Legendary engineer and management consultant W. Edwards Deming once said, “A bad system will beat a good person every time.”
This truism can easily be applied to the world of sales. Even the best rep can’t succeed if their sales process is disorganized and chaotic. But how do you upgrade your sales process to be more straightforward and efficient? The answer is a sales CRM process. Customer relationship management software can help streamline the five classic sales process steps:
- Prospecting: Identifying the potential customers who might be interested in the product or service you are selling.
- Qualifying: Determining the likelihood that a potential client will convert to a sale, and estimating the amount of money that they will close for.
- Quoting: Reaching out to a prospect with an offer that includes pricing and terms and conditions, which may spark some back-and-forth negotiations.
- Closing: Finalizing the deal and getting the customer to give it their final approval.
- Won/Lost: Following through after a sale has been conclusively won or lost. If you won the deal, the final step is talking to the support team to ensure your new customer is well taken care of. If you lost the deal, this stage is for reflecting on what went wrong and deciding whether you should pursue the potential customer again at a later date.
By adding a CRM to your sales process, you’ll save time by automating tedious tasks and quickly pulling rich data insights on your customers—increasing the amount of time reps have for customers and the knowledge to better suit their needs. Here’s how to build a better sales process by utilizing CRM technology every step of the way.
Step 1: Prospecting
Finding multiple prospects is a tall task for a sales rep without some sort of data collection system. With the sales CRM process, you have a tool specifically built to identify your target audience and track prospects.
Most CRMs come with a built-in lead provider feature, which allows users to find prospects based on set lead criteria or enrich current lead profiles to include more data. Without a CRM, this work would take hours of manual research, if not more.
For example, if you want to target a particular company, you could use the “Prospect” option in Zendesk Sell’s Reach feature to uncover a point of contact at a company that you’re hoping to target. There’s also an “Enrich” option you can use to retrieve key details around the company, like company size or market capitalization.
Once you’ve built a list of potential customers, you can give their profiles a “Prospect” status. They’ll now be in your pipeline, and you can update their status as they move their way through the sales funnel.
Step 2: Qualifying
As your sales pipeline fills with leads, you have to make some hard decisions about which ones are worth your time. Adding a CRM to your sales process makes it easier to determine which leads have the highest potential value and should be prioritized as such.
Just use the lead scoring function in your CRM to qualify prospects. This feature works by inputting certain sets of demographic and behavioral information about your leads and assigning specific scores to each to reflect their value. The more a factor aligns with your target customer, the more points it gets.
For example, if most of your high-value, high-converting customers are SMBs in B2B software, you will assign those demographics high lead scores in your CRM. If a prospect embodies those traits in their profile, your CRM will qualify the lead and notify you that the prospect should be pursued.
Step 3: Quoting
Quoting—reaching out to candidates about pricing and terms and conditions—is a crucial stage in the sales cycle. Many deals are won or lost based on how well the negotiating process is handled. It’s imperative that sales reps do everything in their power to win over potential customers when quoting—and without a CRM, they’ll have less information at their fingertips.
Utilizing a CRM allows you to craft a compelling quote that is curated for the prospect. Before reaching out, review all of the customer data stored in your CRM, including demographic details and past interactions. With these insights, you’ll be able to pitch a deal that fits best with their budget and needs. Plus, the more personalized you can make the interaction, the more valued the customer will feel.
You can also use your CRM to set concrete deadlines for sending quotes to ensure that no deal falls through the cracks. Do this by assigning yourself tasks with specified due dates. Check off tasks once they’ve been completed and you’re ready to move on to the next stage. If the customer doesn’t respond, set another reminder with a new deadline, so you don’t forget to follow up.
Step 4: Closing
Getting your prospect to settle on a quote and finalize the agreement can become a protracted process. The sales CRM process also provides you with a better way to estimate and nail the timing on closing a deal.
Data taken from past won and lost deals will help you strategize around the deal you’re currently trying to close. First, use stage duration analysis reports to find out the average amount of time that deals spend in any given stage of the sales pipeline.
If a deal isn’t moving through the sales pipeline at the expected pace, it might be time to course correct. Identify which specific stages are longer than average and brainstorm why that might be the case. Once you’ve identified the root cause, you can address the issue—and, hopefully, close the deal.
Step 5: Won/Lost
The final stage of the sales process is about reflection. Without a tool that captures data and reveals trends, gleaning valuable insights from your successes and failures can be pretty difficult.
Whether you win or lose a deal, a CRM makes it easy for your sales team to understand the outcome and learn from the experience. Analyze relevant reports to determine where the process broke down (or where it went well) and think about how that should inform your sales process for the future. You can also compare important metrics—like average sales cycle and sales velocity—for that specific deal to your average rates to find underlying factors in the outcome.
You may also be able to add a “loss reason” to the deal within your CRM to help your entire sales team learn from the experience. If necessary, follow up with the customer to fully understand why they ultimately said no so you can provide a well-rounded answer.
Be specific about why the deal fell through—maybe the customer preferred a competitor, or decided your product was too expensive. Tracking the most common reasons why prospects fail to convert can be hugely instructional in learning how to improve your sales process.
If you win a new customer, a CRM is also helpful because it enables cross-departmental communication. You, as a sales team member, will be able to easily pass on the new customer’s information to support members so they can be as helpful as possible to the client. The CRM will also identify you as the primary sales point of contact, should support ever need to reach out to you regarding a customer complaint.
Supercharge your sales process with a sales CRM
If your sales process feels inefficient or undisciplined, it’s time to upgrade your system with a CRM. This software automates time-consuming tasks and empowers sales reps with accurate and easily accessible data. With these features, your sales team is equipped to guide more prospects through the sales funnel, from lead to customer.