CRM Adoption: 6 Ways to Help Your Sales Team Use the CRM Effectively

Change is difficult to embrace, but it’s not impossible either. 

Whether you’re switching to a new customer relationship management (CRM) software or implementing one for the first time, you can’t be sure that your salespeople will put it to use even after a smooth transition.

But, with the right strategy, you can increase CRM adoption among your salespeople. Here are six ways.


1. Showcase the value of the CRM 

One of the biggest challenges for salespeople with CRM is fear. They are afraid of change. They are afraid of losing data and opportunities. And this may be the reason why they don’t want to use the CRM.

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According to Avinash Kunchurkar, MD of Kunchurkar Group of Companies,

It makes salespeople extra responsible when they lose an opportunity they have captured using the CRM. This means they’ll have to answer why since everyone in the organization knows about it. Their closing ratios look bad because of the lost opportunity. It boils down to the salesperson being unable to handle the challenges to convert this opportunity.”

The best way to tackle this issue is by assuring them that there won’t be any data loss, and second, show them the value the CRM brings to the table. 

Here are some ways to do so: 

  • Tell them the benefits of using the CRM. For example, it helps salespeople understand their prospects better and engage in meaningful conversations. This not only builds trust and credibility with the prospect but also helps salespeople establish a long-lasting relationship with them. 
  • Document some of the most common tasks so that they can have it at their disposal when they get stuck. 
  • Schedule regular demos and create quick product videos to show the CRM functionalities. When they see the product in action, they’ll know its potential. 
  • Identify an internal champion to drive the CRM adoption. The internal champion can talk about the importance of the CRM among your salespeople.

2. Offer your salespeople extensive training

To keep your sales reps up to date with CRM-related concepts and pointers, organize regular training sessions.

Randy Spradlin, VP of sales at Dasceq, asserts that it boils down to the training and incentives you provide to your sales reps. He suggests a well-laid plan for this:

To get started, I would do the following:

  • Start with a general overview of the CRM, its features, functions, benefits such as more deals closed, better follow-up, automation of mundane tasks, improved customer experience, etc. 
  • Train them on the top 3-5 things you want them to adopt first like, how to log daily visits, calls, emails, set up reminders, etc. 
  • Monitor their usage of items you covered during the initial training. Identify those that are struggling and offer one-on-one training. ”

He adds, “keep them on the simple things you’ve trained them on for two weeks before expanding your training to cover additional features of the CRM.”

“You will never achieve 100% adoption rates as some of your most productive and seasoned salespeople will want to stay with their proven methods. You can address those instances one-on-one.”

3. Turn your employees’ problems into success stories

Some of your salespeople may be so used to the past methods that they may find it difficult to adjust to the new CRM. 

To fix  this, you need to help them turn these issues into success stories:

  • Schedule regular catch-ups with your salespeople to understand the challenges they face with the CRM. 
  • Once you are clear about this, get to know how your reps would want the CRM to work for them. 
  • Then, make sure you involve them every step of the way while fixing the issues.

Jason Kanigan, the founder of Cold Star Technologies, suggests you take an easy-going approach for this:

“Okay, so you have roadblocks. So what would you suggest?  Ask the employee facing the trouble what they would do to fix it. Involve them and fix it. They’ll become a champion. Sounds simple, but hardly anyone does this stuff.”

You can do this in two ways:

  1. If your salesperson finds it challenging to move from spreadsheets to CRM or switching to a new CRM, draw up a feature-by-feature comparison chart.
  2. Show them how a CRM performs similar tasks better by correlating it with spreadsheets or the older CRM.

When you involve your sales reps and fix their problems, for one, they’ll feel comfortable using the CRM. And then, your reps will serve as key players who increase adoption rates.

4. Incentivize your sales team for using the CRM

Who doesn’t like incentives?

Go ahead and reward your salespeople for using the CRM. Start with a plan that does not identify the same set of people repeatedly, because that can be demotivating for others. (And it also gives the impression that they are the only ones successful with CRM adoption.)

Randy Spradlin, the VP of Sales at Dasceq, recommends the incentives bar should be set at what you expect to occur at a minimum.

“Incentives shouldn’t just be for the power-users,” he says.

“The idea is to rewards all salespeople that put in the effort to do the bare minimum of what you expect them to and incentives will drive positive behavior. It is important to Incentivize those who are utilizing the new CRM via bonus or increase in commissions and de-incentivize those who are not utilizing the new CRM via a reduction in commissions.”

Some ways you can incentivize your sales team are: 

  • Compare and contrast sales numbers:
    Make the sales numbers after CRM adoption public if your team is comfortable. When your team sees an increase in numbers, there is healthy competition and accountability within the team. 
  • Sales contest:
    Set a target that everyone in your team can achieve. When your reps achieve this, provide perks like leaving early for the day, taking an extra day off or taking your team for lunch. 
  • Cash reward:
    Provide your team a cash incentive for using the CRM, because hey, everyone likes a cash reward with no obligations or gimmicks.

5. Map the CRM to your existing business process

As a sales leader, you have to ensure that your team is comfortable using the CRM. But you can’t expect the CRM to automatically fit in with your sales process.

But, before that, Brett Crocitto, Vice President at Citibank, has a question you need to ask yourself:

“Do we have a single, widely-adopted sales process? If so, then the system can be shaped to support that process, and many users will recognize it as automation. If not, then you’re fighting 2 battles simultaneously: the new process and the new system.”

Related Article: 7 Steps to Building a Winning Sales Process for your Inside Sales Team

Tom Stapleton, the Director of Market Intelligence and Inside Sales at CSC ServiceWorks sums it all up effectively: 

“Don’t assume that you will be able to just plug your new CRM into the existing sales process and be successful. When adopting a new CRM, it’s important to look at the entire sales process and re-build it around the new CRM. That sounds like a daunting and almost impossible task, but the short-term challenges of revamping your process and integrating a CRM the right way will ultimately lead you to a long-term win for your organization.”

Borrowing from his insights, here’s how we recommend you customize the CRM:

  • A lot of CRMs come with customization capabilities that allow you to rename modules according to your business, add fields, change layouts and more. So, customize the CRM to suit your business process.
  • Your sales process is not complete without the additional applications your team uses regularly. Integrate applications with CRM  and encourage adoption rates.
  • A hard stop on the older system is critical in setting expectations and ensuring 100% adoption amongst your salespeople. This means you need to send a clear message early in the process that the use of the CRM is not a choice. 

Related article: 10+ CRM Integrations and why you Need Them for Your Business 


6. Make the CRM a mandate

Sometimes it might seem a bit heavy-handed but enforcing the CRM is crucial. No matter how much you push the best practices of using the CRM, some of your seasoned salespeople may still fight the change. 

The easiest way to resolve this is to grant these people an exception, right? Not quite. Even though it may seem like they are making good sales regardless of the tool they use, this makes it seem like the CRM adoption is optional and can lead to widespread adoption issues. 

Don’t excuse them from using the CRM! Take a different approach. Wipeout your old methods company-wide and announce that the CRM adoption is compulsory.

Per Ohstrom, former VP of Sales at TapRoot, suggests you calculate commissions only from the CRM system.

“If it is not there,” he says, “there will be no payment.”

So, you need to send a clear message that your salespeople’s commissions will be calculated from the CRM and nowhere else. This ensures that your salespeople, including the ones who don’t want to shift, will start using the CRM frequently if they haven’t already. 


Making the change from an older solution to a CRM is challenging. But once you make your team feel happy about the CRM and provide how-to guides and training when required, the CRM adoption rates in your company is sure to shoot up quickly. 

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