Increasing CRM Adoption
Posted on: May 3, 2012 | By: SuperUser Account | Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Sales managers usually have no problem grasping the value of CRM (Customer Relationship Management). It presents sales data in an easily-digested format that allows managers to adjust programs, processes and people to optimize selling. For sales people, however, CRM is often viewed as a new burden, a hindrance and an example of the sales manager shifting his work on to them. In reality, it’s as helpful to sales staffers as it is to managers, if used right. But perception is reality, so sales managers need to help overcome preconceptions of their sales staff. In other words, sales managers need to sell CRM to their sales staff. However, CRM brings so many benefits up and down the sales ecosystem that it becomes an easy sale if those benefits are articulated properly.
But what’s in it for the sales staff? They’re the ones who will spend extra time entering data into the CRM application. Adding the maintenance of customer records in CRM over other duties is not initially seen as a benefit, it’s seen as something that keeps them from their key task of selling. And providing managers with additional data is viewed as a way of allowing the managers to keep tabs on the sales staff. If the purpose of the CRM application is to give their supervisors more information with which to badger them, why would sales staff use it?
Of course, CRM is much more than simply a management tool and it’s most effective when it has more data entered into it. That doesn’t result in mere managerial success, it means success for the entire sales team and success for the entire business. So how do you get past the perception that CRM is an eavesdropping tool for sales managers and a burden on the sales staff, and instead cultivate a view that CRM is a tool that helps everyone in the organization?
You have to sell the sales staff on CRM. You can do it if you’re in sales, you’ve probably sold things in the past that bring benefits that are fewer in number and harder to track than those provided by CRM.
Here are four ways to position CRM to help you demonstrate to your sales team that using CRM will make their lives easier and their commission checks larger.
1. CRM is a memory accelerator
No one can hold all of the pertinent contact information in his or her head, nor can it be managed in a spreadsheet in an easily-accessible way for long before it too becomes overwhelming. However, once that data is entered into CRM, it’s there for good, accessible, and it’s easily modified if need be. Think of it as an assistant for the salesperson’s brain. Instead of devoting brain power to remembering where data on prospects and customers are hiding on the desk or on the desktop, salespeople can go to a single source, get the data they need quickly and then devote the rest of their mental energy to selling.
2. CRM organizes your activities
Sales people have complicated calendars, especially if what they sell has a long sales cycle. That can result in a reminder system to help them follow up with calls when the time is right. But these are usually home-grown systems, and home grown systems often start to groan under heavy burdens. Increase the number of leads you’re working on by 30 percent, and will your jury-rigged Outlook-based reminder system hold up? CRM is great for building these reminders into your daily process, and they can help you standardize your sales processes so that you never forget to schedule a follow-up call. Moreover, they also provide you with a record of your follow-up activities. Even if you don’t include notes from a call, the fact that you know you made it is useful and probably more than you’re tracking right now.
CRM also helps in reporting on all that hard work. Examples include the weekly sales funnel status update and forecast updates. When selling data is entered into CRM, the application automates these activities entirely. It gives the sales staff more time to sell and makes it easier for managers to assemble their forecasts, giving them more time to act as coaches and mentors.
3. CRM lets you share intelligence
Of course, sales people are very protective of the accounts they’re working. However, it makes sense to compare notes. If one selling approach is working, why keep it to yourself? Being the most successful sales person in a failing sales organization is gratifying only up until the point that your company declares bankruptcy. Tracking selling patterns allows sales people to see what works for them, and what might work for others; instead of having the sales manager impose a set of “best practices,” sales people can develop and share them among themselves. CRM also makes it much easier to get productive when territories shift or when responsibilities change. Instead of starting from scratch, the record of the business’s behavior in those regions or markets has been captured and that data is immediately available to help get the salesperson who’s inheriting them up to speed.
4. CRM ensures recurring sales
While the immediate benefits to sales are nice, there’s a behind-the-scenes benefit to sales are great as well. The customer record is useful to customer support, which can understand the relationship between the customer and the company and use it to provide better service. It’s also a big help to marketing, which can better segment the customer audience for its messages and use the data to hunt down better qualified leads. As a result, salespeople will encounter happier customers when it comes time to renew a contract, sell a replacement product or upsell a customer to a new product or service. Support and marketing may not be the salesperson’s responsibility, but how well those responsibilities are carried out have a direct impact on the salesperson’s success with recurring business. By starting the process of documenting customer relationships, salespeople are laying the groundwork for success today and down the road.
While positioning CRM’s benefits in terms that appeal to the sales staff is an important first step, what’s not all there is getting complete buy-in. As in any sale, you’ll need to break through skepticism in order to win your customers over.
Nothing beats the skeptics better than real results. For that reason, one favorite tactic it to keep an eye open for early wins that resulted from the use of CRM. Keep an eye out for the eager adopters within the sales team, and watch their wins. When a salesperson can point at a sale and describe how CRM helped get him closer to a close, take notes and make sure everyone on your sales team hears about it.
CRM has a lot of benefits for your business and they’re benefits to everyone within your business. But change is tough, especially when your sales staff is already succeeding at what they’re doing and they perceive new technology as a hindrance rather than as a help. If you want them to help you as a sales manager better understand what’s going on in your sales pipeline, you need to demonstrate to them how CRM can help them boost their commissions while making their lives easier. Just as in selling any other product, it’s important to frame CRM in terms of the problems it solves for your sales staff.
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