Skip to navigation | Skip to content | Skip to footer


Follow our blog to keep up-to-date with the most recent industry news & updates. Alternatively, you can browse our archive below.

Using the Carrot and Stick in CRM

We have all heard of the carrot and stick analogy and this is often applied to Sales teams.

Customer Relationship Management software projects, in addition to good system design and choice, in particular are very dependent for their success on the following factors:-

  • Sales Team culture

• Existing sales and marketing processes

• Ability to take ownership of their data

• Enthusiasm and commitment to CRM

A lot of time is spent on these topics, in education, design and in cleansing data and of course in training.

However, the history of CRM is littered with projects that have not been successful, and whilst you can argue what this actually constitutes, nonetheless, in my view, uniquely, CRM adoption does depend to a large degree on the attitude and commitment to the system by the Sales Team, more so than in comparison with other more regimented software applications such as ERP.

In any sales team there will be a mix of some who readily adopt and update the system on a regular basis and embrace the benefits and usefulness of the software in helping to manage their day to day activities and reporting, whilst for others, they may well be, shall we say, less than enthusiastic.…hence the consideration of the use of the Carrot and the Stick.

So how can we use this approach when introducing a new system or indeed in revitalising a project?

Let’s split the two elements down with Carrot Factors being now relabelled as Motivators and Stick Factors being the Non-Compliance Motivators or in plain language, Penalties!

Motivating or Carrot factors

Save time. Yes, an extra 5 minutes adding information when it is still fresh can save time and embarrassment in future. I always say whenever a price is mentioned, record this in your notes since every customer and prospect always remembers a price that is quoted. This also saves times for others, so 5 minutes now can save either you or others an hour further down the line!

Less conversations with the Boss! The Manager can see information now easily so this should lead in theory at least, to fewer internal ‘update’ meetings and those that happen should be more focussed.

Less time producing Management reports or even, now don’t have too! If the system is kept up to data and data is inputted correctly (there are aspects here of good system design) then Reports just need to be generated on the basis of a click.

More and better Qualified Leads. Marketing rely on good quality data and their campaigns will be better focused and targeted with an up-to-date relevant source system.

Better Opportunity Conversion ratios. So, it follows that if the data from marketing is better, less time is wasted on chasing ‘tyre kickers’ and the engagement with prospects should be improved, which can lead to shorter lead times and better conversions.

Less chasing from Marketing. If contact data is correct, marketing can rely on the quality of data, making better engagement campaigns and less chasing, for example ‘Titles’ not being completed is a pet hate of mine over the years.

Fewer internal meetings or corridor meetings, and those that are needed, can with information from CRM, dive straight into the point and be shorter.

Finally, with any good design and implementation, there should be less paperwork for the Salesman…..always a big motivator since both Management Reports and Marketing Reports should be able to be taken directly from the system and confidence in a well-maintained and up-to-date system will in turn give Management confidence. A poorly maintained system conversely could lead to more of the above since data gaps will become self-evident. E.g. No Closing date, No update on an Opportunity Stage for weeks, No Titles, Missed Closing Dates or just no notes or activity on the Opportunity!

….which nicely leads us onto, shall we say Non-Compliance Motivators or in reality the Stick!

Compliance Motivators or the Stick factors

Here we need to consider ideas like:-

• Terms and Conditions. My view is that this works best with new appointees since the use of a system should be a key part of any new contract, in the same way as there is a duty of care to look after the new car, laptop and mobile, so using the CRM system is actually a key Role/Duty for any Sales Rep and they need to update the system on a daily basis.

Performance Bonuses. A common example of this are those tied to Sales Opportunity, for example, if it has not been created before the sale, none or more likely, a reduced commission applies! After all, the visibility of a Sales Pipeline in CRM is frequently a key reason for its introduction as well as accuracy.

Account or Ownership Disputes. One of the great things about CRM is that it tracks and date stamps the creation time and who created a record. So you can use this in disputes in terms of who created, gets ownership. Those that register the account first are the winners in any dispute, as the system proves this!

Expenses Payments. These can be cross-checked or indeed based on completed Appointments and some systems do this or there are integrations around. Possibly a bit onerous and often a sensitive subject!

But, my favourite mantra in any problem or conflict is that “If it’s not in CRM, then it didn’t happen!”

Before you apply both…

Firstly, you will need to consider and ensure that the sales teams views and input has been taken into account during the decision making process and there has been active engagement in any Scoping and System Design Workshop meetings. If the teams or chosen key members are actively involved, ideally with changes made and agreed to with the team, for example ensuring there are not too many fields on day one, this will help with adoption and usage without the need for too many or too onerous non-compliance motivators.

Secondly, my view is that the benefits of CRM should be sold in first to the team and that these are Big Self Evident Carrots and that the balancing Stick should be small. In fact, the bigger the Stick, then this is symptomatic of possibly more deep rooted problems and it may be time to revisit the design and choice of system being used, so you do need to recognise sometimes, the software itself may be the problem or this highlights other problems with the sales team.


When planning a CRM implementation, as in many software and IT projects, the psychology of the Users needs to be understood and taken into account, but consider beforehand the culture of your team and ensure you are aware of what the main motivators or carrots need to be and whether you need a big or small stick. Make it clear to all about not only the importance of the system, but why non-compliance has to be penalised, even if you reduce these penalties to a minimum, invariably there are lines of conflict between salespeople or teams and this is one of the great things about CRM, you can say “if it’s not there, it didn’t happen” and date stamping enables you to wield out those that are trying to ‘pull the other one’.

Now your own thoughts and feedback?

Whilst writing this blog, it became apparent that there are lots of possible ways to help motivate and penalise and I’ve tried to highlight just a few ideas in each category, so this does not claim to be a complete list of all factors. It would be interesting to hear readers own views and ideas of what Carrot and Sticks you have used and what results you have achieved. Indeed, what is your most successful Carrot factor!

20th February 2017