Getting Sales People To Use Your CRM System
Getting your new CRM system adopted enthusiastically by everyone in the organisation will be the biggest factor in determining if the system will be a success. Reluctant sales people will add the minimum data that they can get away with, or simply ignore it and continue to use their existing personal systems. Carrots are better than sticks, but sticks may occasionally be necessary.
Roll the system out starting from the top, not the bottom. Get senior management bought in first, and let them be seen using and benefiting from it. Use of the system will then associated with seniority and the first new users will feel privileged to have access. Getting managers to use it first will also mean that managers will use the system to manage from day one, and can then help and supervise their team's adoption.
In each department, and at each level of roll-out, choose the first user as somebody who both has a positive attitude to the CRM system and who commands their peers' respect. When that person enthuses about the system then their colleagues will approach adoption in a positive light. If you can get the most respected sales person using it first, and then he or she tells colleagues how it helps him or her, the rest will follow. But be aware that if an opinion former forms a negative impression of the system that attitude will spread even faster.
Get the sales administrators on side, and give them ownership of the data. A good sales administrator will spot data errors and sloppy coding by sales people, and will either clean the data up or nag them to fix it.
Make sure that all managers use the system as the prime source of information when it has been rolled out to their teams. If a manager is discussing a customer or prospect with the account executive, the manager should bring the account record up on the screen and use that to drive the discussion. During the conversation it will be obvious to the manager if the data is up to date, especially contact names and opportunity status, and it will be obvious to the account manager that such omissions are being noted. If the CEO does this as well, then the behaviour will be reinforced down throughout the organisation. But be aware that if the manager criticises the detailed content of the data on the system, the sales person might be tempted to enter less data next time.
Use the consolidated reports, such as sales forecasting, to manage the organisation. Those reports only work if the underlying data is correct. If sales teams go back to using spreadsheets to forecast sales, the onus on getting the opportunities correct in the CRM system is diminished.
There are many reasons why some account executives would prefer to avoid using the CRM system. A CRM system gives visibility of the account manager's prospects, contacts and opportunities. Some sales people are reluctant to expose this information, fearing critical review or that their value to the organisation is diminished if their contact and pipeline is no longer their secret domain. Some are simply uncomfortable with the technology, and some simply can't be bothered. You can introduce rules as sticks to encourage reluctant sales people. The Accounts department can not pay commission if the closed opportunity is not on the system. Sales Managers should take account executives to task if opportunities are regularly entered as late or closing stage. Ultimately, it can form part of an MBO bonus (management by objectives) as a carrot, a criticism during a review or a ultimately a disciplinary matter.
Avoiding The Ten Pitfalls
1. Don't sit down and try and design the perfect CRM system that will meet 100% of each and every person's wish list. The sales people will want the system to work on their mobile telephones and PDAs; the marketing people will want to track every sale back to exactly what keyword in which Google Adword generated the inquiry, and the resulting committee's design will be a system of such technical complexity that it will continually fail, and of such user complexity that it won't be used.
2. Its better to get the sales teams as the prime designers of the system. Although the marketing department is one of the biggest beneficiaries of a well run CRM system, only the sale people can make it a success. Get the sales peoples' buy in and then make sure that marketing team's requirements are met.
3. Don't just switch on the system and expect that everybody in the organisation will just pick it up. Many won't, and their first impressions and side-comments will jeopardise the success of the overall project. New internal systems need to be sold and the roll-out needs to be planned.
4. Don't forget training, even if it is only a half an hour course for sales people. And the training course is the ideal time to make people want to use the system by stressing what's in it for them as well as what's in it for the company. Make sure that all users know who to call if they get stuck, and make sure that such calls are handled positively.
5. Most internal systems are essential to the user's job. The accountants have to use the accounting system, the purchase ordering clerk the PO system, the marketing people the marketing database. Don't forget that sales people can function perfectly happily without a corporate CRM system, and many prefer it that way. Use encouragement, carrots and sticks. Motivation is as important as understanding.
6. If you haven't implemented a CRM system before, and even if you have, get help, even if it is just a day of a supplier's time to go through the issues. They'll see the pitfalls that you can't.
7. Make it somebody's responsibility to own the data, and to make sure that its correct and complete. This could be split across more than one person: the sales administrators for the sales teams and a marketing communications person for the marketing data. A good sales administrator will nag sales people to fill the source field in, make sure that dead leads get recycled back into marketing, that addresses are complete and that PA's don't get emailed.
8. Keep the technology as simple as you can. The simpler the underlying technology, the less chance of something going wrong.
9. If the CEO and the VP Sales uses the system, and are seen to use the system, then that culture has a chance of permeating the organisation. A real time dashboard showing sales this month can help win their hearts!
10. The right choice for you will ultimately be a compromise between price & functionality versus ease of use. That's a philosophical choice that only you and your organisation can make. There's no "best practice", only bad practice.
There's a common theme in many of the guidelines above: good practice needs to come from the top. If a sales or services manager uses the system to actively manage his or her team, then adoption in that team will be successful. Only if the whole management team jointly agree that the CRM system is a key part of meeting the organisation's objectives, and then use and be seen to use it themselves, will the full benefits be realised.
About Really Simple Systems
Really Simple Systems Cloud CRM is aimed at small and medium sized organisations with between 2 and 200 people who want a straightforward hosted CRM sales, marketing and support system. The hosted model is particularly suitable for companies with multiple locations and sales people who work remotely or at home. Really Simple Systems, winner of EuroCloud 2011 and the Software Satisfaction Awards in 2008, 2010 and shortlisted for 2011, is the largest European provider of hosted CRM systems. Users include the Royal Academy of Arts, the British Museum, the Red Cross, NHS and the Department for Environment as well as many small and medium sized companies.
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