Revenge of the SFA Adoption Challenge

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Once you launch an SFA program, the adoption clock is ticking. Photograph by wwarby.

Do you have a CRM adoption problem?

When people talk about poor CRM or sales force automation (SFA) adoption, it’s typically shorthand for one issue: “We can’t get our salespeople to enter their activities into the CRM system.” In other words, they have an activity management adoption challenge.

Of course, everyone from sales managers to executives wants to see that activity information, both at a micro and macro level, to know what’s in the sales pipeline, accurately predict financial performance, design better territories and coach salespeople. Likewise, organizations also want to ensure that their SFA projects don’t fail.

Why, then, won’t salespeople comply? Well, adding activity information takes time, and time equals money. Accordingly, salespeople want to know: What’s in it for me? Therein lies the answer to this challenge: you have to sweeten the pot. Add some carrot, to balance the stick.

Overcome Resistance to Cloud CRM

This challenge isn’t new. As long as there’s been CRM, salespeople have resisted using CRM. But what can companies do to encourage them to adopt SFA anyway?

A year ago, I detailed how, when it comes to enticing salespeople to use SFA, selling must start at home. In particular, I outlined the top 5 techniques companies should pursue to encourage their salespeople to use SFA, including ensuring that managers only work out of the SFA system, giving salespeople incentives for using CRM and training people on the CRM system using real-life scenarios.

Since then, however, my guidance has evolved, based in part on customer feedback, as well as taking into account the mass adoption of cloud-based — aka SaaS — CRM.

What’s new? In addition to my previous advice, which still holds, businesses that want to ensure that their salespeople embrace SFA must also provide product information from within the CRM system and, above all, deploy quickly.

Provide CRM-Based Product Configuration

Why do companies need to include product information inside the CRM system? For starters, product proliferation is the bane of any salesperson. Take a high-technology manufacturer. Each one of its products may get slightly altered every month, getting a new SKU each time. On top of that, the company may bundle its products in a million different ways, with each bundle likewise getting a unique SKU. Which salesperson can keep track of every one of those SKUs?

Given such challenges, many organizations are building product information into their CRM systems. For example, Innoveer client Irish Life, which sells life insurance, now provides its salespeople with a CRM-based product configuration tool. Today, when a sales representative visits a customer or prospect’s house to discuss their insurance needs, the tool helps them determine which product best fits the customer’s needs, without the salesperson having to remember the name or exact details of every last product or variation.

The end result: Customers get products which are better tailored to their needs, and salespeople can be more productive.

Deploy SFA Rapidly and Build on the Momentum

The second, major new requirement for ensuring high levels of SFA adoption is to deploy quickly. That’s because salespeople have the attention span of a flea. Once you launch an SFA program, the clock is ticking. Take too long, and you’ll lose salespeople’s attention and program momentum, and likely end up with poor adoption. On the other hand, deploy any CRM software without a modicum of planning, and you may end up with software tailored to no one’s needs, resulting in abysmal SFA adoption rates.

Accordingly, we often recommend using a CRM accelerator to rapidly plan any CRM project, and then begin delivering required capabilities. Note that this approach isn’t about boiling the ocean. Rather, focus on putting a smaller number of high-value capabilities into the hands of your salespeople — among other users — to keep them interested, excited and demanding more. With high levels of CRM adoption, you can also build on it to deliver even more useful tools.

For example, Innoveer recently helped Everyscape, which provides online tours, via panoramic photographs, of hotels, restaurants, parks, resorts and more, rapidly deploy a cloud CRM solution. Because the project took just four weeks, which included not only specifying the project but also configuring and delivering working software, salespeople remained energized and enthusiastic about the software’s potential, and were quick to adopt the new system. As a result, Everyscape has also been able to enhance its CRM system to add even more capabilities, such as automating tasks — such as assigning photographers or tracking packages — that would otherwise require manual labor.

Entice Salespeople With Time-Saving Tools

As ever, getting salespeople to adopt SFA requires give and take.

Savvy organizations start with the give. For example, Genzyme Biosurgery launched Salesforce.com, it first scanned and imported every salesperson’s contact list into the application. As a result, the new SFA system contained useful information from day one. The company also designed a report to automatically compile a list of each sales rep’s monthly activities. As a result, by entering activity information into the CRM system, reps no longer have to spend a few hours every month manually creating their event report. They just click a button. Naturally, it’s a popular feature.

Therein lies the secret of SFA adoption: give, more than you take. And don’t forget to sell it that way to your salespeople.

Learn More

My five rules for fostering SFA adoption still stand. Also know why, as more organizations adopt cloud CRM, SFA implementation failure rates will increase.

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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