The only topic that solicits more comments across our blog, LinkedIn group and Twitter feed than “How to Select a CRM System” is “Why Won’t Reps Use Our CRM System?”

CRM systems have suffered from poor adoption ever since the day they evolved from their Salesforce Automation (SFA) roots. The focus of SFA was to digitize a Rolodex® to better keep track of prospect contact details and to make the completion of tasks easier with notes and reminders. Address books and tasks are obviously essential tools for a salesperson. For the most part, salespeople embraced SFA.

It was when SFA morphed into CRM that the focus began to shift away from tools that make a rep’s life easier to tools that provide much needed insight and reporting to management. At that point, CRM become a central repository of data on prospect and customer interactions. Because of its critical new role, management now requires reps to use the system in a way that works best for management –which translates to standardized and consistent data input.

Only with standardized and consistent data can they measure and then correlate performance with results. Lost in this quest for standardized reporting is the ability for a salesperson to adopt a method for recording activities and managing tasks that works best for them personally.

Forcing people to work in a style that’s contrary to their natural tendencies has several downsides, the biggest of which is non-compliance, or poor adoption. Others include lower productivity, lower job satisfaction and lower morale.

So how do you reconcile management’s need for standardized data with a sales rep’s need for individuality? Find a way for reps to comply with reporting requirements without having to change the way they normally work.

A company called Yesware offers one approach. Recognizing that email is the medium where most sales-relevant communication takes place, they introduced a product that lets reps use those email exchanges as a means to record prospecting activity in the CRM system.

In its simplest form, Yesware is a “skin” or menu that is over-laid on top of the Gmail interface. (Sorry Outlook users. The initial version is a Gmail only tool). The Yesware menu gives reps the ability to send emails from templates (which can be customized on the fly). The templates are selected from categories such as; prospecting, pipeline, objections, support and personal. When emails are sent, they’re logged into the appropriate record in the CRM system if the rep so chooses. This provides a means to standardize the way communication is logged without affecting the normal work-flow (other than to check a box).

The Yesware system offers other benefits as well. One of my favorites is the ability to see how your prospect engages with your message – when they open it, where they read it, even what platform they use. This tracking gives reps and managers key customer insights without the need for additional data entry such as; which messages resonate best, whether high-performing reps are communicating differently than lower performing reps or which follow-up is most critical based on prospect activity.

Yesware has found an innovative way for reps and managers to each get what they need in a way that is acceptable to both.

There’s no question that information needs to be collected and logged in a standardized way for it to be measurable and actionable. The question is how you can get reps to comply, without it negatively affecting their productivity or morale. Finding a way for activities to be logged in the normal course of a rep’s daily routine is a great place to start.

Yesware is a free application available to Gmail and Google Chrome users. Go to www.yesware.com to learn more.

About the author

Nancy Nardin

Nancy Nardin is a recognized thought leader on sales technologies and building a sales stack. Smart Selling Tools reviews the latest sales and marketing software across multiple categories, including Inside Sales, Sales Intelligence, Sales Acceleration, Pipeline Management & Deal Flow, and Predictive Sales Analytics. It's been named a Top Sales Blog by HubSpot, and Nancy Nardin has been named alongside Forbes’ top 30 social sales influencers in the world. Follow Nancy on Twitter @sellingtools