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8 ways to make your sales team Want to use CRM!

Updated: Dec 31, 2023

Revolutionizing Sales: Embracing CRM as a Powerful Ally.

In the competitive world of sales, staying organized has always been a prerequisite to success for salespeople, and most companies help their salespeople with this task by using a customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Historically used for tracking sales opportunities and managing customer data, today, salespeople are pleading to leaders that the role of CRM needs to change.

Today's sales environment demands a tool that actively empowers sales teams instead of managing them. This post explores how reimagining CRM can transform it from an inaccurate forecasting tool and KPI management system into a dynamic resource that creates accurate forecasts and drives sales growth.

1. Stop putting KPIs on CRM metrics.

A sales rep using CRM to enter sales opportunities.
Sales rep using CRM

The first step in transforming CRM's role is viewing it as an empowering tool.

Rather than focusing solely on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), CRM should build customer relationships, streamline sales communication, and bring efficiency and insight to the sales process.

What happens in many businesses today is that KPIs are developed for sales teams to meet within CRM, and then salespeople fill the CRM pipeline up to the level of the KPI metric. Once sales leaders see that this new KPI didn't increase revenue, they increase the KPI metric again. Usually, within a short period of time, the sales team increases their pipeline to the new metric, and sales growth continues at the historical level it's always been. The reason why this strategy doesn't work is that leadership is not giving the sales team a tool to increase productivity.

In practice, KPI goals should not be assigned to a system that wasn't designed for that purpose. When the data input into the system can easily be fabricated, all we're incentivizing is filling the pipeline with inaccurate sales opportunities and made-up contacts; ultimately, the result is a data set within your CRM that is corrupted. This is not to say that all salespeople will fill a pipeline with inaccurate data. The majority won't, but all it takes is a few.

In a recent discussion with a friend at a very large Fortune 500 corporation, he provided insight into his corporation's analysis of its pipeline. What he shared was that only 15% of opportunities that were designated as closed in the CRM actually invoiced. This shows that the KPIs they had in place for their CRM were limiting their ability to forecast and their usage of the data they had in place.

2. Eliminate activities that have the potential to create inaccurate data. Get rid of the clutter!

Lots of clutter representing data in CRM that is unusable.

At the heart of a successful CRM system is its data's accuracy.

High-quality data helps sales reps trust the CRM, leading to informed decision-making, especially with new technologies such as AI.

When sales reps know their CRM data is accurate, they can trust it to guide their sales efforts, such as follow-ups, cross-selling, and insight into which customers are receptive to their sales efforts.

They can make more strategic, informed decisions, making customer interactions and sales efforts more efficient. This happens when CRM becomes a sales tool versus a sales management system. However, inaccurate data can come from many different sources. Sometimes, customer service or tech service have metrics they have to meet on how many leads they send to the sales team; Marketing can have metrics on how many leads they generate at a show or on a campaign. These efforts to drive sales activities have the right intent, but once you put a metric on it, it usually drives inaccurate data into the system. I have seen metrics on the amount of leads that need to be generated at industry trade shows flood a CRM with fake leads, where 90 to 95% of the leads created were just contacts with no associated products or information.

After 6 months, the sales team had completely lost all interest in following up on leads within their CRM system, all due to inaccurate data overwhelming the system.

The end result was the 5% of authentic leads that would get sent through the CRM ended up being ignored because they were drowning in a sea of fake data. This is the scenario we absolutely want to avoid.

3. Consolidation of communication channels.

A cell phone representing the importance of communication systems in CRM.
Cell phone

Just like with anything in life, the most convenient tool is usually the one that gets used. CRM must be intuitive, simple, and wholly integrated within existing communication tools to be a favored resource. Integrating CRM with existing calendar and communication tools streamlines information flow greatly, adding to its convenience.

Salespeople, in general, are very practical when they choose how to use their time. They understand that time and effort are limited, and they use those resources for activities that will move the needle. That's how they maximize their bonuses.

For a tool to be used, it's got to be useful (I know, rocket science), and the more integrated and consolidated all the tools are, the more convenient and useful they become. I have seen organizations that communicate with a Calendar system with chat, email, company intranet messaging, hardline phones with voicemail, text messages on their cell phones, and cell phone voicemail. That's six different channels to leave somebody a message. With so many communication channels, it's difficult for people to stay up-to-date on all the communications they receive. People only have a certain amount of bandwidth to monitor and digest data, and it's essential to remember this when implementing tools. When we add CRM into the mix, it becomes another tool that needs to be monitored. Integrating CRM with a calendar and communication system eliminates a tool that has to be monitored.

A happy sales person who enjoys the benefits of a productive CRM system.
A happy sales rep

Turn CRM into a system that sales reps like to use because it simplifies their life and increases time savings, productivity, and income!

4. Automating CRM with an ERP System

Integrating a CRM system with an organization's ERP makes the CRM a much more usable tool. An essential function in any CRM system is closing out opportunities. You need to know whether or not the customer ordered the product from the quote you provided. Doing this manually is not only a waste of a salesperson's time but adds to grossly inaccurate data. Even if the sales rep takes the time to contact a customer to see if they ordered a product, the customer can easily lie to get the salesperson off the phone or out of their office. Going through company records to find an order for every opportunity made is an absolute waste of time because it doesn't even provide a contact point with the customer. Integrating a CRM with the company ERP system allows sales reps to see when orders are placed and to respond to customers to either thank them for their order or enable them to cross-sell based on what was bought. This type of integration also opens the door for AI to analyze the orders, which will be dived into deeper later in this post.

5. Trust, Motivation, and Investment in Sales teams.

Ultimately, the investment in the CRM system as a tool for the sales team rather than as a management resource comes down to trust.

Sales leaders need to trust the sales team is doing what they need to do and that they've hired the right people to do the job.

Leaders should also put in place strong compensation packages that reward performance. With this combination, salespeople will gladly use a tool that helps them capture more sales and build stronger relationships with customers.

Another pivotal component of motivating sales reps to use CRM is to sell them on the effectiveness of using it!

Gaining the adoption of any tools involves demonstrating the system's value. In any sales team, there's always a person who utilizes the tools given and significantly exceeds the rest in performance. I've always called these individuals champions.

A trophy signifying a champion who excels at CRM use.

Having a champion demonstrate how the CRM has helped them capture more sales and build stronger customer relationships goes a long way toward driving behavior with the rest of the team. Bringing these stories to the rest of the team during national sales meetings is an excellent opportunity to create buzz around a little new tool and shift a culture to change behavior.

6. User-Friendly Features: Automated reports and communication.

A resting animal signifying the ease of a CRM system that automates data communication.
Resting animal

As discussed earlier, adding to a tool's convenience greatly helps advance adoption. To add convenience to a CRM, the data captured from the tool should be sent to salespeople in an automated form and preferably by email. Even automating reports but making the salespeople download those reports adds an extra step and leaves it up to the salesperson to remember to complete the downloads regularly.

Having reports automatically generated by the CRM and then emailing them directly to the salespeople removes so much time that it enables salespeople to act on information versus gathering information. Further advancements in AI will be able to take these automated reports and alert sales reps to actions that should be taken. AI can take all the generated data and create intelligent action steps based on that data. Of course, all of this depends on the accuracy of the data. Incorporating user-friendly features, like automated alerts, improves CRM's practicality. These features provide sales reps timely notifications about customer activities, aiding in efficient and effective customer engagement.

7. AI Integration: A New Frontier in CRM.

A robot signifying the future of AI in CRM.

Integrating AI with CRM systems marks a game-changing advancement. AI can analyze everything from customer receptiveness to sales efforts to which product lines appeal to different customer types, offering predictive insights and personalizing sales strategies. This integration transforms CRM into a proactive tool, helping sales reps to identify and capitalize on sales opportunities.

In redefining CRM, we transition from a metric-focused management tool to an empowering, dynamic system that actively supports sales teams and increases productivity. CRM can be transformed into an essential asset for sales success that salespeople love by prioritizing data accuracy, communication and schedule integration, automation, and AI. This shift benefits sales teams and contributes to more robust, more effective customer relationships and service because quality sales is a service!


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