(This article originally appeared in Forbes)
You’ve spent thousands — tens of thousands! — on a customer relationship system and your people aren’t using it. If that’s your situation you can take some consolation that you’re not alone. Many of my clients have the same problem. And user adoption is always ranked among the highest of concerns with CRM systems.
But the problem is solvable and here’s a simple way to fix it: focus on reports. Get rid of your spreadsheets. Eliminate your email updates. Cut back on your weekly meetings. Stop filling out forms. Replace all of that with your CRM data. Emphasize the output and you’ll find yourself getting the right input.
What kind of output? My best clients who get the highest level of adoption use reports as their weapon for doing so. The reports can be automatically generated and sent by email. Or in dashboards. Or retrieved on a mobile device. Or — old school — printed out and reviewed. Regardless, it’s about the data. And these are the most popular reports that my best clients use.
The Pipeline Report
This is a report of all open opportunities. It shows the date created, contact information, potential value and the probability of closing the deal (rule of thumb: it’s a 50 percent probability when a quote is issued, 90 percent when accepted — which allows for potential backouts — and 20 percent for when a prospect cools down and doesn’t respond to your phone calls and emails). Also don’t forget to include on your report what was done last (a meeting? An email sent?) and what’s scheduled next to make sure everyone’s on top of the opportunity and nothing’s falling through the cracks.
The Activity Report
This report is used by sales and service managers as a way to look into the future, especially for under-performing employees. Where are they spending their time? How are they spending their time? What appointments are scheduled and with who? Are these prospects worth it? Are those customers significant? Are those activities generating more sales? More services? The information should come right from a user’s calendar and task list and managers should be using the report as way to ensure that everyone’s making the best use of their time.
The Lost Sales Report
This report is not fun because no one likes to talk about lost sales. But it’s critical to understand where you’re making your mistakes. As your users are generating pipeline opportunities they must close them out with a resolution — good or bad. Was the sale lost to a competitor? A pricing issue? Another product? Each month, my best clients grit their teeth, pour a shot of Jack Daniels, and go through this report to evaluate what went wrong so they can make things right going forward.
There are other popular reports my clients use such as tracking service issues, aging their quotes and proposals and evaluating close ratios of their salespeople. But the ones I mention above are the top three.
Notice one thing about the three reports? Your users are probably already doing the work, just in other places. I bet they’re updating a spreadsheet of pipelines or sending emails about this stuff or maintaining their calendars. So you’re probably not asking them to do too much more in order to get your reports.
And if you’re using these reports to manage your team what is your reaction when data is missing, incorrect or incomplete? Where is the problem and with who? And how can that person’s productivity (and profitability) be maximized by you if you don’t have the data necessary to help?
When users aren’t using the system, it shows when you look at the reports. And then appropriate steps can be taken be it flogging, paddling, a wedgie or maybe a simple reprimand. In the end, however, competent sales and service people know the value of this data. Maybe it takes a little TLC to show it to them. But once you do, and your team will soon understand that using their CRM data on a regular basis will motivate them to take more advantage of their CRM system.
What gets lost in the CRM hype is that, in the end, these systems are nothing more than glorified databases. And most businesses I know seem to lose sight of that. Focus on reports and you’ll see adoption increase. I’ve seen it.