Series: Part 1: Salespeople ❤ Using CRM…. NOT!

Stop Complaining and Solve the Problem: The Hard Truth About Why Your Sales Team Does Not Use CRM.

This article is dedicated to my fellow marketer. The marketer who already has a really tough job, made tougher due to the lack of updated information available in CRM.

I’ve been responsible for architecting, operationalizing and managing CRM and marketing systems for over a decade. I’m also in the Marketing Operations business and care deeply about data. Yes, I said deeply, and I am not being ironic.

During my career I’ve been part of more conversations than I can remember where marketers (me included) lament the lack of data at their disposal due to low adoption of CRM by the sales team. “They say they’re on the road too much,” “They complain that it’s too hard,” “They just refuse to see the value.” Then come the helpful (please read sarcasm here) suggestions. “Reduce their commissions if they don’t use it,” “Get your sales leaders to enforce it,” “Refuse sales support requests if the deal isn’t in CRM.” Of course you can try all this, but experience has taught me that in the end you’ll have unhappy sales people and more bad data.

While attending a recent marketing event I was dismayed to hear the exact same discussion. I think there is comfort in the conversation (I’ve been there and it felt good to blame those pesky sales people) but it’s really just passing the buck and is missing the point entirely.

If you are responsible for CRM within your organization, or if you are a sales or marketing leader with influence over CRM functionality, there is a solution. But only if you first truly understand the problem. And to fully understand you have to listen to your users.

When your sales team tells you that it’s too hard, that they are on the road too much, that they don’t see the value – believe them. Take time to understand why it’s difficult to use, why being on the road is a barrier and why they see no value. Hint on the last one – it’s highly likely they don’t see the value because it is, in fact, of very little value to them if their sole purpose is to close deals. If you want sales people to embrace CRM you have to build in tools that help them win more. It’s as simple as that.

Start by meeting with sales people who do and don’t use CRM regularly. Get to the real pain points. Ask them what they dislike and what would create value for them. Make a list. If you do it right your list should have no more than a 6-12 month timeframe for completion. Focus on that short list of priorities. Communicate often and openly with your sales leaders. Schedule regular refreshers, or tips and tricks sessions and be sure to TEST each new piece of functionality with actual users.

Here’s the bottom line… Adoption is a problem. A problem that can be solved. Find a way to give your sales team tools that help them do their jobs and they in turn will give you the data you and your organization needs.  And don't miss the next blog in our series, The CRM Adoption Problem: Getting Started and the Tale of Mr. Rage.

If you will be in San Francisco for Marketo Summit next week, come visit us at Booth # 31 to learn more how we can help improve your organization’s overall CRM user experience AND increase your marketing success. If you live in the San Francisco area and want to attend the Keynotes and Expo, click here for your FREE pass.

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