Companies today are abandoning the military-style corporate model that has been prominent since the end of World War II, in which only the leaders are expected to have ideas and others below them are simply expected to follow orders. This change is being felt in all quarters of an organization, and specifically in the sales management–sales force relationship.
The choice and implementation of a CRM solution plays a key role in this changing landscape—for without the right CRM application it cannot happen.
Traditional CRM Reflects Traditional Company Model
When CRM was originally developed, it was based on the business model that existed at the time. That is, it was designed with a “top-down” approach, utilized to manage salespeople and for sales management and other executives to track sales numbers. More broadly, it was designed as a customer relationship coordination point for all areas of a company. Sales reps were expected to enter plentiful data into CRM. This was a task for which they were not rewarded in any fashion; they were not being paid while they were not selling, and they could make little use of CRM data for their own sales and sales pipelines.
Unfortunately these traditional CRM models were (and are) ineffective even for the function for which they were designed. Despite the fact that salespeople were entering copious amounts of data into CRM, they were yet expected to compile reports and even regularly meet with sales managers—to provide the information that should have been easily available from the CRM application.
Change in CRM Solutions Reflecting Modern Approach
In forward-thinking companies today, salespeople are being given more credence for being who they actually are: entrepreneurs within the enterprise. Their views are being taken into account regarding sales campaigns, marketing campaigns and even in some instances product development. They are being given the latitude to analyze and manage their own sales so that they have more control of the closes they are expected to bring about.
It is being realized that salespeople are the first line of “customer relationship” in “customer relationship management”—it is they who establish and maintain those relationships in the first place. Hence it is being seen that CRM solutions should fully empower salespeople, not merely task them with extra work.
A leading-edge CRM software allows CRM formatting to conform to a company’s sales process, so that it is intuitive and logical. Salespeople can enter data where it makes the most sense: at the stage of the sales process where the sale currently resides. Because sales data is so organized, sales reps can quickly and easily view their entire sales pipelines, making direct management of their sales far easier than previously.
Analytics and Sales Velocity
Such CRM solutions also make it possible for sales reps to quickly analyze and forecast their own sales—giving them much more control and understanding of their pipelines. Reports that previously cost both salespeople and sales managers great amounts of time can now be composed by the sales reps themselves, on the fly.
Additionally, a new feature of leading-edge CRM is that of sales velocity—a feature which shows how much time each sale has been spending at any stage of the pipeline, as well as in the overall pipeline. In addition to this feature being very useful for sales reps, it is very handy for sales management in viewing the progress of sales and performance of sales reps.
The Sales Management Change Made Possible
In that such a CRM application makes it possible for salespeople to totally monitor and control their own pipelines, as well as create their own forecasts and analyses, the overall shift in management is made complete. Sales reps are able to shed the “data entry clerk” function of their jobs that was previously forced on them, and become the entrepreneurs they actually are.
Does that mean that sales management is no longer necessary? Not by a long shot: sales management will always be responsible overall for sales progress and meeting sales goals, and for sales rep performance.
What it does mean, however, is that sales managers no longer have to spend endless hours meeting with reps to compose sales forecasts. Forecasts can simply be obtained from individual reps, automatically composed into a single report (modified as needed) and sent along to company executives. Such forecasts, now based on accurate data result in a forecast built on facts not guesswork. That’s a win-win situation for everyone.
Sales managers can utilize the substantial time saved in forecasting to spend more time on making better sales reps—coaching and educating them so that their closing ratios steadily improve.
In discarding the outmoded military-style business model, fully take into account the crucial role of your CRM solution.
See our other articles on the changing roles of the sales force and sales management.