Professional sales managers know that in order to get good answers, they must ask the right questions.
CRM software earns major bonus points for keeping track of sales activity that is otherwise impossible to follow. CRMs empower sales managers with the data they need to direct teams, coach salespeople and report to the C-suite. A professionally managed sales team generates scores of data points in the course of an average workday and the CRM should, inobtrusively, capture that. We pulled together 6 questions every sales manager should be able to answer simply by querying the sales database, aka the CRM.
1. How much money is in the pipeline (and where is it)?
Your sales rep knows the value of the deal they are brokering, do you? The value of every deal should be estimated at the onset of the negotiation. Total deal value should drive resource allocation and its important sales managers have a full picture of how much money is on the line with every potential transaction. By knowing where your deals stand, sales reps and managers can keep track of the progress of each deal and at every milestone, know the likelihood of that deal making it to close. In reports for managers in Base for example, you can:
- Compare your forecasted sales to your actual sales
- See where your forecasted sales are coming from
- Track how long your deals spend in each stage of the pipeline to help identify bottlenecks
2. What is the biggest obstacle to signing up new customers?
A frank conversation with your sales rep will likely reveal some unexpected opportunities for improvement. The trick to turning up this territory lies in your willingness (or unwillingness) to open your business, your products, your processes and yourself up for criticism. You must be willing to find out what is going wrong to set things right. Sales reps know how to sell, which means they know how to zero in on strengths and weaknesses. A good sales manager will see the salesperson’s perceptiveness as opportunity and solicit feedback to uncover operational inefficiencies and product inefficiencies. Once you open yourself up for this kind of feedback you can iterate, improve and, ultimately, increase sales.
3. Who is killing it on conversions?
Managers must play to their employees strengths and weaknesses. Evaluating the performance of individual rep’s sales funnels tells you at which points in the sales cycle reps are winning or losing business. Its simply true that each of us is more naturally adept at certain aspects of our jobs, while we struggle with others. A business-minded manager will evaluate sales funnel conversions to spot trends in employee behavior and opportunities for improvement. With a smart CRM you can clearly see the points in the sales process where your individual sales reps are losing deals. By zeroing in on performance a sales manager can help a rep improve their pitch and close more deals. For example, in Base you can see:
- How long each team member takes to close
- Reasons a deal was lost by deal owner
- The percentage of won deals by source and user
4. Who is our ideal customer?
You have to know who you are selling to and who you want to continue to sell to. That means you need to have a firm grasp on the vertical, professionals and individuals that are most responsive to your pitch. Using data from your CRM can be an invaluable tool when creating customer personas. Auditing closed deals will tell you about who your current customer is and at what price point they purchased your product. All of this information can be used to develop your pitch for those who are already buying and inforrm you about the changes you’ll need to make so you can reach the customer you hope to target.
5. What are your reps goals for the next quarter?
Sales is a performance based business and every rep should have goals that reflect not only the business’ objectives, but also the reps abilities. Some reps have a knack for closing higher quantities of mid-range deals, others take a more tempered approach and win the enterprise sales. As the sales manager you should have a handle on these metrics and by reviewing CRM activity you will probably know more about your reps style than they even know about themselves. In Base, you can:
- Set revenue-based sales goals for your team and track their progress
- Set quantity based sales goals for your team and track the progress
6. When’s the last time we called that client?
Accuracy is key to running a business and using your CRM to log sales activities (and yes, that includes client calls) will give you a leg up when it comes time to decide when and with whom to follow up. As we discussed earlier this week on our blog, follow up is key to winning new business and keeping the business you have.
Do you have any other questions to add to the list? Let me know in the comments section below.