To account managers and sales representatives, the word “pipeline” can be downright maddening. It’s a vague term that represents the total amount of people a sales rep is talking to at any time that could potentially turn into customers or clients. It’s not satisfying because nobody wants leads, after all. They want customers.
Managers tend to spend a lot of time looking at sales reports with data on leads and prospects, but not a lot of time deriving meaning from them, said sales expert Jason Jordan in a presentation Monday at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. He then shared a model of how he believes sales managers can better utilize their CRM to generate meaningful reports and, more importantly, affect change in their employees.
Getting the Most Out of Your CRM Investment
While CRM and sales reports are great tools, they shouldn’t become a sales managers’ focus, Jordan warned. “The only reason to measure something is if you intend to improve it.” While data is the benchmark to affect change within an organization, it doesn’t bring about the change itself, managers do.
Equally foolish is the notion that we should pursue sales and revenue the same ways we did in the past. “Selling is not like it was 20 years ago” and yet “sales managers are using techniques that were used 20, 30 or 40 years ago.” It’s time for companies — and subsequently, sales managers — to change. But how?
Using CRM Data to Affect Change
Following extensive study of organizations and the metrics they value, Jordan came up with 306 key metrics that sales departments were studying. Then he broke those numbers into three main categories that can easily be understood and enforced to affect sales goals:
- Sales activities (small, individual scale).
- Sales objectives (medium, department scale).
- Business results (large, business scale).
If a sales manager is able to dissect and analyze the data, he or she can affect change with the individual worker to meet objectives. In other words, manage sales activities, which affect sales objectives, which have business results.
He warns, however, managers shouldn’t get snagged up on sales activities. Sales managers “don’t understand sales activities.” Micromanaging and bad sales training are the reason.
Another danger is what Jordan called the “more, more, more” approach: when a manager tells his reps to make more calls, get more leads, and shoot out more emails. This isn’t smart managing, says Jordan. Instead, he suggests trying some of these ideas:
- Use call plans.
- Qualify deals.
- Call on customers.
- Complete account plans.
- Allocate time.
- Target prospects.
- Attend training.
- Prioritize accounts.
Finally, Jordan asked attendees to examine the hypocrisy of incentives for employees. He asked how many companies pay their employees based on sales activities — calls, prospecting, visiting new customers — almost no one in the huge audience raised a hand.
Ultimately, aligning both sales objectives with sales activities is the key to success and metrics is just the way to examine those goals, said Jordan. More organizations will make progress as they accept this.
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