Chasing the Holy Grail of sales enablement

Customer relationship management tools have been a game changer for the sales force but the software has also created an unhealthy culture of avid report readers.

In a world driven by commoditisation, sales people gain little mileage relying solely on good relationships.  Customers are after valuable insights and great value delivered in spades.

At the nexus of a successful business-to-business sale sits a good methodical approach to build a sales funnel and a technology platform that is a single repository for customer contacts and information.

The advent of customer relationship management (CRM) means sales managers and other executives have access to a pool of valuable data about sales performances, customers as well as sales staff.

Author of ‘Cracking the Sales Management Code’ Jason Jordan says management is swimming in data but does not necessarily know what to do with it.

The game changer

CRM has been a game changer for the sales force. According to Jordan, over the last 100 years, CRM has been the single substantial innovation within the sales industry. It provides visibility into what is going on in the sales force and makes employees more accountable for their sales performances.

Additionally, CRM allows for more accurate forecasting, creating a single source of truth about customers and future sales opportunities.

However, the vast number of reports generated by CRM systems has had a negative effect on sales people, according to Jordan. He believes the software has created a culture of avid report readers.

A CRM system can fail when it is implemented as simply a reporting tool, which is in poor alignment with the business’ sales methodology and sales processes. Jordan estimates only 17 per cent of the 300-plus measurable sales metrics are actually manageable in a CRM system.

What metrics count?

While the number one metric tracked by every company is revenue, it is activities that need to be measured - the sales activities that lead to revenue.

Jordan says sales teams don’t necessarily need to work harder to make revenue; they just need to work smarter. For example, for a new sales rep, this would mean targeting the right prospects, or an experienced rep who is growing existing accounts whilst looking for new opportunities, these activities are not necessarily tracked in CRM systems.

In most cases, data pertaining to these sorts of activities need to be inputted by the sales person. Therefore for a CRM platform to be implemented successfully, it must go beyond the mere functions of accounts, opportunities, pipeline and forecasting. It must instead enable the mapping of relationships and force discipline in real stage progression with qualification scoring and action tracking. The CRM system must also include close plans with customer validation of critical dates.

It is also of the utmost importance that CRM incorporates tight integration with marketing, social media and after sales support to provide a single view of the entire sales lifecycle from targeting, marketing, lead nurturing and selling through to account management, support, service, satisfaction and upselling.

Wayne Goss is regional sales director for Asia Pacific at SugarCRM