5 Reasons Why Sales Teams Resist CRM Platform Adoption — and How to Overcome Them

In this blog post, you'll read about several most common objections that come from salespeople during a new CRM solution adoption phase and learn how to handle them.

10 min read

5 Reasons Why Sales Teams Resist CRM Platform Adoption — and How to Overcome Them

Investing in a CRM system is a natural step for any growing business. As your customer base, order volume, and workforce size increase and your daily operations become more complex, a CRM tool can be an essential tool for optimizing and automating business processes to support further growth.

Unfortunately, purchasing and implementing a CRM is no guarantee that your salespeople will actually use it. If that happens, the investment is wasted, and your organization will remain mired in its old manual processes.

There are proven steps you can take to avoid that unhappy outcome. Here are the top 5 reasons that sales teams resist CRM platform adoption — and how you can overcome their objections.

1. “I don’t want Big Brother monitoring me.“

In many organizations, the sales department is already constantly under close scrutiny, and some employees may see a new CRM system as little more than an instrument for even more control over their activity. Often, the most dissatisfaction is expressed by the people with the least experience and the worst performance results. But top salespeople can also resent the idea that they need to be constantly monitored; in fact, they may even feel their history of success means they have earned an exemption from using the new system. Unfortunately, the more employees who avoid entering data into the CRM and adopting its processes, the less value the solution delivers to the sales team and the organization as a whole.  

How to overcome the objection

There is no denying that a sales CRM tool provides the technical means to track the activity of salespeople. The key to overcoming the resistance is to clearly explain the benefits of the solution and how the data it captures will be used. The core purpose of a CRM is to help salespeople do their job more effectively, not to micromanage them. Moreover, the best CRM systems can provide broad, generalized information about business performance, such as the monthly achievements of an entire team, and top management often wants to see only this anonymized, aggregated data.

To clarify all this to your employees, you can hold a series of educational sessions. Explain why you are implementing the system, describe the positive experiences of other companies, and provide research showing that adopting a sales CRM system leads to overwhelming success for both individual salespeople and the business as a whole.

2. “My spreadsheets are working just fine, thank you.”

Many sales teams still rely on spreadsheets as their main tool for managing projects and sales activities. Because spreadsheets have been around for decades, many salespeople are quite fluent with them. They have organized their data just the way they like and set up complex calculations and tracking mechanisms. Therefore, the prospect of abandoning them is quite daunting. People often fear that transitioning to a new CRM solution means they will lose everything they have worked so hard to create and have to start over from scratch. They hate the idea that they will have to spend their valuable time on product training and then even more time entering all their data into the tool and trying to get it to do what their spreadsheets are already delivering.

How to overcome the objection

The best way to get spreadsheet lovers to start using the CRM platform is to lure them, rather than pressure or force them. To make the tool attractive, ask a few of your best and most receptive salespeople to give it a try and track their progress. Make sure these participants are happy with the system. Then encourage them to share their experience with the rest of the team, highlighting the benefits they’ve reaped. This approach will result in employees being eager to adopt the CRM tool, instead of feeling resentful because they believe top management is imposing it on them.

In addition, you should take the needs and wishes of your employees into account as you implement and configure your CRM system. Solicit their feedback, analyze and organize their preferences, and then incorporate them in your CRM where possible.

3. “My precious data! He tooks it!”

There’s another reason why salespeople can be very attached to spreadsheets — control. By storing critical business information in personal spreadsheets, employees can keep it to themselves and prevent other sales and marketing teams from using it. Moreover, they know that if they leave the company, they can easily take their spreadsheets with them.

A CRM system upends all this. It centralizes data storage to make everyone’s work more efficient and facilitate sharing of information, and makes it much harder for employees to take valuable information with them when they leave. Therefore, it’s understandable that some individuals may be reluctant to share the data and formulas they’ve captured in their spreadsheets. Naturally, they’d much prefer to keep this information to themselves and out of the hands of anyone they perceive to be a competitor.

How to overcome the objection

Enabling employees to hide sales information from colleagues does not help your business in any way. On the contrary, the result can be disastrous. For example, leads might be poorly processed or not be given enough attention, so you might end up losing them. You need to explain to your employees that all acquired leads belong to the company, not the individual salesperson.

Nevertheless, it can be valuable to restrict access to data for different employees, so be sure the CRM system you choose offers that functionality. For instance, you might want to allow each salesperson to only see their own prospects and clients, while enabling marketing or tech support teams to see them all.

It’s also important to emphasize that the CRM system is designed to help the company sell more and drive sustainable growth over the long term. Educate your staff by sharing research that demonstrates how performance improves for both the company and individuals in a collaborative environment with strong data sharing practices. Provide examples of successful organizations — especially those to which you lose deals. This will help people reshape their minds for a new way of working, and over time, they will lose their instinct to obsessively hoard information.

4. “The CRM system is hard to use and doesn’t do everything I need.”

This is a very common complaint, and often well founded. All too often, the people most affected by the CRM — the people who have to use it and the people who have to configure and maintain it — are not even consulted by the team tasked with selecting the sales CRM product to purchase. Therefore, the choice of solution is made without thinking through critical questions such as “Will the IT department be able to maintain the system?” and “Will the marketing team be able to easily extract the data they need?” As a result, the organization ends up with a product that is not very well suited to its specific needs.

To make matters worse, the chosen system is then poorly configured, again because of a lack of understanding of the real needs of the end users. As salespeople try to work in the new CRM, they face incomprehensible interfaces that are overloaded with controls and no clear workflows. It’s really no wonder that they boil over and boycott the new system.

How to overcome the objection

In this case, it’s not so much as overcoming the objection as avoiding it in the first place. Take your time with the purchase and implementation! Ask each department to talk about their business processes and needs. Engage several of your most experienced end users in the evaluation and testing of candidate CRM tools.

Remember that the most complex tool is not necessarily the best choice, and be sure to think broadly about functionality. For example, in addition to thinking about the features inside the CRM, consider the value of a solution that employees can use not only from the main workplace, but also from a home office or even on the go.

It’s also essential to think about how a CRM product will — or won’t — integrate with your other critical business systems, such as email, social networks, logistics systems, and invoicing solutions. Comprehensive integration will reduce the need to constantly switch between different systems and copy data between them. You want to ensure your sales and marketing people are happy to have a convenient tool for managing their daily activities.

Once you’ve chosen a CRM solution, implement it in phases, analyzing the results of each stage before proceeding to the next. Provide training in how to work effectively with the tool, and listen to what users have to say about what’s confusing or inefficient. Look for ways to simplify the logic of work inside the system, and reduce the number of settings, windows and controls that users must contend with.

5. “I can’t afford to waste time wrestling with a CRM; I have selling to do!”

People who have never used a CRM, or have had a bad experience with one, often worry that they will be so bogged down in paperwork and administrative processes that they won’t have time to actually sell. They are concerned their commissions will suffer because they will be spending so much of their day entering data about leads, commenting on the sales process, preparing reports for management and so on.

How to overcome the objection

Explain to these employees that the amount of administrative activity required for a typical CRM system is by no means overwhelming. The so-called paperwork will probably take no more than 10% of their time — which will be more than offset by the benefits of the system. Indeed, by automating and streamlining sales activities, a quality CRM will significantly increase their efficiency and therefore their income.

To deliver on this promise, set up your CRM system to automate as many routine tasks as much as possible, such as preparing reports, entering data, and creating emails. To make the CRM even more useful and appealing to your salespeople, consider these tips:

  • Save the most useful search requests so they can be run quickly.
  • Create good email templates for common purposes.
  • Set up filters that make it a snap to find commonly needed information.
  • Provide quick access to other key system functions.

Conclusion

A CRM system can be a game-changer that positions your organization for continued growth and success — or an utter waste of precious time and money. To ensure that you get great return on your investment, anticipate the 5 top objections detailed here and take steps to overcome them.

First of all, be sure to involve the people who will actually use and manage the system in evaluating the best CRM systems and making the final selection. Make sure that the system you invest in has all the key functionality you need, such as sales planning, telephony, contact management, flexible data search and filtering, and so on. Remember, if the CRM you buy cannot streamline your specific business processes and meet the other needs of its user base, it will be doomed to the trash pile.

Once you’ve invested in a solution, take full advantage of vendor training. Ask participants to turn off their phones during the sessions and make sure they have an opportunity to ask any questions they like. Afterward, check how well they learned the key material, keeping in mind that each person’s learning pace and ability is different.

To encourage platform adoption, showcase the success of organizations that are already using a CRM system; ideally, this should be one of your main competitors. Actively support all early adopters of the tool and encourage them to share their experience. As time goes by, use company-wide emails or other options to highlight how the CRM is delivering concrete benefits to your own business, such as helping you complete a successful promotion or close an important deal. You’ll have your sales teams flocking to the CRM platform, eager to be part of its success.

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