Productivity Solutions for Sales People
- Pipeline/Opportunity Management
- 360 View
- Lead Management
Pipeline/opportunity management provides a visual way of looking at your sales opportunities and where they are in the sales process. The pipeline is normally depicted as a funnel where qualified leads start at the top of the funnel and closed deals sit at the bottom. It’s a best practice to only have qualified opportunities in the funnel. Pre-qualification should happen in the lead management process to eliminate noise from the pipeline.
The pipeline stages should map to the sales process you are using, such as solution selling or Miller-Heimann.
Supporting Solutions: CRM, Productivity Tools
Forecasting is the process of analyzing opportunities and determining if that opportunity will close, and when. Forecasting also tries to determine cash flow by showing how the opportunity will payout over different time periods. It is a best practice to forecast over a natural time boundary (month or quarter) which is either equal to a budget period or is approximately half the average sales cycle. For example, if the sales cycle is five months, then a quarterly forecast might be best, but if the cycle is three months, then a monthly forecast is more appropriate.
There are several techniques to forecasting. Forecasting is usually driven by opportunities, which is fine for transactional sales where the money is invoiced at the time the opportunity closes. In complex sales where invoicing happens over time, an opportunity with a detailed line item is needed. These are sometimes called revenue lines. This approach allows forecasting for multiple line items closing over different periods.
Very complex forecasting based upon market share and customer production is possible. This approach, called Machine forecasting, is usually associated with an opportunity where a company has won a chance to sell a part to a manufacturer. Sometime an exact order isn’t know, but what is known is the percent of the parts supplied and the number of products your customer will produce. This approach is the most complex but is common is 2nd tier manufacturing suppliers.
Finally, the best forecasting systems allow for analysis of the forecast by setting a baseline. This is when a sales representative builds a forecast and commits that forecast as a baseline. This baseline can be created in including or excluding opportunities or revenue lines. Sometimes, an additional category called “Upside” is also added for opportunities too close to call. Creating a baseline, sales management can accurately determine a sales person’s ability to forecast and can make adjustments so that most accurate forecast can be provided.
Supporting Solutions: CRM, Business Intelligence Software
A 360 degree view of a company or contact means that all interactions between the customer are located in one single place. The 360 view includes history, emails, marketing campaigns, activities, and phone calls. It also includes all future events, like tasks due, phone calls scheduled, emails scheduled, etc. Plus, a full view shows all notes associated with that company, past purchases & future opportunities, payment history, and information specific to that company’s industry. The 360 view is the “everything look” at your customers and prospects.
Supporting Solutions: CRM, Business Intelligence Software
Leads are potential buyers with unqualified information. Leads come in through many different channels, from tradeshows to website visits. The process of lead management is qualifying leads and converting them to contacts and opportunities. Companies who skip the lead management process or say, “Every lead is an opportunity”, pollute their pipeline with inaccurate data and corrupt the pipeline.
It is a best practice to determine if the lead has the budget, motivation (pain), and timing to buy your product. Without these three factors, a sale is doubtful. Only after you have complete info about a lead, and you know these three facts, should you move a lead to an opportunity.
Supporting Solutions: CRM, Productivity Tools
Quoting often happens in one of two ways: Via CRM or via CPQ. Simple quoting is performed through CRM, assigning products to a quote and allowing for discounts and quantities at a product level. More complex quoting is performed using CPQ software.
CPQ stands for Configure Price Quote. This software works just as it is named. First, there is a configuration process. Configuration not only picks parts from a product list, but deciphers how those parts are assembled. Configurators will include and exclude parts to ensure the order is correct and find substitute parts when inventories are low. After the opportunity is configured, the system will price it using either a master price list or the customer’s contract pricing. Finally, the quote module allows for a highly customized, personalized, and automatically generated quote. Quotes can be assembled from a library of supporting documents to produce an accurate and automated document.
Supporting Solutions: CRM, CPQ
Dashboards are a critical component of every CRM. A dashboard organizes your information visually so the most important aspects are always at your fingertips. Dashboards can feature to-do lists, exception reporting (Who haven’t you called in 3 months?), and graphics, so you can quickly visualize trends. Dashboards change based on an individual’s role in the organization. For example, a sales person may prefer to see their pipeline, activities, and opportunities on the dashboard, whereas a manager may be more interested in forecasting and trends. Dashboards can be customized to deliver quick snapshots of information for any business role.
Supporting Solutions: CRM, Business Intelligence
As companies mature, information can no longer be siloed. Data integration between software systems automates processes and expands CRM functionality. The process of connecting sales data with manufacturing & accounting benefits the entire organization. Every department can view sales forecasts, and the sales department can access information like order and payment history.
Supporting Solutions: Integration software
One of the greatest benefits of implementing CRM is the automation of standard processes and repetitive tasks. Workflow helps organize and initiate this. It guarantees that procedures are always being met, not bypassed. It improves the sales process by automating tasks that your sales people should—but might not be—doing daily. These tasks include follow up calls, reminders for meetings, and more.
Supporting Solutions: CRM, BPM, Productivity Tools
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