THE CRM IS A PAINFUL EXPERIENCE.

If you are a salesperson, one thing I can predict about you with great certainty is that your daily experience of the CRM is one of pain. 

We feel the same about the CRM at Touch.

On a daily basis using delightful products like Superhuman, Notion, Trello, and others make the CRM feel like driving an old manual car; practical economical, necessary for taking you from A to B.

The cost of the painful CRM experience is more than just misery; as research shows that $8bn each year is lost by sales/support agents using confusing software.

I would love to achieve the same feeling of delight that I have for the products I mentioned above with my CRM. 

An amazing experience with the CRM would have a disproportionate impact on sales performance. When I stop to think what I desire from my CRM it could be described as the following:

  1. – For the CRM to not feel like the worst tool in my stack.
  2. – For managing the CRM to feel effortless.
  3.  

What stands out about these goals is that they are feelings, in particular of delight and effortlessness. A different psychological state is what I am seeking.  

As our personal experience of anything in the environment is subjective, I wanted to see if I could achieve feelings of delight with my CRM using behavioral psychology. 

ANY EXPERIENCE Can be adjusted BY CONTEXT & SETTING:

Setting & Context are large factors in the pain or reward you experience.

A great example of alleviating pain because of the right setting is the placebo effect. 

In the correct setting if you are told something by someone you trust (a doctor) humans can believe huge amounts of pain from physical and mental conditions can be alleviated with no real product.

Then there is the context in which information is presented to us. Based on this our experience can greatly differ. Here is a quick thought experiment to run:

If I was told my salary would be £70k and every other person in the world would average £50k I would be fairly happy with this outcome.

Yet, if I was told my salary would be £150k and the average salary around the world would be £200k, I would feel totally different.

Pain and delight can be manipulated using setting and context. I wanted to apply this to my experience of the CRM to achieve my desired goals:

CRM feeling slow to use >>>> fast and effortless

CRM feeling painful when doing data entry >>>> intrinsically rewarding

FIRST UP – Adjust THE setting of the CRM:

The CRM is built to be a management tool and this is my problem with it. Everything about the CRM you work from feels like it was designed by Big Brother to watch over you.

My needs as salesperson feel as though they were ignored for the reporting needs of management. The speed I want and the minimal apple style interface I like in all of my applications I work from are not a priority.  

Because I (and salespeople) was a lower priority for the creators of the CRM, naturally, I have very little reward from using it.  This leads to me creating and managing tasks in Asana, communicating from other apps and even using pen and paper. They all feel like faster and simpler alternatives. 

Yet in terms of my psychology, there is something I failed to realize. Every single use of other software which is a fast and delightful experience was making my CRM feel incrementally worse.

The setting of the CRM is this, it is surrounded by wonderful products. Stunning UI, superfast, delightful to use. How does this make the CRM feel?

What if when I worked on the CRM I closed every other app, blocked all notifications and removed every distraction that felt faster or more delightful than working from my CRM. I would change the setting of my CRM and experience would surely change.

SECONDLY – THE CONTEXT

Selling feels valuable, updating the CRM doesn’t. Yet my goal was to fall in love with the habit of updating your CRM. 

So I decided to reread James Clear – Atomic Habits to change the experience of managing my CRM. The one statement that shifted the context to make my CRM management feel effortless was this – You are nothing but an aggregate of your daily habits. 

Great athletes have great daily running habits.

Great writers have great daily writing habits.

And research shows great salespeople have great daily organizational habits.

Habits compound to create disproportionate results. They are also a vote for the type of person you are, every time you complete a positive habit you are reinforcing the identity attached to this.

With this in mind, even CRM data entry felt rewarding as it became linked to my identity as a salesperson. The book started to make me view habits as money depositing into a bank account for sales success.

It was just a case of learning a few tools to make my daily habits feel effortless to execute. Here was the approach:

Set a specific time, place, and duration.

Writing down the time, the environment, and the duration you will perform a task increases the chance of completing that task by 100%.

Every day in my calendar is a recurring task which is also an activity in my CRM. A hygiene session is booked every day without fail. 

Make new habits easy and small

First, the habit needs to be created of showing up for CRM hygiene, and then your can work on the duration. Initially, this task was set in my calendar just 15 mins every day. This removed the pressure and got me into the habit of just showing up.

Stacking habits with existing ones

If you stack a habit on top of an existing habit, the chance of completing this habit dramatically increases.

I started to stack my daily task for CRM hygiene directly after another habit in my calendar that was already automatic. My morning walk and afternoon coffee break. I placed both existing habits into the calendar with the CRM hygiene session directly after, piggybacking onto my existing habits.

Give yourself variable rewards

Every habit is one or a set of actions we automatically take to change our state. The reward or dopamine hit we receive at the end is what makes us more likely to continue. This is often why we struggle to pursue habits that have long-term benefits yet no initial reward or dopamine hit. It may be better for us to have a celery stick in the long term when we feel hungry but a chocolate bar gives us an immediate reward so becomes easier to form a habit with.

What we need are rewards for completing CRM hygiene and more importantly variable rewards.  They have uncertainty built-in and create a larger dopamine hit than known rewards.

So I created a set of rewards that I desperately wanted and only received for CRM hygiene tasks. Created on paper and picked out of a jar, some of these were also blank, this way I created a surprise element to the process.

The RESULTS

This was the new setting for my CRM.

  • Only ever one tab open, the CRM
  • All notifications blocked from the desktop and mobile.
  • Removed all distractions from my workplace (WFH makes this harder)

The new context for the CRM:

  • Great organizational habits make great salespeople.
  • CRM habits are linked to my identity making them feel 10x in importance.
  • CRM habits feel effortless by following a few simple principles from Atomic Habits.

The next 3 weeks I tracked the number of activities completed in my CRM compared with the prior 3 weeks. The results were amazing:

Weeks One to Three:

28 CRM tasks completed daily 

17 new tasks set daily

127 mins spent in the CRM daily 

32 overdue tasks

Weeks Four to Six:

47 CRM tasks completed daily

45 new tasks set daily

111 minutes spent in the CRM daily

0 overdue tasks

CONCLUSION

The results were absolutely amazing. On an absolute measure, I was setting and completing more CRM tasks per day but interestingly I was spending slightly less time in the CRM.

Most importantly on a psychological level I noticed the following. My focus level increased, I was happier spending time in the CRM and towards the end started to look forward to my CRM data entry time.

This small experiment proved to me that you can shape a positive experience by manipulating your psychology. I wouldn’t say I am delighted to use the CRM but everything certainly feels easier.

Your psychology is crucial as a salesperson and it’s important to make sure it’s in a positive frame regardless of the challenges.

My favorite person to listen to on solving the problems we face with psychology first is Rory Sutherland. As you guessed, on the subject of Habits I am a big fan of James Clear. I would highly recommend exploring the material of both as it will no doubt spark further ideas.