Throughout the years manufacturing has taken efficiency to a fine art.
Precision metrics throughout a manufacturing system measure efficiency at every stage, providing real-time feedback with which to accurately gauge quality as well as quantity. Problems can be anticipated long before they happen, materials needs can be constantly satisfied and the process can be consistently and easily monitored and improved.
Unfortunately the sales process—which factually includes marketing and customer support in addition to sales rep activities—has not been privileged with this kind of accuracy. CRM solutions have mainly measured lead counts and quota attainment, but for the most part have left out real-time metrics that show what is happening now. It means that company executives and sales management are always slightly lagging behind the scene and can’t be on top of it.
Increasing Sales Without Proper Metrics
Companies lacking an intuitive, flexible CRM solution and proper sales analytics must normally solve these problems by hiring more people, initiating more marketing campaigns and offering additional buying incentives. For the most part this means throwing more money at the problem in ever-increasing amounts. Additionally they demand increasingly higher quotas of an already burdened sales force—a solution that in and of itself rarely works in the long run.
Thought and effort is of course given to increasing the effectiveness of the existing sales force—but those efforts are hampered by inadequate metrics to evaluate the individual and group performance at any given stage of the pipeline. Improvement of just one factor—closing ratios—would by itself increase sales by a considerable margin. It would effect the company from one end to the other, from investor confidence to repute with customers. But without the tools to improve them, closing ratios remain generally stagnant; the only way to keep sales and income going in the right direction—up—is to outlay more and more cash.
Instituting the Right CRM Solution
Putting in a CRM solution that actually follows your sales process and possesses proper metrics allows you to monitor—and improve—that sales process all the way down the line. It allows executives, sales management and the sales force to answer such questions as:
• Is marketing supplying enough leads for the sales force to function?
• Are there enough sales in the pipeline to make our quota?
• Are the prospects of sufficient quality?
• Are sales moving quickly enough through the sales pipeline to close in time to make quota?
• Where are sales being held up and not moving fast enough?
• At what stages are the most opportunities falling off?
• What do the important metrics look like in terms of trends?
• How are individual pipelines functioning in comparison to the average?
• How many of our customers are ending up happy after delivery and customer service or support?
When questions such as these can be accurately answered, a much greater degree of control and efficiency is brought to the sales process. Without even addressing such issues as sales rep closing ratios, that control allows easier and faster movement of sales through the pipeline—simply because they can be monitored and moved along. It means leads can always be adequately provided before the sales manager is hearing screams from the sales force of “We don’t have enough leads!” It means customer satisfaction can be monitored in real time and any delivery, installation, customer service or support problems can be rapidly addressed before bad repute can spring up.
How to Increase Sales Process Effectiveness?
How about improving those closing ratios? First, those closing ratios are going to improve just by virtue of salespeople having superior technology to assist them. But with sales analytics such as these, sales management will be able to precisely spot sales rep weaknesses, and address them through coaching.
Of course all of this does require one investment: into a proper, functioning CRM software solution. But that one investment will more than make up for all the previously misspent funds made over many years.