Bad habits are easy to form and hard to break. 

It’s true of exercise, Netflix binge-watching and (surprise) sales operations. If you’ve let bad habits creep in — sporadic use, missing fields, lack of training — you’re in danger of using your CRM as a glorified phone book. And you’re stopping short of where you can lead your sales team. 

Sure, your CRM is a unified place for all of your customers’ information. But it goes way beyond that. Used correctly, a CRM keeps track of every interaction you have with your customers and leads, from email exchanges to quick phone calls. 

By taking the time to analyze these interactions with a wide-angle lens, companies can quickly work out how to sell better. With data pulled from customer interactions, you can iterate and improve sales processes. You don’t just get better interactions with your customers and leads; you also get a better sense of how your sales activities are (or are not) translating into results.

But first, you need to see 100% adoption within your sales team. Are you getting the most out of your CRM by introducing good habits?

Boost productivity and profits with your CRM 

Sales teams have to fully commit to using a CRM to set up the data for subsequent analysis. If you don’t have an accurate and up-to-date record of sales and marketing activities, you won’t be able to translate the individual notes into a full picture of where you stand and where you’re going. 

Poor data input means poor data output. In turn, this means you won’t see the full benefits of a CRM anytime soon. 

In short: a successful CRM implementation means laying the foundation to translate activity into results down the line. Equipping your sales team to use the CRM properly is critical to this foundation. 

Last year, less than half of sales teams reported widespread use of a CRM — as a result, the average sales person was spending two-thirds of their time on administrative tasks instead of on sales. 

Clearly, there is a gap between how the average sales team is using (or underutilizing) its CRM and what that CRM could do both for its productivity and its sales numbers. 

So what’s the roadblock?

As a sales manager, I know that it’s not from a lack of desire that sales teams underutilizing their customer relationship tools. It’s from a lack of training. If your team feels unequipped, overwhelmed or under managed, they’re unlikely to see a fancy new as the solution. 

Bottom up management has a time and place, but when it comes to CRM adoption you may be better off with a top-down approach.

Lead by example, and consider these tips for getting started.

7 ways to get the most out of your CRM 

Automate as much as possible

Your CRM should reduce administrative work, not increase it. Nothing will turn your best salesperson off from using your complex CRM than mind numbing data entry. 

You can automate everything from field population to lead scores, freeing up your sales team to translate this info into action.

Go mobile

Most CRMs have a mobile version available. Encourage your team to download the app to use it on the go and get comfortable with the interface. 

This has been proven to massively increase CRM usage: companies using mobile business apps saw a 62 percent increase in usage and adoption of CRM applications, and sales reps using mobile CRM software reached 65 percent of their sales quotas.

Match your flow 

Implementing CRM in your sales cycle or workflow. When you’re setting up the database, design the flow so that it matches your current sales flows. 

Design it so that your SDRs still do a lot of the heavy lifting and only the most important actions get pushed to your AEs.

Test collaboratively 

Test out the workflows you set up in forum-like exchanges. A CRM is just a tool; it doesn’t mean things are automatically going to be optimized. Unless you encourage regular conversation between sales managers and sales ops, there’s bound to be a breakdown somewhere. 

Is the most important information getting through? What’s missing? Having AEs regularly review input data and talk to sales ops about what’s working and what can be improved guarantees the highest chance of success.

Train from the ground up — and keep it going 

Before expecting too much, start by providing training sessions on everything from how to input the data correctly to how full CRM data sets can translate into returns. The complete picture will help your sales team understand the importance of keeping CRM data up to date and accurate.

Everybody should feel the benefits of good CRM usage — not just for the organization but for them, individually. Make the training as regular as possible to keep all stakeholders up-to-date on the latest developments within your sales organization and how the CRM is supporting profitability and sales quotas.

Don’t shy away from mandatory fields

Set mandatory fields for data have to have. 

You may get some pushback from managers since mandatory fields can slow down your AEs. Believe me, I’ve been there. But there are some fields — like number of employees, region, and custom segmentation fields — that should be required. 

The individual sales person may be able to continue in the cycle without it, but there’s no way your business can use or trust the data down the line without the information you deem critical. 

These mandatory fields may slow down processes at first, but over time it will become a habit. Your AEs will return to their running pace and the entire organization will be the better for it. 

To reinforce these mandatory fields, set up alerts for where data is missing and share the status across the entire team. It’s effective. 

Share success stories 

Finding ROI in your CRM shouldn’t be all about initial training and mandatory fields. To get the most out of the tool, make it an ongoing conversation. 

There’s a time and place to look at what went wrong, but don’t forget to focus on what went right by analyzing how sales activities translated into closed sales. Share the findings of your analysis — and the story of the findings — with your sales team. Make them part of this journey so they understand the importance of using the CRM to its full extent. 

With these success stories, your sales team will be more inclined to help you achieve full CRM adoption — especially if the story helps them make their target!

The Holy Grail isn’t shiny — but it’s priceless  

At first, blush, getting CRM adoption right may seem a lot like data entry. But the information your sales team gathers is the most valuable tool in your arsenal. 

Assuming your team is completing all the prerequisite fields correctly and tracking the appropriate activity correctly, you are now sitting on a mountain of high-quality data to help you sell better and more. 

This data will help you identify bottlenecks in the sales process, repeat successes and scale quickly. Analyzing all these insights will provide the valuable knowledge you need to create a sales best practice manual for continued success down the road. 

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    This information should not be mistaken for legal advice. Please ensure that you are prospecting and selling in compliance with all applicable laws.

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