A great deal of my time is spent convincing the sales guys that Sugar will help them and then making the results obvious. This has been a major undertaking. But whenever you introduce big changes to the workflow, the biggest component to buy-in from your team is understanding their needs and mindset.
Having been through this process, there are a few lessons that I can pass on to help get any sales team on board with a new CRM.
1) Start things off right: Our rollout with Sugar got off to a slow start. We organized a training session with our entire sales force. It was a huge undertaking and a major inconvenience to get everyone in the room. And midway through the day, the meeting crashed and burned because we didn’t have Sugar locked down. Every salesman could see every other salesman’s contact opportunity, and it was just a total fiasco. We had to stop our presentation and everybody went back home with a sour taste in their mouth. It’s been a recovery mission ever since. We made sure that each guy only sees his contacts, his opportunities, his leads. We’ve had to rebuild from that first experience. Gaining confidence back from everyone has been a big challenge, and we still haven’t won everybody over yet on that aspect. It’s important to have your ducks in a row before you present something of this scale to your team. Start things off right to build trust and confidence.
2) Make sure it’s personal: We have a team of about 40 sales reps. That’s a lot of ground to cover in order to give a personal touch. But, in my opinion, it’s the only way to do it. Everybody’s completely different. My boss and I have made it my mission to travel all of our 11 different locations spanning the whole mid-Atlantic region, from Pennsylvania down to South Carolina, to meet with each of our sales reps and site managers. I’m the Sugar Champion who’s teaching our teams one-on-one how to use the software.
3) See things from their perspective: Instead of just meeting with each of our reps, I actually ride along as they go on their sales calls/meetings. I talk to them about their needs and what tools would make their lives easier. I get to know them and make notes about different areas where Sugar could help them out. They tell me their concerns and I really hear them. For our reps, they also get to know me. I’m not some guy in an office dictating initiatives to them. I’m the guy beside them on their route, trying to make their job easier.
4) Refine your sales pitch: Once I hear them out and they get to know me, I start by naturally commenting on ways Sugar will help them complete a time-consuming task much more effectively. I like to teach Sugar to them individually and in areas they have interest. If I’m over the top pushing the platform, they simply won’t respond. But by showing how certain features can help—in real time as they’re in the middle of a more inefficient process—it starts to click. Certain functions, like dictating and sending their notes, are becoming more popular.
5) Listen to team feedback: I had to find out what the guys really want and what they’re lacking. Riding with them all day long, it became obvious what parts of the software they were tripping over. With all the tutorials they have access to through Sugar, they now see the productivity side of it. That’s what all these guys want. They’re trying to go 100 miles per hour and Sugar is something that can make it easier and simpler.
6) Get management buy-in: My first job with W.O. Grubb was and still is to post any new sales leads I find through several search engines that we are using. Now, I feed the sales force these leads exclusively through Sugar. This way it has a trickle-down effect because branch managers have to access the platform as well. To a certain extent, we’re driving them to use Sugar, but for clear, actionable results. It’s helping them to learn the platform naturally and I’m right there to assist whenever there is a problem.