Sloppy Sales: Why Your Reps Still Don’t Take CRM Seriously (+ 5 Tips to Help)

From emails, meetings and prospect calls to sales targets, analytics and communicating with other departments. Your sales reps are juggling multiple daily tasks. Additionally, they need a structured way of gathering, analyzing and retrieving this information. A CRM platform should be your sales reps best bud in keeping this operational hassle to a bare minimum. Even so, many companies still find that their field teams are hesitant to use such platform. This way, the whole organization might lose a competitive advantage. We’ll show you why your reps still don’t take CRM seriously, and 5 tips to solve that.

1. Your CRM System isn’t the right one for your team

Tip 1: Involve your employees in the CRM selection

Choosing the CRM that fits the objectives of your business equals 50% of the platforms’ success. But how do you choose the right one? First, involve your sales team in deciding on the right CRM. They best know the struggles of selling, and they can tell you their wants and needs for the platform. You need a CRM that solves the specific problems your sales reps identify. Involving them in this decision gets them on board. This prevents misunderstandings and hostility towards the platform during and after implementation.

Second, don’t forget to involve other departments that will use CRM, like your marketing or service team. Discussing what each of them needs, results in a better synergy using the platform. Keep in mind here, that the platform with the most integrations or highest price tag is not necessarily the best one for your business. In the end, the optimal CRM varies according to your business size, budget, objectives, and your employees.

2. The CRM’s value is not clear

Tip2: Communicate the exact purpose of the platform

Not seeing the value of something new can be a reason why your reps still don’t take CRM seriously. They might feel like the system is stealing away their know-how, leading to them maintaining contacts outside the platform. Not surprisingly, ESNA reports that 79% of all opportunity-related sales rep data is never entered into a CRM. That’s why it’s important to communicate towards your sales reps that CRM is a supportive tool, rather than a replacement of traditional sales. Account planning, a 360-degree view of their customers, forecasts with Salesforce’s Einstein and dummy proof dashboard building with the Lightning Platform are only a few of the advantages a CRM platform can offer them without the manual hassle of an Excel spreadsheet.

Additionally, crowdsourcing the pipeline stages and touchpoints among your salespeople increases the likelihood of CRM flows being aligned with their sales process.

A word of advice: make sure your CRM system is flexible. Your sales reps are on the road a lot, and on-premises platforms are not an option for them. Invest in a cloud-based platform that employees can access via a smartphone or tablet application, and choose the right mobile-specific functions from the Salesforce AppExchange, like geolocation, data sync and automatic call logging.

“79% of all opportunity-related sales rep data is never entered into a CRM. That’s why it’s important to ensure your salesteam that CRM is a supportive tool rather than a replacement of traditional sales.”

3. Your employees are not trained

Tip3: Invest in training to save long term costs

Sh*t in is sh*t out. It’s blunt, but it’s true. Your reps are the ones feeding your CRM platform. Therefore, if they are not trained or not eager to:

  • put in the necessary information
  • maintain their database
  • effectively push information through to marketing and service teams

chances are the value of your CRM is totally lost throughout different departments. This then gives employees an excuse not to use it. Alternatively, if marketing and service teams are not picking up the sales input, your CRM will cause nothing but frustration.

Some CRM platforms are more expensive than others, but one thing is sure: committing to either one is an investment. You need to put money and time into training your employees to effectively use your CRM. Ideally, this is an ongoing process so that people grow along with the platform as it changes. This might seem more expensive than doing it the good ol’ way, but investments pay themselves back. Well-trained employees make for a well-oiled CRM, cross departmental synergy, more time for strategic tasks and the ultimate benefit for your customer and business alike. You can check out the Salesforce Trailhead platform and see for yourself how easy CRM training can be.

4. You’re not celebrating achievements

Tip4: Use the reps’ competitive nature to your advantage

One of the strengths of sales reps is that they’re competitive. Accordingly, you can use this trait to your advantage to make them see the added value of your CRM. Instead of pressuring them, use an encouraging approach and turn the implementation process into a little competition. Find your early adopters and make them advocates towards other employees. Celebrate successes publicly through emails, chats, and meetings and reward the people who use the platform or exceed their targets. With employees as competitive as your sales reps, this will help them see the CRM platform as a solution, rather than a tech trend.

5. Old habits die hard

Tip5: Make them see the bigger picture

Sales reps hold on to previous ways of maintaining customer relations. They have been in the field long enough to know what works for them, or they prefer to stick to old methods because the companies they worked for all used different platforms. Though it’s important to trust your sales reps in what they’re doing, it’s equally crucial for them to see the bigger picture. Using a CRM platform not only allows them to meet their own sales targets, but also helps other departments perform better.

For example:
  • Sales Rep A works with a dated spreadsheet. It’s a quick, easy and effective way to track customer data. Whenever he needs a specific leaflet for customer X, he sends an email to the marketing colleague. Investing in CRM training is not necessary, since it takes time out of his day when he would normally make a sale from existing customers. Moreover, he’s used to working with the spreadsheet and knows the marketing colleague will act quicker if he personally emails her. By doing this, Sales Rep A is confident that his sales targets will be met. When the marketing colleague takes pregnancy leave, Sales Rep A needs to forward his previous communication to a new colleague and invest time in a meeting explaining what is to be done.
  • Sales Rep B works with a CRM platform like Salesforce. It is true that he had to invest a week of his time to get to know the platform through training. At first, putting in the data was a lot slower than using the dated spreadsheet. Now, whenever customer Y needs marketing materials, Sales Rep B can involve the marketing colleague through the system, letting her know the customer needs a leaflet. Marking the event as yearly recurring with a 1-month upfront notice makes sure the next time, Sales Rep B does not even need to alert the marketing colleague to create a new leaflet. If the colleague takes her pregnancy leave, her replacement can easily jump in where the other left off by consulting the customers’ profile. Subsequently, Sales Rep B is confident that his sales targets will be met. Meanwhile, he can focus on further strategic tasks that will get him new customers and benefit the business long term.

In other words, using CRM as a supportive tool benefits not only the sales rep in the long run, but the company as a whole and eventually, the customer. Consequently, a streamlined, personalized approach based on Buyer Persona and cross departmental synergy boosts morale both in and outside your organization.

You’ve tried all the above tips, but even now, you’re wondering why your reps still don’t take CRM seriously? Then think about how you evaluate them. Do you calculate their commissions and do you reward their performances based on CRM systems’ data? Leadership buy-in also means clarifying the link between platform use and the evaluation of those who use it. You can explain to your reps that outside such system, sales efforts are not always noticed. A CRM platform keeps track of every action your employees take, which makes it easier for managers to positively evaluate performance. After all, celebrating their achievements is a crucial part in making CRM work for you and your team, like we mentioned in Tip 4.

In short
  • Involve your employees in the CRM selection & communicate the exact purpose of the platform to prevent misunderstandings and hostility, and to make sure the platform meets the needs of your different teams.

  • Invest in a cloud-based platform that your reps can access via a smartphone or tablet application to get rid of any physical limitations in using the platform.

  • Invest in training the different departments that will use CRM to avoid the sh*t in, shi*t out

  • Use your reps’ competitive nature to your advantage to challenge them. Celebrate successes openly and use advocates to convince people to use your CRM.

  • Make salespeople see the bigger picture and convince them that using CRM benefits not only them and their targets, but the customer and the company as a whole.

  • Keep in mind that the best CRM platform for your business varies depending on your objectives, budget, size and employees.

Now you know why your reps still don’t take CRM seriously and what you can do to counter this problem. Of course, both the actual implementation of your platform and getting your employees to use it, requires more than following these tips. Selecting the right platform for your sales and business targets is half the win. Eventually, continuous nurturing of the platform’s use through training, celebrating successes and cross departmental feedback is the other half.
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