How To Transform CEOs Into CRM-Promoting Rock Stars


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How To Transform CEOs Into CRM-Promoting Rock Stars

Memo to CEOs: When it comes to CRM projects, success rests on your shoulders. But that success may require more tactical maneuvers than you’re used to.

At this year’s Dreamforce, for example, I heard from multiple businesses’ CRM project team leaders that despite their CEOs being vocal proponents of the new Salesforce project, poor adoption by middle managers was imperiling its success.

Who’s ultimately responsible for middle managers? That would be you, the CEO.

4 Power Moves For CRM Adoption

For the CEO of any company that’s currently adopting a new CRM application, the mandate is to remember your Pogo: “We have met the enemy…and he is us.”

In other words, CEOs must ask themselves if they’re doing everything possible to promote adoption of the new CRM system.

Here are four related essentials:

  • Automate. To maximize the odds of CRM project success, we’ve long recommended that CRM project teams work closely with frontline customer-facing personnel — from the beginning of the project — to ensure that the new system automates as many tasks as possible and gives them the level of detail they require.

  • Communicate. Likewise, in order to foster strong CRM adoption by salespeople, communicate to salespeople why using the system is so important — as well as what’s in it for them.

  • Give Everyone Access. Ensure that everyone who needs access to the CRM system — whether from their desk or while on the go — has access and is actively using it for their day-to-day work.

  • Make CRM The Only Reality. The new CRM system must become the single source of truth. To make that happen, middle managers should base all sales/review meetings with salespeople only on what’s in the CRM system and ignore — and withhold bonuses — for any information that isn’t in the CRM system.

  • Now Repeat, For Middle Managers. The crucial next user-adoption step, however, is to ensure that middle managers themselves are working from within the new CRM system. In other words, senior managers must hold middle managers accountable to exactly the same processes as you expect them to use with frontline sales or field teams.

Pro CRM Tip: Demand Direct & Daily Usage

As noted, middle manager adoption is a stumbling block for many CRM projects. While CEOs may be used to waving their hands and seeing something happen, more direct engagement is often required to make CRM succeed.

Start by living in the system. In other words, when the head of sales for the whole company sits down to talk with the VP of sales for the western region, will they look at spreadsheets or just talk? Or will they open Salesforce and say: “Let’s review the most important deals in the system. Let’s talk about how we’re doing with our account management process that we just spent all this time and money putting in place. And let’s look at how we’re taking those goals and objectives that we defined — as part of the strategic process — and ensuring that they’re on our weekly meeting agenda.”

Bonus Points: CEOs On Chatter

Some CEOs and other senior executives, however, go far beyond that. At one Cloud Sherpas customer, for example, the CEO regularly surfaces on Chatter to ask polite but pointed questions about key accounts, often on the eve of his visiting an important client. The CEO then follows up with feedback from the client visit, thus demonstrating that he’s plugged in to what the company’s salespeople are doing and also values their input.

Other times, the CEO will query salespeople about market trends, ask about customers’ interest in newly introduced products and services, send kudos to salespeople who sign big deals or just solicit ideas for how the offerings might be refined.

Needless to say, the content of these messages is arguably less important than the fact that the CEO is obviously using and relying on the CRM system as a business tool and holding everyone else in the organization accountable for doing the same. Because success starts from the top.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Hallenser.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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