For every CRM success story, there’s a complete and utter failure.
About half of all CRM initiatives are eventually abandoned or fail to generate a positive return on investment, and low user adoption is often cited as the main culprit. According to MHI Global, only a third of CRM projects are adopted by 90% or more of their sales teams. The rest face an uphill battle, with sales reps drifting back to using spreadsheets and emails to manage their customer communications.
So what’s causing these CRM platforms to be rejected by the people they’re supposed to be helping? Here are the six most common reasons why sales reps quit their CRMs.
1. The CRM’s value to the sales rep is unclear.
If a sales manager forces a CRM onto their sales team without any notice or discussion, sales reps will treat it with suspicion: They didn’t ask for this thing, they don’t know how it works, and its benefit to their daily lives is never properly explained.
In fact, CRM can appear harmful to sales reps who see it purely as a management tool to monitor them and steal their book of business—which is why many salespeople choose to maintain their contacts outside of the company’s CRM. As a result, a whopping 79% of opportunity-related data gathered by sales reps is never entered in their CRMs, according to ESNA. [tweet this!]
That’s not a failure of CRM; it’s a failure to take the sales reps’ needs into consideration during the buying process. Before implementing a CRM solution, sales managers should do the following:
- Have an open conversation with their reps to learn about the time-wasting inefficiencies that the team faces on a daily basis.
- Look for CRM platforms that solve those specific problems.
- Explain how CRM will help sales reps save time and close more deals when used correctly.
- Make the final decision with their team.
If sales reps feel like they have no say in the matter, they’ll rebel against the system from the get-go. [tweet this!]
2. Sales reps are overwhelmed by the software.
“I’m not a computer guy. What is this propellerhead garbage?”
When you’ve been working off of cocktail napkins your entire career, the idea of learning a complicated software platform is daunting. And if you have to learn it by yourself, forget it. You might as well ask your reps to build a rocket ship and fly it to Mars.
Sales reps aren’t software experts, and requiring them to use a complex CRM system sets them up for failure. The widespread confusion caused by complex CRM platforms—especially for first-time users of CRM—explains why just 13% of reps use the full capabilities of their sales tools, according to an Accenture report from earlier this year. Companies pour money down the drain every month paying for feature-loaded CRMs, when their sales reps barely understand how to perform basic tasks.
Inevitably, the CRMs that are the most successful are the ones that are intuitive and make sense out of the box. InsideCRM found that 55% of sales professionals feel that ease-of-use is the most important feature of a CRM. [tweet this!] If a CRM platform comes with a long learning curve, sales reps won’t buy in. Speaking of which…
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3. No training and no support.
Proper training is the secret sauce to CRM implementation. [tweet this!] Sales reps shouldn’t be expected to use any customer relationship management system without a structured onboarding period where every rep is guided through the CRM’s most important features.
Unfortunately, this rarely happens. Instead, sales managers hand off the CRM to their teams with little formalized instruction. Sales reps might be taught the basics during the initial rollout, but new hires often don’t get the same onboarding attention, and if they run into roadblocks along the way, it’s up to them to find a solution.
For a CRM to have a fighting chance at being fully adopted by a sales team, it has to provide free customer support, with a team of in-house experts who can offer guidance and answer technical questions by phone, email, or live chat. But with some sales platforms, ongoing support is a paid add-on that isn’t available to the users who need it most—which leads to a mass exodus of frustrated sales reps fleeing their CRM.
4. The CRM doesn’t move with them.
These days, mobile accessibility is non-negotiable. Sales reps who can pull up client contacts on the road and stay notified about ongoing deals have a huge advantage over those who can’t. If sales reps have no way to update their sales contacts when they’re on the road, scribbling notes into legal pads and email drafts is their best option.
And the odds of those notes being accurately entered into their company’s CRM when they make it back to home base? Not great, Bob. CRM systems that only work at the office tend to get dropped like cheap suits. [tweet this!]
5. The CRM doesn’t actually save them time.
CRM software is intended to make sales reps’ lives easier by automating manual data entry and providing convenient access to customer contacts. If a CRM can’t do that well, it’s worthless.
According to a sales force automation online company comparison survey conducted by Software Advice, the most common complaint that salespeople have about CRM systems is that they’re too time-consuming. 71% of sales reps say they spend too much time on data entry [tweet this!], suggesting that many CRM platforms wind up adding work to the sales reps day, rather than reducing it.
Of course, much of that added work is the result of sales reps maintaining backup spreadsheets and customer databases “off the books,” while entering the bare minimum amount of data required by their managers into their CRM platform. That’s right: Sales reps will voluntarily double the time they spend on data entry just to avoid using their company’s CRM. And there’s one more good reason for that…
6. Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad data.
So what happens when the majority of CRM projects are never fully adopted by their sales teams, and are used on a semi-regular basis by people who only kind of know how to operate them? Garbage in, garbage out, as they say.
A 2013 study by Experian found that the average U.S. company believes 25% of their data is inaccurate, and the Data Warehousing Institute estimates that data quality problems cost U.S. businesses more than $600 billion a year. When the average sales database is riddled with inaccuracies, sales reps come to an obvious conclusion: The CRM can’t be trusted, and it’s time to bounce.
Bad data can be a deep hole to dig out of. Removing duplicate records and adding missing data can stop the bleeding, but as always, prevention is the best cure. To avoid the curse of bad data and CRM abandonment, a CRM rollout has to be executed well from the beginning. That means:
1) Proper training, so that sales reps know how to enter data correctly in the first place,
2) Proper explanation, so that sales reps understand why keeping everything in their CRM benefits them, and
3) Accessibility, so that sales reps are able update their contacts and communications no matter where they are.
If you can nail that from the start, you’re golden. If you can’t, your CRM will be a ghost town.