How to revamp your CRM adoption and put the data to work.
In the last few months nearly every recognized recession leading indicator has flashed. The yield curve has inverted. The Dow continues to play hopscotch. Pundits are doing their best to look grim.
In SMB, sales organizations are either armed to the teeth with preemptive recession strategy or are entirely looking the other way. If you’re unsure which column you fall into try the following exercise:
The next time one of your firm’s junior reps lands a deal worth a handshake ask them what they’re doing to recession proof their pipeline.
Maybe wait a few minutes, and then ask.
Hopefully the answer includes CRM. I’d cross my fingers, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Hopefully there’s noble pledge to focus on the fundamentals, preferably one with lots of eye contact. If not, or if the pledge has a history of running out of steam don’t worry. Here’s a Sales Small Business Recession Field Guide as it concerns CRM, or SSBRFG:CRM for short. (I’m not in marketing)
Taking these steps will help you sell strategically through a recession by leaning on your CRM, whether your CRM been a well-oiled machine or the Spruce Goose.
1. Let’s reexamine what we know.
The first step to preparing a recession strategy for your Sales Org should always start with the CRM—specifically the data and trends housed within. Even if you feel like your solution has been underutilized, odds are very good that the CRM has collected much more data than you anticipated. Get the data and put it in Excel, Power BI, Tableau, or into the hands of someone proficient with these things and start to figure out the basics:
-How many contacts are being made week over week, and what is the trend?
-How many activities have been auto-logged, and what are they? Who are they being done to?
Ask increasingly complex questions until the answers become untrustworthy. This step is getting to the start line. Don’t evaluate the quality of the data, that comes later.
2. Synthesize data sources.
Let’s suppose your SMB sales team has not been saintly with CRM entry and there are a holes. It’s invaluable to put that data in context with the other business systems. The easiest method is to overlay data from the accounting ERP. (This can be done quite easily with Microsoft’s Power BI*)
*Shameless plug, Prophet CRM uses embedded Power BI to give you top tier reporting ability.
In the same manner as the first point look for any obvious correlations. Here are a few basic ones to get moving:
-Is there higher activity on high revenue accounts?
-Does activity increase with revenue?
-Do we see regular activity, no matter the sales volume or is there a correlation in purchase activity?
3. Reconcile the systems to give your team a head-start
Truthfully, you should get the systems integrated, but if the cash or time is not forthcoming the next best alternative is to make sure both systems have equal information where there is overlap. This step is critical, as readily available customer history is a critical ingredient in building the sales team’s confidence and reliance.
Any CRM worth its salt will have a function to import Excel sheets. Get spreadsheets from the ERP and make sure the following items are imported:
-Any contact. Be scrappy—on occasion the billing department penetrates a client organization better than the sales team. You can easily get a name, phone number, email, job title, and address/location at the minimum.
-Any Purchase. Have the sales team fill out pertinent details on the Excel spreadsheet for the deals they won (lead source, sale type, the basics). Excel will enable this to be done reasonably accurately en masse, saving time and frustration.
Import the completed sheet into the CRM so that both systems have the same data.
4. Time for a new map
By now you’re fairly familiar with the key organizational metrics and how to report on them. From here you can set out a new strategy for engaging with prospective and current clients based on the metrics you can track.
During this stage it is important to envision these KPI’s in terms of real-life actions and outcomes, save the details of execution for the next two steps. Ask yourself the following questions, and increase in specificity with each one:
-How many touches should be put on each prospect before they are declared unqualified or dead?
-How many touches should be applied during each stage of the sales cycle?
-How many phone calls do you want your team making on a daily or weekly basis?
-How many contacts should an AE make in a month—and at what level of the organization?
-How often should we be calling or emailing existing clients?
Remember, the goal here is to have the team hit its stride with these metrics BEFORE the recession hits. These goals must be realistic and accomplishable for each week or each month in the year.
5. Time for some tweaks
Once your strategic goals are outlined from point four the next step is to ensure the CRM reflects those aspirations. There are two benchmarks to be achieved in this course:
Benchmark A: Is the CRM configured correctly to capture the appropriate data?
Example: As a Sales Manager, I want to have a very good understanding of our lead source performance—do we have a field where Opportunities or Contacts can be categorized by lead source?
If the answer is no, then a field must be configured to capture that data AND the team must be appraised of the expectation for that data entry. As always, trust the team to do it—and then inspect that it has been done on a routine basis.
Benchmark B: Is the CRM configured to assist the user while simultaneously capturing the data?
Example: I want to see that my sales team has followed up on every proposal, is there a way to automate proposal follow ups and report on that?
***If the answer for your current solution is no, please skip the rest of the article below and submit your contact information so we can help you!
Users will rely on the CRM when it is a vehicle to make their immediate task easier. The key concept is to introduce accessibility. It must be easy to set reminders, or action items will be left unfinished. It must be easy to enter notes, or the team will keep all the information in their heads. The brain is not scalable, but Prophet CRM sure is.
6. Re-Train the Team
Odds are good that it’s been a while since your team has had some instruction on the CRM. If you have introduced new practices per Point 5 you’ll want to make sure everyone is on the same page. Many CRM solutions have excellent resources available online, or you can call your account manager to schedule some directed training. This training ensures that everyone is accountable for using the CRM as directed—nobody can claim ignorance.
7. Inspect what you expect
To ensure that CRM usage is habitual, review the system daily or weekly. Use a specific report which provides visibility to your key metrics, and ensure they are being met on a weekly or monthly basis. If your CRM doesn’t provide the exact report you require odds are very good that your provider can create a custom report, or guide you to creating your own.