Remind me…Why did I invest in Salesforce?

By Marcus Gilbert – Enterprise Sales Director @ Improved Apps

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Have you invested in Salesforce but are disappointed by the lack of engagement with the application from your people?.. Are you not seeing the benefits that had been promised?..

Well, you’re not alone.

Studies show… 75% of companies have implemented a CRM system but the majority are unsatisfied with the way their employees are making use of this technology.

CSO Insights 2011 CRM Sales Effectiveness Study-Key Trends Analysis reports how 51.5% of these organisations have had a CRM system in place for over three years.  Although communications between sales people and reporting on activities has improved, CRM systems have shown to have little impact on key business objectives. Only 19% of companies actually saw an increase in revenue as result of implementing CRM.

If CRM systems don’t help companies with the basic goal to create profit, what about improving critical selling behaviours?

  • 64.1% say their CRM system is Somewhat Useful or Minimum/No Value in understanding consumer market.
  • 50.3% say their CRM is Somewhat Useful or Minimum/No Value in ensuring sales reps have identified key stakeholders.

Why, oh why?

The upshot is that despite lofty ambition at the outset, CRM often becomes limited to the following:

  • simple contact management

  • opportunity management

  • forecasting

  • territory management

  • email

  • task scheduling

If your company spent time and resources creating an investment case that identified CRM systems as beneficial, it begs the question, why are sales reps not taught how best to utilize these tools.

The focus needs be on filling in the gap between initial investment and the actual value release of your organisation’s CRM implementation.  Here are some of the ways you could improve your CRM usage:

Integrate CRM into the Strategy

CRM needs to be the go-to place for your way of doing business. It should be the start-point that provides entry into other systems holding your company’s digital assets for use in sales, marketing and service.  When training your sales, marketing and service teams you need to instil in them the company strategy for doing business.  For instance, the Sales Operations Manager will have already defined the sales process in context with your company’s specific products and services, and will need to integrate CRM functions by sign-posting external digital assets that support the process.   Don’t just tell your sales reps to “use” the system, teach them that there are certain processes that they will be expected to use. A CRM system is ideal for this – they need to be taught how.  And when things change, make it easy for users to adopt those changes.

Show the Direct Benefit to Them

Your sales, marketing and service reps don’t care about being “cost effectiveness”, they care about commission, market ownership and customer success.  Your teams must understand the benefit to the company and to themselves.  Show them the gains to be had in productivity, insightful customer communication through data retrieval and customer profiling.

Prove to them that your CRM system will make their sales, marketing and service jobs easier.  If you don’t, they’ll be discouraged about having to spend time putting information into the system for no return: If they don’t believe the system is helping them, they will push the CRM work aside in order to continue with business as usual.

No salesperson knows everything, so it is imperative that the sales, product, compliance and CRM knowledge is made instantly available at the point of need to users.

Because salesforce is so flexible and adaptable, it can be changed/improved so often that your CRM users could struggle to keep up with the changes.  So think about providing the help they will need to support your CRM’s continuous improvement.

Impose Leadership

Contributors in the LinkedIn group ‘CRM Experts’ suggested that there will be no lasting results until the most senior levels of a company understand the “culture of service” that CRM software provides customers. Managers are the key to acceptance of change and CRM integration into the normal mode of working. You must live the processes yourself before you can expect your teams to do the same. The key to continuous success is recognition.  When you acknowledge your team’s accomplishments they feel they have achieved something, and they will continue to work effectively when rewarded.  If you live CRM, they will too.


Personal accountability is critical.  For instance, a sales rep assigned to a specific account is the owner of the account’s data, and is therefore the only person tasked with ‘managing’ that data. So, as a manager keep an eye on what they’re doing. In sales meetings gain visibility by pulling up account data via the CRM application being used by that account’s rep. If the rep hasn’t entered or updated their account’s data sufficiently, they should be asked to do it right there.  It needs to be made clear to reps that the CRM system is critical to running the business and that part of their job requirement is to update the CRM application. If they are confused or they still push back and don’t engage with the CRM, remove the excuses: Ensure that help is instantly accessible help, right there in the application and in context with the task in hand.  Make it easy for mobile users too, as a growing percentage of reps today are on the road or working from a home office. Help topics should include, how to fill in each field, access external helpful data assets and ‘what to do next’.

By Marcus Gilbert – Enterprise Sales Director @ Improved Apps