A well-planned and deployed Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can be the single most valuable resource for organizations looking to build a systematic, predictable and productive process for its sales force.
In recent years, things have somewhat improved, but numerous studies still show that on average 40-50% of salespeople still resist CRM. Consider data from recent survey by ZS Associates citing that 72% of sales leaders don’t believe their people are spending enough time in CRM.
To still have this size of a gap in adoption 30 years after the first CRM hit the market just doesn’t make sense! That first incarnation was ACT! by the way – launched in 1986, it was essentially a digital Rolodex. You would think embracing CRM is a “no-brainer” with all it has to offer in helping people manage their territories better and ultimately make more sales – yet, here we are.
In fairness, there are some perfectly understandable reasons why this continues to be problematic and the major ones are listed below.
Valid Reasons Salespeople May Resist CRM
- It hasn’t been designed, deployed and customized to make it as simple as possible to use
- It’s the wrong CRM for the business – usually because the right people weren’t included in the selection process
- The “executive” and/or senior sales leaders haven’t fully “bought into” CRM, so it never gets ingrained into the organizational or sale cultures – if the brass doesn’t care, salespeople won’t. For example, I recently heard a sales VP at a large company tell me “my reps only have to use the CRM if they are below plan – after that, I don’t care”
- The setup and flow of the CRM and its use, are misaligned with the sales methodology or other critical processes
- People haven’t been properly trained, or there is no on-going support and continued training – in this situation, there often isn’t a “champion” or owner driving the program
There are others you can read about here, but the points above are key fundamentals that need to be in place for CRM to succeed. For the most part, if the system has been carefully planned, set up with the user in mind and fully supported, the vast majority of salespeople will adopt – the exceptionally good ones will recognize CRM as a way to help them become even better.
Unacceptable, Lame and Over-Used Excuses!
Assuming the CRM “house” is in order, no salesperson worth the title should have a reason to make any of the following claims. If they are, I suspect it’s part of a larger issue. As you will see, I’m being a bit playful with this. But I know sales managers continue to get these excuses because I occasionally still hear them in my travels.
“I can’t learn it, it’s too complicated“
Learning any new technology can be a challenge, but once you figure it out, the journey often comes with some satisfaction from the accomplishment, plus a new marketable skill. Here are some of my favorite complaints about learning CRM, along with my responses – as brutally honest as some may seem. When the words “I can’t” are used, that often translates to “I don’t want to,” or “I’m not going to.”
- “I’m not very not technical”
Really? How is anyone without the ability to learn technology holding down a sales job or any job for that matter in 2016? Learning CRM is not rocket science if people make the effort. The irony is that the people using this excuse likely figured out how to use social media, a mobile device and MS Office suite all on their own. If they can master those marvels of technology, they can surely learn how to use a CRM.
- “I’m too old to learn this”
I didn’t want to go here, but maybe it’s time for these folks to think about playing more golf, buying an RV, or any other activities that will occupy their former work days.
- “I don’t have time to learn anything new”
They have to make the time! Either they are doing too many of the wrong things or their patches are way too fat and some should be given to their team-mates to help them cope with the time management problems. Learning is part of the job. Would these same people bow out of sales training because they don’t have time? Are they too busy to research prospects before calling on them?
This is an age when we must all continually learn or get left behind. Yes, it takes an open mind and commitment, but technology is not going away anytime soon!
“I don’t need a CRM because I’m already organized”
First off, if someone’s style of record keeping involves multiple versions of spreadsheets, sticky notes, or cocktail napkins, they are definitely not “already organized.”
If on the other hand, they honestly believe everything is fully under control at all times, congratulation them – that means they should have time to learn all about the new CRM. This is not just about staying organized in any case – it’s also about these important benefits:
- building a historical base of information about your accounts, territory and all sales opportunities – which a company technically owns and would very much like to have for all the years to come.
- leveraging the many other valuable features in today’s CRMs that go far beyond simply organizing prospects and clients. CRMs also helps people manage their sales cycles, communicate inside and outside the organization, access collateral and selling tools, store proposals, manage critical activities, automate repetitive tasks, receive notifications when something in the business changes, and much more.
The bottom line is that CRM is a tool to help people think more strategically about their sales approach and then execute better – this leads to greater productivity and more sales. Who in their right mind doesn’t want that?
“I don’t have time because I’m too busy actually selling.”
This is one of my favorite themes and it can be for anything that a “busy” salesperson thinks is too administrative or a waste of time – this can include sales reports and meetings, 1-on-1s with managers, corporate meetings, call planning, follow-ups, submitting paperwork – well, you get the picture.
If someone honestly believes that using a tool to help them become more strategic and efficient is a waste of time, then maybe they’re right and should be out randomly knocking on doors until their knuckles bleed. But I think most would agree this is not the best approach.
For those with hundreds of accounts, how can they possibly manage them without things falling through the cracks? How can they run reports showing activities they need to focus on to keep sales cycles progressing? How can they share a pipeline report with a sales manager if they’re not updating CRM?
The fact is, all these things are fundamental components in the sales process and being strategic and prepared will produce far better results than just winging it. The time spent in CRM is vitally important and when used as it should be, the investments made upfront will actually provide more quality selling time soon after.
“This is for the company’s benefit, not mine”
Yes, the deep dark secret is out – Big Brother is watching every move. Deal with it! A salesperson essentially gets paid to run their own little business within a larger partner. To succeed, both parties need metrics, forecasts, pipeline reports and other pieces of information to make better decisions, learn and adjust. The company has every right to know what employees are doing and how. For anyone running a business, this makes perfect sense. So why is it so hard for some people to grasp?
No one should take it personally – if they’re doing their job, there’s nothing to fear. If the quota is getting knocked out of the park, the CRM, or any other reporting tool becomes suddenly becomes a best friend when others are looking at the data. It’s not like sales managers everywhere had an epiphany one morning and suddenly wanted to know how things are going. Keeping tabs on sales people happened long before CRMs came to be. The difference is that the tracking is far easier and more useful than ever before. You stragglers out there need to understand that CRM can help you increase your income. When you win – so does the company. They are not out to get you!
Many salespeople will tell you they love CRM and can’t imagine working without it. Others will accept it, use it as intended, but not necessarily like it. For those still digging in their heels and making a conscious decision to resist CRM, it’s time to suck it up and get with the program. If someone finds CRM that difficult to use, they should make suggestions to improve it and ask for more help. As the saying goes – they need to become part of the solution!