Sales reps often complain that traditional, cumbersome CRM systems benefit sales management, not the sales force.
What the reps can’t see—simply because they are not there—is that sales management is suffering because of these CRM systems also.
Due to sheer numbers of personnel, transactions and demands, a sales manager’s job can be seriously complex and burdensome. If a CRM system is not greatly helping ease that burden, it is only adding to it. Learn how to fix it:
Zone of Responsibility
It was once true that a sales manager was responsible for several sales reps—and that was it. Today it can not only be numerous salespeople, but also distributors, partners, VARs and other channel sales outlets. To the degree that the sales manager has an incomplete picture of how sales are progressing, it all becomes a confusing jumble of activity that the manager must somehow oversee and make productive.
A CRM application that clearly lays out the stages of the sales pipeline for each rep and for the company as a whole—and provides precise metrics for pipeline progress—brings considerable relief to the management of personnel and channels.
That view is especially important when it comes to sales reps who are remotely located. Without the advantage of being able to walk around a sales floor every few hours, the sales manager can be rendered relatively clueless as to what the sales force is actually doing. Clueless, that is, until sales period results come in—when it’s entirely too late. A precise, accurate and intuitive CRM system makes it possible to manage salespeople in real time, no matter where they are.
Coaching and Improving Sales Force Skills
A good part of sales management is improving salesperson ability and skill; that is the only way that closing ratios are going to improve and length of sales cycles is going to shorten. Without the right CRM application, though, a sales manager is not going to know what sales rep weaknesses need to be addressed and/or what kind of information the salesperson is missing.
Proper CRM systems allow precise sales management focus on the areas that need improvement.
Accuracy of Sales Forecast
All of the above ties right in with sales forecasting—one of the prime responsibilities of sales management. Unfortunately traditional forecasting has, in reality, been based in “gut-level guesses” by sales reps. It might have been dressed up in a technically dazzling presentation, but none of it would make up for the fact that such forecasts run a high risk of being inaccurate.
A solid sales forecast is a sales manager’s stock-in-trade. When it is right the majority of the time, it not only benefits the sales manager’s reputation but that of the sales force, the executives and the company itself. It can only come about through a CRM system that provides for it.
Attracting and Retaining Great Salespeople
Probably the heaviest blow to a sales manager comes when a sales rep departs. Just to get the departed rep’s territory back up to square one the sales manager must recruit, hire and train—then hope the new person makes it. The longer the process, the worse it is on the existing reps (who must shoulder the burden of increased quotas to make up the difference), the relationships with customers, sales management and the company itself.
A robust CRM solution must be in operation for this sequence of actions to occur in any kind of timely fashion. CRM system should be able to supply detailed customer history of actions taken by the former rep, customer requirements and issues, and every other bit of important data a sales rep will need to carry through a sale. The better this information is, the shorter will be the “onboarding” of the new rep.
That solution will also mean a great deal when recruiting the new sales rep; a salesperson with some experience will be looking not only at the compensation plan but at the kind of tools he or she will have to be able to quickly come up to speed.
So it’s not just the sales force that suffers with the lack of the right CRM solution; in an equal or greater measure it is sales management as well. Choosing an intuitive CRM system brings untold benefits to all concerned.