Inspiring CRM Adoption: The Slam Dunk 6-Point Game Plan

Rob Danna
Rob Danna

Basketball going through the hoop after a slam dunk

As the recent college basketball tournament emphasizes, there’s nothing more dramatic in sports than a last-second three-pointer with the game on the line. But it wasn’t that long ago when “the three” wasn’t even an option.

The NBA first put the three-point line into practice in the 1979–1980 season. The NCAA followed suit in ‘86.

Like any change, it took a while for players to get the hang of it. For instance, Michael Jordan, who played in college without the three-point rule, failed to shoot better than 20% from the line until his fifth season in the pros.

This just goes to show—for any organization, getting people on board with unfamiliar rules and regulations is hard.

One enormous change that sales teams undergo is the widespread adoption of customer relationship management (CRM) software. A company’s CRM assists with client interaction, stores important customer data and puts crucial information in the hands of the right person at the right time.

A powerful CRM is the modern-day Rolodex—and then some. Any team members slow to adopt a new CRM can cause lost sales and confusion for the whole sales organization.

As a sales leader, it’s up to you to ensure your CRM is a winner. And incentives are just the thing you need to get your whole team excited about the rollout.

Why Are Incentives Important in CRM Adoption?

In a way, the three-point shot is an incentive. Sure, there’s an extra level of difficulty, but there’s a higher payoff. (Heck, the Harlem Globetrotters have a four-point line. Talk about incentive!)

Using that analogy, asking your team to adopt a CRM without using an incentive is like hitting a half-court shot and getting the same number of points as a layup. What’s the point in going through the hard work if there’s no additional benefit?

That’s precisely why incentives are so important. Giving your people a boost in motivation through extrinsic motivators, along with intrinsic factors such as purpose, belonging and status, inspires your people to participate.

How can you make CRM adoption more desireable to those who are slow to come on board? Put this game plan into motion:

1. Benchmark Where You Are

In order to get you to your goal—a widely used, successful CRM—you need to take a step back and assess your current state. Knowing your future trajectory requires a full understanding of where you are.

Record each member of your sales team’s usage of your CRM today to get a broader perspective of how they’ll improve further down the road.

More than that, benchmarking the current adoption rate of your CRM among your sales team permits more individualized coaching and incremental growth, not just broad, organization-wide expectations.

2. Define What Success Is

Once you know where you want to go, you have to know and articulate the steps it takes to get there.

With your benchmarks in tow, develop individualized plans for your team that include the following:

  • A clear end goal for the whole team (e.g. “100% CRM adoption”)
  • A clear end date the goal must be achieved (e.g. December 31)
  • Individual, incremental goals toward that goal (e.g. “By July 1, Lucy must consistently achieve 50% use rate for all sales activity.”)
  • A remediation plan if incremental goals are not met (e.g. “If Jim does not consistently achieve 75% use rate by October 1, he must attend a CRM training course.”)

You’ll also want to include more individualized steps specific to your CRM, industry and sales approach.

Regardless, it’s imperative to have a solid plan. It sends a signal to the whole team that CRM adoption is a priority. And, for your salespeople, it indicates that they won’t waste time trying to hit a target that’s constantly changing.

In-depth incentive award platform on a tablet device

3. Award All-Star Performances

Getting your people to go the extra mile takes the perfect incentive. But what is it?

Especially as new generations enter the working world, a one-size-fits-all approach to incentives won’t work. There’s no “right” incentive for getting your people to adopt your CRM. It’s about letting them choose what they want.

With an in-depth award platform, your team members can earn points by meeting their goals and get the things they really want.

But why awards instead of cash? Because you want people to talk about it! You want “buzz,” peer pressure and genuine advocacy. Nobody talks about cash bonuses—they stay secret and potentially drive jealousy among peers. Plus, with awards there’s an undeniable “trophy value” behind the award that serves as an ongoing reminder of their hard work—and your dedication to them.

Tangible awards are only half of the incentive puzzle. Mix in elements of intrinsic motivation, such as additional autonomy, purpose and belonging, to boost team effort.

4. Make The Incentive Fun

Awards are a great incentive, sure. But to really get people excited, make your CRM adoption incentive fun.

Build an engaging brand for your incentive program that articulates the energy and passion of your program. After all, you wouldn’t create a business without a brand that differentiates yourself from your competition. So why wouldn’t you do the same with your CRM adoption incentive program?

5. Get Competitive

Salespeople are a naturally competitive bunch—they’re in the game to win.

Chances are, they’ll be competitive to squash the competition in your incentive, too. Infuse your incentive with elements of competition, such as leaderboards, to make the most of your team’s energetic tendencies in an engaging, positive way.

6. Address Problems and Improve

With any competition, you’ll run into some who aren’t quite making the cut. And that’s natural. My advice to sales leaders: be a coach, not a cop.

Publically airing your people’s shortcomings is a surefire way to make them disengaged.

Many sales leaders schedule informal one-on-one conversations to get to know what makes their people tick; to see what they need to achieve their goals.

By addressing these problems before they turn into substantial issues, you’re keeping your people engaged. Plus, you get actionable feedback on how to improve the incentive.

If you planned your CRM adoption correctly, once it’s complete, you’ll run into a different (but great!) problem: your people love it.

Keep the momentum going for your whole sales team to achieve your next goal with a powerful sales incentive that grows your company's profits, captures market share and turns your people from rookies into hall-of-famers.

Rob Danna

Rob Danna

With a 25-year background in technology and sales management, Rob brings real-world performance improvement solutions to hundreds of large companies. As Vice President of Sales and Marketing at ITA Group, he prides himself by staying on the front lines of performance improvement technology and innovation.