In this multi-part series we will be discussing how using a customer relationship management (CRM) system can help your organization streamline its sales & marketing processes to generate more revenue. In the first part of this series we’ll take a look at how breaking your sales plan into actionable and measured tasks can help ensure your team hits its goals for the year.
What gets measured gets done
You’ve most likely heard this saying before, and in the world of a salesperson you completely understand what it means to be measured. But what are you tracking and measuring? Sales, expenses, margins, versus budget, versus year over year? While these are all important metrics, by the time these lagging indicators are measured it’s typically too late to do much about it.
So in an effort to make sure we reach our goals we analyze, we forecast, we budget, and we build a plan. But let’s be honest, in most cases this plan is nothing more than high level targets for the year. So how do we close the gap between the “plan” and the lagging indicators? How do we make sure that by the time we get measured we know we’re on track for success?
And for the person managing the sales team, how do we know if the entire team is on track? What can we do to ensure they are all equipped to achieve success; that we’re not just desperately relying on finding “great salespeople” to close the gap for us?
Sales is a science
How many times have you met someone with a great personality, confidence, communication skills, product knowledge, rapport, techniques, etc. and thought, wow I’ll bet they are a really successful salesperson? And how many times have you seen someone with all of those attributes struggle to achieve their sales goals? Although those characteristics obviously help in closing the deal, these skills alone aren’t enough to guarantee a salesperson’s success.
To be successful we need to develop a detailed sales plan. This plan goes far beyond the one that is typically generated during the forecasting and budgeting process. So how detailed should the plan be? Detailed enough that you or your team know what activities need to be performed on a daily or weekly basis in order to achieve their goals. This might sound a bit overwhelming at first, but the time and effort invested on this upstream planning will generate the results you hope to achieve downstream. And the process isn’t as complicated as you might think.
Creating the real plan
Let’s take a quick look at how this process works. First, take the sales goals you’ve laid out for the year and break them out by month, week, and day. Then begin to determine the types of things you need to have in order to reach those daily goals. One way to determine this might be to work your way backwards from the sale. For example, you could go from sale, to presentation, to meeting, to introduction, to contacts, to prospecting. Then begin to determine how many presentations it takes to get one sale, how many meetings it takes to get a presentation, how many introductions to get a meeting, and so on.
Next, begin to break out the detailed activities you need to perform to achieve the numbers you’ve identified for those areas. For example, you might determine you need to attend 3 networking events, make 2 cold calls (or emails), 5 walk-ins, and have 3 referral meetings in order to generate the number of prospecting contacts you’ve identified in your plan.
Finally, you’ll need to evaluate these activities against your required sales and determine if an adjustment needs to be made. At the end of the process we will have identified the number of detailed activities we need to perform on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to achieve success. And now we have both the leading and lagging indicators that we can measure along the way to see if we’re on track.
Enter the CRM
Now that we’ve created the detailed plan, how do we begin to track our progress? Again, what gets measured gets done, so it’s critical that we document the detailed plan and measure our progress against it. One place to start might be with a spreadsheet. Simply enter the categories of activities you defined during the planning process, add another column for your daily, weekly, or monthly goals, and then begin to track your actual activity count for each of those categories in another column.
However, this approach is limiting when you consider entering and reporting on an entire sales team’s activities. It’s also disconnected from your other important and related sales information like Leads, Accounts, Contacts, Opportunities, etc. And it lacks the ability to schedule your tasks, provide reminders of when they are due, and automate the tracking and reporting of them.
So when you’re ready to simplify, automate, and scale look at using a CRM. The CRM will allow your team to schedule and track activities within the system by category, get reminders of when they are due, and report on progress against the plan. A good CRM will allow you to create dashboards and reports for an individual or an entire sales organization, can automate task creation, and can alert you when the leading indicators are off track. And if you’re concerned about cost, there are CRM’s that fit every budget.
So there you have it, your recipe for sales success. Well, at least part of it. But it is a great place to start and it will help ensure you’re focusing your efforts on the activities that put you on the right path. And although we’ve only briefly touched on one reason to use a CRM today, we’ll be covering the other benefits and uses as part of our ongoing series. So stay tuned.
About Sales Aspire
Sales Aspire is a software development service company that specializes in CRM and other business solutions to move your company forward. You can learn more about us at www.salesaspire.com. If you have any questions about CRM systems or are looking for CRM support please contact us today at [email protected] or by phone at 330-339-4017.