Want to Win The CRM Race? Start getting fit.

Take a visit with me to the land of technology for a moment. Here’s a phenomenon you’ll see in companies all over the world: they buy best-of-breed technology, the most expensive their budgets can accommodate, and they essentially plug it in and walk away. Then they’re surprised and dismayed when they don’t get the results they expected.

IT pros will tell you that any tool is worthless without skill behind it. Essentially they point to a truth that any sales leader will ignore at their peril: a CRM system is only as good as the people managing it. Yes, all those features you eyed in the research phase can do great things for you. Your new CRM can provide customer and product insights, empower your reps to sell better and act like a crystal ball when it comes to forecasting.

But that’s only if you use it expertly.

Now, no one is born a CRM (Salesforce) expert, which means your team will need training. And when I say training, I don’t mean the kind of onboarding session where someone quickly runs through features and shortcuts in one hour and expects the team to remember them forever. You need to establish familiarity, the kind of ingrained knowledge and ease of use that lets your team work fast and fluidly.

Think of it like getting physically fit. Will you roll into the gym on your first day and start benching more than anyone on the floor? Not at all. You’ll build up your strength, lung capacity and flexibility with a variety of exercises. Your performance will improve incrementally. And if you hire a trainer, they won’t expect you to master every move in one session. They’ll work with you to gradually perfect your technique.

Which brings us to the mistake so many sales leaders make: they implement the best CRM system they can find (Salesforce) and expect their team to become experts overnight.

Not only is this unrealistic, it’s demoralizing for the reps who struggle to figure out the new system and feel like failures. All of those promised benefits – sharper lead scoring, better engagements, fresh insights – are nowhere in sight. They’re afraid to admit that they find the system time-consuming and somewhat bewildering. They look at the CRM as a burden, rather than a valuable tool. In the meantime, the leader wonders why the expected results aren’t rolling in.
So what’s the solution? Start slow, just like in our fitness analogy. Instead of unleashing the entire system on your salespeople, ask them to start with a basic step like logging their prospects in the system, managing opportunities and entering activities. After they get accustomed to that, you’ll move onto the next step.

A few months down the road, you’ve got a team that understands the ins and outs of your CRM system. Yes, I said months. That may not match your dream of instantaneous adoption but it is the surest path to productivity, and the only real way your entire team will maximize the potential of your new platform.

The last outcome you want is an investment that never delivers the ROI you could have had. Don’t leave that money on the table.  Train your team to develop the skills that can turn your CRM into the resource it’s meant to be for forecasting, sharper selling and higher revenue. CRM tech is only going to get more sophisticated, so get your team accustomed to lifelong learning now. Your bottom line will show the rewards.