CRMs used to be considered nice to have—now it is a necessity and will be a critical tool for your sales channel management strategy, market feedback and team approach to working the marketplace.
- Salespeople have historically been notoriously hesitant about communicating a lot of details about their accounts, meetings with buyers, and projecting sales forecasts. We're so protective of our account information. For those of us now in sales management positions, we all remember quite well how that feels to be on the front lines and to be constantly reminded about communicating more and in greater detail about activities in the marketplace. Years ago, I remember having account information in various spreadsheets and rogue databases.
You would have thought I had top secret information, since I guarded it so closely. However, to me, it was that important, and I only passed along details unless it was required. In my mind, I was protecting my accounts, my buyers, and my sales. I didn't want people knowing too much, and heaven forbid if other people contacted an account of mine directly. That was pretty misguided of me, but I was not alone as a salesperson thinking that way. Times changed.
All of our businesses got more competitive, and the primitive databases and spreadsheets led us to much better options by using CRMs, customer relationship management software. However, even with these better systems, many sales representatives, sales managers, and let's be candid, VPs of sales too, were very reluctant to jump on board to support CRM usage. We feared the amount of time it would take, and that our account information would become too visible within our companies.
Your at a competitive disadvantage, and doing your company a disservice, if you're not utilizing your CRM software to its full potential. I've come a long way on this, and now I'm a full, 100% supporter. This is even more critical as you develop and implement your sales channel strategy. With your CRM, you'll have so much important data in one location that not only will you use it, but other departments will come to rely on it and value it too. Remember, our most important responsibility is to sell, and a CRM is designed for us to do it more efficiently and smarter.
Salespeople still close the business. I think the following five benefits alone justify the cost of implementing a CRM and the investment of time. Leads and opportunities. Rather than trying to piece together from a variety of sources all of the potential business, a CRM gives us all of this in one spot. Sales forecasting. Let's face it. This is a headache for sales managers. However, by weighting sales and viewing closing rates, you can have a fantastic forecasting tool.
Market feedback. This is perfect for marketing, product development, and sales strategy teams to use the information in the CRM to create plans and new products or services. Teamwork and engagement. The use of CRM encourages and reinforces an objective we all have of teamwork within our groups and other departments. This has been a real positive development. Analysis by channel. How we analyze accounts, channels, our staff and resources, can be measured very productively and efficiently by using our CRM.
As a sales leader, you must reinforce the commitment of CRM usage, not only with your words, but your actions too. If you're an active, productive user of your company's CRM, it will not only serve as a positive message to your staff, but also show the importance to all other departments connected to the sales process too. From personal experience, I've seen that dynamic in action and can verify the success that it can bring you. CRMs are no longer a nice to have feature.
They are a necessity to having a successful sales channel operation.
- Surveying the marketplace
- Reviewing channels
- Managing channels and investments
- Developing a go forward plan
- Working with other departments and teams
- Handling channel conflict
- Forecasting sales
- Creating a channel marketing structure