Most small businesses rely heavily on spreadsheets. Spreadsheets are great for financials, they are a terrible tool for tracking prospects.
If you're like most small or medium businesses, you probably rely pretty heavily on spreadsheets. While spreadsheets are wonderful for financials, spreadsheets are a terrible tool to keep track of your prospects and customers.
Trying to keep track of follow-ups, stages of your sales cycle, and pipeline reporting in spreadsheets that require a lot of manual and time-consuming effort. Not to mention the prospects that fall through the cracks because someone forgets to manually update the spreadsheet.
Luckily we have a modern solution to replace manual tracking and reporting in spreadsheets.
That solution is...a CRM system.
CRM is an acronym that stands for "Customer Relationship Management". Customer relationship management (CRM) is a software used to manage a company's interactions with its' current and potential customers. CRM uses data analysis about customers' history with a company to improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on customer retention and ultimately driving sales growth. [Wikipedia]
A properly implemented CRM software can easily take the guesswork out of how your sales team is performing day to day. A CRM software like HubSpot CRM will give you insights on conversions rates, pipeline activity, and what prospecting activities are yielding the greatest results.
In my over 18 years of implementing CRM softwares for B2B sales teams, I have yet to come across a spreadsheet that will actually help increase the productivity of a sales rep. A CRM software can automate repetitive tasks such as call logging, auto-populate contact information (using contact enrichment), and automatically send emails that were scheduled to send later. A CRM software will get your reps out of the weeds and away from administrative work and back focused on selling.
Not only will a CRM give sales leadership insight to their team's prospecting activities, but having an CRM will allow for collaboration across your entire sales team. An account executive (AE) can quickly look at all the interactions that a specific prospect has had with a sales development representative (SDR). Or with company's that have their CEO active in the sales process, the CEO can leave notes and create follow-ups for the account executive based on his/her interaction with that prospect. A CRM system is a central place where you can see a complete picture of a prospect's interactions with your company.
Not only will a Customer Relationship Management (CRM software bring increased collaboration, that collaboration will lead to much-improved customer communication. Knowing the details about each and every touchpoint with a prospect will allow you and your team to create personalized messaging based on the types of feedback the prospect is providing at each step in their buying journey.
Enough with the acronyms, let's talk in words
Now that you are aware of the benefits a CRM can bring, let's discuss a few of the more common terms you hear when talking about a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. With any new software comes new terms and definitions.
Lead: A lead is a person that has raised their hand in some manner and shown interest in your product or service. Not all leads are created equal. As part of your Inbound Marketing strategy, you should be identifying Leads as a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) based on how they interacted with the content on your site.
Account (or Company): An Account is basically the company that a Lead works for. Accounts are used mostly in B2B sales. Once a Lead is qualified to a certain score, the Lead is converted into an Account, Contact, and Deal.
Deal: A Deal is a potential sale. Some people use the term Deal and Opportunity interchangeably. A Deal will have and move through various stages or steps in your sales process with the last stage being "Closed Won" or "Closed Lost...I hope you have more Closed Won in your pipeline. Each Deal is also assigned a probability to close. How likely, at this stage, is it that this Deal will be Won.
Deal Stage: Your sales process should have specific milestones that are represented by a stage. Deal Stages will vary business to business that the goal is still the same. Your sales process starts at one stage and ends at Closed Won or Lost. Each Deal Stage has a corresponding probability, represented in percentages. The probability represents how likely are you to win this new business.
Here's a typical 7 Stage Deal Stage
Lead Source: What good is having a CRM system full of Leads if you don't know what prospecting activities generated those Leads? Lead Source is typically a drop-down that allows you to select a single value that explains what campaign brought that specific Lead to your website.
Activity: You can't close deals without having interactions with your prospects. Activities are all the interactions you have people as you journey down your sales process. An Activity might be an email, a phone call, a demo, a meeting, etc. All of these various Activities should be logged into your CRM and associated with the correct Lead, Contact and/or Deal.
Pipeline: In sales, a Pipeline is a systematic approach to selling your product or service. Modern CRMs have to take a visual approach to show exactly what Deals are in the Pipeline and their corresponding stage. A Pipeline gives you the ability to understand which stage every Deal is at and are there enough deals in your Pipeline to hit your weekly/monthly numbers.
Just having Deals in your Pipeline is not enough. You need to religious measure all the Deal activity in your Pipeline. A few common Deal metrics are:
Sample Pipeline in HubSpot CRM
Now you have an understanding of the value a CRM system brings and some of the most common terms used in a CRM system, what's next?
Step 1: After doing your due diligence and carefully selecting your CRM system, the first step is to define and refine your requirements around how the CRM should function and help enable your business and process. One or many detailed brainstorming sessions might be required to flush out your ideal customer profile, and define your sales process and your reporting needs.
Step 2: Convert your requirements into technical specifications that can be used as a blueprint to configure your CRM system to meet your needs.
Step 3: Configure your CRM system. Depending on how complicated your requirements are, you may want to consider working with a consultant who can work through your requirements and perform the configuration utilizing best practices and their technical expertise in the system. If your CRM doesn't need many configurations, you may be able to go at it alone and use brute force and hands-on learning.
Step 4: Data. Once your CRM is configured to align with your sales process, now it's time to prepare and cleanse your data for importing and migration to your CRM system. Data migration is often the most complicated component of any CRM implementation. After spending the last 18 years implementing CRM systems, I've seen the data migration process get easier but it's still far from perfect. Luckily, there's been a variety of tools that have come into the picture to help.
Step 5: Reporting and Dashboards. Once you have your CRM configured and your data loaded, then you should start building out the various reports and dashboards to track the key performance metrics that are critical to monitoring the performance of your sales team and determining the health of your Pipeline.
That's just the 40,000-foot (and 1,5000-word) overview of the benefits of using a CRM to enable your B2B sales team and some of the steps involved in a successful deployment. If you would like to dig a little deeper, download our Beginners Guide to CRM ebook or schedule a free assessment with a truDemand Coach.