5 Statistics that every Sales Manager should track using their CRM system

Sherlock Holmes MuseumThe most basic function of any sales manager is to make sure that their sales team is doing the things that they need to be in order to be successful. Sales managers should keep their eye on certain statistics that will give them valuable information about the performance of their team. These statistics can range from activity tracking, response time, sales tactics, using internal resources and rate of closing.

Activity Tracking

A high outbound call volume makes every sales manager happy. Making a lot of dials doesn’t necessarily lead to success though. What happens after the first call? Does each sales rep schedule a follow up activity? What is their ratio of call to close? How many contacts does it take to push a lead forward? If your sales teams activity levels are high but the sales numbers are still low; it might be time to make some changes. Maybe the team needs help identifying and getting through to key decision makers. A CRM with a built in organization chart can help. Maybe the sales manager needs to put in a call to the decision maker to help things progress but if that person isn’t identified correctly, then it can’t be done.

Response Time

When a lead is assigned to a sales rep, how quickly do they make contact? We live in an on-demand world and prospects operate at that same speed. If they submit an inquiry they want a response almost immediately. What tools does your company have in place to ensure prospects aren’t sitting around waiting on you? A CRM system with an integrated web to lead capture form is a huge time saver. A lead comes in, is automatically assigned to a rep and appears right on their dashboard so they know they have to work it. What could be easier? This also allows a sales manager to track when the lead came into the system and when the rep made the first attempt at contact. As we all know time is money and if your prospect is waiting on you chances are they are already looking at your competition.

Sales Tactics

When a prospect shows interest in your product or service and requests pricing information, the sales team should immediately be entering a sales opportunity into your CRM system. When an opportunity is identified and properly placed in a sales pipeline; the real selling begins. What is it going to take to close the deal? When is the opportunity expected to close? Have you worked with this customer before? Have you worked with another company in the same industry? The questions are easily tracked in any CRM system that has a customizable sales pipeline and a spot to put in competitive intelligence like industry. Using a CRM tool with this capability will allow your sales reps to have the information at their fingertips and transmit a stronger value proposition to the potential buyer. The sales manager is then easily able to track what type of information the most successful sales reps are using and to identify vertical markets that your company is strong in.

Internal Resources

What resources do you have at your disposal to use in helping your sales team close business? The best sales managers use every tool at their disposal to empower their sales reps to close business. One of the most overlooked aspects of sales is the function of marketing and sales working together. Marketing isn’t only around to brand your company or get your message out to potential new leads. Does your marketing team do case studies? Do they keep a list of customer testimonials? Do you have whitepapers and videos that support your value proposition? Most importantly; does your sales team know these tools are available to them to use while engaged with a customer. A CRM system that has a document library feature is a great place to house all these resources. Sales managers often use these document libraries to pick and choose the most valuable bits of information to place in front of their team.

Win/Loss Ratio

As a sales manager it is vital to identify which sales reps are the best closers and help the ones that aren’t closing as effectively to improve. Sales managers without a CRM system have to rely on reports and cumbersome excel spreadsheets to identify this. A CRM that has a win/loss analysis metric broken down by person provides statistics on who may need help with their closing skills. The sales managers can then work with them on the closing process and help them to improve.

About the Author:

Tom Gibson is a sales manager who is considered an expert on sales techniques, CRM and business development.

Image “Sherlock Holmes Museum” by givingnot@rocketmail.com on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

What’s the Best CRM Software?

There is no such thing as the best CRM software.

There are several products that may address your business requirements better than others, but there is no top CRM solution or best CRM system.  Sorry to disappoint you. There is a lot of hype in this industry sector and millions spent on marketing and branding, but the best CRM software for you is the system that best meets your current and future business requirements. It’s that simple.

Mid-sized enterprises and large corporations understand this. Smaller businesses tend to make their decision based more on name recognition and price than on business requirements.  If I said Microsoft Dynamics CRM was the best CRM solution no one would argue, or perhaps the folks at Salesforce.com might. Now if I said Commence CRM was the best I am sure this would generate a few replies such as “Who?!”  That’s because companies like Commence do not sell into the enterprise market or have the marketing budget of a Microsoft or Salesforce.com. But if I told you this company has been servicing the customer management software requirements of small to mid-size companies for more than two decades and has several thousand customers around the world this might get your attention.  You see my point?

While I do not know your specific business requirements, I can offer some advice with regard to your selection of a CRM solution.

  1. Buy from a trusted name, but not necessarily the most branded name. For example, say you are a small business in the recruiting industry and you have uncovered a CRM solution that successfully addresses similar requirements to yours; they may be a better fit than Microsoft CRM – even if they are not as well known.
  2. How long has the company been in business?  This is a scary industry and many of the current CRM solutions providers may not be around in the near term. Find one that has had staying power and a large customer base.
  3. Ask where your data is. Most of the newer CRM solutions are cloud-based which means someone else is storing your data somewhere. Find out where and make sure it’s a world class hosting service that will be protecting your data.
  4. Does anyone answer the phone when you call?  Many low cost CRM solution providers only provide e-mail support, probably because they don’t have the staff to support your business.  How comforting is that?
  5. Product enhancements – should you expect any? Will there be any? The technology sector moves at the speed of light. You will want to partner with a solution provider that continues to invest in their product, and protects your investment in theirs.

Good luck and good hunting.

Don’t Let Quality Leads Slip Away: Executive Takes Action with CRM Software

Slipping AwayLarry Caretsky, Commence CEO, has released the white paper “Don’t Let Quality Leads Slip Away: Executive Takes Action with CRM Software.”  

Here’s an excerpt including the introduction and you can download the full white paper below:

“As a sales executive of a computer software firm, I became consistently frustrated when comparing the number of leads that we generated every quarter to the number of new business opportunities we closed. Something just didn’t add up so I decided to dig into this and find out what was going on…

The project was driven by our internal requirements and the frustration shared by so many executives I had interviewed who were looking to address this business challenge.”

Click to view or download the full CRM Whitepaper.

Image by Ben Andreas Harding on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Sales Question and Answer #23 – Which sales magazines and sales improvement seminars do you recommend?

This is a Sales Question and Answer article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.

Q. Dave, I’m interested in what you would recommend for a subscription to a monthly sales magazine and a sales improvement seminar.

A. You have touched one of my hot-buttons with this question. So, forgive me if you give a longer answer than you expect.

First, let me applaud you for asking the question.  As amazing as it sounds, I have come to the conclusion that only about 5% of sales people ever invest in their own growth and improvement.  My understanding of that number has evolved over the years.  I used to think it was much higher, but the more experience I gain, the more I’m convinced that it’s a rare and unusual sales person who will actually spend $20.00 or so to improve himself/herself, much less to actually go to a seminar.  So, just by asking the question, you have indicated that you are probably in that top percentile of sales people.  And, the fact that you probably will invest in improving yourself means that, over time, you will distance yourself from the pack.

Before I tackle your question head on, let me sketch a little more background.  Here’s a phrase to remember:  Learning event.  What’s a learning event?  It’s an experience you have in which you encounter some new ideas, you gain insights in new ways of seeing existing ideas, or you are reminded of behaviors and practices of which you may have been aware, but from which you have drifted away.

So, reading a newsletter could be a learning event.  So could a sales meeting or a conversation with one of your colleagues.  So could five minutes spent after a sales call reflecting on what went well and what didn’t.

What’s important is this:  As a result of a learning event, you focus on some better behavior which you are going to implement in the future.  Learning, for adults, is all about behavior.  In other words, you must find something that you can do differently, and decide to do that thing.

For example, you may have participated in one of my seminars.  That’s a learning event.  Following the seminar, you say to yourself, “I really should spend more time prioritizing my customers, so that I don’t waste my time with low potential accounts.”  That thought is the “better behavior” which you decided to pursue as a result of the learning event.

Generating those kinds of commitments is what learning is all about.  When you asked for a recommendation, my belief is that you ultimately want to generate those commitments to “better behavior” in yourself or in the sales people you manage.

I sometimes hear this kind of comment, “I knew that” from an experienced sales person following a seminar.  My response is, “So what?”  This is not about what you know, it’s about what you do.  So the question should not be, “Is this something new that you didn’t know?”  The question should be, “Is this something good that you are not doing, or that you could do better than you are now?”

The emphasis has to be on action (behavior), not just knowledge.  Here’s a real life example.  I had a conversation with a sales manager calling me with a problem.  He had read my “How to Excel at Distributor Sales” book, and was impressed with, among other things, the chapters on getting organized.  He said, “It is such basic information, but yet they don’t do it.”  He went on to say that getting your file system organized was fundamental, but when he rode with his sales people, none of them had done it.

That’s the point.  They probably all knew that they should be organized, but none of them were doing it.  You see, it wasn’t about knowledge, it was about behavior.

If you want to continually improve, then you regularly answer the question: “What could I do better than I am doing now?”  The question is not, “What do I not know that I should know?”  It’s not just knowledge, it’s knowledge applied that is the issue.

The way you find answers to that question is to regularly engage in learning events.

In other words, rather than just one intense day-long seminar once a year, I’d prefer you to be involved in a learning event at least once a month, if not weekly.  My recommendation is four hours once a month.  The systematic and regular involvement in learning events puts you in the mindset of continuous improvement, constantly stimulates you with new “better behaviors” and allows you the time to focus on one or two areas of improvement every month.

One more little piece of background before I provide some specific resources for you.

We all understand that people have different ways they learn best.  One thing that is rarely acknowledged is that different media generally have a slightly different impact on our learning.  For example, when we take in something strictly by ear, we have a tendency to believe it more and remember it less.  That’s why you can’t remember last Sunday’s sermon in church.  It may have sounded good at the time, but you’ve lost the message in the few days since then.  Taking something in by reading has the opposite impact.  We are more critical of the information, but we retain it longer.  It’s not as believable, but is more memorable.

The best learning experiences, then, require you to listen, to read, and to do.  In that way, you are far more likely to gain helpful answers to the question, “What could I be doing better than I am doing now?”  By the way, that explains why my telephone seminars, in-person programs and multimedia programs are configured and structured the way they are.  They are all designed to maximize your learning by appealing to a multiple number of senses.

Sales Training Resources

That brings us to this conclusion:  If you are going to do “continuous improvement” effectively, then you need to regularly expose yourself to a variety of learning events, focusing on the question, “What could I do better than I am doing now?” as a way of gaining value from every experience.

Here, then, are a variety of resources:

1.  Newsletters

Start with my ezine by subscribing at http://www.davekahle.com/mailinglist.htm

2.  Magazines

Personal Selling Power has been a good quality publication, although I haven’t seen it around recently.  I also subscribe to Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, which focuses both on management and sales.  There are industry-specific publications for almost every trade group imaginable.  Rather than attempt to list them here, let me just encourage you to get on their subscription lists.  Contact the national association of companies who do what you do, and find out what publications are available for your industry.

3.  Seminars

I have to admit that I’m a terrible critic of others in my business.  I think there is so much fluff passed off as information by people who have no idea how to help people learn, that it’s outrageous.  So, I rarely find someone to recommend.

Beyond that, there are dozens of learning events in the form of seminars.  Ask around, and get word-of-mouth recommendations from people whose opinion you respect.  AMA does a good job with almost everything they produce, although they are a little pricey.

4.  Books

With about 50,000 books published in this country every year, you have an almost limitless variety from which to choose.  I’m regularly asked to recommend a good book.  My response is this: Read my books first.  After you have read my books, then it really doesn’t matter much.  If your attitude is right and you prepare your mind with the question, “What could I do better than I am doing now?” you’ll find something of value from almost any book.

Go to the library or the local book store, and pick up whatever appeals to you that day.  Having said that, I have to admit that I am impressed with Neil Rackham’s books, and recommend them highly.

5.  Other resources

Self-study multimedia programs are highly effective because they appeal to all the basic ways to learn.  I specialized in them, and you’ll find a variety on my website.  If you really want to get serious, check our Sales Resource Center® where we deliver 455 multimedia training programs 24/7 over the web – but remember, it’s only for the top 5-percenters of the world.

Whew!  Now that’s a long answer to a short question.  Hope this helps.

Article By Dave Kahle

Copyright MMXIII by Dave Kahle

All rights reserved

Sales Best Practice #29 – Creates a well thought out monthly plan

A best practice for sales people by Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.

08:40There are several very common temptations that routinely present themselves to the field salesperson. One is to become too reactive.  When you succumb to this temptation, you eventually default to a mindset that sees your job as essentially being your customer’s gofer.  You determine where to go and what to do on the basis of who wants something from you at the moment.  Thus, where you go on Monday depends on who called on Friday.

Another temptation is to be lulled by the repetitive nature of the business-to-business selling situation into a mindless routine.  When you succumb to this temptation, you quit thinking about the most effective actions, and give in to the lure of the routine.  It’s 10 AM on Tuesday, and you are at account ABC.  Why are you here?  Because it’s 10 AM on Tuesday.  That’s what you do.  It’s been years, if ever, that you thought about why you are here.  You just are.

Both of these create salespeople of marginal performance, because they rob the salesperson of one of his most powerful assets:  The ability to invest his/her selling time where it will produce the greatest return on time invested.

There is, however, a discipline that serves as a counter-weight to these temptations.  The best salespeople routinely and with discipline and method, create a monthly plan for the investment of their time.

The monthly plan is an essential discipline that holds the two temptations discussed above at bay, and, at the same time, produces decisions that lead to the most effective actions.

It is a best practice of the best, and one of the Five Key Disciplines that we teach participants in our Kahle Way® Selling System.

A monthly plan is just that – a plan that you create for the investment of your selling time over the next 30 days.  You do one every month, at the beginning of the month.

Normally, it will take you 30 to 90 minutes.  In it, you complete a two-page form that asks you to identify the most effective actions you can take during the coming month, by category.  For example, the monthly plan lists each of your target accounts, and asks for a one-line description of what progress you want to make this month in each of those accounts.

If your company expects higher performance on key product lines, then planning for this month’s efforts in regard to those is another category.

If you have some expectations for acquiring new customers, those efforts are described and to which you are committed.

You identify those opportunities that are closest to the money, and describe what progress you are going to make to bring them to closure.

You identify and commit to your efforts to improve yourself this month.

All of these are areas on which you focus, make decisions about, and then commit in writing to specific actions.

The result?  A plan for the most effective use of your sales time next month.

It is a regular discipline of the best.  To learn more, consider The Kahle Way® Distributor Selling System, or The Kahle Way® Business-to-Business Selling System.

Image “08:40” by Alberto676 on Flickr under Creative Commons license.