Why Bother with a CRM and How to Make it Work for You?

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For many companies, implementing a CRM is not an easy task because for decades sales people have been “doing it their way” and now, all of sudden, we are asking them to standardize their communication and organization methods.

So, for the record, when implementing a CRM, please know that you may initially hear some groan from a few of the sales team – about this being “more work” or simply not liking change..

Before you accept that feedback, consider this… the average sales person (especially if they have been in sales for decades) is not looking at CRM in the “big picture”. They are only looking the CRM’s impact to their own focused world without considering the benefits to the entire organization.

So, the question you need to ask/remind yourself (either to confirm you are doing the right thing; to motivate you to better enforce usage of the CRM you have or to implement a CRM in the first place) is … “why do I want CRM”.

Here are some of your reasons:

  • To avoid having “islands of information” and all your company knowledge as it relates to customers and prospects resting in the heads of your sales people.
  • To make the sales function more streamlined and duplicatable (which makes it easier to grow and measure).
  • To decrease your risk in the event of turnover.
  • To decrease your dependence on any one person (including yourself) within the sales organization as all of information can easily be transferred to others.
  • To increase accountability.
  • To measure your ROI on your marketing efforts (by tracking your sales activity and results by lead source).
  • To provide sales management with information so they can analyze and measure results and make decisions with real information (e.g. understand market size, prospect size, geographical breakdowns, activity levels, sales rep performance, market/vertical segmentation, etc…).
  • To help those who are disorganized become organized (for those reps that are already organized, CRM does not help them here, it only makes them more visible to others).
  • To help facilitate a “team sell” more easily. It’s easier for a group of people working on a sale together to get up to speed, book each other into meetings/conference calls and share information when all the information about that customer, their needs, the activities completed so far, the activities to be done, etc.. are all in the same “filing cabinet”.
  • To more easily transfer information from the sales team to the project team (if applicable to your business).

As you have noticed, the list of reasons above may not be things that the average sales person thinks or cares about so having them be the ultimate decision maker as to whether they use it or not, would be inappropriate as they are only looking at it through their eyes. But, as leaders, we need to look CRM from a broader perspective.

But is there truly something in CRM for the sales rep or is it just good for management? The answer is that is great for both but the sales reps don’t know it yet and won’t know it if they don’t give it a chance.

It is impossible to suggest that the idea of having all your information in one place, nicely organized for you and others to share could be anything but a benefit to everyone. Just like computers, followed by email, followed by PDA’s and Blackberrys were all seen as new technology that needed to be learned, once they were learned, they all improved the communication flow and organization for sales reps. So will CRM as it’s just the “next step up” from those tools.

So how do we get our sales people to see the value?

An easy and correct answer would be to get them involved in the CRM selection and implementation process right from day 1. We would suggest for larger groups that you select a “committee” of people that can speak for and positively influence the others.

However, doing the above may still not guarantee you that everyone will jump on board with both feet.

Remember, they are not resisting the software; they are resisting change and the effort and fears that are associated with the change. You will hear things like … “I don’t have time for this” or “do you want me to sell or type data into the computer?” or “I have been selling for 30 years without it, why do I need this?” The lists of “reasons” for them not to change are endless.

So, what should a company do?

It’s very simple actually. The sooner you accept that many sales reps will not want to change initially (because of the reasons stated above) the faster you will simply make it no choice. The faster that happens and the faster they start using it, the faster they will see the value.

Just ask any sales person that has made it over the “I have no choice so I better use it” hump. The vast majority will tell you that they could not imagine selling or functioning without it and when new sales people join an organization that has properly embraced a CRM, they will just fall into line and start using it because “everyone else is”.

Lastly, remember that every person, regardless of their role, needs to organize themselves, their schedule, the information they get from the customer, their notes, etc… All the CRM does is put in all in 1 place so that others can share that information too.

Therefore, using a CRM, once one gets used to it, is not more work that their past organization method (unless they had no organization method which is separate concern), it’s just a different method that they must get used to.

So, all it takes is for one person exercise their right not to use the CRM (assuming you give them that right), for all the others to stop using it. It’s either everybody, or nobody. The choice is yours as you are the leader.

© 2015 by Darren Rabie. Co-Founder and President of Focus America, Darren Rabie is also a passionate speaker, writer and jokester, having enjoyed speaking at over 350 events, trade shows, associations & CEO groups throughout North America…with topics including “How to Turn Leads into Sales”, “Manufacturing a Sale”, and “The Science of Selling”. Daren has helped hundreds of owner-operated B2B companies make the transition to a structured, scalable and accountable sales organization. For more information, visit www.focus-america.com or contact Darren directly via email at drabie@focus-america.com

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