Traditionally sales strategies are formulated on an executive level, taking many factors into account including marketing data, market trends and potential opportunities. But without taking the viewpoint from the level of the sales rep—and the actual potential possible at that level—into account, you could be missing out on one or more gold veins.
Classically, sales strategies are evolved on an executive level and then implemented on the sales level. Salespeople are not usually asked for their input, and are simply expected to carry out sales strategies to the best of their ability.
The same holds true for the sales tools provided to sales for the purpose of executing such strategies—those of CRM (customer relationship management). Most often CRM software is chosen by IT personnel or executives, and approved by senior company officers with little to no consultation of salespeople.
For sales reps, this means that the most important issues relating to their jobs—strategies on which it is based and the major tools to accomplish it—come down from above before they’ve had a chance to comment on what else might make a strategy work, or why (based on experience with prospects and customers) it should be altered. In the case of CRM, reps have not been allowed to provide vital information on how CRM would actually make their jobs easier or even enable them, so that the strategies can be better accomplished.
A Different View of Sales Strategies
Now let’s move the point-of-view down to sales. Here on the ground we have highly motivated individuals who are generally quite observational and intelligent. Day-to-day, they are engaging potential clients, qualifying leads, discovering what they are seeking and finding ways to fulfill those wants. Salespeople generally have entrepreneurial minds—“entrepreneurs in the enterprise” if you will—and, if allowed to do so, can make great contributions to sales strategies based on their observations and constant involvement with prospects and clients.
To help those strategies succeed, sales reps need intuitive, workable CRM software. Such CRM should take their viewpoints fully into account and support them. It should mirror the real-world sales process, and be intuitive enough that it is easy and perhaps even fun to use. Instead of a CRM created and/or implemented outside their department, ideal CRM would begin with salespeople—as that is where sales themselves begin.
Given salespeople who are fully on board with a sales strategy (because they helped create it), utilizing CRM that was designed to fulfill their needs and enable them to truly do their jobs, the chances of that strategy’s success are multiplied several times.
Back and Forth Makes for a Win-Win
Involving salespeople in such a way can and should also be continued through the execution of a sales strategy. As it evolves and moves along, salesperson input can and should be sought for ideas of where it could be adjusted to be even more effective.
The same is true for CRM. The CRM software application chosen should be flexible enough that as the pipeline steps are adjusted due to market or other conditions, the CRM can also be adjusted so there is a constant reflection of the real world. Salesperson feedback will show where CRM configuration is not up-to-date, or where work is being required that is actually unnecessary; or conversely where additional work or steps are needed where they don’t yet exist.
For crucial elements that begin and end in sales—such as sales strategies and the tools with which salespeople will accomplish them—tap into a source of invaluable insight: the sales reps themselves.
Watch for further articles in our series on sales strategies and salespeople.