Why CRM's are holding your sales team back

Posted by James Pember on 8/29/14 10:37 AM

Ah, the trusty CRM. The sturdy backbone of every sales team. The workhorse. The storage for all our sales data. The holy mecca of sales enlightenment, helping us to close more deals with all that great information right at our fingertips.

Wouldn’t it be great if salespeople actually used and enjoyed CRM’s?

Ok, that was cheeky. CRM’s are important, we use (and cherish one) ourselves, but you get the point I’m trying to make. Management loves them, most salespeople use them unwillingly. No wonder CRM companies like Base are trying to persuade customers using the tagline, “The CRM your team will ACTUALLY use”. It’s a fact, driving CRM usage and adoption is a major problem faced by most sales managers and directors today.

So, why don’t a lot of salespeople see the inherent value in a CRM? The answer is simple, CRM’s don’t speak directly to salespeople. They speak to sales management.

Before we dive deeper into the problems with CRM, let’s take some time to look into what truly motivates sales people.

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding salespeople, is that they are purely fuelled by a desire to make money. However, extensive research shows that financial compensation is not the primary driver of sales motivation and work ethic. In 2010, The Tas Group surveyed salespeople to try and find out what truly motivates salespeople. The results were fascinating (but not at all surprising).

Sales Incentive Survey

As the graphic above shows, reps are primarily motivated by “winning or making progress”. In other words, the feeling of “leveling up” and progressing through your career.

A study by the Incentive Research Foundation found that 50% fewer reps are motivated by money, compared to just 5 years ago. This indicates a massive shift in how millennials are motivated at work, and how we need to manage them.

Sales gamification, i.e. making progress, being part of a great culture and peer recognition are the new cash bonuses.

To summarise, most of what we are using to motivate our reps may not even motivate them into higher performance.

“Ok, I get it - carrots and sticks don’t necessarily motivate my team. What’s this got to do with CRM?”

If we agree that salespeople are motivated by recognition and personal development, we should also agree that traditional sales support software is failing us.

“Does the CRM system provide feedback to the user on the progress they are making – or is is just used for data entry to supply management with whatever reports they need.”

The solution? Good old fashioned sales leaderboards!

Let me be clear, I’m not suggesting you throw out your CRM. We haven’t. CRM’s are vitally important. They help us store information that can be reused over and over again. What’s critical though, is that sales managers understand the different roles that different tools play in motivating and driving their teams.

Salespeople are highly competitive and driven people, who work best when they are focused, motivated and energized. We must understand that current CRM’s won’t help us foster more motivated and energized salespeople.

CRM’s play an important role, but they don’t drive results, motivation or energy. The best sales teams still use leaderboards to drive their teams forward.

A good old-fashioned leaderboard. Yes, they’ve been around for a hundred years, and yes - they still work! The best salespeople are competitive beasts - so start driving desired behaviours by setting up a competition.

Here’s the difference though. Instead of building the leaderboard around sales and financials, build the leaderboard based on activities. Find the behaviour that you feel will lead to more results - and use a competition to drive it. It can be anything, booked meetings, follow up phone calls booked, invoices sent out or even “25 calls before 9am”.

Leaderboards drive real-time engagement, accountability, transparency and recognition. They energise, motivate and drive your team towards higher sales performance.

Don’t rely on your CRM for that.

Note: If you’re looking for a tool to run you competitions, Sparta offers a free trial (, but whiteboards and Excel sheets will work fine if that’s your thing :)


Do you really expect a tool like this to drive energy, motivation and results?


Topics: sales productivity, sales, tips for sales managers, sales management, sales competitions, motivating sales people, how to motivate sales team, sales motivation, CRM, sales software

What is Sparta?

Sparta is an end-to-end sales performance solution that helps you coach, train and drive your team into higher performance.

Create sales competitions, set collabarative team targets and inspire your team to crush their goals! 

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