November 01, 2009

9 Ways To Turn Your Sales Database into a Powerful Sales Tool

Want to get more from your Sales Database or CRM system? Here are 9 ways you can transform it into a powerful sales and marketing tool:

1. Purge your database!

A database with a well-used 200 entries can be much better than a database with 4000 names that is disorganised and out-of-date.

So screen all those contacts, accounts and opportunities in your database, re-classifying them as appropriate (based on relevance and potential). Do a random spot check – taking 20 or so entries to see where contact information (e.g. contact name, address, etc.) is out of date, or where the last contact is dated.

This will help you set the criteria for cleansing the database – for example identify those past customers who have not purchased in the past year and mark as priority, eliminate those that have been dormant for than 5 years and so on. Then allocate those that have a priority to an owner and assign an action or next step to it.

2. If its not working, scrap it

If your existing database is difficult to use, cannot be accessed remote and do not provide basic functionality such as dairying next actions, sending emails, capturing web enquiries directly, or providing real time management reports, then scrap it.

From as little as $9 per user per month you can provide your sales team with access to the most sophisticated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and SFA (Sales Force Automation / Administration system).

Take out a demo account on,, Sugar CRM or Sage CRM to see what your sales database can and should look like.

3. Use it for pipeline mgt and forecasting

Transform your sales database into a powerful management tool, by using it to track leads all the way through to orders. That begins with leads and enquiries, the meetings, opportunities, deals won. Track progress at each stage, generating metrics to enable you to identify salespeople who may be under performing, or areas of the sales process that require attention.

4. Organise training

One of the key barriers to the more widespread, expert and consistent use of a sales database is the level of skill and support available to users. So classify users into basic, intermediate and advanced user skills, in terms of their present skills levels and what their jobs require. Then organise a programme of training, supported by the necessary manuals, or documentation. Certification may be important to encourage extra there is a quick test of user skills levels before and after.

5. Incorporate Sales process and a common sales language

Getting the most out of your sales system will depend on having a consistent definition of sales process and sales language across your sales team. That means ensuring the way sales opportunities are ranked is consistent, with the associated probability of closing relating to some agreed and hopefully objective standard. This curbs the natural optimism of the sales person.

Defining your organisations sales progress takes forecasting another step further. For example, if a deal is forecast for January and given a 90% probability, the sales manager can assess the validity of this assessment by reviewing if key aspects of the sales process have been satisfactorily completed, such as:

  • identifying and covering the buying group
  • formal needs analysis completed
  • notes of meeting in the database
  • client feedback on draft proposal, etc.
6. Put it in people’s job descriptions

Encourage people to use the sales database, providing them with the training and support requirement required. But don’t stop there. Make it mandatory. Write it into people’s job descriptions and job reviews. Calculate commissions and other payments based on sales data as presented in the system.

7. Stop relying on spreadsheets

Stop relying on spreadsheets and make your sales database do the work of managing sales opportunities and forecasting sales revenues. This is a real test of the degree to which you are using your system. If your team is putting in the right information and keeping it up to date, you should be able to view an up-to-date dashboard of sales KPIs every time you log in.

8. Put somebody in charge of it

Give somebody overall responsibility for managing the sales database, that includes organisation of the training, reviewing data quality, cleaning out the system, tracking usage levels, managing compliance, etc.

9. Run campaigns using it

If you are having problems adopting your sales database, then put some new leads into it and use them to run a campaign. Allocate them to various reps and direct them there to find them. Use the system to send a campaign email as well as to automatically capture enquiries made from your web site..

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