Without this tool in place, you can get stuck operating at a small scale—tracking deals, leads and information in notebooks, spreadsheets and whatever scraps of paper you find.
You can turn your business into a well-oiled machine, and increase your sales immediately, by using a CRM, and these 9 techniques.
1) Use Sales Reminders Like Clockwork
If you sell complex or high-priced products and services, you are not going to close the sale in a single call. The buyer is concerned about risk and has to consider the views of other people like their spouse or boss. In these situations, you are going to hear some variation of “Let’s meet again in 2 weeks to discuss this project.”
Keeping track of these appointments over time is one way a CRM can help. You can also set reminders for relationship-building activities like sending birthday cards (send them in the mail, and you will stand out).Could using a simple calendar tool help with reminders? Yes, but CRMs can do more. They can also give you statistics, such as how many appointments you have per year, month or per quarter with each of your accounts.
2) Track your sales activity levels
How many prospecting calls, emails and meetings did you complete last month?
Most salespeople have no idea how to answer that question, or they know the answer and don’t want to share it. Without a certain volume of activity—number of emails sent, number of events attended, number of demos completed—sales will not happen. CRMs help you to increase sales by making tracking easy. For example, if you go 2 weeks in a row without prospecting, your CRM can display a simple chart showing that your activity level is dropping.
By creating awareness of falling sales activity, your CRM prompts you to put more time into prospecting follow-up, or whatever other activity is experiencing a slowdown. It’s better to be helpfully reminded by your CRM rather than getting unpleasantly surprised by your month-end results.
3) Enhance your relationships with key stakeholders
When you sell a complex solution like cybersecurity consulting services to a bank, there are multiple people involved in the deal. You might have a good relationship with the chief information officer (CIO) but what about the other executives? If you lose track of their comments and questions, they may feel ignored and quietly kill your sale.
With a CRM, you can easily track notes on all of the important stakeholders in every deal. Just imagine you are working on 5 sales opportunities this month and each opportunity has 5 to 10 stakeholders. Keeping all of those people straight without a CRM is just not feasible.
4) Reduce coordination problems in the sales team
When you first start in sales, you may be stuck operating as a lone wolf. As you become more successful, you will have the budget and status to bring on assistants. Or you may be in a company that enlists sales development representatives and other people to help you. If everything works together effectively, you can close more sales.
However, many sales professionals struggle to make the most of their sales support team. For example, how do you stay informed of the conversations and emails that your staff have with prospects? That’s one area where a CRM can help. By having everybody log all sales interactions in the CRM, you will eliminate mistakes and never miss a meeting again.
Tip: Schedule a weekly meeting with your sales support team to review sales opportunities in the CRM. This meeting also functions as a “weekly deadline” for everyone to update the CRM in time for the meeting.
5) Get more selling time by reducing administrative tasks
There’s an iron-clad law in sales: The more time you spend with prospects, the more sales you will close. Unfortunately, the bureaucratic and process-driven nature of modern business conflicts with this rule.
If your sales manager asks for certain reports from you every week, month and quarter, those requests quietly eat away at your time to sell. The solution? Look for ways to automate these administrative tasks with your CRM. For example, Salesforce and other CRMs have activity reports (e.g., number of calls, number of emails sent, number of meetings) built in. Sit down with your sales operations team to see which administrative tasks can be automated.
Now that you have purged some reporting responsibilities from your queue, use that extra time to work on more deals.
6) Grow your pipeline by working better with marketing
Few sales professionals depend on marketing to provide leads. It doesn’t have to be that way. What if you had 10 more leads each month to work with? If your marketing department is organized, they should be able to deliver that to you. However, speed matters. According to the Harvard Business Review: “Firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly 7 times as likely to qualify the lead.” The more leads you qualify, the more sales you will qualify.
Set aside some time to work with marketing this week. Ask them if they can send leads directly to your CRM. By automating the transition of leads from marketing to sales, you will have more sales opportunities to work on.
7) You can optimize your sales follow-up with CRM
Only a small fraction of buyers are ready to buy when you talk to them for the first time. Everybody else? You need to follow up with those leads, or you will lose them. As you generate more and more leads for follow-up, staying in touch becomes more of a challenge.
Sales professionals that simply say, “I'm following up about…” over and over again are not going to stand out. By logging your follow-up messages and frequency in a CRM, you can distinguish yourself from the rest of the pack. Look for patterns to determine which follow-up messages work most effectively. For example, you might find that mixing your follow-up methods (e.g., email, phone, letter vs. email alone) leads to better results. Once you know what works (and what doesn't), you can improve your follow-up process and close more sales. You can only find those patterns when you track your follow-up effort in a CRM.
8) Never lose a lead at the office
Sales professionals spend a lot of time traveling. It’s just a fact of life in the profession. In that reality, it is no surprise that staying organized is difficult in sales. Yet, it is critical to success. In the past, salespeople had to create their own systems from a patchwork of notecards, notebooks and calendars. These homemade systems worked, but they had one major drawback—they were paper-based. If you accidentally left the notebook at the office, you just didn't have access to its contents while traveling.
Modern CRM applications do not have that limitation. For example, you can access Salesforce on your laptop and through your smartphone as well. You will close more sales because—when you use the functionality of a CRM—you will never lose track of a lead.
9) Improve your sales habits
In his best-selling book “Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones,” James Clear lays out 4 laws of behavioral change. If you want to implement some new sales habits, Clear’s model helps you make the most of your CRM and increase sales.
The third law of behavior change is to "make it easy.” Let’s say you are working on building a sales habit to stay in touch with past clients. Every day, send a short personal email to a past client simply to stay in touch and develop the relationship. A CRM can make that action easy by giving you reminders every 60 days to send a staying in touch email. That will keep your name and company front and center with prospects. When the buying window opens, you will have a greater chance to win that sale.
Not sure what to write in a staying-in-touch email? Use one of these 4 templates courtesy of Yesware.
What To Do Next After You Choose A CRM
Can using a CRM transform your sales results? Yes. It is possible! However, the CRM will not perform sales activity for you. The application will not create proposals (though it makes it easy to find past proposals for reference). A CRM cannot listen carefully to a prospect in a meeting, but it can make it easy to keep track of notes from each meeting.
Choosing a CRM and installing it is critical. In 2019 and beyond, using a CRM is no longer optional. Every effective sales professional, even at small companies, rely on CRM tools to stay organized. Once you have the system in place, you need to support it by using it regularly. How do you do that? Start with the second point in this article—Track your sales activity levels—and you'll be off to a strong start.