I’ve received a lot of business advice since I joined the business world 25 years ago. Some of it solicited, some of it not. There are a few words of…Continue reading
Businesses knew which which employees and prospects were performing or not before they bought ever purchased CRM software. So why is the adoption of CRM growing so extensively that Salesforce1 is building the tallest building west of the Mississippi? If you are a sales leader and a bit skeptical about all the hype, consider a slight twist on the use of your CRM.
SalesforceTM took the lead in moving CRM beyond being an address book and activity log. They built a game-changing technology platform capable of supporting many facets of an organization from sales to customer service to financial operations. But every business relies first on selling something and generating more revenue. So, let’s focus on helping the sales leader – specifically those selling complex products and solutions defined by long sales cycles, multiple buying influences, and competitive options.
In complex selling organizations the Funnel Review is one place where a sales leader can get a true pulse on future business. The Funnel Review can reveal what activity and progress has already occurred and what critical pieces must be addressed to win and close the business. Funnel Reviews are a fantastic opportunity often spoiled by the lack of structure. Typically, the sales leader asks what’s going on in ABC Company and the sales person starts spewing all sorts of information about the account, the deal, people and activities plus a good dose of optimism that they can close the business soon. It’s challenging for the sales leader to get past the rhetoric and optimism to accurately understand the deal. It’s even more difficult to suggest best actions that will help move the deal forward toward close. If this sounds familiar you might also agree that 50% of the time allotted is spent on the first deal and the rest of the opportunities get a quick once over. When all is said and done, you have to wonder if it was worth your time. Did you only figure out which deals to forecast? Or, did you successfully offer your expertise to help move deals forward?
Consider using your CRM to bump up the effectiveness of your Funnel Reviews this next quarter. A few tweaks in your current use of CRM will enable you to leverage your expertise to help the sales person achieve their goals and yours.
- The Opportunity section – expand this single view to include all the key information you need to know to assess the opportunity and suggest next actions. You will eliminate the long winded story from the sales person and, instead, focus on the important aspects of the deal. In this one view, consider including the customer’s problem or vision – this is not what the sales person “thinks” the customer wants. Identify your company’s strengths which can be leveraged to win this deal. Identify threats or weaknesses that, if left unaddressed, could kill the deal. Blanks are better than guesses so encourage your sales people to only answer what is truly known and then together fill in the blanks as you discuss the deal. If you focus your time on the single Opportunity screen you will gain the insight needed to help define the best next actions needed to move the deal forward.
- Contacts – this is where you learn how wide and deep the sales person is calling in the account. For each name, ask what role that person plays in the buying process. Which contact has the job of screen out vendors or solutions? Whose role is it to determine if your solution will best for the people who have to do the work? Which contact has the ultimate ability to say no or to say yes? Look not just at what contacts are included, but look for roles which are missing. Add these to the short list of best next actions for the sales person.
- Files – this is where key documents are kept easily within reach. As a sales leader how often have conversations gotten derailed due to lack of accurate information? How often have you heard “I can’t remember exactly” or “I forget what price I gave but it was really competitive”? Critical information needs to be quickly accessible to on the screen during the review. If the quote or proposal has been uploaded to the Files section it can be quickly referenced, if needed, during the Funnel Review. Same is true with other documents such as RFPs, pricing worksheets, and contracts. Fast and accurate information is key to an effective discussion and review.
CRM systems are capable of doing so many things to help different functional areas of an organization. I am sure that Salesforce could provide enough examples to fill their new sky scraper. But, nothing happens without more sales.
Sales leaders have one of the most difficult jobs in any organization. The investments are significant, the sales opportunities critical and the pressure to deliver revenue numbers never-ending. Using CRM specifically to help drive more effective Funnel Reviews is a best practice that a sales leader can execute and leverage their talents to drive specific selling activity that will move deals forward toward close. The sales person will come to recognize the true value the sales leader provides and the contribution to their success. Increased sales revenue and a healthier sales team is a huge win for any organization.