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Selling the CRM Solution to the Sales Force
Blog / For Sales Pros / Nov 8, 2013 / Posted by Nikolaus Kimla / 4826 

Selling the CRM Solution to the Sales Force

Traditionally CRM solutions are sold to company management, with promised benefits such as:

  • improved productivity,
  • ability to make more with less,
  • shortened sales cycles,
  • increased close ratios,
  • eliminated competition,
  • and improved margins.

Obviously CRM benefits should be demonstrated to management—in the end it will be management that will cut the check for CRM purchase. But it will be the sales force that ends up having to use this new CRM application. It will be they who take to it happily or begrudgingly.

It is then up to management and IT to “sell” the sales force on fully utilizing this CRM solution. The only way that will really happen is if the CRM solution truly brings benefit to the sales force and can be sold to them as such.

How to Sell CRM to Your Sales ForcePushing the Management Benefits Won’t Work

When presenting a CRM solution to salespeople, pushing the same benefits that sold company executives isn’t necessarily going to work with sales reps. In fact it can have negative repercussions.

#1: Increasing Productivity

For example, “increasing productivity” probably means “increased quotas without increasing sales support” to a rep. It could also mean the company turning to alternative sales channels and trimming down a rep’s territory. Neither of these would be viewed by a salesperson as a happy circumstance.

#2: Making More

Another example would be “making more with less”; to a sales rep that might mean that you’re eliminating sales administrative personnel and dumping these extra duties onto reps.

#3: Shorten Sales Cycle

“Shorten sales cycle,” “improve closing ratios,” and “improve profit margins” can all add up to filling up the sales pipeline with great deals now so that they can be closed. But what about next period? Any experienced sales rep knows that good deals aren’t that easy to come by. Hence next period cannot be promised or counted upon, and many reps will solve that contingency by sandbagging some of this period’s deals for the next one.

What Does The Sales Force Want to Hear?

Salespeople have long been jaded against CRM solutions. CRM generally meant lots of data input by the rep with little to no real selling assistance provided back. Hence there is always some sales rep resistance to CRM that will have to be overcome.

The best way to do that is to leave aside the benefits to company management. Instead, address the ways in which the CRM solution is going to benefit salespeople:

For example, salespeople are constantly asked, “How are you doing?” They can then reply that they’re above or below quota. But such an answer is always based in the past instead of the present. The real question a salesperson needs to be able to answer is, “How will you be doing?” (Translation: “How are you lined up to make quota?”) In other words, looking over the number of leads and deals in the pipeline—weighed against closing ratio, average length of deal and other factors—does that rep have the raw material and deals-in-progress to end up winning?

A salesperson needs to be able to easily view his or her sales pipeline and know whether or not sufficient deals are there to end the year on a high note. It is not just the number of leads or deals, either; the CRM solution must allow for rating each deal as to its potential value and likelihood of closing.

Fully demonstrate to a sales force that they can accurately forecast sales—as well as easily manage those sales in real time—and you will most likely have them closed on CRM. And, of course, make sure the CRM solution chosen actually does fulfill those promises.

Click here to see what such a CRM solution looks like.

    About Author

    A 30-year veteran of the computer industry, Nikolaus has founded and run several software companies. He and his company uptime iTechnology are the developers of World-Check, a risk intelligence platform eventually sold to Thomson Reuters for $520 million. He is currently the founder and CEO of Pipeliner Sales, Inc., developer and publisher of Pipeliner CRM, the first CRM application aimed squarely at actually empowering salespeople. Also a prolific writer, Nikolaus has authored over 100 ebooks, articles and white papers addressing the subjects of sales management, leadership and sales itself.

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