Are you implementing CRM software or any other sales operation automation software, then be prepared for such responses?
You are done with your exhaustive research, comparing different options, and selecting the most suitable CRM or sales automation software for your sales team. You are excited about the implementation and the benefits you will get. You are optimistic about the successful adaptation of it with your sales team. But soon, you realize that it is easier said than done.
Based on my experience of CRM and other sales automation system implementation with many Startups and SMBs, let me share the challenges you will also face with your sales team and how to take care of them for a faster transition.
Resistance to Change:
We all know that the ‘change’ is the only constant, but accepting the change is not that easy.
Whenever we introduce a new system, technology (CRM, Field Activity Tracking system, Data Capturing, Lead management & tracking, and similar) shakes the world in the organization. Especially the sales team members need to go through the change in routine and habits. It changes their sales activity management process. Most organizations implement these sales automation technologies to create a high level of transparency into the sales, marketing & customer service departments.
Irrespective of the brand of CRM you wish to implement – it will push the sales team members out of their comfort zone. Salespeople love to spend time meeting prospects and selling products/services. They dislike, if not hate submitting reports and administrative work. Hence every introduction & implementation of these technologies disrupt their beautiful world, and the resistance can be high. Often you may hear your passive-aggressive sales team members ‘oh, you want me to update CRM instead of selling?.’ And the answer is yes. Often an organization feels that doing a simple introduction and training session will make the sales team comfortable and excited for adapting to the new systems. But this happens rarely.
2. Activity Tracking
CRM & other sales automation software implementation for capturing every important information possible about the sales team activities, potential and existing customers, sales funnel, communication to customers, and other supporting databases. Create the profiles of customers, segmenting fields for marketing to all documentation, emails, notes, and other communications with the customer.
This information can be reviewed anytime by authorized persons, and use the information to analyse, provide the necessary direction to different departments and deliver good service to customers. These systems are highly customizable to match the needs of most of the people in any organization. It is a tool for collecting all the information from various people in one place. These are feature-rich applications and may be overwhelming at the beginning for the users. And that is another reason contributing to the resistance by its users, especially by the sales team members.
CRM means salespeople can no longer be the only source and owner of all customer information & communications. This information is available to more people in the organization. It generates fear in the sales team of getting exposed for hiding some information that is not favourable for them. But all the information is available now, can be reviewed, measured, and decisions made.
These sales automation systems provide critical information at the click of a button and on a real-time basis. Dashboards to show the performance of each sales team member against their KPI and business targets.
The information is also central to uncovering coaching & training needs for salespeople. A detailed report helps improve the sales process, sales cycle, field sales activities, revenue projections, and performance metrics of the sales team.
3. Misrepresentation and incorrect reporting:
As much as the sales team members hate preparing & submitting reports, they prefer traditional reporting (excel files). This method of reporting gives them more control over preparing these reports. And they provide opportunities for misrepresenting and sharing incorrect data. Some sales team members don’t shy away from fudging the data from embarrassment during the review meetings. But implementation of CRM & other sales automation systems eliminates this opportunity to misrepresent or submit incorrect data.
The system has a reporting functionality, customizable dashboards, triggers, and alerts, providing consistent and easier to manage reports.
A nicely-customized system will provide you with the sales metrics you need to run the sales organization and benchmark the team as individuals, team, product and service-wise, geographically, MoM, QoQ & YoY.
And if you still need some data that is not CRM or these automation systems, then you must look at the options for capturing that data if it is that important.
4. Sale & marketing funnel monitoring
As a sales professional, your world revolves around the sales funnel – How many prospects do you have, Which are the lead generation resources, generating leads, How many qualified leads generated, What is the expected ticket size, The expected closing date? The possibilities of upselling for generating more revenue, what are the projections for the new customer acquisition, revenue generation in a particular month/quarter/year?
The salesperson who excels is the one who manages the sales funnel proactively.
This information is the source of coaching, and performance analysis is critical. How do salespeople enter the details, the deal closing date, and other parameters in your particular business?
5. Incomplete data/information capturing
When you implement a CRM or any sales automation system, you are most certainly going to find: incomplete records, duplications, different types of errors, and a few other irrelevant information.
Everyone responsible for entering the data into the system must be held accountable for keeping their data clean.
The system will compute and provide the reports and the dashboard only if it is entered correctly as per the fields and format of the information. Any error or mismatch will result in an incorrect report or no report for that data point. Therefore, it is critical that every person, especially the salespeople, takes the activity of entering the data into the system very seriously. So, each person is equally responsible for keeping it clean when they use the records.
One of the challenges for CRM & sales automation system implementation is the sales team. Without setting non-negotiable standards for use, the software has no value to the users and the company.
It is a time-consuming but efficient tool for tracking, monitoring, coaching need identification, customer care approach, and many more benefits. The top-performing sales teams use them and make the best use of the information processing capabilities of these systems to their advantage.
And you can also achieve this level of acceptance and implementation by doing the following things:
- Involve and educate the sales team about the different features and benefits of these systems.
- Show them how data-driven sales activities will improve their performance significantly and may help them earn incentives.
- Reiterations, hand-holding, explanation, and patience are great tools.
- Teach them how it will help them improve their performance & the opportunity to earn an incentive.
- You may introduce any incentive or recognition for faster adaptation and maintaining clean data by the sales team members.
- Show them how different features resolve their administrative and reporting challenges, giving them more time for meeting the prospect and selling.
- They also need to understand that selling products/services is an organization-level activity – which involves marketing, customer service, logistics, accounts & finance.
- These systems will ensure the flow of information to all the concerns in real-time for faster turnaround time between different departments.
- Every good experience to the customers contributes to growing the opportunities for cross-selling, up-selling, and recommendation selling.
- It brings transparency in performance reviews and appraisals.