Even as many (some) celebrate Columbus Day, one can’t help and have a chuckle about it, especially if you’re in sales. Say what you may, there is no getting around the fact that Christopher Columbus was at the wrong place at the right time. Whatever glory Christopher gets, there is no disputing the fact that what he “discovered” and what he set out to discover were two very different things. Judged on his abilities as an explorer — not so good — failing grade.

But this is very much what you see happening with a lot of sales teams and individuals — they don’t always deliver against their goal. On those occasions when they do, it is not exactly as they had predicted (forecasted), and more, they can’t tell you how they got there, so it is hard to repeat consistently, or avoid in the future.

Part of this is due to a lack of process, or adherence to their company’s process. Without a proper road map, it is usually a bit more difficult to get to where you are going, even more difficult when you don’t know where you are going. A proper and defined sales process is integral to consistent execution, especially if it is part of the rep’s daily life. This is where the connection between process and CRM is crucial. Most good processes have a number of moving parts, making it difficult to manage and execute without CRM.

Many reps will tell you they don’t need CRM, they see it as a tool for management rather than a strategic advantage. A proper process nested in your daily tool will allow you to focus on key leading indicators allowing you and your organization alter and execute key actions that lead to results.  Those lagging indicators, the results, can then be reviewed to reflect market conditions, and lead to required updates and changes to the process.

A proper process by definition is a dynamic process, one that lets you align with advances and changes in the market, keeping you sales approach current and relevant for your buyers. If you and your process don’t evolve with your buyers, you may still end up with a sale, but not the sale you want or deserve, or certainly smaller than it could have been.

Specifically for reps, it will help them understand their basic conversion rates and metrics, allowing them to focus on specific improvements, again based on market factors, not their own unsubstantiated notions. The alternative for many are unexpected results based on erroneous inputs. In addition, their managers will be in a position to create and implement coaching/improvement programs that will not only evolve the rep, but lead to desired and repeatable results, not accidental rewards like Christopher Columbus.

Now, it would appear that Christopher was a good sales person, just witness his ability to get the support of the Spanish monarchy, he was just a bad explorer (good discoverer though). Maybe there is a better career for some sales types currently adrift.