Sales Performance Improvement
If you’re in sales then you know that this is an industry where constant change is part of the function.
I, probably much like you, read 100’s of sales articles a week, talk to many sales professionals (and some sales un-professionals) from many diverse industries, plus I digest a handful of current business books a month. It’s my job, I love it.
One thing is becoming more evident in many of these exchanges as time goes on, to such a degree that it’s now getting to be irksome.
But, not just irksome…it’s getting dangerous as well.
The fact is, the sales profession seems to be overly interested/preoccupied/obsessed (take your pick) with the value that technology brings to the industry and, by default, less concerned with the value that people bring to the industry and the difference that IT and people make in business success, profit and growth.
Let’s face facts – the average company in the UK today is an SME. The average company is not Coca Cola, Tesco or Amazon. It’s a small to medium enterprise with all the benefits and constraints that entails.
Sales Performance Improvement – Sales Results Fading?
With this firmly in mind there are three key traps that some SME’s are liable to fall into if they read/listen to some of the most popular streams of sales information:
1. An over reliance on social media to generate sales leads.
Don’t get me wrong.
Social media should be part of the sales and marketing mix.
Much of the press that is coming out now around this subject falls into two categories – either dispense with your lead generation process and use social media to draw interested prospects to your sales team, or at the other end of the spectrum, more advanced (and more honest and less idealistic practitioners) are acknowledging that social media is great for building profile and generating numbers of contacts but that first conversion from social media enquiry to person to person interaction is still an area where much time is invested and great results rarely realised.
It’s a fact that poor quality leads, no manner how many of them, how cheaply they were created and how great they look as they fill the CRM system, are worthless if they can’t be contacted, connected with and converted to paying customers.
This is crucial in sales performance improvement. If the sales funnel is not being filled with an adequate quantity of good quality leads then it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
2. Big Data
Big Data MAY seem to be the answer to many sales senior management teams, but let’s be clear about something…SME’s exist in a variety of realities. I’ve seen firms with oodles of data and no means of efficiently and effectively using it and I’ve seen companies that still hand write invoices…and every point on the spectrum in between. Big Data has limited usage and meaning in this world for the typical SME…time, cost, volume of data and most importantly, and this is the killer, the in-house expertise, analytical skill and knowledge to make any sense of the data that is available is simply not available or accessible to the average SME.
Instead – time might be better used by actually having conversations, dialogues, surveys, focus groups, webinars, and any other form of more meaningful and proper interactions with prospects, buyers and prospective buyers, as well as generating regular and relevant ways of continually updating this data collection in such a way that it can be fed back into the business to ensure a proper quantifiable return on investment.
I’ve met only one CEO in the last 20 years who did this as part of proactive sales performance improvement and client retention and satisfaction. His firm prospers where others fail and he continually pushes his management team to deliver against the customer expectations…and they do, have done for years and will continue to do so. That’s why they are number one in their industry.
In a nut shell – focus less on Big Data and start thinking MEANINGFUL Data.
3. Thinking that the CRM will do everything.
I’ve seen boards sweat over which CRM to use, thinking it will be the solution to all their sales problems. Including sales performance improvement.
And it probably can help if the senior management team set it up in that way. Few do.
Sure, an effective CRM this is part of the answer, but it’s not all of the answer. First off, the senior management team need to set and adhere to some very strict processes and procedures are around the use of the CRM.
The senior management team really need to think about how they will police the usage.
They also need to consider penalties for not using the CRM correctly and in a timely manner.
And, most importantly, surrender to the information that the CRM presents in that the CRM should deliver all the business info a firm needs and shouldn’t need to be propped up by manual input.
Put it this way, if you’re going to spend all that cash and then not rely on it to give you the information you want you may as well stick with excel spreadsheets and a nightmare month end. Why would you?
Having said all of the above, a CRM can be a blessing to a busy sales team manager who is serious about sales performance improvement….ONLY in so much as the performance information it produces, however, how that performance information is used to manage the team and drive, enhance and maximise sales performance is another matter.
You see, the most sophisticated CRM package is only as good as the people who are using it.
So, over reliance on the Social Media, Big Data, and CRM systems will all come down to one thing, when used improperly…
They make the Sales Management team feel busy, look busy and act busy….yet sales is still a person to person interaction business and the three attention traps mentioned above are just that if not used properly.
So, next time your sales team aren’t getting the results you want, need and expect, look at where the sales management team are spending their time and energy.
It’s a people business – with IT tools. Don’t get fooled into thinking otherwise.
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