The Necessary Evil of CRMs

ITA Group

I want to start the conversation today with a story problem. Imagine you’re a regional sales manager for a major Fortune 100 company. Pick your industry, whatever you like. You’re presented a graph from your sales ops team showing two lines—goal and actual. The top line is goal, and there’s some significant space between the lines. Regardless of the labels on the axis, you immediately understand two things: 1) You have a gap in something, and 2) You better close that gap before the line runs out. So the question: How does a company close a performance gap? Incentives!

Now let me ask…does that answer change if we’re talking about sales quotas or CRM adoption? In either case, the organization—correction—the C-suite is expecting some result for the investment made. If you don’t reach the line, someone has some explaining to do. Thousands of companies have decided to pull the trigger and transform their enterprise with sales force automation tools. But what happens once the technology is launched? The cloud can get a little stormy at times. You’re facing technical data integration projects, system-of-record challenges, and executive expectations of perfect forecasts. And ultimately, you have to face the biggest challenge of all: The sales team itself. Conditioned to manage their business through monthly spreadsheets or weekly conference calls, they now have to coordinate activity, contacts, leads, opportunities… hundreds of new data points they may never have considered critical to the process, have now become Friday afternoon “desk work.” 

We understand gamification is all over this story—using extrinsic awards to drive adoption, create competition, etc. The challenge? The best incentive is about something tangible, something real, something the IRS might actually care about. Convincing your budget owners to spend money on adoption the same way they would a traditional sales incentive would be an uphill challenge. Instead, by integrating these initiatives, you create a halo effect on adoption strategies. For example, offering $.50 per lead entered will never amount to a serious impact for a team member. But if that team member is able to add an extra $50 from adoption strategies to an annual $500 incentive award, those leads represent a 10% increase in their awards.

If you’ve moved to an automated sales force, consider these four key points when analyzing strategies to close your gaps:

1. Put the carrot where you want them to be

The days of crafting a fancy new incentive portal for your team are over. At its simplest, it’s a distraction from the place your team needs to be spending their time. Find the right tool to provide both the adoption and incentive options your team needs for motivation. Remember, the awards should vary—from recognition and status to tangible goods to once-in-a-life time experiences.

2. Map the team's journey, from onboarding to award-winning performance

You have a lot of ground to cover—from day one to the highest levels of performance your organization can expect. Map as many details as you can, and apply the principle of flow. Keep team members engaged and challenged as they progress. 

3. Adoption + Incentives = big thumbs up

Keep your messaging clear to team members. Don’t let adoption needs distract from the ultimate measure—closed business! Use your journey map as a way to link all your desired activities into one unified communication and award package. It’s smart to align small-value activities to larger, more prestigious incentives.

4. Bring the Proof

Don’t forget to track and measure the impact these tactics produce. At the end of the day, you should be able to use the digital footprints to prove the impact of motivation strategies across the organization.

What are some strategies you have leveraged to drive sales adoption of your CRM?