Get Users to Crave Their CRM Data

What story is your CRM system telling its users? What story is it telling your managers? If you don't know, you need to find out—the answers are much more important than you'd think.

Subconsciously, your users know the answer to the first question, and they're wondering about the second. CSO Insights reports that only 40 percent of companies have full end-user adoption of their CRM solution. And if you're in the majority with regard to that statistic, you can bet that your holdouts are holding out because they find its presence 1) daunting, 2) annoying, or 3) demoralizing.

Here's a solution: Strategically leverage real-time analytics and business intelligence to make proper CRM usage not only less tedious, but also fun, empowering, and beneficial to both user performance and the company's bottom line. If you have employees who are apathetic or antipathetic toward having a chronicle of their performance, take heed.

Why Users Need Real-Time Data

Like beautiful, unique snowflakes, the users of your company's CRM system all experienced varying degrees of performance success last month. It is a certainty that the same will happen again this month. The obvious question is this: What story did your CRM solution and your manager tell each user about his or her performance last month?

In most cases, there was a single chapter—either a month-end meeting where poor-performing users were confronted with their data or a month-end meeting where high-achieving users were recognized for their data. A luckier set had four such chapters, one each week.

That's the bad news. The good news is that instead of telling users the data-driven story of their performance one or four days out of the month, there's now an alternative. Rather than silo the information accumulated from their CRM solutions, managers would be better-suited to direct real-time data on important user metrics right back to the users.

What we're talking about is an organized, accessible, and, most critically, meaningful storyboard of individual user performance. Inject drama into the story via metric-based competitions, contests, or performance scoring to help compel user buy-in, and you have a twofold effect:

1) You remove reps' uncertainty about what's expected of them and where they stand in terms of performance.

2) You increase feelings of personal accountability.

Even if managers choose not to show all rep data, making a portion of it readily available for internal consumption can help drive key behaviors. Rather than confronting poor-performing reps, introducing a competition-like atmosphere can help inspire and motivate on days when they otherwise might be feeling lethargic or apathetic.

In other words, you give your users a real-time, data-driven story about their performance that, to steal from a classic '80s movie title, is neverending.

Best Practices: Context, Collaboration, and Competition

In creating a new level of transparency, it's imperative to refrain from taking a Big Brother approach to revealing rep data. The best practice here is not to use such data to shame poorly performing reps or to induce people to work themselves to the bone, but rather to facilitate collaboration, peer-to-peer coaching, personal accountability, and a healthy, competitive culture.

It's also imperative to contextualize the numbers you're giving your users. Simply throwing their aggregate numbers back at them in real time doesn't tell a story.

For that reason, I recommend establishing rock-solid benchmarks, running performance competitions, preferably with teams, and, if possible, creating an overall user performance score that ties in users' most relevant metrics, their benchmarks, and their numbers for each metric.

Again, the key here is context. You want your users' CRM data to make them feel like they're the protagonist of a dramatic blockbuster. Remove the context behind the data, and you'll leave your users feeling like a group that was hoping for an action flick but accidentally wandered into a David Lynch movie.

Impacts of Fully Visualized User Performance

Breakthroughs in business intelligence and data analytics technology offer a great opportunity for managers to instill a sense of personal accountability in their CRM users, and to let the data itself do the work for them.

If user adoption of your CRM is low or if your CRM users are still struggling through a late winter malaise, it's high time to unlock the full potential of your CRM data. By handing your CRM data over to the users themselves and adding proper context, you're not only reducing their anxiety, you're pouring gasoline on the flames of their internal drive.

Travis Truett is the CEO of Ambition, a sales productivity and analytics platform for Salesforce and other CRM solutions.

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