Symptoms and Solutions: Make Your CRM Work
Investors, business brokers and buyers who purchase a company for its growth potential analyze the sales pipeline to determine the firm’s worth. Nothing validates future cash flow better than a documented, predictable sales forecast backed by a customer relationship management (CRM) software system.
Big corporations rely on large systems like Salesforce.com to prove predictions of future earnings. They plow millions into developing sales processes, software, training, quality data and the management of sales teams who enter, follow-up and document their results.
You, the owner, can create a better sales pipeline on a budget through your CRM. To grow your business more predictably or sell it for a premium, you need to prove that future sales will happen.
Here’s a chart of the common symptoms, root causes and solutions of why your CRM may not predict sales:
|Root Business Causes||Solution|
|Little predictability or information on when and if sales opportunities get closed||Sales process unclear and no accountability or incentives for call reporting or management follow up||Owner documents how and why customers buy and measures activity and incentives for results|
|Company rainmaker(s)/business owner won’t document activity or forecast their sales||Company depends on rainmaker(s) for sales, market and customer knowledge. They who are accountable to no one.||Develop sales force beyond the rainmaker/owner and team the rainmaker(s) with an admin assistant or inside customer-support person|
|Prospecting dismal because sales reps “have no time to hunt.” Spend their time servicing existing customers,||Undervalued/disrespected inside sales/customer service department and weak sales management||Reward inside sales/customer service for upselling/cross selling existing customers. Change outside reps’ compensation to favor hunting|
|Sales force complains that gatekeepers and voice mail make prospecting a waste of time.||Company’s value proposition, marketing and lead generation flawed||Assess whether company’s go-to-market strategy is still effective and if so, whether sales force is effective or deficient|
Remember these 5 points to help your CRM generate better forecasts:
- Develop a process for how your business finds, keeps and grows customers. Otherwise, you’ll get an automated version of the status quo. Let best practices guide the CRM development.
- Make sure existing customer data are useful and used to make decisions. New systems use existing information more effectively, but only users create new information.
- Outgrow your manual or legacy system. It’s OK to wait longer. Whatever you buy will become obsolete, too.
- Have staff agree on what it needs to do and build an achievement plan. Then talk to a technology vendor or consultant. Without assessing your needs, you’ll buy what they sell and not what you need to achieve your plan.
- Technology is a means to your goal to grow customer sales, not vice versa. CRM systems can integrate the functions, activities, tactics and programs that comprise a firm’s sales, marketing and customer service departments. They’re generally reliable and technically will perform.
Your responsibilities as a business owner are to define your company’s process for finding, keeping and growing customers and to assure your sales force has clear goals supporting a sales forecast. Your company’s profitable growth and eventual sale depend on this.