In today’s lightning-fast world of digital commerce, sales strategies require the right technology for their accomplishment. The same is also true for salespeople—for them to truly function and accomplish sales strategies, they must be furnished with an adequate technical structure.
While it may be assumed that the required technology must be “state of the art,” believe it or not that is actually of secondary importance.
Far Beyond Contact Management
There is a certain level of technical sophistication needed, however. Having and using a contact management application is of course vital for sales reps to sell, and for sales strategies to move forward. But having simply and only a contact management system means that all of the other required information for a sales pipeline—viability of leads, potential value and priority of sales, prospect qualification and more—exists somewhere other than a central repository where it can be accessed.
This puts sales at risk. Salespeople may slip up in keeping track of vital information. If one sales rep has to be off for a time—vacation, illness or other reason—it is difficult for another to take over vital tasks and sales could be lost. Sales reps will spend valuable time trying to chase up or reconstruct data that should be right at their fingertips.
It also makes sales management the stuff of guesswork. A sales manager must rely on his reps’ verbal reports, or written reports based on information from the reps’ memories. This carries forward into analyses and forecasts by sales managers and financial and other executives: how accurate are they going to be based on such data?
Sales Strategies and CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
The answer, of course, is a CRM (customer relationship management) application. Unfortunately, however, these tend to run too far in the opposite direction. Over time CRM software has become quite complex (“feature-rich”) and primarily a tool for sales management.
Try randomly polling sales reps about CRM, and the majority of responses will range from “okay, I guess” to “it’s really complicated” to “we hate it.”
Perhaps some don’t see this as an issue; why would it be important for sales reps to appreciate CRM? Let’s turn it around and actually answer that question with another illustration.
Picture a CRM solution that actually empowers salespeople to accomplish sales. It is intuitive—meaning, it is logically configured, and easy to figure out and use. It mirrors the company’s sales process. It makes it possible for the sales rep to fully manage his or her own sales pipeline, inputting and retrieving needed information easily. Instead of spending copious amounts of time creating required reports, these are accomplished with a minimum of effort and the sales rep is once again off selling.
If sales reps were actually happy in their jobs because their primary sales tool was easy and perhaps even fun to use, how much better would their job performance be? Now you can begin to see the importance of a CRM chosen and implemented with salespeople in mind.
The Rest of the Company
Implementing such a CRM tool would have several positive effects upon management. First, sales reps that are happy and willing in their jobs are a lot easier to manage. Second, such a CRM application makes it a snap for sales managers and other executives to look in on pipelines, and manage sales and personnel with reality. Third, reporting and analysis is made relatively easy—and, far more importantly, accurate.
A CRM tool such as this also enables other business sectors. For example, a marketing department can easily view the sales pipeline and make discoveries about the people they’re promoting to—their viewpoints, desires and requirements, reactions to products and services, who they actually are, and more. In another example, product development and R&D can obtain product or service feedback, with an eye toward creation of future versions.
And, oh yes (and now we’ve come full circle): with the right CRM tool, sales strategies actually succeed.
Watch for further articles in our series on sales strategies and salespeople.