The sales manager “old school” tends to assess the performance of its sales on the basis of the results achieved and often manages the organization based on his instinct and his subjective knowledge of the people; without following a precise plan.
The moreover, according to a 2015 study conducted by The Bridge Group, only 66% of the sellers of a particular team manages to reach the expected sales quotas.
A little programmatic management of the sales department, the latter leads to dangerously to a black box : taking it to borrow a mathematical concept, a system black box is only describable in its external behavior – that is, only how you react to output ( output ) – at some input, but whose inner workings are not visible or is unknown.
If this definition you tore a bitter smile, and you have come to mind several episodes in which you felt alien to the inner workings of your sales team, you are in the right place!
This article, in fact, we start from the assumption that only what can be measured can be improved. So if you want to improve the performance of your vendors you must first understand how to measure it properly.
The most efficient way to manage the vendors is not only on the basis of indicators of past actions (lagging indicator), as the number of closed contracts and turnover. These indicators are certainly important to measure, but they just tell you what has already happened and what you should NOT do to improve those numbers.
It is a bit as if your car warned you that you must refuel only when you’ve exhausted: is it not better to have a spy me warn you in good time when it’s time to stock up?
It is the demand for modern sales managers: a system to see in real time what is happening within the system of sales, so that we can fix in time those behaviors that are damaging business and bring sellers on track. Not be the director who expected that the tank is empty before you start pushing on your pipeline (as you restrictive to push your car) – begins to adopt the sales methodology based on activities!
1. The sales methodology based on activities
The methodology of sale based on the activities is based on the idea that a successful sale is the result of a number of controllable activities. Often, sellers are distracted by the chaos that seems to pervade the workplace and leave out the other hand measures, which are actually useful for the sales process.
The purpose of a methodology centered on the activities is to bring sellers to devote the right amount of time to those fundamental activities for the acquisition of new clients. When an organization is fully engaged and aligned around a common set of metrics, it will be possible:
- Reach more gain for the seller;
- Provide on the basis of the current levels of activity, of robust data for the realization of the sales forecast;
- Find out the level of each vendor;
- Have a sales team that thinks of real and meaningful data to obtain the expected results.
In essence, based on your sales activities will give you more control over your pipeline, with its increase in your company’s growth rate.
The purpose of a sales model based on the activities is to help you understand how much effort you’re making to achieve the specific results and find the areas where removing inefficiencies to improve performance.
Sales results as the gain are not completely predictable: depend on a number of factors not always controllable, such as the behavior of your customers. Moreover, as we said, they are the result of specific activities – such as conversations with significant customers, the negotiations of the sale, sending estimates – over which we have more control instead.
In short words; I cannot control the outcome of my actions, but I can change my actions and therefore the result is a purely logical question.
Now let’s see how to change the perspective from which you look at your sales team can bring out the areas of inefficiency.
Here’s an example
For a month, try to keep track of the activities of your sales team. First, we’ll want to keep track of at least 5 activities, of which 4 are indicators of future actions, and one of past actions.
Let’s say that, after a month of real use of CRM, your average seller has completed the following number of activities:
- 1 contract per month
- 4 quotes per month
- 16 meetings per month
- 24 conversations per month
At this point, you can calculate the conversion rate of your sales process using composite data of all your vendors. Suppose your team is made up of 20 vendors. The activities the organization will present themselves more or less like this:
- 17 contracts per month
- 67 quotes per month
- 267 meetings per month
- 534 phone calls per month
To calculate the conversion rate, divide the activity that results for the activity that precedes it, and multiply by 100:
- (17 contracts ÷ 67 estimates) x 100 = 25% conversion rate-quote-to-contract
- (67 estimates ÷ 267 meetings) x 100 = 25% conversion rate-meeting-a-quote
- (267 ÷ 534 calls meetings) x 100 = 50% conversion rate from-phone-a-meetings
Know your conversion rates, it allows you to create a forecast of sales based on the activities of the sellers; on which, as we have said, you have more control.
With real data on your team’s performance, can you see where you can (and should) actually improve performance.
In our example, only 25% of sent estimates results in a signed contract. A sales manager could improve this rate, for example by teaching salespeople how to roll out the best quotes or in improving the process of creating documents.
Now that we have seen why we recommend making the sales activities of the organization center of the sellers, we are going to outline the CRM software tools that allow us to implement this methodology.
You may also like to read another article on BSOinvest: How to beat your most largest competitor?
2. How to use CRM software to organize activities of sellers
The CRM tools that support the methodology:
- Data control of the general summary of the activities (dashboard)
- Effective tools for the registration of sellers activities (notes, tasks, phone calls etc.).
- Punctual personal details and a history of the made activities (Contact timeline and company)
- Tools for optimal management and nurturing of sales opportunities (managing negotiations and creating marketing lists)
Let us see how to use the CRM, to implement this methodology.
With the CRM vendor will have a record of activities done and can program the future. The dashboard make available to the seller within a single mask all activities , appointments and scheduled calls: a simple and safe way to not forget anything.
Not only that, but the seller will have: a summary of activities done, a general picture of the situation of opportunity open and their date of closing, a chart to check the progress of their orders and sales.
The activities uploaded to the CRM will be easily visible on the calendar.
The contact card
Once you adopted a CRM and once that your salespeople have started recording their activities, keep track of the latter will definitely become easier.
To develop relationships with new potential customers or active customers, the seller may organize the archive of contacts and associate to each contact an important set of information: the state and the contact source, the sales stage, the role and much more: tasks, appointments, notes, sending emails, sales opportunity (with an indication of the amount and the date of closing), budget proposals, sales negotiations etc.
Each share recorded on the system will be displayed in the timeline and contact the company.
With CRM, the seller has a 360-degree view of the customer: graphically you will have complete and up to date data, the timeline of activities and notes about the company; and, above all, a timeline of documents: the beauty of a CRM system that was born with availability of all management documents created for that company (quotes, orders, delivery notes, invoices, receipts).
This feature gives the agent an insight into the historic more administrative events, which normally has a very limited knowledge and limiting.
The management of the sales negotiations
The purpose of CRM is to help sales to increase the number of customers and turnover. For this reason, the management of sales opportunities is a key point for the work of the seller process.
You can configure the sales stages depending on the type of business or the sales team habits; not only that, but you can make sales forecasts : salespeople and sales management can occur anytime the portfolio of opportunities and make predictions for the closing of the negotiation phase, date and value.
Remember our example? This way, you will see which of the negotiating phase, your sales team is weaker, and set in motion the appropriate strategies to improve the situation.
Often the sellers are holding off, at customer sites, on the road, so it is essential to support their activities in a context of mobility. With CRM always on hand, it will be easier to update data, verify the information before talking to a potential customer or client active, check the situation administrative, access the history of all communications exchanged with your contacts.
Sometimes you are in areas where there is no Internet coverage and this obviously causes a number of limitations. With the Mobile App seller can still perform basic operations, such as consultation appointments, contacts and companies, historical activities and opportunities. In this way, it stops the action of the salesperson who can work even without internet connectivity to sync it all back as soon as the transmission of data coverage.
Create offers and sales orders
In the case where CRM comes in a software, the seller can create a quote in a few minutes and send it via email. The generated documents are automatically archived for future reference and to make easier the access to documents from anywhere, complete with a history of revisions. Not only that, but when the customer accepts the estimate, with one click you can turn it into a sales order.
A generation system simple and straightforward estimates likely will improve your conversion rate from quote to contract that we talked about in our example.
Also, if the conversion rate of a single vendor is well below the average of the team, a colleague with better rates could be his mentor and help him overcome the difficulties.
Create lists of Marketing
If, however, you would like to improve the conversion rate of calls in meetings can intervene on the qualification of potential customer: through the creation of lists, you can plan very specific marketing initiatives directly from CRM, to provide contact information of interest to them and qualify their interest.
Marketing lists are a great tool for planning activities of nurturing not only the potential, but also of acquired customers: for example, you can choose to promote a certain product only for customers and / or potential of a given area, or other criteria that marketing can be defined when setting up a new marketing list.
Finally, could you give your salespeople the evaluation boards because they keep track of their performance: in fact, a useful strategy to ensure the achievement of a goal is to put it in writing and to monitor continuously the’ trend.