Sean Henri
Written By
Sean Henri

When modern customer relationship management solutions (CRMs) first burst onto the scene in the early 2000s, they promised to transform a business’s sales process with easier pipeline management and rich insights about your leads and customers.

While many popular CRMs can help you achieve these goals, many organizations that now have a CRM still struggle with adoption and fail to realize the true value a CRM can bring. According to HubSpot’s 2016 State of Inbound report, managers cited “low team usage” as their top challenge in using their existing CRM, while C-level executives complained of difficulty in tracking their sales funnel.

It turns that the root cause of this problem usually falls in three areas: Manual data entry, ease of use, and lack of integration. But these are challenges that can be overcome with some creative thinking, a sales enablement strategy, and good leadership. Here are some ideas to consider:

Remove the Barriers to Efficiency

The primary reason your team might not be using the CRM is that they view it as too tedious or burdensome to complete everyday tasks like data entry. For example, simply reviewing a lead might looks something like this:

  1. Open queue of new tasks.
  2. Open task for review.
  3. Change drop down from “Open” to “In Progress.”
  4. Leave the CRM to research the prospect’s company.
  5. Open email and send a message.
  6. Wait for a reply.
  7. Return to the task, leave a note that the prospect was emailed. Click Save. Wait.
  8. After receiving a reply two days later, open the CRM again, search for the open task and change from “In Progress” to “Qualified.”

That’s eight steps across two or three applications in a sequence that in an ideal world should be nearly seamless. By the time the rep has received a response and decided if the lead is qualified or not, they’ve likely accrued 20 or more new tasks to work through, preventing them from closing out the old one. It’s no wonder so much is slipping through the tasks.


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In situations like this, look for ways to automate steps in the process. For example, you might have a workflow that automatically changes the status from “Open” to “In Progress” as soon as an email or call to the prospect has been made. You might also look for ways to allow your rep to email or call the prospect directly within the CRM, eliminating the need to jump between programs.

Other barriers to adoption might include terminology that your team isn’t familiar with, or fields that are rarely used and cluttering up the screen. Do the words “Nurture” or “MQL” mean the same thing to everyone on your team? Do you really need that “Primary contact” checkbox?  Look for ways to make your CRM as easy to use and understand as possible.

Provide Regular Training and Coaching

Nothing says “this matters” more than a weekly call where you pull up each team member’s open deals, leads, and tasks for a status update and discussion.

Many sales managers will hold a weekly or monthly pipeline review call where they will do this either individually with each member of the team, or as a group. Knowing that this call is scheduled and on the calendar will put some pressure on your team to make sure their owned records are all up to date. Once you’ve been embarrassed that your open opportunities are out of date or that you let a lead slip through the cracks, you’re highly unlikely to make that same mistake again.

The review process also provides your team with the benefit of receiving coaching and advice from others on the team. After any initial hesitation or embarrassment fades away from the increased transparency, your discussions should start to become more and more collaborative.  Your team will quickly realize that if they keep their CRM records up to date, they’ll be more likely to hit their quota thanks to the great input they’ll begin to receive from you and others on your team.

These regular discussions are also a great way to uncover questions, concerns or barriers that your team might be encountering while using the CRM. Address these issues on the spot as they arrive, or schedule a more in depth training if necessary.

Focus on How It Will Help Them, Not You

It’s important that your team knows that accurate recordkeeping in your CRM will help you forecast, but that alone won’t be a good enough reason to motivate them to want to use it.

Just as with any other major ask, the “what’s in it for me” message is a critically important discussion to have and to get right.

If you’re using the right CRM, the tool should help your team sell better and faster by providing rich insights about your contact database, such as a prospect’s social handles, company information, and recent activity on your website. It might contain a database of pre-crafted email templates they can use for prospecting, or an organized library of content assets they can share with their network to nurture leads along the sales process and earn trust.

You want to emphasize the benefits and tools that help them sell just as much as you focus on what you need as a manager.

Do these things and you’ll not only find that adoption has improved, but that your team’s overall satisfaction and success has improved as well.




Definitive Guide to Selling Better and Faster




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