By John Paterson, CEO, Really Simple Systems

CRM success stands or falls on the attitude and commitment of the sales team – and too often complex systems, excessive numbers of fields and slow response times are enough to quickly disenfranchise sales people, leading to inaccurate and outdated information that is utterly useless. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here I will explain how to get the sales team engaged with CRM.

Stand or Fall

Done well, CRM can be transformative, delivering vital management information, driving effective marketing and supporting highly productive sales teams. Done badly, however, CRM can fast become an inaccurate pool of irrelevant and outdated customer and prospect information that delivers no value to anyone.

The difference between the two models is, essentially, getting the buy in of the sales team. If those on the customer front line see value in updating the CRM quickly and accurately, it will remain an invaluable corporate information resource – but that is the big ‘if’. As every company that has attempted to implement CRM can attest, getting the sales team to use CRM is a huge challenge. Whether they feel overwhelmed with unnecessary admin, fearful of being under management scrutiny or protective of their customer contacts, many sales people simply refuse to play CRM ball.

So how can a company get the sales team to use CRM and create that essential corporate resource of prospect and customer information?

1. Simplify Administrative Tasks: It should be a given that a CRM is kept simple, with small numbers of mandatory fields and fast response times. If not, the sales team will lose interest from day one. In addition, the best way to get anyone to embrace new technology is to remove a time consuming administrative burden. For sales people, one of the most compelling promises a company can make regarding the value of CRM is the automatic creation of sales forecasts. Rather than spending hours creating forecasts on spreadsheets, the CRM will automatically create the forecasts, enabling managers to gain immediate insight into the sales pipeline – and freeing up the sales people to concentrate on customer facing activity. Critically, for this to work the information has to be up to date – providing a great incentive for sales people to routinely use the CRM.

2. Share Information: Integrating the CRM with other corporate applications can provide the sales team with really valuable additional insight. For example, integrating a marketing application can show whether or not a customer or prospect is responding to the marketing activity, such as email campaigns. Add in credit history and customer service records and a sales person can take a far more tailored approach to each customer interaction.

3. Create a Management Culture: Ensuring that management routinely use the CRM is key to gaining commitment throughout the organisation. A simple system that can deliver dashboards to mobile/remote managers can transform day to day interaction with the sales team. Rather than continually asking each sales person to update the status of each account, managers can check the CRM first and then have an informed, focused and relevant conversation that supports the sales effort. This approach is key to overcoming the potential concerns regarding excessive monitoring and loss of control that CRM can create amongst the sales team. Instead, used proactively, managers can support the sales effort and reinforce a strong culture of CRM across the business.


CRM is so much more than a collection of customer and prospect information. Yet for a sales team that sees no value in the concept, the CRM system represents nothing more than a tedious admin task. It is those organisations that actively address the needs of the sales team and demonstrate the value that CRM can deliver throughout the sales process that can get the buy in required to make CRM a success.