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6.5 Ways to Crush Small Business CRM Adoption Woes
Transform reps' view of new tools from obstacle into opportunity.
Posted Jul 18, 2014
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If you're struggling to get your sales team to embrace your CRM solution, you are not alone. To successful salespeople, most CRM tools seem like a roadblock to building better relationships and closing deals—the exact opposite reason they were created in the first place.

Studies show that, on average, 74 percent of sales teams have poor CRM adoption and 65 percent of sales reps' time is spent not selling.

Why are adoption rates so low when CRM tools can be so helpful?

Here are the main challenges your small to medium-sized business may be facing when it comes to getting your team to embrace your CRM system, as well as 6.5 surefire ways to boost its adoption:

1. Start with the team in mind.

While CRM tools are more powerful than ever, leaders and managers tend to overbuild their systems based on what metrics they want to see, not how their teams will actually use it. This leaves sales reps wondering how this technology is going to help add more dollars to their paychecks.

Many CRM tools can be personalized with custom fields and workflows. Identify your power users or champions. Include them in the overall process so that they have a say in what tool you will be using moving forward and what metrics are important to measuring the success of everyone involved. It is easier to grow adoption when users have input from the start.

2. Develop a process.

For most small businesses, process is a foreign word. Only 42 percent of sales forces have a documented sales process, and less than 12 percent of reps actually stick to it, according to Sales Benchmark Index. If your sales and marketing process isn't watertight, it creates inconsistencies in how your team uses your sales and marketing tools, and ultimately turns your CRM investment into a boat anchor.

The key is to have a rock-solid process that automates non-revenue-producing tasks, and to listen to the needs of your sales team to understand the easiest way for them to use the system to build better relationships with prospects and customers.

3. Train your users.

Include CRM training in your weekly meetings. Let your sales team bring training tips to the table or ideas of how the process could work better. Discuss the changes that could be made in your system to help team members spend their time closing deals—not manually entering data. Also, make CRM training a top priority for new hires and pair them with your power users. There is nothing more frustrating for new employees than not knowing how to use the very tools designed to help them excel in their role.

4. Keep technology simple.

If your new CRM tool takes long to implement and is tough to learn, you can say adios to your team ever adopting it and using it on a daily basis. Chances are you became enamored with superfluous features instead of how the solution can help reach your core goals. Choose a platform that solves your biggest challenges and don't get sidetracked by all the bells and whistles. Your team will never use them.

5. Set the CRM rules in motion.

One of the best ways to promote adoption is to outline your expectations at the beginning. Let your team know that activity must be logged within the CRM system in order to get that fat paycheck at the end of the month. Don't let them fall back on sticky notes and their old spreadsheets for reporting. Leverage your CRM solution to track individual and team metrics so your team can get the instant gratification of sticking to the sales and CRM process. Rewards and contests can be a great way to boost usage within your CRM system for specific milestones linked to the goals of your business.

6. Integrate your marketing tools.

Give salespeople the marketing tools they need to drive leads and business. An integrated CRM and marketing automation system automates follow-up, sends personalized communication, and delivers the hottest leads to your team. Let marketing automation nurture the leads in your CRM system so that your sales reps can spend the bulk of their time closing deals with prospects who are ready to buy.

6.5 Bonus: It's about the small data.

In this big data era, more is better. With small business CRM and marketing automation tools, we can collect and store as many data points as we want, and the temptation is to capture and analyze every piece of data around your process, prospects, and customers.

But for SMBs and sales teams, the goal isn't to turn your salespeople into data analysts. The goal is to give them the tools they need to smash your revenue goals. So before you go data mining, here are a few simple questions to make sure you stay focused on only the data that matters:

  • If the data is collected, what will we do with it?
  • What fields are mandatory for our process?
  • How will we handle duplicate information/records?
  • Can my team members and I filter the data we need to build better relationships and drive sales?
  • How will the data help impact positive behavior among my team members?

Your sales team signed up to build relationships and drive sales for your company, not become big data analysts. Instead of overwhelming them with meaningless information, give them the small data they need to take action. With a more targeted small data set, your sales team can move deals through the pipeline faster and boost conversions.


Jonathan Herrick is chief sales officer and chief marketing officer at Hatchbuck, producer of an easy-to-use sales and marketing tool for small businesses.


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