The Big CRM Question: Why Aren’t Your Sales Reps Using the Software?

Sunny Paris

If I had a dollar for every time I heard CEOs and sales managers complain about their CRM not being up to date, or that salespeople aren’t using it properly, I could probably retire.

If I had another dollar for when I hear salespeople complain about the additional administrative work their CRM imposes on them – my retirement could take place on an exotic island.

Alas, I can’t retire just yet, but that hasn’t stopped CRM systems from becoming a heated topic of debate. When taking a closer look, there are objective reasons for the plight of CRM. Every side has their own legitimate arguments. The problem comes from the wrong expectations regarding the solutions put in place.
First, let’s start with the question surrounding what CRM represents. CRM stands for customer relationship management, which indicates that it’s a tool to manage, you guessed it, customer relationships.

The software allows companies to organize their customer data in one place. CRM systems are primarily structured databases that contain all client information such as ongoing contracts, invoices and the history of their interactions.
The tool is used by many people across different departments: administration, marketing, sales, customer support, and sometimes even logistics. In general, a CRM is implemented to satisfy a company’s need to gain visibility on different activities, to support the growth of the company, or to increase the efficiency of its processes.

Setting up CRM is more often a complex investment for the company. Advocates — often management – want the maximum number of people to use the tool so they can justify its deployment.
In practice, when it comes to sales teams, CRM is largely a reporting tool. Salespeople are required to fill in information that management or marketing can build reports or create segments from. In their day-to-day work, however, salespeople rarely use CRM systems.

Most of the time they frantically fill them in minutes before their meetings. The usage of CRM is considered an afterthought in the selling process instead of being the main trigger for selling.
Yet sales reps aren’t assessed based on the quality of information they provide in a database. They are evaluated by their performance: the number of calls made, meetings arranged, and contracts signed.

It’s imperative to equip them with a tool that increases efficiency on these indicators. A tool that helps them make more calls, set up more meetings, and win even more deals. But more importantly, a tool that will not divert from their sales activities or lower their productivity by imposing more administrative tasks.
So, what should you do before implementing a CRM system? First you need to ask what your objective is. Who is going to use the system? Is it for the back office, the marketing team or for your sales team?
If it’s for increasing B2B sales, before deciding on which tool to deploy, you first need to better understand how your sales reps work. Look at what tasks they need to perform on a daily basis and see how those tasks can be improved by technology.

Trying to change the way salespeople work for the benefit of the rest of the company is a battle you will end up on the losing side of. Instead, shift the focus to improving their day-to-day performance in order to increase sales and achieve a high return on investment.
It’s for this reason that software specialized in lead management is more beneficial to salespeople than standard CRM tools. Lead management systems allow salespeople to gain a visual representation of their deals. This allows them to focus on the next action and what needs doing to move leads along the sales cycle.

LMS solutions are also integrated with VoIP systems, emails, calendars and, more importantly, they are easy to use. Sales reps can start their mornings knowing exactly what they need to do, who they need to contact and the current status of their leads in the sales pipeline.  
Choosing a lead management software does not necessarily mean you can’t also implement CRM. The two can work in unison; it all boils down to your company’s priorities. If the focus is managing customer relationships, the first step is to set up a CRM system.

If the priority is to increase sales and equip your team with a tool to achieve that goal, however, using lead management software should be the first step.

Whichever you choose to go with first, you can always plug in the other system when the need presents itself. The big advantage of SaaS (software as a service) solutions is that they easily integrate with other software. Fortunately, the majority of CRM and lead management software run on SaaS.
It’s important to understand the objective of providing your sales teams with a sales tool. It should be a system that is put in place to enhance their work, not become a constraint.

After observing the way they work, identifying their challenges and narrowing down your selection of potential solutions, it’s critical to involve some of your sales reps in a test with real conditions.

To make the right choice, using the system, instead of making assumptions on what benefits it can bring onboard, is key.It is essential to align the benefits of the deployed software with the needs of its users to ensure the actual usage of the tools and increase your ROI.

Sunny Paris is a serial entrepreneur with a high scientific background and expertise in developing innovative IT start-ups. Prior to founding, he successfully co-founded, developed and listed on the French market Weborama (ALWEB Euronext), a European leader of online advertising services industry. Sunny holds a PhD in theoretical physics from the Ecole Normale Supérieure and has several patents in the online marketing field.