History has shown us that we should learn from the past. In sales, history has told us that selling is an art. That it requires a certain type of personality to be successful. That, as long as you have the right talent in place, the revenue will follow. However, this happens because we have not learned from the past.
If we are to truly learn from our sales history, we must reflect on our data and use the insights we uncover to go beyond art and scientifically improve performance. And while CRM has historically been thought of as a mere database or system of record, when used correctly, it can tell us more about our sales history than we ever imagined. As the planning begins for 2017 sales strategies, consider these steps to use your history to improve your future.
Super Users and Weak Links
Super users and high performing reps know your process, leverage their sales tools for optimum productivity, and have an abundance of sales knowledge. But, imagine if you were able to determine that your super users have a niche. A sweet spot. A key focus area where they exceed. And, if you could exploit that key focus area, imagine the potential for revenue and that already stellar performer.
Also, consider your low performers. Without realizing it, so many are left without guidance or are considered ineffective because they are provided the same leads or deals without reflection on their sales data. Imagine if you were able to determine that a rep is under performing, but that within one key demographic or focus area they are actually highly effective. Allocating leads and deals relative to competency is something that your CRM should show you, and that so many leaders overlook.
The Scientific Method of Sales
Despite the misconception of sales as an art, the scientific method is in motion each time a problem is identified and a strategy is put in place, evaluated and optimized – though it goes unnoticed as a science. Imagine how much more organized and successful this process could be if sales leaders purposefully harnessed the scientific method to systematically measure and improve performance.
With the right tools and tactics in place, this can be done, and can shape our future by telling us so much about our past successes and failures. First, determine your goal, whether it be to increase revenue, improve efficiency or decrease risk of loss. Next, decide the data points that your team must capture to effectively monitor and measure the success of your endeavors. As your hypotheses are tracked and measured within your CRM, you will have a running record of activities and outcomes that you can refer back to to better inform future decision making.
For a more detailed breakdown of how to do this, check out this blog post.
CRM as a Coaching Tool
Too often, the CRM is not a key player in one-on-one reviews or team meetings with managers and reps. Instead, teams often use this time to provide play-by-plays of their weeks and to try to get to the bottom of what they think may be happening. Managers are left reviewing reps’ “techniques” and critiquing their sales “art form.”
But if your CRM is being used correctly, all your reps’ activity will be reflected in your conversion rates. It will be captured in pipeline development reports, stage duration analysis and so many others. Leveraging your CRM during 1:1s will provide a clear and unbiased snapshot of what has been happening, and provides data-driven insight into performance improvement.
Moreover, if these reports and metrics are important to a manager, they will become important to reps. If sales teams can learn to use reporting to their benefit during 1:1s, there is no reason a rep should not be able to run their own one-on-one and easily explain their progress or lack thereof.
Will This Help Me Sell More?
In 2017, let’s recognize that CRM is not just a technology or database, but rather a means of success and a philosophy. Let’s also acknowledge that sales is not solely an art, but a combination of art and science. The best sales organizations iterate, identify metrics and measure success quantitatively. Take a look at years past, and see the impact your CRM will have on the future. And for more tips on how you can make this happen, download our free eBook, From Art to Science: 5 Steps to Predictable Sales Growth.