A CRM system is for life, not just for Christmas

Be it an exercise bike, an apple corer, or re-heatable hand warmers, we’ve all had Christmas presents that we know will enhance our lives if we use them. But because they involve a little bit of effort to get to grips with, we put them to one side for now and rewatch Elf while eating a chocolate orange instead. The last thing you want is for the customer relationship management (CRM system) platform you’ve invested in, to end up on a similar ‘Figure it out later’ list by your sales or marketing team.

Resistance to change is a very common problem with CRM implementation. Sales staff often view CRMs as a waste of time, believing that their time would be better spent in meetings or on the phone with customers working towards a sale rather than inputting data. In reality, CRM makes their jobs easier and helps improve their performance resulting in more sales. Here are our tips to help your sales team understand the importance of CRM and make using it top of their New Year’s Resolutions.

Showcase the benefits of CRM

To get your sales team interested in using CRM, show them what’s in it for them. Highlight the key benefits they’ll get by using the tool. These include: –

Automated reporting

Compiling and submitting reports is a time-consuming, arduous task when you have to comb through multiple spreadsheets to manually create them. CRM automates reporting. Christmas has come early!

Centralised customer data

All contact information, notes, and sales history are in one place, so sales teams can reference the information they need immediately. Not only does this make everything more efficient and speedier, but it also removes the risk of information taken on a customer call and written on paper going astray.

Calendar management

Managing their calendar is yet another job to factor into an already busy day. A CRM system lets your staff set up reminders for follow-up calls and appointments in an easy, efficient way, so they don’t miss appointments.

More time for selling

The biggest benefit to your sales staff is the gift of time. Using a CRM system reduces the amount of time they’d usually spend on manual tasks, freeing them up to interact with customers and close sales.

Without a CRM system, it’s easy to forget crucial information or update a client’s records when a note was scribbled on a piece of paper. Having up-to-date records is essential for maintaining relationships and upselling.

Let your team choose the CRM system

If your sales team feels that a CRM system is being forced on them, they may be less receptive to the idea. If you’re able to, involve them in the decision-making process when selecting which CRM software to buy. If they’ve had input in which system would work best for them, there’s a much higher likelihood that they’ll use it.

Most software providers offer free, fully featured demos, so your sales team can road test a few systems to find out which they’re most comfortable with. While trialling them, they might discover functions and have insights that wouldn’t have been obvious without them trying it out first.

By using your team’s feedback when you select a system, you’re showing them that their opinions count and that you’re investing in them. They’re much more likely to use a system that they’ve chosen.

Commit to ongoing training

As with anything new that we encounter in our lives – swimming, driving, cooking with an air fryer – we can’t expect to have a one-off lesson and know everything there is to know. Ongoing learning is the only way to get to grips with every facet, become relaxed and adept doing it and keep up to date with developments. Using a CRM system is no different. In the same way, you’d never want to swim if you sank like a stone every time you ventured into the water, your sales team will soon get frustrated and refuse to use your lovely, sparkly CRM system if they don’t know how to use it properly.

Accept that training isn’t a one-off where you walk them through the program, then let them get on with it. Instead, you need to show an ongoing commitment to train them and offer support and regular company-wide sessions. There is an expense in doing this, but it’s essential to getting the most out of the system and is an investment in your staff and your company.

Host weekly training sessions initially while your team becomes comfortable with the program. Then move to monthly and, eventually, quarterly training sessions. Ensure your team has access to someone who can answer any questions they may have between sessions.

Share success stories

Invite members of staff who have embraced the CRM system to share their experiences with the rest of the team. By hearing how using the software has benefited them – for example, using the CRM to automate follow-up emails after an initial contact may have freed up an extra hour each day – colleagues will be keen to try this for themselves.

As your team becomes more adept at using the system, celebrate your salespeople who are hitting or exceeding sales targets thanks to the efficiencies the software creates. Share their success stories with everyone else in an email or in a meeting.

The more benefits you can highlight to your sales team, the more they’ll want to use the CRM.

Reward usage

Incentivise your team to use the software, safe in the knowledge that once they start and realise how much easier it makes their lives, they won’t want to stop.

To encourage usage, you could, for example, reward the salespeople who log the most sales through the CRM system. Or who fills in a certain number of information fields for customers or the number of contacts they add to the CRM.

Make these rewards weekly to get staff motivated from the start and enable them to track their progress and show off their achievements. This should encourage colleagues to join in.

Resistance is futile

Human nature being what it is, there may well be some staff who still resist, probably out of fear of the unknown. However, for the system to work at its optimum efficiency, everyone needs to use it.

When you install the CRM processes, stress that using them is the new normal, and give staff the resources they need to be successful with them. At Cognition 24, we can recommend Salesforce Trailhead’s ‘get started’ guides and resources for learning and understanding CRM.

Once you’ve got your sales team on board with using the CRM, your whole business will benefit. It’ll be like Christmas every day!