By Chris Rothstein, CEO, Groove
In the world of sales, it’s no secret that many organizations in the financial services industry struggle to modernize the tools and processes that their sales teams have relied upon for decades. For many large institutions, it’s not for a lack of trying. Countless dollars have been spent implementing sophisticated CRM systems to track interactions with customers and prospects, but these platforms only work if salespeople use them. Unfortunately, too many firms struggle with low CRM adoption – especially among their most valuable assets, their seasoned sellers. The problem is being made worse by COVID-19.
CRM adoption isn’t a new problem, but the global pandemic has made it significantly more severe. Overnight, sales and account teams have been forced to go fully remote. This dramatic shift in how sales teams function has prompted many businesses to accelerate digital transformation initiatives, including the establishment of CRM as the backbone and single source of truth for customer data. The digital transformation required to support remote teams also extends to making customer-facing teams more connected, collaborative, and productive.
Increasing CRM adoption has become a top priority at financial services organizations, but in order to be successful, they must overcome numerous obstacles that stand in the way of change. The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) recently asked sales leaders at financial organizations about their top challenges to CRM adoption and overall team productivity, and the responses fell into three categories: People, Process, and Technology.
Overcoming People Challenges to CRM Adoption
The first obstacle to CRM adoption revolves around people. People are naturally resistant to change, so any new system that is seen as too difficult to use or that forces a rep to adopt new processes or workflows will likely be met with resistance. But the problem isn’t just with users. Management can also negatively impact adoption but not prioritizing it within the organization or clearly communicating its value to the organization and end-users.
The following four strategies can help eliminate human obstacles to CRM adoption:
- Eliminate the need for reps to manually log activities into the CRM by enabling auto-logging of emails, calls, and meetings.
- Put your sellers first. Make it valuable for the users, and you won’t have to use a stick.
- Beta test the software with a small group of early adopters. Use their success to educate and inspire those that are slower to adopt change.
- Follow a clear change management process.
Overcoming Process Challenges to CRM Adoption
The second category of challenges to CRM Adoption centers around process. Financial leaders have reported that CRM initiatives have been negatively affected through micro-management and a lack of consistency. Issues with training, roll-out, and documentation can cause users to abandon any efforts to use a CRM system. Users can also be discouraged when there aren’t any clear ways to collaborate or see how the CRM system is being used successfully by other teams.
Process challenges can be overcome by focusing on these strategies centered around accountability and training:
- Leadership should set and communicate clear goals and provide mechanisms for holding middle management and end-users accountable.
- Incentivize CRM adoption by tying usage to commissions. If it’s not entered in Salesforce correctly, reps don’t get paid.
- Employ a phased roll-out that prioritizes less-critical teams. Before the technology has been rolled out to the most critical or highest revenue-generating teams, most of the kinks will already have been worked out, minimizing risk.
- Institute team-based training that is customized to your sales teams’ unique needs and workflows.
- Don’t underestimate the power of gamification and leaderboards. Leverage the natural competitiveness of sales reps to drive adoption.
Overcoming Technology Challenges to CRM Adoption
Technology can be its own obstacle to adoption. Evaluate whether users are struggling with having too many sales tools with redundant features, or the opposite, a one-size-fits all solution with so many features that it’s too complex to learn. Integration and data challenges can also be a major factor. When CRM systems don’t connect to the systems that reps use or can’t be customized to how they work, reps will value them less.
After evaluating your tech stack, consider these strategies to simplify the technology and improve usability:
- Consolidate redundant sales tools so reps aren’t constantly switching between systems.
- Make the data useful by optimizing integrations and enabling real-time data and reporting.
- Eliminate data entry needs by automatically capturing sales activity behind the scenes.
- Enable reps to use the technology within their workflows and where they spend the most time. (e.g. Outlook and Microsoft 365)
- Make the tech relevant by customizing the user experience based on role, team or division.
- Ensure that reps can share best practices and successful templates with other colleagues and teams.
Digital Acceleration and Productivity
COVID-19 is changing how people work, and its impact will endure long after the pandemic is over. Implementing these tech strategies might seem overwhelming, but they can also be solved. Innovative financial institutions like Capital One and Enterprise Bank & Trust are adopting seller-focused strategies that incorporate new technologies like sales engagement platforms that make sellers more productive and successful.