Is Your Sales Process Ready for a CRM?

When first starting a Small Business, the focus is making sales.  An intuitive business owner realizes, however, that even a lost sale is a potential future gain and retains the information necessary to continue marketing to the prospect base.  Customers that have purchased are also a source of potential future sales and require regular interaction to build repeat business.  Understanding the best Sales Process for your market combined with a great CRM system is the most effective means of collecting the valuable data needed to maximize sales revenue.

Benefits of a CRM customized for your Sales Process:

  • Define the Sales Process including the stages of the sale and the physical steps that are taken in each stage.  An effective Sales Process has clearly defined stages that the prospect moves through towards the sale. Each of these stages should have a series of physical steps that are undertaken to keep the prospect engaged and advancing to the next stage.  The physical steps can include automated follow-up emails or letters, calls from the sales representative, BDC or manager or scheduled tasks to mail appropriate documentation.
  • Standardizes the Sales Process to ensure that your sales team always knows the steps involved in the sale.  Take the guesswork out of selling for your team. By defining the Sales Process and applying the stages and steps to all customers and prospects, the sales team knows exactly how to move forward in every stage of the sale.
  • Reduces data entry by importing web leads and eliminating duplicate entries.  Sales representatives are able to spend more time selling with weblead integration and automatic lead rotation and assignments. Eliminating duplicate data entry also ensures that sales reps aren’t wasting time trying to contact the same leads.
  • Saves time by scheduling the Sales Process and automating many key components such as follow-up emails.  CRM automation communicates directly with prospects and schedules tasks for sales representatives based upon pre-defined events ensuring that every step of the Sales Process. And by setting up company-approved and branded material, the message and appearance are consistent with your companies marketing directives and goals.
  • Maximizes the value of the prospect and customer information that you have collected; increasing your marketing opportunities.  Information is valuable. A great CRM is a data storehouse of all of the information pertinent to your marketing team and provides flexible filter options for pulling call lists, email blasts or letter printing.
  • Documents the prospects status in the Sales Process to give pipeline visibility.  Using a CRM can eliminate sales slumps. The sales pipeline can quickly be viewed for the entire team or an individual salesperson by viewing the prospects by their status and focus placed where it is needed most.
  • Provides accurate analytic data and sales forecasting.  Reports and dashboards provide information necessary to manage your business and sales including individual sales representative and team quota tracking to pipeline statuses.

How to evaluate CRMs:

There are a lot of CRMs available at any price point.  There are many “free” options but in reality, these are just marketing ploys to get you started using their products.  Systems like these will frequently bill you per contact or even for every email, call or note entered into the CRM.  Try making a spreadsheet and tracking the options, costs, pros and cons as a good CRM is a long term investment in your future business success.

When evaluating a CRM, it is important to ask if there is an easy, free export option for your data so that if you decide to move to a different CRM, you can do so quickly and easily; you don’t want to be held hostage to an expensive system that doesn’t meet your needs only because your data is unavailable for export  You also want to download their mobile application and make sure that it is intuitive and gives you the options that you need if you can’t access your desktop.  Is there a manager’s dashboard and easy to read reports which keep you on top of your sales pipeline?  What marketing opportunities are available for sending email blasts and scheduling follow-up for your sales team?  And finally, the best option isn’t always the corporate giant.  There are many new CRM’s on the market that will give you more options and features customized for your industry

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