While seasoned salespeople are highly valued for their expertise, they can sometimes pose a challenge when it comes to change. Name any kind of change—in company structure, compensation, sales territories, product lines, ownership, etc.—and it’s likely that many seasoned salespeople hate it. It’s understandable to some degree. Successful salespeople have fine-tuned their techniques and are extremely reluctant to change anything about how they work.
It’s no wonder, then, that I often hear sales managers complain: “My seasoned salespeople haven’t yet bought in to using our company’s CRM system. What can I do about it?”
Why do many sales reps reject CRM? The top reasons are concerns about a perceived loss of confidentiality/control of data, the time required to input data, and managers using the CRM as a policing tool. Seasoned salespeople may also have the attitude that they “own” their contacts and they don’t want to share what they see as a valuable resource that contributes to their success (and paycheck!).
You can’t fire a successful, seasoned rep, and they know it. They are hitting their numbers and both you and they know that you can’t afford to lose their production. Trouble is, they’re not putting information into your CRM system, and that causes you lots of problems. The biggest might be the negative example that their reluctance to use the CRM sets for everyone else on the team. Not good.
At a minimum, you need to be prepared to deal with the excuses that arise from these concerns. For example, one of the first excuses you’ll hear will probably be, “I don’t have time to put all that information in because it will cause me to make fewer sales calls and miss my quota. You do want me to make as many sales calls as I possibly can, don’t you boss?” Your response should be that they are setting a false “either/or” situation. CRM usage and sales calls are equally important in the company’s eyes—in part because the CRM system will help them be more effective on their calls.
However, rather than invest too much in dealing with objections, a far better strategy is to avoid them altogether by being proactive in engaging your senior reps in adopting CRM. Most people, especially senior salespeople, would rather be persuaded than told what to do. Everybody’s favorite radio station is WIIFM – What’s In It For Me? So the place to start is helping senior reps see what they personally can gain by using the CRM. Therefore, to counteract the potential fears, you have to engage with senior reps 1-on-1. Start by making sure they understand that you value their contributions and see them as an important member of the team. Then use the following strategies to connect with them.
Focus on the benefits to them of using CRM. Acknowledge that entering account data into a CRM does take time and means it is no longer something that they alone will use. But those factors are more than offset by the benefits they will see. Use examples to demonstrate that they will be have better, more productive discussions with customers because they will be better prepared. Show them that your marketing department can better nurture their leads that go dormant.
Explain exactly how the CRM data will and won’t be used. Remember, nobody wants to be policed on the job, so you’d better make sure that the way managers use the information is not to play a game of “gotcha.” Instead, having shared access to account information through a CRM should enable sales managers to provide more effective, proactive coaching and deal strategizing.
Demonstrate the link to promotional opportunities. If the rep is interested in moving up in the organization, appeal to their desire for increased responsibility. Explain how and why your company sees the CRM system as important to the business, by talking about the links to sales forecasting and marketing strategies. Point out that company executives aren’t going to risk the possibility that an entire sales team might not use CRM by moving a non-user into a leadership position.
Emphasize their status as a role model. Help them to understand the important role they play as a team leader, and that others follow their example and simply say, “I need you to do this for me.”
Last but not least, take steps to weave CRM use into the fabric of the team’s operation. For example, link CRM usage to compensation by having a factor such as “% of CRM records completed” in their performance review. If someone doesn’t adopt CRM, consider taking them off the lead rotation. Hold back on leads if you have to. You have to be serious about enforcing CRM use if you want your reps to take it seriously!