them, they will push the CRM work aside in order to continue with business as usual.

Impose Leadership Contributors to a discussion in the LinkedIn group CRM Experts suggested that until the senior-most levels of a company understands the “culture of service” that CRM software provides customers, there will not be lasting results.  Sales Managers are the key to change and CRM integration.  You must live the processes yourself before your sales team can.  The key to continuous success is your recognition.  When you acknowledge your reps’ accomplishments they feel that they have achieved something, and they will continue to work effectively when rewarded.  If you live CRM, they will too.

Make Reps Accountable Personal accountability is critical.  The rep assigned to the account is the owner of that account’s data and is therefore the only person tasked with managing that data. While they may get input from colleagues, they themselves are the one person responsible for that sale.  In sales meetings be sure to pull up account data via the CRM application being used by that account’s rep.  If the rep hasn’t entered or updated their account’s data sufficiently, they should be asked to do it right there.  You as manager need to set a rule that the CRM system is critical to running the business and that part of their job requirement is to update the CRM application.  If reps continue to forget to input account data, link CRM activity to compensation.  For example, add a sliding scale of % CRM completed, and for each % of CRM activities a rep misses, you could dock their compensation the same amount.  Each rep is solely responsible for the data in his or her CRM accounts, so don’t accept excuses, make reps pay the consequences.

Have your own techniques for utilizing CRM effectively on a sales team?  Let us know in the comments!

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