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Top 5 reasons why sales reps don’t use CRM — and what you can do about it… by Frank Donny

Top 5 reasons why sales reps dont use CRM and what you can do about itThis week, I’ve invited Frank Donny, founder and CEO of Marseli, to share his wisdom on CRM best practices. I read an article the other day about why many sales reps do not use CRM systems. The article said the most common reason was because the sales process doesn’t match the buyer’s process.  This is just one of many reasons.  In my own experience helping hundreds of sales operations leaders, here are the top 5 reasons why sales reps don’t use CRM: 1. Limited or no flexibility.  It’s impossible to automate the role of a sales rep.  If it was, robots would be selling.  The act of selling takes two humans – a buyer and a seller.  Everyone has different ways of doing things, and what works for one person may not work for another.  What works for a buyer might not work for the seller.  Hunters and gatherers shouldn’t follow the same activities or rules of engagement. So forcing everyone to follow the same exact procedures, actions and in some cases process, without some level of flexibility, will likely result in failure.  The best way to address this is to interview your sales team, find the areas that need flexibility, and build those into your overall system requirements where it makes sense. 2. Management behaviors and compliance.  Overbearing managers will crush your CRM adoption.  Constant backseat deal driving, forced deal commitment, or managers stepping in to take over deals will cause sales reps to sandbag deals.  Reps will hide deals and activity by not entering them into your CRM system until they feel it is safe to do so.  The risk here is that if the deal is not in your CRM system, there is no record of it at all.  If that rep leaves your company, then so does that deal.  In terms of compliance, sales managers must all be on the same page and stick to the plan; otherwise, anarchy will set in.  You need to ensure you have the right sales process.  Forcing a sales process on a team that just does not work will cause sales reps to develop their own work-around to your CRM system. 3. Poor implementation.  During the CRM rollout, many things can go wrong: the application may not have been set up properly; people weren’t trained well; or configuration of the sales process and reports was poor.  But nothing kills adoption faster than wasting sales people’s time. Too much or redundant data entry drives reps nuts, as does over-configuration and over-complex process and procedures that bog them down with unnecessary administrative work. So keep it simple:  ask sales reps to enter data that you truly need to run your business.  Ensure that the right opportunities are in the right stage, with the right close date and with the right value.  If you can optimize that, few additional requirements really matter when it comes to managing a pipeline. 4. Value.  If the system is not helping them close more deals faster, then they will find another way to manage their book of business.  Oddly enough, just giving them a CRM system will not give them a payback.  But don’t guess at what your team needs. Interview them and find out.  Pick the solutions they want, not what you want or think they need.  It’s true that you need data to run your company and you need reps to enter that data.  Your CRM system should be designed to make data gathering for those reports as easy as possible.  Adding value to the reps’ ability to manage his or her pipeline is a good way to ensure you get the data. 5. Lack of incentive.  I’m not a big fan of the stick method.  No one likes to get threatened.  I am a fan of pay for performance.  The little extra compensation or recognition for a job well done will go a long way to improving adoption.  I have seen companies create an awards program (both monetary and non-monetary) that provide monthly, quarterly and annual recognition. Notice that I did not put a lot of blame on the sales rep.  Many of you might be thinking that I left “lazy” off the list.  Most reps are not lazy.  For the most part they want to do the right thing – even those pesky top producers.  So do the right thing and get back to the basics.  Cut out the complexity and make it more flexible.  Listen to your reps and put value back into your CRM.  One thing is guaranteed, if your reps don’t see the value, you will not see the adoption and the return on your investment.   frankdonnyFrank Donny is founder and CEO of Marseli, a firm that makes sales and marketing operations faster, smarter, accurate and affordable. Frank’s remarkable 25-year career of driving marketing and sales operations divisions within Fortune 500 and start-up organizations is highlighted by his passion for business development and empowering others to succeed. Frank is a recognized thought leader in the areas of sales performance, demand generation, pipeline management and sales and marketing integration.

Janice Mars, Principal and Founder of SalesLatitude, is a sales performance improvement consultant and change agent focused on growing top performers to impact bottom line growth. With more than 30 years of experience as a senior business and sales executive, she helps companies build successful sales teams by maximizing their time and resources, selling from the buyer’s point of view, and strengthening the effectiveness of leadership. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter


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