Why Salespeople Hate CRM Software
(and what you can do about it)
When you decided to use customer relationship management software (CRM software), you probably had great intentions. You will have decided at board level what you wanted to implement, put it in place and then planned to sit back and watch the sales figures reach record levels.
When Cofficient are drafted in to replace CRM systems we are often regaled with stories of lack of adoption and discord in companies where CRM software has not only failed to have the desired affect, but has had the opposite effect.
The problem is often not the software (though it is true some software is better than others). Instead it is the people. If you fail to set the right expectations with the sales staff then you’re setting yourself up to fail.
I have the benefit of having experience on all sides of the equation. I have been both sales manager and sales person. I have implemented CRM software as a software provider and I have had it implemented into my businesses by a software provider.
Here is my insight into why salespeople hate CRM software.
(For the eagle-eyed amongst you, there’s a theme running through)
You Don’t Trust Me?
Sometimes called the Big Brother effect, this is the most common complaint you’ll hear from a sales person going from no CRM to CRM. Salespeople think you are going to use it to monitor their every move from the number of phone calls they make to the number of emails they send.
Of course, that is useful stuff to know. As a sales manager you will have devised a metric of “counts” of communication which helps you ascertain the right levels required in order to meet targets. But you will also know that not all sales people are equal and that while one sells better face to face another might work well over the phone. You will be taking this into account.
You will also be using the CRM to help you measure and devise the right levels, rather than the spurious count which may have been passed down from on high. Explaining this to staff is a good starting point when it comes to overcoming this trust barrier. You might even find that they start to use the metrics to measure and improve on their own performance. Most great sales people I have known have ended up doing this of their own accord within a CRM system.
I Don’t Trust It!
Every sales person has been in the position where they’ve needed to generate a report, or pull a call list, or create a pipeline within a system….but they don’t quite trust what the system spits out. The numbers don’t look right. The calls haven’t pulled through.
This leads to things like “spreadsheet back up”.
I once worked for an organisation where the CRM was trusted so little that we kept not one, but two, back up spreadsheets which we used to manually reconcile with the CRM . Every time we found an anomaly we used this as back up to our theory that the CRM system was untrustworthy.
Of course, the additional work created by triplicating effort and doing manual reconciliations would have probably paid for the CRM three times over. We didn’t think of this though because the management team hadn’t involved us in the decision to implement or explained the costs. To add insult to injury, we actually thought we were doing a great job by catching out the CRM. We were proving that we were more valuable to the business than any CRM system. You can’t beat good old manual intervention. Pen and paper.
Turns out there was a bug in the system which was throwing the results off. If we had a vested interest in the system working we’d have figured this out years before and saved ourselves a lot of effort.
Maybe if there had been a more open culture, we could have explained the issue, identified it as bug in the system and had it fixed.
I Don’t Trust You
Relationship, in the context of sales, is a funny concept. Relationships build value for all involved parties; employer, customer and sales person. But who really “owns” the relationship?
People buy from people, so sales people inevitably feel like they own the relationship. That relationship keeps the sales person gainfully employed. It takes time to build up; numerous phone calls, a multitude of emails, meeting after meeting, meaningful conversation after meaningful conversation. We are back to that trust issue again. It’s a hell of a lot of effort to build up enough trust to be able to progress to any meaningful part of the sale.
“Relationship” is more than just a customer record within a system. BUT, it starts that way.
Employers feel they are paying for the service of relationship building when they hire a sales person. At the point of conversion, the “customer” definitely belongs to the company. So the employer thinks that they own the relationship.
There is a whole debate around whether the relationship belongs to the sales person or the employer of said sales person. In truth, the answer is both. A great sales person will build a loyalty to the brand which will exceed his or her life time at the company. A great sales person will also have the ability to pull clients with them if they move on. Lots of employers have made the mistake of thinking that the relationship belongs exclusively to the company. And lots of sales people have made the mistake that it belongs exclusively to them. This is what prevents them adding their contacts into a CRM.
Ultimately, every company has a fundamental right and obligation to own all their own data. Sales people have a fundamental right and obligation to hand it over. What happens after that depends on a number of other factors. But if a sales person thinks you’ll take all their contacts and then dispatch of their services, you can understand their reticence to get on board.
I Don’t Have the Time
If using the CRM is labour intensive then sales people will not get on board. If creating a lead or adding a note against a customer record is laborious or difficult, then sales people will not get on board. If it takes ages and you need to have a degree in software development to extract any meaningful data, then your sales people will not get on board. If time spent updating the system supersedes time spent selling in the first place (to the detriment of target achievement), then your sales people will not get on board.
- Involve your sale people early on in the process so they understand the reasons why you are implementing CRM and what the outcomes are expected to be
- Make the outcomes about their success and maybe even have a hand in chosing the system
- Create a culture of trust in your company so your sales people don’t feel threatened by the change
- Define your sales processes and replicate them in the system (most CRM software will have built in best practice)
- Create shortcuts and standard reports so that sales people can transact at the click of a button
- Lastly, and most importantly, remember that all the above responses are human. It’s normal to feel this way. Even with the best culture of trust your staff might still feel a little bit threatened by the change. Approach the project with large doses of humility and compassion.
Written by Emma “I’ve Been on Both Sides” Stewart – Sales & Marketing Director, lover of all things sales and CRM at Cofficient Ltd
We provision really smart CRM software to smart sales people who “get it”
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