Sales training for CRM: The 3 sales rep types & how to reach them

About Chris Zeppenfeld

Director, Database Marketing and Analytics, Charlotte Hornets

How can CRM fail?

Numerous studies estimate that somewhere around 50% of all CRM implementations ultimately fail.   That’s scary.  Why do CRM implementations fail?

User adoption is usually at the top of the list of most of the articles on the subject.  The recurring theme is reps and managers need ongoing CRM training to fully benefit from the installation. That brings up questions like:

  • How often do you train?
  • How long are the sessions?
  • What measurables should we use?

But, the most important questions is:  HOW am I going to treat each rep in the training session?

Typical sales responses

Tell me if any of these sound familiar among sales reps:

  • motivated by instant gratification
  • want things to be fast and quick
  • paranoid about protecting leads
  • concerned about how they will be judged by their manager
  • hates anything that slows them down from selling
  • dislikes having to put info into CRM for the sake of putting info into CRM
  • expects something to happen immediately whenever a button is clicked

After training roughly 2,000 people in my career in software, I’ve boiled it down to three types of reps you are likely to encounter in CRM training sessions. The major challenges are 1) getting buy-in and 2) keeping their attention. Achieving these goals requires different approaches with each type of rep.

THE QUESTIONER

Symptoms: 

  • always asks if CRM can do something that you haven’t built yet in CRM,
  • often the most engaged reps you have,
  • potential to be managers someday, 
  • most likely to be curious about something in CRM you never trained them on

Diagnosis: Questioners aren’t your typical rep. They want to know WHY something is the way that it is.   You may only have one or two of these people on your entire sales staff.

Treatment:

  1. Important to develop good relationship since they can be your best source of ideas for new things in CRM
  2. Focus on how CRM can make them smarter than the average rep
  3. React quickly when they complain since they can “poison” everyone else with their vocal barbs
  4. If you do create a new tool in CRM based off their suggestion, make sure to give them credit so they feel engaged
  5. Spend more time explaining the logic behind the new task and less time having them repeat the task over and over again in the training session

THE SOLDIER

Symptoms: 

  • rarely raises an issue about CRM (but if they do it’s all of them at once)
  • not curious at all about the other things in CRM outside of their world,
  • uses CRM as a means to an end rather than a tool to help them improve as a sales rep

Diagnosis: Soldiers are your typical rep: Here’s what the world looks like, put your head down, and sell it!

Treatment:

  1. Focus on showing them that CRM makes them faster and more efficient
  2. Use them as showcase examples to your staff to reward good CRM habits
  3. Engage them and ask for their input when considering adding a new feature to CRM
  4. Tell them to click where and when, and they will do it (as long as it is fast)
  5. Try to get as many repetitions as possible during the training session of the new task you are showing them

THE OLD GUARD

Symptoms:

  • usually most tenured reps consistently selling at high volume,
  • stuck in their ways,
  • struggle to get notes in CRM,
  • think their way (spreadsheets, note cards, outlook, etc.) is “good enough” to do the job,
  • often say things like, “I sold XXXX without CRM then, so I don’t need to learn this new CRM thing”

Diagnosis: Old Guards are usually skilled salespeople, but are a mixed bag when it comes to CRM adoption.

Treatment:

  1. Show them indisputable statistics that using CRM helps their winning percentage
  2. Show them that the time it takes to put in a note in CRM is less than what they are doing now (literally conduct a time trial session – if his method is quicker/better, you have a design issue)
  3. Focus on the bare essentials (put your notes in) of CRM rather than all of the bells and whistles
  4. Lean on managers for enforcement of CRM when you get non-compliance
  5. If you have to resort to threats of taking away sales for lack of CRM notes, make sure that comes from the sales manager not you!
  6. Much better to have 5 CRM training sessions over 5 days that last 10 minutes each vs. 1 training that lasts 60 minutes straight
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