This blog goes out to all the ‘non-sales’ sales people, i.e. those of you that run your own business or have a dual role. This is for those for whom sales is a part of their role but not their whole role, those who don’t have Sales or Business Development in their job title but are still expected to generate new business. It’s also for those who do have a primarily sales focused role and want to reduce their admin while at the same time improving their sales conversions.
To start, then..
- How would you like to start work every day and not have to remember to do any of your sales tasks?
- How much more efficient would your sales cycles be if they ran themselves?
If this sounds like an unattainable dream or you think it would involve hours of admin or hundreds of ‘to do’ lists then read on to a whole new way of working…
What is a CRM?
CRM stands for Client Relationship Management and in commercial terms, usually refers to the system used to manage clients, leads and prospects. In their most simple form, they can be an Excel Spreadsheet but there are many sophisticated CRMs available, both free and chargeable. These allow you to manage your data so much easier, with additional features such as reporting, task management, calendars, reminders etc.
Why use a CRM?
Aside from managing your data in compliance with data protection laws, CRMs ultimately store all your sales and client data in one place, in a format that can be shared with your team and locked down so they only see what they need to (if required). They also do the thinking for you! When used properly, a CRM will reduce your admin, make sure you never forget to follow up on a prospect and give you full visibility of your sales pipeline, sales orders, prospects etc. without any additional work on your part.
Make your CRM your new best friend
If you already have a CRM but see it as:
- A time thief
- Another thing to do
- An admin generator
Then by tweaking how you use the system, it can quickly become your best friend and actually:
- Save you time
- Give clarity into your lead status and sales process
- Focus your ‘to do list’ on the activities that will generate results
- Reduce admin time
How to use your CRM to best advantage (and improve sales)…
Manage your sales data
Your data is the most important asset of your CRM so set aside some time to categorise your data within the system – here are some example categories but you can amend this to suit your sales process:
- Cold lead = someone who may have need of your services but doesn’t know about your company
- Warm lead = a cold lead that knows about your company
- Hot lead = a warm lead that you are in contact with and is interested in your product/service
- Prospect = a hot lead who is likely to buy
- Client = a prospect who has agreed to buy (i.e. have signed T&Cs or placed an order)
Go through each category and create a task against each contact outlining what has to happen next, i.e. Call and arrange an appointment, Send a proposal, Expect to hear back etc. For each task, set a realistic deadline.
If anybody in your CRM is unlikely to buy, either remove them or categorise them as Unlikely to buy and don’t spend too much time on them. You may wish to add them to your newsletter distribution list for example (with their permission) but not want to follow up with a sales call. Save your time and efforts for those leads that you think are likely to turn into prospects and prospects that are likely to turn into a client.
Become great at task management by letting the CRM do it for you!
Daily task management
Start each day by going through the tasks schedule for that day (there should be a section showing tasks/activities that you can filter by date) and work through those tasks. When you complete each one, mark them as complete then create a follow-on task, i.e. expect to hear back, send a follow up email etc. and put a new deadline for the new task.
Task management on the move
If you are away from your desk a lot (and many sales people will be), then download the CRM app (most CRMs will have a mobile app that allows you to access/update the system from your mobile device).
Get in the habit of updating the CRM from your mobile throughout the day and after every call/meeting when you are away from your desk. Spend a few moments in a café or even in your car or on the tube/train and update the contact record with meeting notes, close an open task and create a new one with a new deadline. This saves you having to remember when you get back to your desk, which could be hours or even days later. It also saves you having to spend ages updating the CRM when you are back at your desk. It will only take a few minutes if you do it throughout the day, but will literally save you having to spend hours at your desk when you get back, punching away at the keyboard
Decide what data is meaningful for your business and create custom view reports to see everything you need to at a glance
What do you measure your Sales KPI (Key Performance Indicators) against? For many organisations, it will be new leads, prospects, pipeline, sales orders etc. Spend some time thinking about what data is important for you to measure your sales success then create (or ask your developer to) reports for these. Decide on time frequency for each one, i.e. do you want to see new leads added in the last 7 days, sales orders for this calendar month etc. and add these to the report filter. Then, each time you want this data, simply run the report. Most CRMs will allow you to create graphs and charts so you can see the data visually. Often, they will give you the option to create ‘dashboards’ so you can see the graphs/charts of your most important reports in one place.
Using reports & dashboards allows you to see your most important data at a glance, which in turn means you can make key sales decisions easily.
We’re not going to pretend there isn’t an initial investment of time (and possibly money) into setting the CRM up to work for you, but this you can outsource. If you spend £100 to generate £1,000 in revenue, then surely it’s worth the investment.