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5 Actionable Ways to Encourage CRM Adoption By Sales


Published: 6th February 2020
by: Glenn Hewson

The road is littered with failed CRM implementations because of sales team rejection. CRM, in one form or another, has been around since the 1990s. And though there are still plenty of companies that are not using CRM (surprising, in light of GDPR requirements), the vast majority of today’s sales professionals have been exposed to CRM over the course of their careers.

Unless your enterprise sells via the web only, a CRM implementation won’t make it if just used by Marketing and Customer Support. Sales, whether inside or outside, is responsible for entering and maintaining the bulk of the data in the CRM. Without them on board, the project will fail.

After many years of implementing and managing enterprise wide CRMs, here are my top techniques to get sales team adoption.

  1. Communicate the benefits before starting the project

    Much has been written about the benefits of a CRM itself, opportunity tracking, contact management and the like, but not about the benefits to the rep as an individual. It starts with showing them the advantage of having all the right information available to them at the right time and place.

    It’s about knowing what Marketing tactics the customer has responded to, what open cases Customer Support may be working and if the customer is up to date with Accounts. All of this eliminates surprises and embarrassment on sales calls, and potentially helps to close more business, faster
  1. Get the sales team involved in the procurement and implementation process

    There are many reasons for implementing CRM and every department wants to have their say. If Sales isn’t involved at the outset, even the best planned implementations can become bloated with extra fields and processes requiring the sales team to spend hours of admin time performing meaningless (to them) tasks.

    It’s important to get sales reps, not just sales leadership involved from the outset, from requirements planning, to product selection, process design and implementation planning. Let them lead the effort and feel ownership. Keep the initial implementation simple.

    Once the product is installed, make sure to perform live training on all the functions from a day-in-the-life perspective. Create how-to videos of your implementation and make them easy to access.

  2. Implement the sales assistance tools, not just the sales prevention ones

    At the top of the list is email integration. Whatever your existing tool is, make sure that it is highly integrated with your CRM. Having to cut and paste an email into a contact record is a waste of time and one of the key reasons for an adoption fail.

    Implement the mobile app with the initial rollout. This is a tool that your sales team will find immediate value in. If they can send a prospect items from actions taken during a meeting, assign tasks, communicate via chat with peers and update their forecast from the car or café, they will see the value in the CRM.

  3. Get Marketing involved

    Make sure to roll out prospect engagement activity from the Marketing department. With Marketing leading more and more of the sales cycle (see Your Customers are Shopping without You blog post), marketing engagement needs to be available to sales on the contact record in the CRM.

    Keep all sales and marketing tools in one location accessible from the CRM so that they can be sent directly to prospects and engagement tracked.

    Also, and I know that this sounds simpleminded, all leads must be distributed to sales via the CRM. I recall inheriting a very expensive and largely unused CRM implementation and found out that Marketing was sorting and handing out paper tradeshow leads directly to the sales team at the show.

  4. Leave no alternative

    On day one, hold your sales team accountable for maintaining up to date contact records, opportunities and forecasts. Do not let any of these slip. If all leads are being collected and entered by Marketing, this should be easier. Bonus the sales managers for meeting their teams’ CRM adoption goals.

    As for draconian approaches, I’ve seen companies put use of the CRM as a condition of employment. I’ve also seen commissions withheld in cases where opportunities weren’t kept up to date. Truth be told, the CRM implementations where these tactics were tried were already unsalvageable.

What adoption techniques have worked for you? Email me at

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