Thanks to cloud computing, it’s a new virtual business world.
Instead of being cramped into office cubicles and subject to rigid schedules and office politics, employees, managers and executives alike are enjoying the freedom of executing their jobs through the cloud—from wherever they may be and whenever it best suits them.
This new model has a profound impact on everyone involved. It has a particular significance for sales management:
In the Office
Within the traditional physical office scenario, the sales manager can walk right over and speak to any sales rep if the rep is not on the road or out visiting a client. This capability has become a “necessity” for tasks such as checking on various particular sales, for “pumping up the enthusiasm” or for getting random questions answered as they may come up.
Physical presence also makes possible sales meetings attended by the manager, the reps and sales assistants. It often happens that such a weekly meeting is required for sales forecasting; each salesperson is questioned in-depth about their potential closes and when those might come about. Having collected that data, the sales manager can then go off, create a sales forecast and forward it to company executives.
But with physical offices being replaced by virtual business environments, radical changes must occur for sales management.
Sales Management in the Cloud
Operating from a remote location, sales managers will have a much tougher time speaking with salespeople whenever they like. They can of course pick up the phone or initiate an online meeting—but answering the phone or accepting that meeting is at the total discretion of the salesperson. Enough unanswered calls and meeting requests and a sales manager will quickly realize that other measures must be taken to accomplish sales management in a virtual business.
Scheduled sales meetings of the traditional kind are of course possible through online meeting applications and can and should be conducted. It is the only time the group dynamic comes into play which can be an important factor for morale if nothing else.
But what about sales forecasting and analysis? A remote sales manager having to depend on regular verbal conversations to gather data for forecasts is going to quickly learn how ineffective this method is. Time is taken to chase down each individual rep to gather their data or, if information is collected in an online meeting, each rep must waste time waiting their turn.
Additionally the sales manager is depending on a measure of sales rep guesswork as to when sales are going to close, which can be a serious gamble in terms of accuracy. If an overambitious salesperson is prone to a bit of exaggeration as to forecasting his or her own sales, they might even be more motivated to pad the truth if the sales manager is not physically present.
Fortunately there is a simple solution which, if actually applied, addresses all of these issues.
The answer is a CRM software which is accessed through the cloud by salespeople and sales management. But that in itself is not enough of a solution—traditional CRM applications do little to empower salespeople in their sales, and do not provide enough data to create a reliable sales forecast. Hence just porting a traditional CRM application to the cloud won’t solve the problem.
But picture a CRM solution that is intuitive and flexible; one which is logical and follows the company’s sales process. There are leading-edge CRM applications now available that allow this sort of patterning, and for the first time make it possible for reps, through CRM, to be totally on top of their sales. All necessary sales data can be entered in the locations where it makes the most sense—to the step of the sales process in which it occurs.
For sales management, this means frantic calls or emails to salespeople for data are no longer required—a sales manager can simply and quickly look it up in CRM.
Such a CRM solution also allows quick and easy sales analysis and forecasting with factual data instead of guesswork; no lengthy meetings or scrambles to gather information are needed. It is even possible for salespeople to create their own forecasts and simply forward them to sales management. A sales manager can then collect all the reports from reps and easily combine them into a single report, making modifications as needed.
Cloud computing has brought about a brave new world for conducting virtual business. Sales management, utilizing the right CRM solution, can take full advantage of the new environment and create sales like never before.
See our other articles on cloud computing and the changing face of business.