Who Cares About CRM Adoption?

By Michael Perla on Oct 17, 2012

Yes, the title is a bit facetious. In my conversations with sales executives and management, CRM adoption by the sales force is a serious matter. If the data is suspect, the discussions on sales performance can devolve into “jungle” arguments – the loudest and strongest wins vs. the facts and analysis.

In the last few weeks, I’ve spoken with a number of sales executives who didn’t understand how their business was doing until it was too late. As they added more sellers they couldn’t keep up with every deal and had to rely more on CRM to give them a “window” into their business.

The sellers were not putting all their sales opportunities into the CRM system and there was a “shadow” pipeline, and ultimately, surprises at the end of the quarter.

In light of this all-too-frequent scenario, I’d like to put forward three key actions that the Sales Leader (e.g., Chief Sales Officer or SVP/VP of Sales) can do to improve CRM adoption by the sales force.

  1. Log in to the CRM system, review the opportunities and pipeline, and pull-out three key items/metrics to send to the sales organization (e.g., pipeline multiple is X, average sales cycle is Y, average deal size is Z). It is a visible demonstration that you are looking at what’s in the system and speaks volumes about the value and quality of what’s in there.
  2. Don’t discuss opportunities that are not in the CRM system. If it’s not in the system, it should not be discussed. You can’t manage and improve what you can’t “see” and analyze.
  3. Similar to action #1, each week focus on three key charts that you can send to the sales team to show status, progress and adoption. For example, the charts could be as simple as how the pipeline-to-target (or budget/quota) multiple is trending or what’s been won/lost for the week or new opportunities that have been added. Easy-to-digest charts and graphs will help to provide a visible representation of how the CRM system is critical to understanding how the business is performing.

There are a lot of things you could do, but those are three relatively simple actions that you could take to help drive CRM adoption by the sales force. See some additional thoughts in our point-of-view piece on the topic.

Michael Perla

Written by Michael Perla

Michael Perla is a strategic leader and co-author of Symmetrics Group’s book "7 Steps to Sales Force Transformation." Michael specializes in providing actionable insights to marketing and sales organizations to help them increase pipelines, win ratios and productivity. Having sold and led projects with the Global 50 to Fortune 1000 companies, Michael provides the analytical rigor of a financial analyst with the holistic skills of a strategist to help Symmetrics Group clients improve marketing or sales performance. He has worked as a sales overlay, head of sales operations, and head of strategic marketing planning, in addition to a sales effectiveness consultant. In his spare time, he enjoys working out, reading, and watching his kids play sports.

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