Why sales (don’t) hate CRM, but why they won’t use it

If you’re thinking of implementing a SaaS CRM for your business, chances are you’d have come across articles that discuss the various reasons why most sales CRM implementations fail. Some of the reasons are so common, you get to read them in almost every discussion — “CRM is just too complex,” “We don’t want to learn another tool,” “My sales team just won’t use it.”

Let’s be real. Nobody likes using applications that are complex, difficult to get started and slows them down. Nobody has the patience for that anymore. Especially sales teams who are always pressed for time and perceive the idea of using a tool to manage sales as means to monitor their performance and change their work routines. No doubt there are so many articles on Google that talks about why sales reps hate using SaaS CRM.

But do they?

Customer Relationship Management solution is one of the most crowded markets and also a competitive one with over 150 vendors in the race. And Gartner’s prediction on CRM being a $36B market by 2017 only proves that CRM solutions are going to continue growing over the long-term as customer relationships are critical to the future of any business.

The CRM adoption in companies isn’t slowing down either. Last year, the overall CRM usage increased from 56% to 74% — an 18% jump.

Breaking these statistics even further in terms of the number of employees — around 91% of businesses with over 11 employees use a CRM, while 50% of companies with less than 10 employees use a CRM.

Which makes me think that sales reps probably don’t really hate using CRM. Not anymore. And not if it helps them prospect better, track their sales conversations and potential opportunities, never lets them miss an appointment or task, and boosts their productivity. Using a CRM is a lot quicker than searching through a pile of sticky notes, hunting down old business cards, updating spreadsheets, and turning your memory into a high-speed computer!

Here’s another interesting study that states that a well-implemented CRM application can increase revenue by a whopping 41% per sales person. Sounds promising!


Why sales reps won’t use CRM 

The decision to implement or change a CRM usually comes from the top management because there is a budget and process involved while implementing one. And most of the times, the management ends up choosing a SaaS CRM that is either well-known in the market, or gives insights on the sales trends and monitors sales performance to structure a better sales strategy — basically a traditional CRM that solves their problems, but isn’t really helpful for a salesperson.

This chosen CRM could involve a lot of customizations to get it up and running, and sometimes, companies even seek help from experts to set it up (sounds complex by itself!). To add to it, there is an even longer learning curve to coach the entire team and get them onboard.

Sales reps don’t really have a say in this decision-making process, and at the end, all they are forced to do is update the CRM system so the management can generate insightful reports.


So what’s in it for the sales rep?

Absolutely nothing!

Sales don’t need a software to surveil them but to empower them.

And here’s the hard fact, traditional CRMs are dead. On its own, it doesn’t automate much nor does it give the required context for efficient selling.

With targets hovering over them, sales reps eventually start looking for sales productivity tools (there are a lot in the market) to help them make sales. And these tools come with an expensive price tag. So companies won’t only be spending additionally on multiple sales tools, but also jeopardize sales productivity — wasting time juggling between the tools!

Think about it. Nobody forces sales reps to use email and phone. They know it helps them get in touch with their prospects, build a rapport and eventually make sales.

That’s exactly how the CRM system should be. It needs to be smart, giving invaluable insights to sales reps to sell more in less time. CRM should remind reps of what they should do, help recall the last conversations, and have a ‘history’ with the customer — communication, issues and wins. After all, the secret to sales success is working with people, and a CRM should act as an essential sidekick for salespeople.

So here’s what I’d say to all salespeople out there — if you’re using a CRM that is not helping you get better at your profession and make more sale but is just used to measure you, you shouldn’t accept it.

Yes, you shouldn’t accept it because it wasn’t built for you and it’s not going to help you sell.

Which brings us to the ultimate question — which CRM should businesses put their money on?


Investing your money in the right pot 

This is the Age of Value Selling. Customers don’t like to be sold, rather they want to work with someone who can help them achieve their goals. And a sale is just a result of good help offered.

Sales teams have to be equipped with the right insights — about the business, expectations and goals — to provide the right help and value to the customer. They need a CRM system designed with them in mind. A CRM that is simple and as intuitive as possible… and if it gives out some proactive advice, the better. After all, when sales teams are happy and have the required tool to increase productivity, the management is happy with the profits rolling in.

Here are some factors to look out for when you select a CRM.

One with lesser data entry: Salespeople hate manual data entry. They hate filling up endless forms, typing the same emails over and over again, updating profiles, saving emails from inbox to CRM and generating reports. According to CSO Insights, salespeople spend just 35.9% of their time selling, while the rest is consumed by these tasks.

Your CRM should be able to automate most of these time-consuming activities so that salespeople can focus on what they do best, rather than paper-pushing.

Communication tools within the CRM: Sales practically live inside their inbox. While most vendors bring the CRM into the inbox, I’d say to get one that brings the inbox into the CRM. This way, sales reps have complete access to customer data and their sales conversations, helping them nurture prospects better. Email notifications is an added plus to determine if prospects are really engaged and interested in what you’re selling.

Help add value to conversations: A 2015 Forrester report titled ‘Death of the B2B Salesman’ brought to light one useful piece of information — sales reps who give a value-added experience become more important over time.

Your CRM should be equipped with advanced features that provide essential context — insights on the customer’s buying process, experience with your product or solution, interaction with your emails — so that sales reps are better prepared and can ensure a valuable experience on their next sales call.

Easy to get started and use: After trying numerous CRMs, Nathan Kruple, General Manager at Ann Arbor T-shirt company says, “The biggest lie with all CRM is, they say you can be up and running from Day 1. Well you can send an email on Day 1 but to use them in an effective manner and to get everybody on board, reporting and other stuff — it is just not possible.”

Save yourself the frustration by choosing a CRM that is quick to configure, easily adaptable to your existing sales process, seamlessly migrates any form of data without the help of consultants, and one that doesn’t require endless hours of training. Make sure the CRM integrates with your existing tools like customer support, project management, marketing automation and so on.

Scalability: Your business might be small right now, but it’s not going to stay that way after a year. You might double your sales team, invest more in marketing activities and generate more leads. Your CRM has to be scalable in the long run and grow along with your company.

Let’s face it, sales hate change, and it’s only going to disrupt their productivity if you switch SaaS CRM. For once, give the baton to your sales team. Make them a part of your decision-making process, and let them decide which CRM would work for them. Sales won’t find value in a process if they cannot see the process moving them closer to a commission. And once they do select a CRM, they wouldn’t want to switch to another software for a long, long time.

Cover illustration by Udhaya Chandran

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