Melissa Prickett has worked in sales for almost two decades. Although she now swears by her CRM (which is HubSpot), this wasn’t always the case — and she acknowledges that many sales reps want nothing to do with any such platform.
“I am probably one of the few salespeople I know that actually embraces using a CRM,” Prickett says.
Indeed, there is often an “I’ve always done it this way so why would I change?” mentality among salespeople.
But the pandemic has shaken everything up, and sales is no exception: Business travel has been curtailed, trade shows were canceled or conducted virtually, and face-to-face meetings were suddenly confined to computer screens. Sales teams have been forced to adapt.
In this brave new world, more and more salespeople embraced technology to supplant the traditional processes they were used to. And why not? According to research from HubSpot, 63% of sales leaders believe virtual sales meetings are equally effective or more effective than traditional, in-person meetings.
But that doesn’t mean that sales teams have welcomed these changes with open arms — and it doesn’t mean that CRM adoption is a cakewalk.
What it does mean: Now is the time to upend old practices in the name of efficiency and outcomes.
The benefits are too good to pass up.
How does a CRM make a salesperson’s job easier?
According to Prickett, most salespeople are resistant to CRMs because no one has ever taken the time to show them how much the platform can benefit them. “Many salespeople,” she says, “think, ‘What’s in it for me?’”
Learning a new system can be intimidating. If its usefulness is not made clear — and the transition not well explained — adoption is unlikely.
So, the first step to adoption might be answering the big question: “What’s in it for me?” Here’s how a CRM makes the sales rep’s job easier.
Prospecting: For Prickett, it all starts with prospecting, which she does by reaching out to visitors to our website. She uses HubSpot to see exactly who is on IMPACT's site at any given time and what pages they’re looking at. Then, she tailors her outreach to their specific needs, while focusing on being helpful. “The CRM allows me to be really smart and intentional,” she says. “I can reach out to a site visitor and say, ‘Hi, I noticed that you looked at some pages about website redesign. I have a few more resources you might find helpful.’” This way, the sales rep is able to start a conversation and position themselves as a trusted guide at the right time — all while avoiding the generic sales email.
Conversion pinpointing: A CRM allows sales reps to see exactly where and when a particular contact converted. If a certain resource attracted them, a salesperson can start a conversation with better information. They don’t have to wait for the prospect to explain.
Content engagement: Particularly in B2B sales, a prospect might take a long time to become a customer. At IMPACT, we might do business with a client who’s followed us for years — reading our content, attending our events, and using our learning platform. This means that the relationships we build can take time to develop. Our CRM tracks content engagement that gives us insight into the full prospect experience, including page views, downloads, sign-ups, event attendance, and more.
All communication: HubSpot not only organizes your email communication with a particular contact but also with anyone at that same company. If you start out talking to a manager and eventually bring in a COO, you can have your entire communication exchange in one place, without threaded and cc’d email chains.
Pipeline management: At any given time, a salesperson could be working dozens of deals or more. A CRM offers a single source of truth for pipeline management. It's a universal organizational system that makes sense to anyone who looks at it. Sales leaders can easily check out the pipelines of all their direct reports.
Call notes: Taking notes after a call can keep you organized as you prepare for future conversations. Call notes can also smooth the handoff to colleagues once a deal closes. A CRM organizes your call notes so that they can be accessed by whoever needs them. Customers are always going to be pleased when they don’t have to explain something twice to the same company.
Lead scoring: Just how good is that lead you’re about to reach out to? Without a quantifiable score, it’s hard to articulate. A CRM’s lead scoring function automates the evaluation process to save you time. Your team can build the scoring criteria so you know which prospects are worth your time.
For these reasons and more, a CRM makes every aspect of sales more efficient and more clear.
Getting your sales team to buy in (in 5 steps)
With all of these tangible benefits, why won’t salespeople jump in? It’s clear a CRM will help them do their job better — and ultimately spend their time more efficiently. So, how can you get your team on board?
According to Prickett, you can follow these five steps to achieve the buy-in you’ve been hoping for.
1. Work with marketing (or someone else who knows the tool really well) to learn the ropes
The CRM we use, HubSpot, can be overwhelming because the functionality is so vast. Seriously, the thing can do everything except make breakfast.
Considering your business might also use the same platform for marketing automation, website hosting, or service ticketing only adds to the size and scope.
To get your sales team on board for CRM use, they need to see how easy it can be. Set up some meeting time with someone on the marketing team who knows the platform well. Have them walk the sales team through a few basic steps they can take to get started.
Keep in mind, though, this is not the time for a masterclass. If I’m trying to learn the piano, I want to start off with Mary Had a Little Lamb, not Hungarian Rhapsody.
2. Put a simple process in place
Next, build a process. A CRM functions best when each member of the team uses it the same way. That sort of standardization comes by way of processes. If you want people to actually use it, give them the steps and then hold them accountable.
If you're a sales leader, remind your team that you’ll be checking their pipeline frequently and reviewing it with them every two weeks at their one-on-one.
In addition, lay out clear process expectations for each new task. For example, if you expect your team to prospect for several hours each week, lay out the steps and walk through them to ensure everyone understands.
Then, frequently check in on people’s comfort level and progress. Don’t just assume that everyone has seamlessly adopted the CRM and everything is humming along. They’ll need support, and it’s up to sales leaders to provide it.
3. Designate a sales champion
Find the person on your team who’s most tech-savvy and hungry to learn. She’s likely the same person who’s the early adopter of every new initiative — and she’s always tinkering and tweaking the way she does things. She can be your sales champion.
If someone’s struggling with the platform, she can help them. If someone’s looking for a workaround or a new integration, your sales champion can be a sounding board.
(Note: The sales champion does not remove the responsibility of training and support from the sales team leader. The sales champion is supplemental.)
Over time, this person’s reputation can make them the go-to resource for any CRM questions, and their experimentation and exploration will help you refine your process. When they find new ways to do things better, these can trickle out to other team members facing the same challenges.
That sales champion can also be a motivator for the rest of the sales team. If they see the champion getting results, they’re all the more likely to get on board.
4. Celebrate CRM successes
If a particular sales rep (champion or otherwise) always has great call notes or is really nailing email sequences, shout him out.
A few kind words at a meeting help that person realize that his work is being noticed, and it can help further motivate and remind other team members of what is expected.
5. Test and modify
The whole point of the CRM is to make salespeople happier and more productive — and to provide greater insight into company revenue. Undoubtedly, though, some aspects may feel like a chore at first.
Thus, it’s important to check in with your sales team to make sure the processes you’ve built are the right ones. Are your expectations relevant and realistic?
Prickett offers this reminder: “No company out there stays the same for very long.” Whether that’s new products, new people, or new industry standards, change is always on the horizon. “So,” says Prickett, “don't just keep doing something because that's the way you’ve always done it.”
Quarterly process audits can help keep everything sharp, and the longer you go, the more minor the changes will be.
A resistance to change is a fear of incompetence
Sales pros spend years perfecting their pitch and delivery, regularly tweaking and improving their craft. When something comes along that’s beyond their control — like a new platform they’re expected to learn — there can be resistance.
Any sort of professional change can bring with it a loss of competence. As such, people resist it, choosing to stick with what they know because it’s familiar and because they’re certain it works.
Using a CRM can make each sales rep more effective and more efficient. The hardest hurdle to get over is the first one: getting them to try it out with an open mind.
To get the most buy-in, start slow. Don’t overwhelm your team with more steps than are needed at first. Remember, buy-in is crucial. Do what you can to make the transition exciting, non-threatening, and rewarding.