A Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) is a type of software tool that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions throughout the customer buying cycle, with the goal of improving business relationships with customers. A sales CRM takes this to the next level by driving sales related activities and keeping the sales team accountable to a defined sales process.

One of the main diffrences between a CRM and a sales CRM is the ability to drive the sales related activities of your sales team. Without the right sales activities, there will be no pipeline and no sales. Sales activities will differ according to the business model but could include phone calls, emails, estimates,  meetings, and other sales related activities. Great sales managers know that if you monitor sales activities, the results take care of themselves. Without the right sales activities, you will rely on a few senior sales people to land those big jobs to keep the company above water. However, measuring sales activities allows you to ensure that everybody on your sales team is productive. One objection to this is that sales people feel as though “Big Brother” is watching them. After years of experience, I would see this as a red flag that the sales person has low productivity if he or she does not want to be measbured. As the saying goes, sales people lie about the numbers, but the numbers don’t lie about the sales people. On the other hand, top performing sales people welcome this type of system because they have nothing to hide. These kind of sales people are motiviated by the numbers and will achieve more because they know that the more calls they make, the more they will sell. Tracking sales activities is a must have baseline for measuring your sales team’s productivity.

Once your baseline is established, keeping the sales team accountable to a defined sales process is one of the top indicators of a high-performing sales team. A sales CRM gives a company the ability to customize the software according to the its defined sales process. This allows your sales people to have a step-by-step process to follow for each sales opportunity. They will be able to track major milestones within the sales process and be able to report to management on where any deal stands at any moment.

In an article by the Harvard Business Review, Jason Jordan states “…pipeline management is a critical activity for all sales forces, and better pipeline management can make a huge difference in sales performance. On average, companies that reported having ineffective pipeline management had an average growth rate of 4.6; companies with effective pipeline management had an average growth rate of 5.3, a 15 percent increase. Even more interestingly, companies that mastered three specific pipeline practices (clearly defined sales process, three hours of pipeline management, and pipeline management training) saw 28 percent higher revenue growth."

Once the sales process has been defined, keeping the sales team accountable to that process is critical to success. In other words, ABC, “always be closing,” is a sales tactic of the past. If sales people are "always closing" they will skip past crucial sales process milestones which will hinder closing effectiveness. Instead, having the sales person follow the process — qualification, meeting, estimate, budget discussions, proposal delivery, decision meeting, and contract signature — will ensure that the sales person has gathered all the necessary information from the prospect and moved the customer effectivly through the buying cycle. A sales CRM should track each stage in the defined sales process, allowing management to see what stage each opportunity is in and if each state has been accomplished.

A Sales CRM is a what you have always wanted out of a CRM — namely, to sell more. Lets face it, most successful businesses grow initially due to the drive of the owner and then often due to the success of one or two really good salespeople. It’s time for a change. Gone are the days of excell spreadsheets or data that just sits in a CRM. Invest in a tool like a sales CRM solution as an essential tool in managing the overall sales process.

Publication date: 9/11/2017