By Caleb Malik
It’s crazy to think there was a day when a sales rep would use a Rolodex to keep track of contacts and their information. They’d write down contact information in a (maybe) standardized way, store contacts alphabetically (maybe), and when they left, they might leave you the Rolodex (yeah … right). A Rolodex wasn’t easily accessed by other team members, and it wasn’t synced with any other efforts
The development of the CRM completely changed the way that prospect information is stored and used. In fact, the comparison to a Rolodex is somewhat reductive (but you were already thinking that, weren’t you?).
It doesn’t matter how modern your CRM is; it’s value ultimately comes down to how it is used and, more importantly, if it is used. Sales team members are the usual suspects when it comes to underutilizing the CRM, so how do you get sales reps to use the CRM with consistency? Here are three tips, and here's a free CRM to get you started.
Tip #1: Tie CRM Usage to a Higher Purpose
No one likes doing something just for the sake of doing it. To get your sales reps to use the CRM more effectively, you’ll need to help them understand why using the CRM is important.
For example, walk them through the ways that CRM usage helps with reporting and revenue projections. Understanding that other team members are using the information in the CRM to report on performance is highly motivating for any sales rep who wants to show how they contribute to the company’s overall goals.
As another illustration, most SaaS companies will have implementation and customer success teams. Understanding what deals are coming in, how they are progressing, and how likely they are to close allows a leadership team to staff the implementation and customer success teams appropriately. Explaining this to a sales team helps them understand how their use of a CRM impacts other team members.
Finally, make it personal by explaining how CRM usage impacts the individual sales reps. If they use the CRM correctly, they can more effectively manage their deals. Managing deals more effectively improves efficiency, which results in the ability to close more business.
Tip #2: Provide Strong Initial Training and Guides for Ongoing Support
Whenever a new sales rep starts, there should be clear training on how the CRM should be used. During training, any fields that might be vague or misunderstood should be explained with clear definitions. Actual deal management through each deal stage should be explained clearly. Proactively answer questions like:
- What does each stage mean?
- What sales activities should the rep be doing at each stage?
- What fields in the CRM should the sales rep update at each stage?
- Who else is using the information in each field? How does this impact these team members?
- What positive impact does it have when sales reps update CRM fields appropriately? What’s the negative impact if they don’t?
- In what significant ways does each stage differentiate from the others?
Throughout training, a sales leader should keep in mind tip #1—tie it to a higher purpose. Why does it matter that the sales reps move deals through the right stages at the right time with the right information? Why does it matter that they log all their activities in the CRM?
For your organization, these activities might be important because they help you understand which partners send you the best opportunities. For another company, they might be helpful for understanding where deals typically fall out of the sales process. Regardless, the positive impact these activities have should be made clear to sales team members.
With this initial training complete, it’s crucial to provide training guides for future reference. Everything about your CRM should be documented in these guides so that a sales rep can reference them at a later date.
Ultimately, your sales reps are human, so they are going to forget a few pieces of information here and there. On top of that, a new hire might be afraid to ask for you to repeat something you’ve already told them. If you really want to lean in to this tactic, record your initial conversation so the rep can listen to it in the future.
Tip #3: Use Metrics and Provide Guidance
As with all sales and marketing efforts, data allows you to evaluate your success when it comes to CRM usage. Basic CRM adoption metrics, such as user logins, phone calls made, emails sent, and deals created, should indicate whether your sales team is actually in the CRM and using the tools to track information and activities.
You should also complete regular audits to see if they are using tools like tasks, templates, and custom filters. If a rep has 200 tasks that have built up and have never been closed out, it probably indicates that they are not using the tools.
Beyond these basic metrics, most organizations will have unique, custom fields that matter to them. For example, let’s say you’re a paper company in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and you’ve been bought out by a company that manufacturers printers.
You now have one revenue goal for paper and another revenue goal for printers. With this in mind, it would make sense to have a custom field for these two lines of business. This would allow a sales leader to track the amount of printer and paper business in the pipeline to make revenue projections.
As a result, an important CRM adoption metric in this situation would result from tracking the percent of deals using this field, knowing that the company only sells these items.
Tracking these metrics and auditing tool usage should result in teaching opportunities for a sales leader and a chance to tie CRM usage back to a higher purpose.
If you want them to mark the “line of business” field and they’re not, explain how it helps with revenue tracking, revenue projections, or staffing concerns.
If they’re not uploading sales documents to the CRM, explain how this supports the implementation team. Through coaching and feedback, you can develop a sales team culture with a value for CRM usage.Effectively using a CRM allows us to do much more than just store contacts. Yet, it’s not uncommon to talk with sales and marketing professionals who use a CRM as merely a place to store contacts, often ineffectively. This leaves them in the Stone Age—sales teams might as well be calling prospects on crank phones!