0235ff0

Driving Productivity Within Your Sales Force

Authored by Brad Freitag on June 17, 2014

The evolution of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems has had a major impact on sales forces across the world.  It’s given companies a place to store knowledge, which in turn gives them the opportunity to deepen customer understanding, grow revenue and improve internal communications.  These are the benefits of CRM.

The challenge with CRM systems is the amount of time necessary to manually enter data.  This burden typically falls onto the sales reps.   A particular limitation is the simple communication of next steps.  As we forecast, assurance that reps have scheduled the right next-steps within the forecast period is crucial.  The magnitude of this challenge has become even more apparent with the transition to mobile.  Our expectations have been set as consumers, with elegantly designed apps, that interactions are immediate and intuitive. We grow impatient with something that feels overly-cumbersome like an extended login.  Let’s consider some of the challenges that sales managers and their teams are currently facing in regards to CRM.

With mobile devices now, we expect everything to be ready from the first swipe.  (Any vendor that has not developed a native app is writing off the mobile user). While user ID/PW combo is expected, a remember-me preference would go a long way.  Next is the painful verification code sent via SMS to your phone for logging into the system.  If this were a one-time requirement on a new device, it would be acceptable, but as a daily requirement, it introduces significant  user-experience friction. Coupled with basic convenience frustrations is the fact that layouts are not design-optimized for mobile devices.  Navigation then becomes a headache, and eventually (or quickly) the user will exit altogether.  Low mobile user-engagement amongst a sales team results in a separate sales management challenge: delay in data upload and lag in information accuracy.  Inaccurate data inevitably leads to a less effective CRM.  Data must be entered at a constant rate in order to gain meaningful visibility into the deals that have high probability rates of closing.

Data serves a vital function in sales execution, however data input tasks are the least productive hours in the week for a sales team.  As a result, most sales representatives develop their own process to measure the health of a given cycle.  It’s great to have reps that are tuned-in with their clients.  However, when their intuition becomes the guiding point for their sales activity, and there is no report that management can reference to gauge traction (or lack thereof), you wind up with more questions than answers at the end of the quarter.  Said another way, if the sales rep has a finger on the pulse of the deal, but management is not current on the status, the result is a flurry of counter-productive calls between VPs, Managers and Sales Reps.  Not to mention the lack of trust you can place in the viability of individual reps’ forecasting due to various personalities (pure optimists, sandbaggers, etc.).

So how do you go about remedying these inherent problems?  Well to start off, prioritize sales productivity above all else. Your company depends on sales reps to respond quickly to leads, to represent the product in a clear and persuasive way, and to capture the product-market-fit feedback.  They’re on the front lines, and they improve, perhaps exponentially, as you invest in their productivity.  You can do this by reducing their administrative work to the essentials.  Be clear and forthright about the information that matters and ensure they are gathering that from every meeting.  Next, be transparent in how you are reporting.  Show your sales teams performance versus goal.  Empower your reps to be winners; winners are motivated, they set goals and measure results.  Then hold them accountable.  Set structured formats, strict timelines and clear expectations.  This type of management will help enforce consistent reporting and more accurate forecasting.

The best reps I know are masterful at retaining and organizing pertinent account information.  They stay on track to achieve goals.  They tend to need minimal prompting to drive next-steps.  Simple, clear expectations with a premium invested in sales rep productivity will increase CRM data input and user-engagement frequency.  These are cornerstones for management visibility and CRM adaptation.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Leverage these best practices with automation and AI driven by TopOPPS

Learn how our customers are winning with artificial intelligence in their CRM:

  • Predictive Sales Forecasting
  • Automated Pipeline Management
  • Significantly More Updates from Reps

Watch Videos

More Recent Posts:

September 20, 2019

The Emperor [CRM] is Naked

              One of the things I like to track are stories I heard in kindergarten that persist through life.  The Emperor’s New Clothes is one of them.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in meetings, listening to what is being discussed and ideas explored and wanted to yell out, “THE EMPEROR IS NAKED”. ...

Sales Operations, Sales Tools, Sales Pipeline Management, Strategic Partnerships

August 16, 2019

AI For Sales - Business Examples

                The last seven blogs provide a business-case approach to infusing AI through the entire sales process.  One of the purposes of this blog series was to demystify AI by using AI for Sales as an  example.  Media tends to portray AI as a magic bullet.  Actual implementations show the less “black box” an AI solution is and the more “glass box” approach, the more utility it provides to the user.  The utility is created by uncovering the key drivers of an outcome and managing those drivers to increase results. ...

Sales Operations, Sales Tools, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales

August 6, 2019

TopOPPS + Outreach Galaxy: AI Enhanced Guided Selling to Increase Win Rates

                  Ever had the situation where: an important sales opportunity is in danger because of inactivity and it goes unnoticed; the opportunity is sold but they don’t have the budget till next quarter so the sales rep needs to “stay close”; or the opportunity wants to buy but “isn’t there yet” and needs further ongoing education?   ...

Pipeline Optimization, Artificial Intelligence, Sales Pipeline Management, Guided Selling, guide winning behaviors

July 22, 2019

AI for Sales - Calculating the Sales Forecast

                  I mentioned in my first blog on AI for Sales, when you hear the phrase “AI for sales forecasting” it feels like the solution is an algorithm to predict “the sales number”.  This is only partially correct.  While the ultimate goal is an accurate sales forecast, AI for sales forecasting requires artificial intelligence to be infused throughout the entire sales process.   The last 6 blogs have walked through different AI use cases for each of the different areas supporting the sales process to build a foundation for applying AI to create a more accurate sales forecast.  With that background we are ready to review AI use cases for calculating different versions of the sales forecast. ...

Pipeline Optimization, Artificial Intelligence, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales

June 5, 2019

AI for Sales - Sales Pipeline Management and Sales Rep Coaching

                  This is the second of two blogs reviewing artificial intelligence use cases to support sales pipeline accuracy.    The first blog focused on artificial intelligence for guided selling. Guided selling is key to maintaining a realistic sales pipeline by ensuring that sales team rigor, discipline and process are consistent across all opportunities. This blog focuses on sales pipeline management and sales rep coaching.  It includes tools to help: ...

Pipeline Optimization, Artificial Intelligence, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales

April 16, 2019

AI for Sales - Guided Selling

              The next two blogs cover AI for the sales pipeline.  This blog focuses on AI for guided selling.  Guided selling is the process of prescribing optimal sales execution steps to the sales reps to enforce an efficient sales process.  The tasks and process are based on sales patterns of past close-won, and close-lost opportunities.  Guided selling is key to maintaining a realistic sales pipeline. ...

Artificial Intelligence, Sales Pipeline Management, AI for Sales, Sales Enablement

February 27, 2019

AI for Sales - Enhanced Data Collection

                  An accurate sales forecast requires a crystal clean sales pipeline.  A crystal clean sales pipeline requires a deep history on most buyer/seller interactions for each opportunity.  By having a deep history of these interactions you can apply AI to identify buyer patterns and better guide the sales process.   Unfortunately most sales organizations do not have enough information about each opportunity to apply AI to assist in the sales process. ...

Sales Automation, Sales Tools, AI, Artificial Intelligence, AI for Sales

January 25, 2019

AI for Sales - In the Marketing Funnel

                  The topic of artificial intelligence [AI] for Marketing covers many different areas including content delivery, content generation, social media, personalizing emails, attribution, and optimizing lead gen, just to name a few.  This blog focuses on applying AI in the marketing funnel for optimizing lead gen and marketing attribution[MTA].  ...

Sales Tools, AI, Artificial Intelligence, Marketing Funnel, AI for Sales