First Impressions Matter: Ensuring CRM Adoption from Day One

October 15, 2016

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“I was checking out your pipeline for next quarter, and I noticed that you haven’t updated a few of your deals lately. Can you get on top of that today? I need to submit my forecast…”

If you’ve ever had a conversation with one of your sales reps that begins something like the above, you aren’t alone. 74% of sales teams using a CRM experience poor CRM adoption rates, which cause a host of short and long-term problems, from frustrated management and embarrassing conversations, to lost revenue and missed sales targets.

Many factors impact whether your team adopts and properly uses your sales platform, but there is a lot you can do to set your team up for success. It starts with being aware of common pitfalls, and taking steps to prevent or reverse them.

Here are two things you can do today to understand how well your reps are using your sales tools, followed by two tips for ensuring that your reps are CRM power-users from day one on the job.

What You Can Do Today

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1) Listen to your sales team. Ask the people that use your CRM everyday what they like about it and what, if anything, they would change. If they seem hesitant to share honest, constructive feedback, indicate that you are considering whether to evaluate new solutions, and need their guidance. Presented with the possibility of a blank slate, your end users will more than likely be delighted to help you figure out what works and what is holding them back.

Evaluating a sales solution without understanding the needs of your sales team is setting yourself up for low adoption and lots of frustration down the road. Although many sales leaders feel that they already know what a day in the life of an account executive looks like, you might be surprised to learn that your employees are using spreadsheets on the side, or saving deal notes in their email drafts folder, because they don’t find your CRM user-friendly or mobile-ready.

Mobile-friendly CRM is especially important to companies that value productivity; in fact, Nucleus Research recently reported that mobile access to a CRM increases sales productivity by 14.6% on average. Some reps even pay for a completely separate sales tool out-of-pocket just to avoid using a legacy CRM that doesn’t offer the user experience and efficiency they’ve come to expect as a digital consumer. These off-the-record practices put your book of business at risk, so gently unveiling them and then finding a user-friendly solution for your reps is a crucial step in the process of increasing adoption.

2) Know what your data can tell you — and what it can’t. If your reps aren’t using your CRM to store, manage, and update information on their contacts and deals, you probably have data going missing. This data is vital to understanding your business prospects, your pipeline’s strengths or weaknesses, and whether your company is actually on track to achieve its goals.

Taking an honest look at your data can help you understand what data you actually have, and how useful it is. Do you know how much MRR to expect next month? Do you know where deals are getting stuck and why? Are you able to coach your reps to call at the best times of day to have conversations that win business?

If you can’t give positive answers to these questions, that is a good indicator that you have room for improvement in leveraging the “science of sales” to your advantage, and that taking steps to increase data capture could help you move the needle on your sales goals.

What You Can Do from Day One

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1) Provide the right solution. Don’t be afraid to admit that it’s time to consider moving away from your legacy CRM solution. Research by InsideCRM found that 55% of users feel that ease-of-use is the most important feature of a CRM, and 55% of reps feel that their CRM is working against them instead of for them. While switching may cost you time, energy, and perhaps a severed contract, the money that you are leaving on the table may be far more costly.

Once you have an idea of where your sales platform is failing, imagine what an ideal solution would look like. This will be different for every team, so take the time to know where you stand, and how you’d like to grow. Will hitting your goals take more cold calls per rep? Staying on top of tasks that matter? Or are your deals getting stuck in a particular stage, and you’d like to provide performance-specific coaching and know which reps to assign to which deals to increase conversions?

The right solution matters, so if you are noticing that your CRM is causing you to lose deals yet you are preparing to onboard new reps or have plans for growth and expansion, this is the right time to consider alternatives. Need some help? This free white paper will tell you about the 7 questions you should ask when evaluating a new sales platform.

2) Create a culture of adoption. CRM should be considered mission-critical, so setting the expectation that the CRM is the rep’s home base is vital when on-boarding new employees and managing your team. Unfortunately, too often new reps go through new hire training and receive the wrong message about the expectations for using the CRM. Veteran reps may hint to newbies that the sales platform lacks functionality and that, personally, they prefer to keep everything in spreadsheets or email folders. Even worse, the lack of confidence in the system may come straight from management, who knows that the solution is clunky and gives their employees free reign to “do what works for them.”

This low-adoption culture around a CRM can create a host of business problems, from lost contact information and ignored leads, to confusion over account ownership and a complete lack of insight into existing and future pipeline. Establishing that your sales platform is the single record of truth around customer and prospect relationships will go a long way in increasing user adoption. The most successful implementations are grounded in the philosophy that if it’s not in the CRM, it didn’t happen or doesn’t exist.

For example, formalize your important sales processes within the CRM, including how you measure quota or goal attainment. Look at reports together during one-on-one and team meetings. Leave internal notes for your reps about their deals directly in the platform instead of in an email. Customize automated task reminders in the system to ensure that your company’s sales practices are followed. All of these activities will help to make your CRM invaluable to your reps and to your sales leadership team.

Getting Started

Achieving 100% adoption of your CRM is not going to happen overnight, especially if your team is currently weighed down by a clunky solution or an attitude that using CRM is an option. However, taking an honest look at the challenges unique to your organization, and being willing to invest in a culture of high-adoption users who are fully bought into the value of the CRM, can provide you with significant opportunities for growth.

Want more sales tips like these? Check out our Sales Resource Center!

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