October 23, 2009

Rolling Out A Sales System

Managers often complain about the difficulty of accurately forecasting sales and objectively rating opportunities. In addition they often lack the information to monitor and control sales team, or campaign effectiveness.

Meanwhile as organisations involve more people in selling, often from outside the sales team, the issue of co-ordinating activity and preventing overlap or duplication becomes important. The answer to these issues is a sales system.

From our experience successfully moving a sales team from paper to a sales database, or CRM system, can boost efficiency by between of 30 – 40%. However, this advantage will not be easily won.

Why You Need A System

SFA (Sales Force Automation), or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Systems solve these problems by providing:
  1. A central repository for customer, prospect & marketing information
  2. Real time reporting & tracking of activity and effectiveness in terms of; leads, opportunities, accounts, etc.
  3. Sales productivity tools in terms of reporting, scheduling, dairying, etc.
  4. Marketing campaign management (including newsletters and mail outs)
  5. Customer relationship management

How to Spot A Good System
  1. Easy to use: intuitive enough to learn quickly and fast enough to save time.
  2. Add value to the user, help them sell and deliver
  3. Are flexible and display meaningful results within a mouse click
  4. Able to solve day to day problems for the user and is consistent with the way they sell
  5. User led not management led.

Are you Ready for a System

Although the sophistication of even the on demand or hosted systems is impressive, the reality is that there is no turnkey database solution.

So, beware it will take quite an effort to get a database up and running, even the most ‘user friendly’ systems, so it is important to get the timing right. The reality is that you need to double your estimate of the time and effort it will take to get the system up and running and then most crucially get users using it.

Overcoming the Adoption Hurdle

The adoption of sales systems is a major challenge. In short, most users don't use them faithfully. There are lots of reasons for this, but much of it comes down to the failures of planning and implementation, particularly around adoption. Here are some tips:
  1. Ensure people see their own activity and accounts when they log in, not someone else’s
  2. Deploy sales tools gradually, invest time in winning buy-in. Start with a small pioneer group
  3. Pick a sales champion / project manager
  4. Communicate the benefits clearly (less paperwork, more sales opportunities, better time mgt etc.)
  5. Provide lots of training
  6. Heavy on the admin support to start with at least (i.e. import contacts for users, be available to answer queries, put various documents into the system, customize the fields, etc.)
  7. Develop a cheat sheet for training. Highlight why the system will help people and key functions they should use initially
  8. Ensure people at the top are using it (leadership)
  9. Review progress, learn from it
  10. Roll it out in groups
  11. Certify and reward users for using it
  12. Make it part of sales meetings and sales reviews. Ensure it is forward looking
  13. Put it in people’s job descriptions

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