Yes, CRM systems have evolved. Now they are drawing on sales staff emails, calendars and databases to offer tips on how to best interact with specific customers. They’re trying to incorporate more analytics, provide more data and incorporate social media as sales organisations move to become customer-centric.
But have they evolved enough?
Are the plug-ins and add-ons helping sales teams achieve consistent, predictable results?
Do they support the complex sale?
Forward thinking sales leaders say “no”:
- CRM systems offer no capabilities that allow you to operationalise, track and optimise your sales processes. This aspect is particularly important if you are undergoing a shift in business strategy.
- They fail to provide both the sales professional and the manager with an overview and in-depth understanding of each prospect and opportunity, making it very difficult to coach to higher levels of performance.
- They lack built-in goal setting and tracking capabilities that help guide everyone on the sales team towards reaching their targets. In short, they track 'busyness' rather than effectiveness.
These are a few examples of capability gaps that our clients are finding. You can bridge these gaps by connecting your existing CRM with a 'sales improvement platform' that is focused on total sales alignment: technology, process and execution.
How leveraging a sales improvement platform will help you get more from your CRM…
1. Your sales organisation can move from being activity-based to progress-based
Your CRM is recording and tracking the activities you log into the system, so it’s basically tracking your sales team’s 'busyness' and how many opportunities may be in the pipeline. By looking at activity-based analytics, sales leadership is looking in a rear-view mirror.
A sales team may think they’re executing against a sales strategy (which is often a PowerPoint slide deck or an excel file), but there is no way to track their success and how well they are following the sales process you designed. You don’t have a view of whether prospects are progressing through their decision process efficiently and effectively.
When you use a sales improvement platform you can design the system to align with the sales process you want your team to follow. You have the flexibility to map the platform to your process and track your team’s performance at each stage. You see what’s working for your sales team and your business, and what’s not. And the sales people will embrace it, because it’s been designed to help them perform better rather than forcing them into even more data entry than before.
2. It will help you move from quantitative analytics to qualitative analytics
Classic CRM dashboards, with their colorful pie charts, mostly provide you with lagging indicators and quantitative analytics. A sales improvement platform focused on 'sales goal specific business intelligence' will show you where you really are and where you’re going, not just where you’ve been. It gives you a view of changes over time and provides you with trend-based analytics that align each member of the sales team with their expected business result (quota), objectives and activity metrics. You’re able to get a view of how effective your sales team is at driving sales performance to consistently reach targets.
A sales improvement platform makes it easy to adjust your sales process to improve forecast accuracy and win-rates so there are no surprises for key stakeholders. If you’re using CRM analytics to complete your forecasts, you are often relying on your sales team’s subjective best guesses. The reason? Pipeline reports tend to be based on a stage-based probability percentage and individual sales reps are given the autonomy to set the stages based on gut feel, rather than achieving customer aligned milestones. Because of 'happy ears', there’s often a perception that the buyer is much further along in the decision process than they really are. By using a sales improvement platform that is aligned with the buyer’s decision process, there will be steps that must be taken to qualify leads for the next milestone. There is no best guessing!
3. It will help you move from a rigid sales playbook to a flexible sales process for unique circumstances
Your team may use your playbook filled with content, tools and a sales process that provides a system for sales enablement and execution with those prospects in their CRM - but, what happens if a certain type of deal requires a deviated approach from the standard one that can be found in your playbook? How does your sales rep proceed?
A sales improvement platform provides the flexibility to create automated, customised deal-level strategies for unique situations. Your sales team will get the tools, content and playbook for those non-standard deals to get them to the next milestone all the way to the close. And they can add individual tactics when needed.
4. It will help you align everyone on the team with their sales goals
Oftentimes, sales quotas are assigned to sales people without thoroughly working through how the intended business result should be achieved. A classic CRM does not realise that there are limitations in what a sales person can achieve in a certain period of time.
A sales improvement system enables you to differentiate between business results ($), objectives/leading indicators (average deal size, win rate, etc.) and activities/lagging indicators (new client meetings, proposals). With these definitions in place, each person on the team will know what it takes to reach their targets and the system will guide each team member towards accomplishing the activities that will lead to the set objectives and business results. This also removes the need for sales managers to micro-manage and remind their people about completing specific tasks, instead allowing them to spend more time on coaching their team to higher levels of performance.
A few final thoughts on CRMs and sales improvement platforms
Sales organisations would gain immediate benefit from a sales improvement system that complex selling efforts - connecting the processes and people needed to engage customers. This should be designed to enable sales teams to navigate complex B2B opportunities, making it easy for reps to execute your sales strategy and guide everyone on the sales team to consistently reach targets - with or without an existing CRM system.
Don’t let your CRM hold your sales team back.
By George Brontén is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the world's 1st Sales Improvement Software that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. He is a life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for helping organisations grow with consistent, predictable results. Click here to see how easy it is to introduce a sales process, fill the gaps left open with traditional CRM systems and achieve 48% higher win-rates.