I was recently reminded of two very important and strategically crucial data points while attending Sales2.0. The first revenue-numbing fact is that 65% of a sales rep’s time is spent NOT doing what they are ultimately paid for—selling[1]. According to studies, the ratio of time spent on non-selling tasks to time spent on selling tasks is 65/35. The second equally disturbing data point is that 74% of sales organizations have poor CRM adoption[2].

These two rather vexing figures clearly demonstrate that all is far from perfect in today’s world of Sales 2.0. Nevertheless, it’s the double-edged “bad news, good news” thing. The bad news is that your sales organization likely falls within these two operational averages. The good news is that you can be the hero that drives sales through the roof. All you have to do is solve these two problems!

While at first, these issues may not appear to be related, a closer examination will show that they most certainly are. The 65/35 efficiency factor highlights the fact that reps are already spending far less time talking with prospects than they should be. When reps are entering data into the CRM system, they are not talking with prospects.

When they are updating their forecasts, they are not talking with prospects. When they are logging call report notes into the CRM system, they are not talking with prospects.  If this sounds a bit repetitious, it is to illustrate the obvious – this 65/35 efficiency factor is not only related to the poor adoption of CRM, it just may be the Achilles heel of CRM, and it is indeed a tragedy when it comes down to a rep’s sales performance.

Here’s why. Reps are keenly aware of all the tasks they need to perform that drain away their selling time, as well as their drive and motivation. Some of these tasks, like creating proposals, sending and responding to emails, and conducting pre-call research are recognized by reps as valuable expenditures of their time because they result in sales. Other motivation-depleting tasks, like logging daily activity reports, are not viewed in the same light. Reps can’t make the mental connection between performing administrative tasks and closing deals. So how do you increase CRM adoption if much of the drive-deadening data-entry processes, while valuable to you as a manager, are seen as a real pain-in-the-aspiration by your reps?

Clearly, you have two options. You can either incentivize your reps to use the system with regularity and therefore, gain efficiencies in their operational performance, or you can literally change the game. Let me start with the first one.

Increasing CRM adoption through Gamification

Gamification typically involves applying game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and functionally engaging. Gamification has been called one of the most important trends in technology by several industry experts. And when applied to CRM, gamification can serve to create fun and engaging experiences, converting reluctant users into eager and enthusiastic participants. Variable compensation in the form of commissions and spiffs is really just a form of gamification. If you close a deal, you win this spiff or that. The more revenue you generate, the more commission dollars you’ll earn.  In the simplest of terms, when the reward compensates for the routine (of CRM), revenue is sure to rise.

But companies like Leveleleven are changing the game (if you will). Leveleleven is a sales contest application that runs inside of Salesforce CRM. It allows companies to create engaging contests that give reps new reasons to learn—and use—the system to its fullest. With Leveleleven, you can create a contest based on any Salesforce object.

Much of CRM resistance is due to a natural reluctance to learn new habits and work-styles. This is especially the case for reps’ apparent aversion to getting ‘up-to-speed’ with CRM because its ‘learning curve’ requires an inordinate upfront investment of time and energy before the rewards can be realized. Leveleleven’s  gamification platform rewards reps throughout the process, and therefore increasing the odds of institutionalizing the desired behavioral changes.

Change the game

I firmly believe that for many sales organizations, CRM as we know it today is not and never will be an efficient use of a sales rep’s time. Unfortunately, there have been no better alternatives. With the advent of new mobile technologies like location reporting, high-speed wireless connectivity, along with cloud computing, new approaches for capturing data are appearing that are better suited for mobile sales teams. The form-factor of a smartphone or a tablet makes mobile computing ubiquitous. No more waiting for laptop systems to boot-up. No more finding a flat surface to perch the laptop. No more keyboard!

Truly mobile B2B sales organizations, like those of retail merchandisers and pharmaceutical companies, need to be much more agile and results-ready than laptop computers equipped with CRM allows them to be. Flipping through multiple CRM screens to manage their work day’s task-flow just doesn’t make sense. Next generation sales tools like SalesPod deliver a non-intrusive method for reps to capture and report sales activities in the moment, and at the same time provide managers with the visibility they so badly need.

If your sales organization is highly mobile, CRM may no longer be the best tool. I’m not suggesting that you ditch CRM altogether. Just don’t make your mobile Salesforce use it directly as their main interface for inputting or retrieving data. Use a tool like SalesPod to move the 65/35 efficiency needle to a more balanced ratio that will deliver more revenue. Use your CRM more like the database it is. Feed it with data collected from a more agile system like Salespod.

Big Data or Little Data?

One of the most sought-after advantages of CRM systems is to provide the “big data” management needs to make smart decisions. With such poor adoption of CRM, it’s become painfully clear that you can’t have big data without little data—little data being what the rep is expected to put into the system.  Without the all-important little data being fed into the pipeline, both accurately and consistently, management will have no reliable big data to make those decisions.

Whichever approach you choose, gamifying CRM through incentive-centered motivational strategies, or changing the game with newer and more versatile technologies, the end-result will be higher sales efficiency. Managers need to find the critical balance between the objectives of the user (the reps) and the targets of the system (CRM) so that both ‘components’ can execute and achieve a more productive and revenue-efficient exchange of time and effort while using the system. Ultimately, the entire process can give the reps what they actually require to meet their targets, and you will become more aware and responsive to their needs, so that everyone can obtain maximized results.


[1] Forrester research

[2] CSO Insights