Over time, companies can lose their way in sales.
"We have a CRM!" they exclaim, "We just need more quality leads that we can sell to - it's as simple as that!".
In my experience, it's never that simple.
When you manage the sales process in an "ad-hoc" way, the sales interaction is probably pretty "ad-hoc" as well. So there's some detective work to be done before you can get to the bottom of the best, first tactic to improve.
When sales is handled by the same staff for a length of time, managers and owners might confusing the cash flow from existing customers with sales to new customers.
To manage your Sales Process to improve deals, you'll involve the people (how they do what they do), as well as measure data on every deal, because you should have some solid figures to guide you, so that you know you are making an improvement.
Why have a sales process?
A sales process helps sellers to make the most of their time: spend more time with customers that will buy from you, less time with customers that won't, on deals you will lose.
The best place to gather the data is a CRM that measures customer interactions and how deals progress.
In my experience, most small businesses are worried about the client fulfillment - 'getting the Job done' - and lead generation far more than they are in how the sales process flows.
Michael E. Gerber
A good sales process helps you to be sure that you and the customer are a good fit together, you can avoid wasting your time later on, waiting for a deal that will never close. [Yes, I've been there. I closed it, but "phew!"]
If your process gathers information critical to the prospect (like his Challenges, Goals, Plans and Timeline) - and you capture the data - you can do a better job of each and every sale.
Without a process, you miss important steps and lose deals
Knowing how a deal should work and the ways it can go wrong, let you plan for the activities that you'll need to go through to win your prospect's trust and gather all of the information that you need from them.
Remember, things can go wrong with the process and you'll save time with a documented "Plan B".
WIth the process, you can always arrange the right supporting material ahead of time.
How will a CRM help?
Your sales process will be shared on screen, not in SOMEONE'S head
It's amazing that anyone would think that what's in your thoughts are what's in my thoughts, if we haven't shared it in words, data and diagrams.
Having some documented steps and assets (email templates, questions to remember to ask) helps you get things in the right order, or go back to make sure that missing steps are done as well.
Most often, there are other people relying on the seller to to a great job up front, rather than fixing it after the sale is closed!
A modern CRM makes it easy to capture and share that data and the answers to all the right questions. Sales managers can then see that data by company, contact and deal, to make sure that things are on track. When there are a lot of deals at once, a visual report is critical. If deals take a long time, then time spent in each deal stage can be a great indicator of whether a deal is likely to happen or not - so sellers can prioritise their time.
Can you do that in a spreadsheet? Not well, or reliably. In something old-school that sellers won't spend time in? No fresh data - no consistent results.
What you can measure, you can improve (and repeat!)
There are lots of ways to save time on "data entry" for your reps: contacts and companies should be created automatically by the CRM understands your emails and intelligently creates them for you.
Having some smart automation that can fetch missing details and round out your data gives Marketing a lot to work with - they can start to understand your contacts and how to (sparingly) send them targeted and personalised emails that will engage them better than a bland, generic newsletter.
You can predict the future when reporting can include the stage that a dela is in, its' predicted size and how long a deal has been in each stage. This can be important when getting a team to look over a stuck deal that you want to win.
You can set goals, measure and reward the team. On many different metrics - but you'll need to make them easy to measure and report on.
Now There's one place to look for sales data
I love being able to look in a single place to see all of my (and my team's) interactions on a deal, or with a client, in a timeline:
- Who did what
- When they did it
- How the client responded
You can close the loop on customer interactions
Now that you have your sales interactions via email in one place, think of what you'll need to do to capture the other channels (think Facebook Messenger, Slack, Twitter, etc)
Its a great time time to think about how your Sales and Support teams can collaborate and share information as well. Check back at this blog soon for an update.
So just choose a CRM and dive right in?
No - not quite yet. Do some research first - there are a lot of products out there. It's worthwhile thinking and planning around how sales fits into the rest of your teams and making those interactions seamless as well.