Ask a sales team of any size what they think of their CRM, and you’ll most likely hear some complaints. This is normal — nothing’s perfect, let alone software that may be a one-size-fits-all, out-of-the-box solution. But every CRM depends on the rank-and-file using it as intended; what follows increased CRM user adoption is increased returns on investment.

Improving CRM user adoption is no small feat. It’s not simply a matter of top-down directive — changing user engagement with the software often calls for a culture shift. You’ve got to overcome entrenched habits, resistance to change, skepticism regarding the usefulness of the platform, and concern that their engagement could backfire on them.

You might disagree with their reasons, but that’s not important. You’ll need to change their minds, not command their loyalty. Understanding and overcoming employee trepidation is key to improving CRM user adoption. Here are seven reasons why your salespeople aren’t using your CRM. (More than one may apply.)

1. Your Salespeople Feel the CRM is a Monitoring Tool.

CRMs are known for their ability to track user activities. Tasks completed, records updated, emails sent, not to mention metrics measuring sales performance. Some salespeople worry that the CRM could become digital evidence used against them for failing to meet their quotas. They might not deliberately undermine data integrity, but if the CRM is seen as a threat, they’ll only begrudgingly enter data as required, and probably won’t double check it for accuracy.

What You Can Change:
Address the implied concern that their job security is on the line if they occasionally fail to meet their quotas. Employees who believe they’re a bad quarter away from the unemployment line might unconsciously work against practices used to measure them. Mitigate this by setting realistic sales goals, assigning leads appropriate to agents’ skills, and fostering a collaborative atmosphere in which the team is rewarded for mutual goals, which can remove pressure from individual reps uncertain in their capabilities.

2. Sales Agents Prefer Their Existing Methods.

Spreadsheets are easy, available, free, and familiar. Sales reps who have worked either as contractors or at several agencies often have ingrained habits when it comes to tracking leads. They might perform very well this way. In doing so, they overlook the benefits that a complete portrait of sales activity and performance brings toward managing the department, let alone the value such has for other activities, like marketing.

What You Can Change:
If your business acquires its own leads, then keeping sales activity within the CRM is as much about ownership of your data as complete reports. You’ll need to convince your sales rep that complete CRM data benefits them, the sales team, and company as a whole. At the same time, convey that logged communication and interactions with leads is essential company data. Closing a deal without showing the steps taken to get there brings value in the moment, but removes the value of the deal for future reference.

3. The CRM is Full of Bad Data.

Bad data can result from a variety of causes, and agents who lack faith in the integrity of CRM data are unlikely to rely on it for all but the most routine tasks. Instead, they’ll perform their own analysis, acquire their own information or corroborate data points outside the CRM, which leaves little insight into the sale process or wastes time.

What You Can Change:
Publicize the lengths to which the data is being cleaned up. Regular audits with measurable outcomes, data deduplication tools, implementing data standardization features to limit variations on data input methods (for example, drop down menus versus open text fields). This complaint can be nipped in the bud without needing to change anybody’s mind — except whomever signs off on using data cleansing tools, if that person isn’t you.

4. Team Members Have Limited Expertise Using the CRM.

Learning how to use new software takes time and some people are less technically-minded than others. Team members who don’t know how to use the CRM will end up entering only certain kinds of data or using a select few functions, which can reduce productivity and lead to inaccurate information.

What You Can Change:
Implement a policy to onboard new users and refresh existing ones with training courses over a period of time. Identify users who struggle with the software and deputize power users to provide additional instruction, if possible. If numerous team members experience difficulty learning the ropes, you may want to reach out to the vendor for specialized on-boarding or training videos.

5. The CRM is Not Aligned with the Sales Process.

Many CRMs include pipeline management tools, including multiple drag-and-drop pipelines with custom deal stages, custom workflows relating to deal stage and status, notifications built around the same, etc. All this contributes to a sense of certainty regarding the sales process. However, sales reps in the field might find several of their deals don’t fall into the neat categories described in the CRM. Rather than update a deal whose progress doesn’t fit the next stage, they’ll leave it as-is while continuing dialog that might ultimately leapfrog the deal into a much more advanced stage.

What You Can Change:
You want deals to advance in a coherent, trackable fashion. You don’t want too many stages defined by highly specific criteria, but you also can’t be too general. The default sales pipeline stages in the out-of-the-box software will almost certainly be customized. You might want the process defined by significant touchpoints — phone call held, demo scheduled, demo completed, qualified to buy, decision-maker buy-in, etc. It’s worthwhile to crowdsource the pipeline stages among your salespeople. This increases the likelihood that pipeline stages are defined with entry/exit criteria that your team finds agreeable.

6. “The CRM Gets In the Way.”

As mentioned, everyone who’s used a CRM has some complaints. This type of software originated in the 80s to (exhaustively) log and track data points. Anything that resembles CRMs of yore reminds us how the software takes too much time, doesn’t work the way it should, and thanks to department rules mandating its use, draws away far too much brainpower and is a drain on our jobs.

What You Can Change:
This complaint often arises from an inchoate frustration with software that isn’t designed around the user experience. It can be a combination of factors: there’s too much data entry, essential tasks require several clicks, data isn’t where it should be or it requires cleanup. There are certain sales CRM integrations that can ameliorate this by auto-enriching contact and lead profiles or deduplicating data. If the UX continues to bog down everyday use, you should probably consider alternatives.

7. The CRM Chains Them to the Office.

Salespeople — with the exception of inside sales — spend a lot of time outside the office. A CRM available only at their desktop requires them to spend a lot of time inside when they could be selling, or to recall details during meetings or pitches that may get lost in the noise. A salesperson could reasonably chafe under policies that requires their presence in the office solely to update records.

What You Can Change:
On-premises CRM vendors typically offer cloud-based versions that are increasingly comparable in functionality to their traditional counterparts. Matters of latency are moot for your sales team when agents can access their data on-the-go via mobile app. Mobile CRM apps are not made equal: while some simply port key functions and data into a mobile UI, others include mobile-specific functions, like the ability to import phone contacts, geolocation, data sync, a business card scanner, and automatic call logging.

Improving CRM user adoption lets you get more from your investment. Nevertheless, if problems persist, it could be a sign it’s time to change your CRM.

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