If your organisation has invested heavily in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, but your sales team isn’t engaging with it, you’re facing a very common problem. 

You may have intended that your sales team would use the platform to make their work more efficient and effective, and to gain insights to help them better service their customers. You may have also hoped to build greater visibility over sales activity to see where opportunities and challenges exist that you can support to drive revenue, and in the process improve forecasting accuracy. 

Without your sales team replacing their current ways of working by entering all customer data, engaging with the full range of functionality, and building the system into their day-to-day working routines, these benefits won’t be realised. Fortunately, this is an issue that can be solved with a targeted effort. To begin, it’s important to understand what is holding your sales team back from engaging with your CRM platform. Then, you can take some clear steps to get a stronger return on your investment. 

Why your sales team isn't engaging with your CRM

The CRM platform doesn’t support the desired sales processes

When CRM systems are not being utilised, people are often quick to blame the technology. More likely, the platform’s set-up is misaligned to sales processes or your customers’ purchase journey. If processes are not accurately reflected, people will find the CRM a hindrance and resort to manual workarounds, or their own ‘off-platform’ record-keeping.

The CRM technology should always be an enabler to support the sales function’s processes, not the other way around. Therefore, the CRM should reflect the individual steps of your sales process, so that sales teams can intuitively follow the required actions. It should be adding value to the employee and/or the customer at each stage. 

Misalignment between CRM process effort and reward

A second common issue is that sales teams can lack incentive to input the required data into a CRM platform. If the narrative around the platform hasn’t focused on the benefits it can produce with good data, such as the ability to track a sales pipeline easily, see trends, make informed decisions, and quickly pivot if a strategy isn’t working, they will see little reason to make the effort.

Sales teams may also feel that the platform is not for their benefit, but rather so that their managers can play ‘big brother’. Again, this doesn’t appear to bring much reward for their effort. 

Effective CRM adoption requires robust change management strategies

A third issue may reflect how the system was introduced to the sales team at the implementation stage. The sales function may not have been involved in defining and designing the solution, which can mean it isn’t reflecting their needs. Similarly, if it was implemented without an effective change-management plan, including clear communication, training and support, this may be another reason why it’s seen as a tool that ‘they have to deal with’, rather than a tool to support outcomes. Or, they simply may not feel confident with using it and find the user experience poor. As a result, the sales team will stick with old ways of working. 

Our three key solutions

Recommendations to ensure an effective implementation of a CRM platform for sales teams.

Your CRM implementation strategies must be business and process-led

To turn these issues around, the first thing to do is to build a very detailed understanding of how your sales team works day-to-day, documenting the sales process end-to-end. This involves clarifying the current steps taken at each stage, when these occur, and by who and how they are performed. This will highlight where the process is breaking down and where it could be improved.

With this knowledge, the next step is to assess if the CRM platform is configured to enable these processes easily. When the platform is set up to support the process, it can provide real value to the employee and the customer. We refer to this as a Powered Sales function, characterised by leading practices and processes, and enabled by tested technology solutions. Your sales team will start to have a much easier time with managing their accounts and leads. They will start to see the benefits of better lead qualification, faster sales cycles, improved resource allocation, greater collaboration, and better ‘bottom-of-the-funnel’ conversion rates.

This exercise of platform and process alignment can also be an opportunity to create a future Target Operating Model, with enhanced governance and controls to reduce risks. It can also be a chance to embrace automation features, freeing up valuable time for sales teams to focus on customers. 

Balancing the effort and reward of CRM adoption

A second solution is to look at how your sales team sees the effort and reward of using the CRM platform, and to ‘change the narrative’ to help them see the benefits.

For example, if the messaging about the CRM platform has focused on the need for data entry, a good alternative is to show how it can instead offer deeper insights into customers. Show sales teams how it can help them to see which customers present the greatest opportunity, how they are tracking against targets, and what are the best next steps to help achieve KPIs.

Similarly, if the impression is that the platform is purely there for management oversight, shift this by showing how it helps to better integrate the sales team with other parts of the business. Consolidating information as a single source of sales data, having a shared understanding of what works, and the ability to seamlessly connect with marketing, product or finance teams, could change the sales experience for the better – and their perceptions of the platform. It is critical that senior management drive the message, setting the appropriate ‘tone from the top’ to ensure alignment and buy-in. 

Change management support allows for successful CRM implementation

To further improve uptake, a user-centric approach to change is key, to help to ‘engage the hearts, minds and hands’ of sales team members.

The change management team can plan clear communications around the system changes. They can identify ‘change agents’ within the business to train first, who can then support their peers as they learn.

The team can also focus on tailored training. They can lead agile ‘pilot projects’ to give people a chance to test and learn the platform, while giving teams a say in how things should work. Having an input will make people more inclined to take up the system.

A final consideration is to think about where and how your sales team access the platform, and to make the experience easy. For example, do they log in on a laptop in a café, or a mobile phone on the road? If the user experience is optimised for each scenario, that takes away yet another barrier to adoption. 

How KPMG can help

Our Powered Sales solution combines our deep functional knowledge and understanding of leading technology with our proven delivery capability. Please get in touch to learn more about how Powered Sales can accelerate your transformation journey to achieve sustainable change, improve sales results, and deliver incremental value to your customers.

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