Successful Sales CRM – It’s All About Process

I read an interesting article that compared the success rate of accounting software implementations to that of CRM solution implementation within a sales organization. The results were intriguing.  While accounting software implementations seem to enjoy a high level of success, this is not the case for sales automation systems.  The article went on to compare and outline the differences between the two areas and while it did not provide any specific recommendations, if you’re a small to mid-size business the information below may make you think differently about the importance of implementing a sales methodology or structure within your sales organization.

Outlined below is a brief summary of the article.

Accounting departments are traditionally known for having mature well-documented business processes, perhaps because the federal government requires them. Sales organizations are traditionally void of structure and process, which often results in inaccurate forecast and sales with lower profitability then desired.

Accounting departments have mature people.  This is not to say that sales people are not mature, but accountants are traditionally degreed and well trained on the principles of accounting while sales people often come from different walks of life with different levels of education and sales experience.

Accounting systems have also been around for decades and have a mature set of features that have been designed to address a specific set of rules and guidelines. Sales systems while mature must be flexible enough to support a variety of unique sales functions within multiple sales channels. This often makes these systems overly complex and hard to use.

This brief analysis would indicate that mature business processes, mature people, and mature solutions drive the operational success of your accounting department. If this is indeed true, shouldn’t we be emulating this within our sales organization?

Small to mid-size businesses that have a CRM initiative should make sure that they add the ability to have a flexible sales methodology to their functional criteria list.

CRM vendors like Commence Corporation offer fully integrated solutions for contact management, lead management, sales management as well as consulting services that help businesses deploy proven sales methodologies or create custom programs to match unique selling requirements.  The flexibility of web based solutions like Commence coupled with high level sales expertise can help make your sales organization as efficient as your accounting department.

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Manage Those Leads!

Small to mid-size businesses are looking toward CRM solutions to help them implement a structured process within their sales organization.  Many CRM solutions do this rather well and provide the flexibility for businesses to implement a standard sales process from companies such as Sandler Systems or Dale Carnegie or create a completely customized one. This ensures that each new opportunity follows a structured path from the initial introduction to closure, resulting in more timely and accurate revenue forecasting.

But sales opportunities don’t just fall from the sky.  They are often nurtured as a lead, qualified, then converted into a sales opportunity.  Who determines if an opportunity is qualified and what process is used to make this determination is an area that is often overlooked by small to mid-size businesses and can cost them dearly.

A typical sales organization consist of a few experienced sales representatives that do a pretty good job with lead qualification, a few with 2-3 years of experience that often have difficulty in accurately determining a qualified lead from an unqualified one, and some entry level staff that are honing their skills and place every one that asks for a brochure on the monthly forecast.  Your sales team represents one of the largest expense items within your organization and if they are spending valuable time chasing tire-kickers vs. qualified opportunities the cost to your business can be alarming.  What’s the answer?  Make sure that your CRM system can automate the lead qualification process.

Commence On-Demand, a web based CRM solution from Commence Corporation is helping small to mid-size businesses learn how to automate the lead qualification process via the use of an automated business process. Similar to implementing a structured sales methodology, Commence On-Demand also implements an automated lead qualification process.  The process makes each sales representative answer a series of qualification questions that are built right into the lead qualification module.  The structure ensures that each sales representative is using the same process to determine a qualified lead from an unqualified one.  The leads are then color-coded based on the responses.  This enables each representative and their management to immediately identify the top opportunities each representative is working on.

Here is an example screenshot showing a list of qualified leads:

Lead Qualification and Scoring View zoom

Lead management and qualification is as important as managing the sales cycle. For more information about how Commence On- Demand can assist you with these processes see commence.com or ask for a free trial of our best in class CRM software.