22/02/2024

Profit Peak

Climb To New Heights With Our Profit Strategies

Sales Management – How to Get the “Sludge” Out of Your Company’s Sales Opportunity Pipeline – Part 2

Sales Management – How to Get the “Sludge” Out of Your Company’s Sales Opportunity Pipeline – Part 2

In Part 1 of this article we examined the first of two key reasons while sales opportunities stall: poor sales opportunity qualification. In this article we will examine the second key reason why sales opportunities stall: poor CRM system utilization/compliance.

What is it so hard to get salespeople to put data into CRM systems?

The short answer is there is a basic conflict between the amount of data entry required to fully populate CRM system records and the amount of interest most salespeople have in performing administrative tasks. Let’s look at this conflict in more detail.

What data elements are required to fully populate a CRM system record?

The answer to this question differs by company. However, some common data elements include:

  • Company Name
  • Division/Department Name
  • Billing Address
  • Shipping Address
  • Contact Name
  • Contact Title
  • Office Phone Number
  • Cell Phone Number
  • Fax Number
  • E-mail Address
  • Website URL

This is just the basic data required to establish a record. There are also a whole host of data elements that must be entered for each sales opportunity line item. And, if the CRM system is used as a repository for notes related to prospect and customer conversations, a whole lot more typing will be required.

The bottom line is if salespeople are going to fully populate CRM records for each of their opportunities, prospects and customers, they will probably have to invest between 20 minutes and one hour PER DAY on this administrative activity.

Why is this a problem?

It is a problem because most salespeople have little interest in performing administrative activities!

I have personally assessed several thousand salespeople during the past five years. One of the characteristics measured by the specialized sales assessment tests I use is the salesperson’s interest in process, procedure, and administrative activities. Approximately 80% of the top sales performers I have assessed scored a 1 or 2 (on a scale of 1 to 10) for this characteristic. These low scores indicate that many top-performing salespeople have little interest in administrative activities. (If you have been managing salespeople for any length of time, I’m sure this information comes as no surprise to you!)

How do we solve this problem?

There are two solutions that I recommend:

1. Assign as much of the data entry as you can to administrative personnel

2. Switch your salespeople to a system that ONLY tracks data related to new business activity and the progress of each sales opportunity through the sales cycle. Let’s examine each of these solutions in some detail.

Solution #1: Re-assign data entry to administrative personnel

If you want to continue capturing all of the detail required by most CRM systems, assign as much of the data entry as you can to administrative personnel. A side benefit of this approach is administrative personnel are usually much less expensive than salespeople. (Wouldn’t you prefer to have your expensive salespeople focus as much as possible on the activities that only they can do?)

Salespeople can supply CRM data to administrative staff in a number of ways. Here are two examples:

  • Salespeople can give business cards collected during cold calls and networking events to administrative personnel for data entry.
  • Salespeople can give administrative personnel copies of written notes from sales calls or provide the information via voice mail.

If your salespeople are going to perform any data entry, focus it on data that will help you track your salespeople’s effectiveness at generating new business and moving opportunities through the sales cycle. Basically this involves tracking “first meetings” (discovery conversations) with new prospects and the progress of each sales opportunity through the sales cycle.

Solution #2: Switch to a different kind of system

The second option is switching your salespeople to a system that ONLY tracks data related to new business activity and the progress of each sales opportunity through the sales cycle. The best (and only) system I am aware of is called M-Power. (For more information visit http://www.asasales.com.) One HUGE benefit of this type of system is it only takes salespeople two to five minutes per day to perform necessary data entry.

Does this mean you should abandon your CRM system? That decision is entirely up to you. While there is certainly value in capturing historical data about your salespeople’s activities, what is absolutely critical is having a clear understanding of their new business generation activities and the status of each of their sales opportunities.

If you choose to use M-Power in combination with your existing CRM system, you may be able to share data between the systems and avoid duplicate data entry. M-Power is tightly integrated with salesforce.com, and it also has interfaces to other commonly-used CRM applications.

Regardless of the choice you make, remember that the key to improving CRM system utilization and compliance by your salespeople is minimizing the amount of administrative work they have to perform. Re-assign as much data entry as you can to (lower cost) administrative resources and focus your salespeople’s data entry on new business activity and sales opportunity status updates.

Conclusion

If you want to improve the quality of your company’s sales opportunity pipeline, focus your efforts on solving two key problems:

1. Poor sales opportunity qualification

2. Poor CRM system utilization/compliance

If you implement the suggestions made in this two-part article, you will enjoy:

  • Greater sales forecast accuracy
  • Fewer “stalled” opportunities
  • A steady flow of NEW opportunities being added to your company’s pipeline