New Year, Same Challenge: Helping Sales Teams Break Through Their Three Biggest Roadblocks

Author: 
Julia Petre

Today’s sales process has evolved beyond the days of door-to-door salespeople armed with a Rolodex. Now, sales teams are using sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) systems that combine disparate sources of data, accessible from anywhere, to provide accurate sales forecasting in a matter of seconds. This remarkable transformation of CRMs has been an integral part of improving productivity and, as a result, increasing sales. But CRM systems only work if organizations and their salespeople are willing to adopt them. 

Encouraging CRM adoption is tough, especially if your sales reps are accustomed to using their own “system” for tracking and following up on leads. But if no one uses it, not only can it waste money, it can also have a negative effect on your salespeople’s success. 

The following are three ways you can remove some of the productivity barriers experienced with CRM systems, and make salespeople’s lives easier (and more profitable). 

Provide a CRM user experience that’s actually designed for salespeople.

CRM systems are critical when it comes to optimizing marketing strategies, identifying upsell opportunities and creating solid relationships with clients. However, adoption rates on the user side are staggeringly low for a system that is quickly becoming the life force of most businesses. If your sales team isn’t inputting the necessary data into your CRM system, then your business could be in some serious trouble.  

So why do sales representatives consistently opt for spreadsheets, or avoid working in the CRM altogether? The simple answer is, a lot of CRMs are extremely time-consuming. You can’t edit all the data inline directly, plus it requires extensive navigation to make updates. In fact, many companies have noted manual data entry as their No. 1 CRM challenge, which explains why the majority of sales representatives would rather allocate that time to actual selling.  

Most salespeople have gotten used to a one-size-fits-all CRM system that doesn’t include categories suited to their unique needs for sales. But that doesn’t have to be the case. For sales reps to efficiently and productively leverage their CRM, it’s critical to have an experience that is designed for how they actually work. As businesses rely more and more on CRM, the good news is there has been an upsurge of tools and applications that offer an easier and more productive way to work within these critical systems. 

Improve CRM data quality by improving CRM adoption.

While sales reps aren’t known for their love of CRM systems, they may not realize the negative impact their low usage is having on the business. CRMs enable companies to gather customer data quickly, set achievable goals and forecasts, and increase profits over time. However, for this to work the way it is designed, sales data must be inputted into the system – accurately.  

Even so, an average 60% of all sales updates never make it into the CRM, according to Saleshacker.com. That means a lot of data doesn’t show up in forecasts, goals and sales strategy, either, making it a data quality perfect storm. 

Customer data is central to a business and its goals. When data quality is high, so are customer engagement, campaign ROI, lead velocity and other critical business functions. However, further compounding the issue, most companies don’t have proper visibility into their data quality, which negatively impacts every department. Especially sales.

While Salesforce applications and CRM add-ons can help improve overall user adoption (thereby improving data quality by association), it’s important to have proper visibility and trust in the data that you’re working with, too.   

Don’t settle for anything less than productive and easy.

Productivity and making sales representatives’ lives easier are two goals that seem at odds with one another. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between a productive sales team and a happy sales team. 

While it’s clear that managing the sales pipeline and ensuring that your sales team is at the peak of productivity aren’t the easiest tasks, things become more difficult if you can’t trust the data in your CRM that’s supposed to be responsible for driving your company’s major business decisions.  

Fortunately, solutions exist that can help boost output and operational efficiency, some with spreadsheet-like grids and processes that will streamline any Salesforce use case. With proper insight into data quality, sales teams are given a winning combination: a productive, accurate, and effective sales process – with happy salespeople to boot.

Julia Petre is senior director of product marketing at Validity, a provider of solutions for managing customer data.