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Why your sales reps aren’t using your CRM

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Published on: October 2018

Written by: Andrew Dornon

Sales reps tend not to use CRMs properly because they were sold and built for enterprise leaders who wanted to own their customers and get better at forecasting.
Neither goal excites salespeople very much. However, in order to attain those goals, enterprises need reps to work within their system. There are two approaches enterprises can take to make this happen:

  1. Implement time-saving automation sales tools. If your enterprise has the flexibility to implement cutting edge sales automation tools, then this is the best approach to take. Tact and Olono are both highly recommended tools, but there are a wide variety of options that can help make reps lives easier. Tools will automate most data entry while improving quality, actually helping salespeople.
  2. Incentivize CRM use. If you don’t have the flexibility to automate, as many organizations don’t, there is another option. Over the years, sales organizations have taken different approaches to get reps to use CRMs with varying levels of success. Almost universally, organizations fail because they refuse to acknowledge two central facts:Fact 1: Some CRM activities are more rewarding than others.Fact 2: Some CRM activities are harder than others.

Categorizing CRM activities helps to explain these two points. Using this matrix, it is easier to understand the challenge and reward of all CRM activities:

CRM Activity Framework Sales Training

Categorizing each CRM activity should be immediately intuitive – there’s a reason that reps do some activities but not others. The reason for this divide is that activities are either easy or intrinsically rewarding. Most of the time, they are actually both.

Entering or updating opportunities that have known value or are close to closing is exciting, so reps will do this with more frequency and less hesitation. Conversely, reps often fail to complete activities that are difficult or less rewarding, such as updating account plans. It doesn’t make sense to incentivize activities with seemingly different effort and value production in the same way.

CRM What is Actually Tracked

What’s really being tracked in each quadrant sheds light on why or salespeople are or are not motivated to input the different types of activities.

Before we talk about incentives, understanding where various CRM tasks fall in this framework is paramount.

CRM Examples of How Reps View Activities CRM How to Incentivize

Unrewarding, easy tasks, like tracking sales emails

Ideally, you’ll automate either using native CRM functionality or a third party plugin. For many organizations, this would be a big build and is often not worth the fight for sales leaders who need to stay focused on making plan. Instead, you’ll need to take one of two approaches and likely both.

Sales managers will need to start focusing on these tasks in weekly team meetings and holding even top performers accountable. A rep that says they made lots of calls, but just didn’t log them, can no longer be acceptable on your team.

Additionally, you need to demonstrate how entering this will start to provide a valuable output to reps. This could be something as sophisticated as an account score or something as simple as managers spending their coaching time on relevant topics produced by analyzing a rep’s activity.

Rewarding, easy tasks, like adding a new account

Sales reps are intrinsically motivated to add a new prospect or account. First, they want to make sure they get sales credit for any booked deals, and a clear way to do this through creating a record in the CRM. Secondly, it’s a way for them to make an accomplishment concrete, something that would otherwise be abstract and invisible.

Tasks that fall into this quadrant already get done, so the key for sales organizations is to figure out how to move things here. It could be as simple as connecting revenue directly to contacts, in which case each new contact created becomes a mini-account or opportunity. For inside sales reps, it could be adding activity metrics to their compensation plan, so that each call or demo logged increases their paycheck.

Unrewarding, hard tasks, like creating and updating an account plan

Things in this category often focus on long-term outcomes rather than direct-payoff accomplishments and require time and reflection, which means reps tend to put them at the bottom of their priority lists.

The first step to getting these done is having sales managers highlight reps who are doing these strategic tasks during the weekly team meeting, giving praise and constructive feedback. Since these tasks are complex and don’t drive immediate results, praise rather than criticism is key. As these more challenging tasks start to get embedded, sales managers should spend more time co-selling and mentoring reps who diligently put in the work.

Rewarding, hard tasks, like creating a case study

These tasks frequently fall by the wayside because although rewarding, since they reflect past accomplishments, salespeople struggle to know what to do or when to do it. It falls to the enterprise to clarify and simplify what to do, which requires creating a process.

For instance, many organizations struggle to generate case studies about big wins or ideal use cases, even though the rep has the knowledge required and marketing has the ability to create and distribute collateral.

To execute tasks like this, the enterprise needs to create alerts for reps and marketers, which inform them of what’s coming next. Deals over a certain size or first deals of a new solution should be flagged, informing reps and marketers that the case is something that should get written up for future use. Some organizations simply send a survey to the salesperson, while others set up interviews with the reps and customer.

Whatever the method is implemented, the key is setting in motion a process that makes it easy for the rep to feel rewarded at the right time and generate value for the rest of the team.

CRM Who's Responsible

What’s clear from these examples is that getting reps to do unrewarding CRM tasks is the responsibility of sales managers, who have more face time with their reps and can provide immediate positive or negative feedback. Conversely, for actions that are intrinsically rewarding, the organization must take responsibility for making those tasks easier.

How to get started
  1. Map your required fields into the four quadrants.
  2. Pick one task in each quadrant to focus on.
  3. Use a proper incentive to drive activity.
  4. Measure results.
  5. Iterate on incentives.
  6. Pick four more tasks.