CRM Adoption and Metrics, Chicken or Egg?

It is widely recognized that the next advancements in sales performance will be derived from better metrics leading to more timely coaching.  Many of the sales VPs I speak with acknowledge they need insightful funnel metrics to help run their business.  In my discussions with PwC last week they showed me how they were driving a high growth practice based on the development of sales metrics.  But before you can have effective metrics to run your sales organization you need to have a reliable and accurate data source.  As the primary data source you first need to overcome your CRM adoption challenges and insure it is actively populated and managed by Sales, Sales Operations and Marketing.

It should come as no surprise to you that many CRM systems are not embraced by your sales force.  Why is this?  I believe there are numerous reasons.  Here’s my short list.

1)      Change is difficult.  Particularly in small to medium sized companies where field sales resources are hired for their experience, potential users have already adopted their own process and sometimes even technology.  They want to use what has helped make them successful in the past.  Their attitude is “why fix something that’s not broken.”

2)      No value add for field reps.  Plain vanilla CRM implementations often are not optimized to your business environment.  True, the 5 to 8 steps in the funnel management process officially adopted by the VP of Sales might be reflected in the system BUT, if updating the sales stage is the only reason for a sales rep to log into the system then it is more a vehicle for management to quantify the forecast instead of a productivity tool for selling.  There’s nothing in it for them.

3)      Not embraced by Sales leadership.  Adoption starts at the top.  Are you one of the many sales managers who uses a report in Excel for your weekly forecast calls instead of using your CRM tool “live” during the call?  That’s a sign you acknowledge CRM is not up to the job; a notion that will be echoed by your team and reflected in minimal adoption rates.

4)      Not designed for Sales resources.  People, process, technology, in that order please.  Did selecting and configuring your CRM system start with an in-depth needs analysis based on the daily work flow of sales resources or was there a rush to deploy it by simply answering the required configuration questions?  If the needs analysis was done several years ago is it still applicable to your current sales methodology?

I could go on but the result is the same.  Few organizations have comprehensive adoption of their CRM system and the result is you do not have the ability to accurately measure, analyze and discover insights that help you to appropriately manage your team.

Tactics I have found successful to increase sales rep adoption?  Again, here’s my short list.

1)      Clean up the existing system data.  Compare existing accounts, contacts and opportunities against agreed upon criteria.  Hide or perhaps delete any data that doesn’t qualify.

2)      Align with Sales Methodology.  Validate the sales methodology against the CRM sales stages and sub-stages to insure they align.  Use customer derived exit criteria for each step.  Create different sales stages and exit criteria for different types of sales. (e.g. direct, inside or channels)  Document the exit criteria right in the CRM tool.  This insures that the processes used inside the tool are aligned with your view of optimized sales rep behavior.

3)      Integrate the detailed methodology or sales playbook into your CRM tool.  This is a big project but it really adds value for the sales rep.

4)      Use the CRM home page as a portal to other services your sales resources need.  I deployed a sales commission system that used single sign-on from the CRM home page. There are also knowledge management systems that facilitate finding the latest presentations or RFP answers and these can be integrated with many CRM systems.

5)      Integrate other tools with your CRM system.  For example, I deployed an order configuration system used to create product quotes for customers.  Quote creation required there to be a current opportunity meeting relevant criteria in the CRM tool.

6)      Insist on utilization by all levels of sales management, including that the Senior Sales VP use “live” opportunity data in conducting its activities.  When the sales leader conducts opportunity reviews using real time information in the CRM system you can bet compliance with defined processes will follow.

These are my perspectives on CRM adoption challenges.  What issues in CRM adoption have you encountered and how have you addressed them?

Once the adoption challenge is overcome and the data is relatively accurate then we can talk about metrics and analytics without the admonition, “garbage in…”


Bob Bacon


About Bob Bacon

I work with global B2B high tech Sales leaders to help them enable and optimize the effectiveness of their organization Find out more about Bob here:
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One Response to CRM Adoption and Metrics, Chicken or Egg?

  1. Bob: great points. On the issue of SFA adoption, my only caution would be on the issue of tying compensation to compliance on SFA use. A far better approach, in my view, is to instrument sales work in ways that make the instrument so helpful that only a fool wouldn’t use it.

    For instance, when cell phones arrived, no one had to modify compensation plans to *require* uses of cell phones to get paid. These new devices were just so obviously valuable to sales people in getting to the next conversation faster that everyone worth their salt had to have one. It’s time, IMO, to demand Reps use only those things that measurably improve their odds of success, as proven by their experiences on the front lines of sales.

    Anything short of that and it strikes me that we’re championing an approach that’s akin to saying “I have this footstool you can make calls with and unless you use my footstool you won’t get paid.” Really?

    Let’s insist, instead, on giving Reps tools that get them, faster, to their next sales conversation. With that simple proof of value, adoption issues will vaporize. That’s that’s been our experience.

    Trust this adds some value.

    John Cousineau

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