If you had to guess what one of the most under-utilized sales resources is in any organization what do you think it would be? The list may be long, could include everything from the inside sales team to leveraging demos and sales collateral effectively. My bet though would be the effective use of a company’s sales CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.
Over the last four years we have had the opportunity to work with over 30 companies of various sizes in a variety of sectors and to be honest, none have made good use of their sales CRM system and a number didn’t even have one. If you are still using Excel today and think it is doing the job, time to re-think this. With a number of sales CRM systems available as a software as a service, there is now no excuse. The price point is really low and any cost will be more than made up in time savings and proper information gathering and storage.
Your sales CRM system should be the core infrastructure of your sales efforts. It provides not only reporting metrics such as your sales funnel, activities completed and meetings booked by your sales team but it also provides great insight into your:
Where are you having sales and marketing success and why, thereby allowing you to better utilize finite budget resources
Operations and Logistics
As an example, for one client we secured a large order (third largest in the company’s history) and it drove both operational and logistical challenges. Operational in the sense that a considerable amount of customization work needed to be done to each product before shipping and given the timelines this had to be managed accordingly. Logistical in the sense that these products had to be shipped up to Northern Ontario and only five units could be shipped on a large truck at one time due to their size and again due to timelines this was challenging. My point here is that by understanding what is in your sales funnel, you can then begin to plan operationally and logistically for growth and not get caught when trying to fulfill an order while at the same time continue servicing your existing customers impeccably.
Customers and their Relationship with your Company
The other core component a sales CRM provides is transparency for senior management and risk mitigation in case a sales person leaves. The contacts, activities and account history are all captured. You should at least be able to get caught up on the activities of an account and step in appropriately with the correct contact. What would you do if your best sales person left today with a handful of your best customers and you didn’t have any of those customers’ names, contact details or activity history? I suppose you could pour through old invoices and PO’s to learn more information but would that give you a great feel for the relationship itself, up-sell opportunity etc? To me that sounds like a very risky place to be. A sales CRM system helps alleviate that danger.
The other side of this is that many sales managers will say that they simply can’t get their sales people to enter the data. Well, my answer to this is simple: you need to make it part of the job description and begin to tie compensation around its utilization. By tracking stats in your sales CRM system, you can use this as feed back into your sales person’s review process and compensation. As a professional sales person who has a lot of activity happening for a variety of clients, I would be absolutely lost without a good sales CRM system and it is the only method I have of providing my clients with transparency into my efforts.
So the time is now, invest in a good sales CRM system (we like Salesforce) or look for ways to better utilize your existing sales CRM investment.
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