(Editor’s note: With SugarCon right around the corner, I was more than pleased to receive this guest entry from InsideView’s Koka Sexton. InsideView’s been a terrific addition to SugarCRM for users of that particular CRM application, and for a lot of savvy users of other applications as well. They’re also a sponsor of SugarCon – and they clearly understand the value of events like SugarCon that focus on educating the attendees on the concepts that help them improve sales and marketing processes. That’s something confident companies do, because they know that an educated buyer will naturally gravitate toward the strongest solutions – and if you’re one of the strongest solution, then you win.
All CRM efforts are geared toward increasing sales in some way or another. You need to attract new customers and keep the ones you already have. But doing that doesn’t simply mean buying software, implementing it and flipping the “on” switch – it means being aware and deliberate about your sales processes. I’ll let Koka take it from here:)
I read a great article in Inc. recently on 12 ways to increase sales. The author, Geoffrey James, pointed out some of the most important things a salesperson or sales manager should do to increase sales in 2012. He hit the nail on the head when it comes to why these 12 ways to increase sales revenue will work; I want to tell you how to do it in eight.
As a CRM customer, you want to make sure you get the most use out of your investment. The fastest way to make that happen is by leveraging your CRM to deliver actionable intelligence on the prospects and customers you are in contact with.
1. Reduce the number of opportunities you pursue. It’s not a numbers game. By focusing your sales energy on fewer opportunities that have a higher chance of closing, you can give these customers more of your time to move the deal along. By leveraging traditional sales drivers and trigger events you are aware of, you will know which prospects have a much higher percentage of closing.
2. Increase the percentage of time you spend selling. There will always be admin work. As a salesperson, you may not have the ability to hand your busy work off to others, but there are ways that you can still increase your time spent selling. Most sales people on average spend 10 hours a week researching prospects. By leveraging technology and sales intelligence you can cut that amount of time in half and free up some of that precious time to talk to prospects and customers and sell more.
3. Stop buying technology because it’s cool.
Stop spending your money on the next shiny object. Invest in technology that is actually going to help you sell. Focus on tools that will provide you
- Trigger events that affect your prospects and customers.
- Valuable connections through multiple social networks and existing business relationships.
- More personal insights that turn your CRM contacts into people you can relate to and add context around.
- Highly targeted and intelligent prospect lists.
4. Terminate weak engagements–politely but immediately.
Just as your company should have a solid lead qualification process to identify new opportunities, you should spend the time to disqualify deals. A sales team should know what their ideal customer looks like and focus its energy on them. If a prospect doesn’t fit the mold, quit trying to force him or her into it.
5. Hone your lead generation effort.
Sales people need to understand the art of lead generation is shifting to an online world. Stop waiting for your phone to ring and look for the people you can help in real time. Social networks are a goldmine for the socially savvy sales rep. If you know what you are looking for, finding new opportunities with social media isn’t difficult. For example, our sales team found this update on Twitter and jumped in.
These types of updates are something your sales team needs to be on the lookout for. After 24 hours, Hoovers still had not replied to Ross’s update on Twitter. Listening is key. Leveraging connections and personal insights, our sales team was able to connect and help Ross with his business needs.
6. Don’t focus on the gatekeepers.
Understand who the real decision makers are. Get to know them as people instead of the contact that makes decisions at XYZ company. Stay engaged with them during the sales cycle by engaging with them outside of the actual sale. Connect with prospects on social networks and try and help them with other questions they may have and add valuable insights on their industry.
7. Stay on top of your opportunities.
Build a watchlist on your opportunities so you can be fed news and other alerts to things that are changing within their companies. Leveraging technology to keep your finger on the pulse of your opportunities will insure that nothing slips by you and you can even stay a step ahead during the sales process.
8. Outflank your competition.
I say it during my speaking engagements: be different, be better. Your prospects are getting 100-plus emails a day and are called as many times each week. This tactic may work some of the time, but don’t do what your competitors are doing. Stand apart from them by leveraging your connections to get the introduction; connect with the decision makers on social networks to have more engaged conversations in a medium that they are already spending time in.