You are surely wondering what’s the meaning of an image about football. Well, being a sales manager is a little like being the coach of a football team.
Even if you are not playing at the forefront, the game result is your responsibility and in case of loss the fans will be more angry at you than at the players. In fact, you could have deployed the wrong players, or suggested ineffective moves, or even not been able to create the right atmosphere in the team, causing discontent through small favours.
Then, what does the football coach do to try to overcome these potential risks?
He looks carefully at his players during the game and the workouts, shouting real-time indications to the players, After the match, he reviews all the actions step by step to help each player improve.
On the contrary, think what would happen if the coach, during the game, decided to stay shut in a room doing other things, for instance reviewing the accounts of the football club. After the final whistle, he comes in the changing rooms asking the players: “How was the game? How did you play today? ”
Obviously it would not work! First, the players are not able to assess by themselves how they performed to understand how to improve. Second, during the game they do not have the overall view on what’s going on that only the coach can have. They can not keep an eye on their mates, their opponents and even on the ball at the same moment!
Yet, very often sales managers behave like that coach shut in a room during the match.
They work on other tasks while their salesmen are out selling, and at the end of the week (or even the month!), they call them to their office to pull the strings of the results (or they even write an email). “How are sales going lately?”
I’m sure you can see that there are several problems:
- The poor salesmen tell their manager what happened, listing their activities and results, and the sales manager can only take their words as true. Not to say they are lying, just that obviously they see things from their point of view.
- By now the sales manager can’t do anything to help his collaborators: the month is over and the results are already defined. The only thing he can do is to think about the following month.
- The manager should do a huge effort to combine all the single stories and see the full picture of the whole team performance, to give answers to the leadership and to plan future strategies.
At this point you are probably thinking: “But there is a big difference! The coach can watch the team when they play, while the sales manager can not just follow all his sales agents on the field!”
You are right, but luckily as sales manager you have another trump card: your CRM.
The CRM, in fact, is the tool that allows you to watch the moves of your team as if you were watching the football game of your salesmen, observing their activities before and after they completed them and collecting statistics valuable to boost sales.
Let’s see now the 7 main ways in which your CRM can give you a hand.
1. Follow your team from everywhere
First of all, think of your CRM as the magnifying glass on your team. By seeing what activities are scheduled today for each of your employees, you understand how they are planning their work. You can find out what activities are they giving priorities to, such as which customers are they contacting, where they are going, and so on.
Enough with endless alignment meetings, tons of internal emails and calls for everything!
It’s curious that most people think that the CRM section showing what the team is doing – in Sellf we call it “Activities Section” – has the only purpose to let each salesman know what the collaborators are doing, to improve their coordination. On the contrary, it is a source of important information for the sales manager who is able to read it at best!
2. Have the full picture on your sales team
After seeing the daily moves of each of your employees, your CRM allows you to get the overview on his/her work in the whole period.
Thanks to the statistics on his/her activities, you can know within seconds how many calls each sales agent did in the last week, how many emails he/she sent, how many negotiations he opened and closed and so on. Think about it as statistics on how many shots, goals or defences each player did!
Well, what do you need this information for? First of all to see if people are constant or if there are substantial differences in their work over time, and in this case it could be interesting to understand why. You can also find out if there are differences between a person and the other and if there are differences also among their results. And if you have decided the team work using an Activity Based Selling approach, then this information is even more than vital!
3. Know better your team
By comparing these results you can start to know better each member of your team. You can understand what their strengths and weaknesses are, such as if they are better at making phone calls or at visiting customers in person.
If you see that they send less emails than the average, perhaps they could need help to improve their writing skills. If they are better at selling a certain product, maybe they need training on the rest of the product range… or you can exploit their special love for that product making them the specialist on it. And so on: every coach knows if each player should play as goalkeeper or as striker!
4. Plan new strategies better
In addition to analysing these data for each individual employee, you can then see the whole situation of your team.
You can find out if the overall results are improving or not, if there have been positive or negative periods, which product has closed more negotiations and which is stranded in the same stage of the buying process.
Then, you can correlate activities and results. For example, making a certain number of calls per week do lead to more won negotiations or not? Which customer acquisition source has led to more sells, and for what product?
These considerations allow you to take more informed strategic decisions by identifying how to better move in the future, learning from past mistakes and improving the overall performance of your team.
5. Be a better “coach”
Discovering this information not weeks later but exactly when things happen, you have the power to react immediately.
If there is a problem, you don’t have to wait until the end of the month to find it out, but you can spot it and go immediately to talk to who’s responsible! Not to rebuke him/her of course (unless there is a serious problem), but to understand along with the person how to react in real time.
Your team will not see you as a leader ready to punish them at the end of the month, but as a mentor always present to help.
6. Reward who deserve it
Nowadays, people talk a lot about how meritocracy is seldom applied in companies, while only the boss’s favorite are rewarded. Let’s shows them that you are different: it will be the CRM to declare objectively who deserves the monthly premium!
This way you take two birds with one stone, by encouraging your employees to fill in their CRM data and pushing them to do their best at the same time. Just be careful not to create a too tense climate… the competition should always be positive!
7. Improve communication with top management
Last but not least, at the end of the month you should report to the leadership, who wants to know what’s happening in the sales department.
Thanks to the statistics in your CRM, creating reports on the results will be a matter of minutes. Enough with hours lost to analyse data and create charts for the slides! The graphs that you need are already ready, as are the sales trends aggregated by period, by product and also by sales agent. Not to mention customer data, such as their size, location, type of companies distribution and so on.
You are now able to offer the leadership a very complete picture of the situation, even ready to propose corrective strategies in case of decreasing sales or other problems. You could even suggest the next steps in terms of sales strategies, and also advise on the target to aim to and on the offers to launch, knowing where most of the negotiations stop and which are the problems that prevent customers from buying.
The time to take more control on your team has come!
Well, at this point you have surely figured out how your CRM can be your secret weapon at the tactical and strategic level.
If your company does not have a CRM and you are still working with spreadsheets and post-its, just choose the software that best suits your needs and begin as soon as possible, not to lose one more peace of data. Any activity that your team is doing and is not tracked is a missed opportunity!
If you already have a CRM but you always considered it just as an operational tool, which only helps sales people remember appointments, contacts and deadlines, it is time to pick it up and start to exploit its full potential.
Beware, though, that it may be more complex than it seems.
Not all CRMs offer comprehensive statistics and sometimes they require special configurations during the setup to ensure that all the data you need are correctly tracked and stored. What a surprise to discover after months of CRM usage that all the data you collected in the past are incomplete!
My advice is to pay close attention to these aspects when choosing your CRM (here are our tips on the 15 essential factors to consider). If you have already chosen a CRM, find out as soon as possibile if and how your information is collected. If you realise you do not have all the information you need, you can run for cover by changing the settings or, in case, by speaking with the service provider.
I say this because in Sellf we are convinced of how important it is to transform your data into key information for your success. The Activities section and the Sales Reports area in Sellf have been designed listening to the needs of sales managers like you, focusing particularly on the most important information and making it easy to trace the data from the first usage.
With Sellf, sales managers have better visibility on their teams and customers, they can easily plan future activities and better manage the team’s time. Plus, they are able to produce in a few second reports and graphs about sales, trends and opportunities, improving collaboration with their team.
Are you ready to help your team “win the championship”, achieving incredible sales results?