No seller has ever said, “My CRM helped me close that deal.” Yet customer relationship management (CRM) systems hold the information that could help sellers close deals. Why aren’t sellers extracting that value?

Traditionally, CRMs have been bulky and expensive, rendering them unaffordable to small businesses. Even those organizations that invested in the systems often faced frustrating installation issues. When they did get their CRMs up and running, businesses used them as a mere data repository for executives, not as a powerful sales technology tool for sellers on the front lines. By tracking contacts, activities and opportunities, CRMs lent transparency to sales operations, allowing companies to better forecast revenue.

In today’s sales technology landscape, CRMs have evolved beyond those awkward early steps. CRM systems are now more affordable and accessible than ever. And companies are responding: businesses of all sizes increasingly invest in CRM technology, as evidenced by the 26 percent increase in revenue experienced last year by Salesforce, the largest provider of CRM solutions.

But dig a little deeper, and the problem reveals itself: companies purchase the software at a faster rate than sellers adopt it. In 2013, 37 percent of sales teams reported widespread use of CRM systems. Five years later, despite burgeoning CRM sales, that number had risen only to 46 percent, according to the 2018 Sales Operations Optimization Study from CSO Insights.

Why does seller adoption of CRM remain low?

Sellers remain reluctant to adopt CRMs for multiple reasons:

  • A significant portion of sellers continue to see CRM software as a mere data repository—an administrative task that takes time away from actual selling. Sellers are sensitive to this burden; the Sales Operations Optimization study found that sales reps were already spending two-thirds of their time on administrative tasks, leaving only the remaining third for engaging with sales.
  • Legacy CRM solutions were designed for management, not for sellers. The fact is, a CRM has historically been more about salesforce management than its stated purpose of customer relationship management. To date, the software has focused on tasks like aligning territories, managing pipelines, winning opportunities and generating forecasts, not informing individual seller moves that win specific deals. While CRMs have evolved, their reputation hasn’t yet caught up.
  • Sellers don’t see any added value to gain by using CRM systems in their sales technology stack. They are motivated to win deals; that’s what shows up in their paychecks. If they don’t believe a CRM system is going to increase their sales (and therefore their pay), then they won’t want to use it.
  • Sellers already feel overwhelmed by the amount of data available to them in today’s commercial selling environment. Sometimes having too much information results in analysis paralysis. Worse, the data available in yesterday’s CRM systems wasn’t precise enough to be valuable, and sellers aren’t aware that that’s changed.
  • Legacy CRM systems can be onerous to use. Some systems have technical barriers to usage, such as multiple steps to log on. Other systems contain duplicate records or outdated contacts that make them seem ineffective.
  • Sellers don’t always see anything in the CRM system to be excited about. If no one is using the system, they won’t see new leads, which prevents the system from generating any value. Older systems lacked insights on how sellers could best engage current leads. Most legacy systems also lack a social component, which is becoming an increasingly important component of sales research.
  • Technologies are advancing rapidly, and rapid growth typically presents adoption challenges. As new AI-based systems enter the marketplace, there are integration and training issues for companies to consider.

How can companies motivate sellers to use CRM technology?

With fewer salespeople hitting their quotas, it’s time for sellers to give their CRM—and the insights available from them, thanks to data and analytics—a second look.

Sales teams need to start viewing sales technology as a resource, not as an added task to complete. Modern CRMs, coupled with data-driven insights, aren’t just about activity tracking and gathering more information that then stagnates in a passive data repository. Rather, they serve as an active conduit for information that, when engaged, can tell sellers specifically what they need to know now on which deals they need to focus.

To increase seller adoption of CRMs, companies need modern CRM solutions like Scout, which layer methodology with analytics in real time to drive behavior—technology that shows sellers what specific actions they can take to build stronger customer relationships and advance deals.

In sales, the reality remains that behavior drives results. Sales methodology gives sellers the framework they need so they can decide what to do in the moment—that is, which specific behaviors will help them win deals. Modern CRMs equipped with data driven by technology are the tools that inform that methodology, giving context to behavior. This is the next wave of CRMs, and it’s a game changer. In this new era, sellers will come to see CRM systems as tools that help them win more deals.

Inputting information into a CRM is no longer an administrative task; paired with technology like Scout, it’s the engagement of rich data that informs sellers about what to do next to close more deals. Once sellers are supported with modern CRMs and learn how those systems can help them move deals forward, they’ll start embracing sales technology tools.

Contact us and find out how Miller Heiman Group can help your organization.

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