If you’re not using CRM software or just struggling to make it work for you, consider this parable:
“Jones! There are three days left in the quarter and we’re 10% behind our revenue number! What’s going on?!” The yell came from the owner of the company and hit Keith Jones like a punch in the gut. Keith had been with the company for ten years and as the top producing salesperson for most of those years, he was used to getting high fives, atta-boys and big bonus checks from his boss.
Keith couldn’t blame his boss. Bill Michaels had started the company out of his home and built it into the largest supplier in the industry. Keith joined Bill two years after he had started and was there for a lot of the struggles and most of wins.
A few months ago, Bill had convinced the team to add two new big lines to their products. They offered opportunities to penetrate new markets and take the company beyond the plateau they had reached. They all agreed that the sales team would need to expand and that a full time sales manager was needed to lead the hiring, training and management of the team. As the number one salesperson, Keith seemed like the perfect answer. After all, no one was better at selling to their customers. Keith just needed to build a team of mini-me’s.
“I’m trying to track down Daniels right now. Last I heard the deal with National Services is still a go. That will put us near our goal.”, hollered Keith back at his boss. In his mind, a voice said “Daniels hasn’t said a word about the National deal in 3 days. That’s not a good sign. What are the odds it’s been delayed or worse, lost?”
A thought went through Keith’s mind that had been coming up consistently for two months… “What am I doing wrong? The team knows the products and they’re finding opportunities. Why aren’t they closing? Why can’t I see what’s going to happen before its too late?”
Sales Management Challenges
- Does this sound familiar?
- Why can’t you accurately forecast sales?
- Why don’t you have the latest phone number or name of the billing contact at your largest account?
- Why can’t you pull together a list of hot prospects to email and invite to your hospitality suite at the upcoming trade show?
To answer these questions, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have a sales process that the team is using consistently?
- Do you have a way to measure and manage what sales people are doing everyday?
If the answer to either of these questions is no, then making it a yes is the first step to addressing your challeges with forecasting sales and leveraging opportunities with information.
Process, CRM Software and Reporting
Unfortunately, it’s very common for sales organizations to face these challenges:
- Lack of reporting on sales activities and opportunities
- Inconsistent use of CRM software solutions
- Lack of documented sales process to measure
Without a clearly defined sales process, there’s limited ability to measure what’s happening as leads become prospects, proposals and opportunities and move toward purchase. This means sales managers have only the actual sales results and what they see and hear about to use as data in managing the sales effort.
Without consistent reporting of activities in the process that lead to sales, there’s no benchmark with which to compare actual performance in order to see problems early in the process and enable action.
And the most common underlying reason for all of this is that the sales people just won’t play along. The inmates are running your asylum. They instinctively revisit the effort to define their processes and to track their activities. Sometimes part of the problem is that leadership are in fact the top producing sales people. It’s difficult for anyone to analyze their own job performance objectively.
Is there any other part of your business in which you’d expect success without knowing how the job is getting done?
If your growing your sales team, it’s going to take a lot of time and money to turn profitable without addressing these challenges.
A few suggestions with links to helpful resources:
Survey the sales team to find out where they feel the opportunities and challenges are.
Get the team on-board with your high level goals.
Develop a clearly defined sales process.
Find the CRM software that fits best for your sales team.
Put the CRM software and sales process in place in a way that includes the entire team.