How to Increase User Adoption for your Sales Force Automation Solution

Recession is again looming in Europe and USA with a cascading effect on other countries. In these challenging times, knowing what the customer wants is critical for both retention and increased customer sales volumes. CRM solutions can effectively enhance your sales force's capabilities to understand customer needs and maximize returns.

The goal of every business is an increase in sales. If increased sales cannot be achieved, businesses face declining profits and in the wake of declining profits reduced work force requirements. Understanding customer needs and expectations is critical in both retention and increased sales volumes.

What can be done to increase volumes and prevent workforce reduction? The key is in knowing what the customer wants and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can be the key to this understanding.

Customer Relationship Management software, while it can be a boon for industries is often not effectively implemented. One reason for this lies is the sales force itself. Many sales representatives see CRM as beneficial to the company but not to them. The fear is that the decision making process and the knowledge of their customer base is somehow removed when a CRM system is brought on line.

What they do not see is the intrinsic time savings a CRM system brings to sales. Studies show that sales representatives spend only about thirty six (36%) percent of their time in actual selling* and the other sixty four (64%) on the follow up "busy work." If management can demonstrate the ability of the CRM system's activity automation, workspace management and template features to free them from the "busy work" and allow them more time for actual selling, they will influence the sales force in a more proactive manner.

For a CRM system to succeed in a company, it must be cross functional. Sales must see the benefit of CRM in the buying and management side of the business and not in isolation. If the sales force can be shown that the CRM system will reduce time in the supply chain, develop efficiencies in the manufacturing side and increase their time in the field, they will buy into the process. If any of these critical steps are neglected, the sales force will continue to operate in isolation from the balance of the process.

Critical to sales force buy-in is to involve the sales force early in the process. The "lack of representation" often leads to lack of confidence in the system. This is not to say the entire sales force needs be involved, but key representatives, respected peers if you will, need to be involved in all stages of the system’s development. Make use of the sales forces’ instinctive knowledge of the customer base. For example, if average call backs take place within two months the system should be designed to that time period for the call back. The system should be designed to support those who should be using it most. To increase CRM user adoption, the sales force must see the system as ‘their’ tool; not a management tool.

Screen and input fields' development should reside with the sales force in total. The day-to-day warriors of sales know what information is critical for them to close. If this information is accessible from anywhere they will be far more likely to use the system and abandon the spreadsheets and index cards they use today.

Building sales is the key to success, but building a true CRM solution that supports this function is key to optimizing sales. A CRM system is exactly that when designed with keeping the proper inputs and forward-thinking strategies of the sales force in mind.