Six Keys to Driving Sales through the Disciplined Use of CRM

By: | Category: CRM

Following up my last post Why the Disciplined Use of CRM Matters Now More than Ever, here I will discuss how to start to leveraging CRM in a more direct, prescribed way to drive change and results.

Here are six things you can do that have proven successful for other companies we work with:

1. Establish a weekly or regular cadence for Sales Operations reviews. I would suggest no less than once every two weeks.

Establish your top key metrics you want to measure and make sure the measurements are producible from CRM – this drives adoption of the sales team and as a result they are ‘led’ into following best practices. Examples of some key metrics:

  • New Leads Identified in the period
  • Number of leads qualified and turned into sales opportunities
  • Pipeline dollars added or identified in the period
  • Pipeline dollar value of opportunities in critical sales stages (such as proposal / quote review, negotiation or other designation that represents and advanced stage).
  • Deals won (signed) – not to be confused with PO’s you received from clients who simply are ordering ‘more’. Measure the wins where your sales team directly drove and led the process to a positive outcome vs. orders where they were simply the beneficiary or recipient or a reoccurring order.
  • New Clients Added (or Orders from 1st year clients).

There are many measurable you could focus on, but these give you an example of clear, discreet elements that can be tracked as a team and down to each sales rep.

Measure your pipeline with the same level of detail and timeliness as you do your inventory and cash flow. The better grasp you have on your potential business, the more you can influence the results and manage risk.

What you don’t see in this sample set of reports are measures of activity such as calls or meetings held. As a general rule, if your sales team is performing properly, you should see the results of activities manifested in the outcome-based metrics listed above. Anyone can log a call to make a report look good. But advancing an opportunity to a critical or advanced sales stage – where it becomes an item of focus & scrutiny – is much more important.

If the results in the outcome based metrics aren’t what you want or expect, then drill down into activities, calls, etc. to try and see what is happening and where you can coach or course correct.

2. Ensure each salesperson has identified the ‘Vital Few’, ‘Best Few’ or ‘Focus Opportunities’ for each month or quarter. This is often done jointly by the salesperson and sales manager.

These should be identified at the beginning of the month (or quarter) and somehow marked or designated within CRM through a unique field or attribute. Sales reviews should focus heavily on these items and their progress. These are the opportunities your sales team members are identifying as being the most likely to close with an appropriate value. An Opportunity marked as a Best Few deal should stay in this designation unless the sales manager agrees to take it out.

Measure success of Vital Few opportunities apart from the rest of the funnel to see if the team is effectively identifying their best few deals and how effective they are at handling them. Ideally, because you spend more time and resources on these deals, you should expect to see a higher win rate in this area. If not, reassess your process, approach and what types of opportunities you should be focusing on in the future.

3. Ensure all Wins and Losses are identified – especially the losses. Opportunities are never to be deleted. They can be marked loss and given a reason, but they never go away. Unless you are in a high-volume call center environment with an expected low buy rate, don’t auto close quotes or opportunities. Ensure that the final disposition of each opportunity is set and managed by the opportunity owner to ensure that they aren’t being overlooked or neglected.

Make sure you periodically review your losses – especially on the Vital or Best Few deals you have identified. Look for clusters of loss reasons around certain product types, sales individuals or territories. What a-typical results can you find that might be indicative of a trend you can address?

4. Ensure each opportunity has a way to track the next planned ‘touch or engagement date’ and a way for the salesperson to convey in very short, simple terms their next planned action. Too often opportunities have a close date, a stage, a dollar amount and some notes without any way of organizing or planning upcoming activities or actions. Whether you use specific fields for this, tasks or appointment records, or some other mechanism, have an approach that all sales team members consistently follow to ensure they actually have a sales plan for each opportunity.

Applying this one simple change, and then making the ‘next steps’ public for each opportunity yields some surprising and interesting results.

Opportunities that stick around ‘forever’ without meaningful next steps thought out are likely dead. Kill them, close them out – or turn them into leads to be re-qualified before being added back to the pipeline. Make sure your sales team is focused on real, tangible sales opportunities and not inflating their pipeline with all the best-case myopic visions they are holding out for.

5. Provide your sales teams and individuals dashboard views that show in real time their progress to key performance goals. Whether its opportunities won (deals closed), leads added, new clients on boarded, there should be some visual summary they can see at any time that reinforces the outcomes you care about. Again, focus on the measurable outcomes, not activities unless there is a performance correction scenario.

Make these dashboards public – at both a team and individual level. It will drive changes in behavior.

So, if you are like most organizations, and are focused on improving sales and customer engagement, start by applying the same discipline with your CRM platform as you do with your ERP/Accounting solution and other operational systems. If you follow the same level of disciplined focus on key analytics, activities and processes which ultimately make sales teams more focused, targeted, and effective over time – you will see the results.