In order to grow your organization, a steady revenue stream is required. Predictable cash flow means that instead of worrying about those inevitable peaks and troughs every business experiences as you work out your sales process, you’re planning ahead and you’re always prepared.
As your business grows, sales leaders need to implement a repeatable, scalable process to turn a trickle of income to a steady, predictable stream. When all your salespeople are using the same systems and playbooks and adhering to the same process, your sales organization can become a well-oiled machine instead of an improvised band-aid on a bigger problem that’s holding you back.
Sales have always been about people, and it always will be. Even in the age of A.I. and automation, people are still at the critical meeting point when a customer weighs up value and chooses to go with one purchase over a competitor. Decisions to buy from you are usually emotional – when all the convenience, value and pricing boxes have been ticked by your prospect, they hit that ‘Buy’ button when it feels right.
Sales today is a far cry from what it was just 20 years ago. The advent of search and social media mean sales are now more about research and careful customization than knocking on doors and having a well-rehearsed, perfect pitch. Technology can help you sell better, and social selling provides ways to connect with your customers that are unprecedented. But beware of shiny objects distracting you from the main objective…
In order for any digital system to influence day to day sales in your organisation, it’s got to feel natural – it’s got to fit.
When a sales rep receives an inbound lead or decides to target a specific company or decision maker, they don’t have to go into the initial outreach blind. Today, there’s a plethora of buyer information at sales reps’ fingertips. Before picking up the phone or writing a cold email, reps can research their buyers on:
None of these virtual spaces gives your sales rep context on what the contact already knows about their company, or provides evidence of an existing relationship. Context is what gives your rep an idea of what the data means – what it means to your customer, what it might mean to your business…
This is where your CRM comes to the rescue. A CRM that integrates with your marketing automation system gives sales reps a comprehensive picture of the prospect’s recent interactions with your company. This knowledge is highly valuable as it not only allows the rep to present the data to the prospect in a way that’s meaningful and valuable to them, but it also avoids wasting their time.
After all, your average customer is already 57% of the way through the buying process before they first speak to a sales rep.
A tight bond between marketing automation and CRM enables sales reps to layer context onto their outreach. And this, in turn, helps their emails and calls to stand out in a sea of bland, generic pitches.
It’s rare to get a prospect’s attention on the very first outreach attempt. More often than not, a sales rep will need to reach out again, and again … and again. Most sales experts make between 6 and 10 attempts before giving up on a prospect. Abandoning prospects too soon could leave money on the table.
Let’s say your rep, let’s call him Tom, has a list of 50 leads. On Monday, when he starts his week, he’s got to remember to call Company X on Tuesday, Organization Y on Friday, Business Z on Monday. He’s got check-up emails to send on Thursday, Wednesday, and Saturday, plus he’s still got a list of 20 customers he hasn’t even contacted yet who are waiting to hear back from him. Keeping track of all of this using a notepad, Excel spreadsheet or even a basic, off-the-shelf CRM system is almost impossible. Valuable leads will disappear.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the CRM took this memory game off sales reps’ plates?
CRM stands for customer relationship management, and it refers to software that helps companies track interactions with your future and current customers.
Business owners and sales leaders who want to handle leads with a more data-focused and organised approach to sales have to begin by choosing the right solution.
It can be overwhelming, and people often find they need to experiment with the different systems on offer to find what fits – choosing a CRM that comes at the right price, is easy to use and makes life easier instead of busier.
Hubspot now offers a powerful Sales Hub that, when implemented correctly, is an affordable alternative to some of the more widely known sales CRMs. This CRM emphasises selling to ‘active buyers’ vs. cold calling, which automates your sales process wherever possible to increase performance across the board.
Sales Hub Pro offers CRM implementation, sales and marketing alignment and sales enablement using the Hubspot platform.
Many modern CRMs include task modules that automatically alert sales reps of who to follow up with and when. Salespeople can simply set a reminder, and forget it.
When the time rolls around to reach out again, reps also benefit from having all prior contact attempts at their fingertips (HubSpot CRM automatically saves and logs voicemails and emails), as well as any buyer interactions that have taken place in the interim. With the right context at hand, salespeople can tailor their follow-ups based on what the buyer’s done and what’s already been said.
As outreach becomes more and more personalized, reps become more likely to receive a response, not less.
To some, it might seem like a good thing to close every single deal during the last week of the month. You won’t just make quota – you’ll absolutely crush it. However, this is risky business – sales leads often find that hot leads suddenly dry up and the pipeline empties at the end of the quarter – just before they head into a QBR meeting with the board.
If you’re managing your deals with spreadsheets, for example, it can be hard to see how close each deal truly is to closing and for sales leaders to spot gaps in the funnel. What’s worse, it’s usually too late for the sales manager to do anything about it.
It’s common for sales reps to ‘sandbag’ deals, misrepresent deal size until the last minute, and front-loading the pipeline with deals to cash out on commission and make their number. Even if it’s not done with any design or strategy in mind, it’s still very natural for people to work harder and to close more deals when the quarter is coming to an end and accountability looms.
A CRM system can help salespeople avoid boom and bust cycles by visualizing their deal flow. Reps can immediately recognize stages in which they have too many opportunities – or too few. They can choose to work the right deals and to prioritise the deals that are most valuable to them but also to the business.
In growing organisations like a startup, the sales process first lives in a founder’s or VP of Sales’ mind, and then on a piece of paper. The sales strategy is communicated through word of mouth and scattered documents. New reps shadow older, more experienced salespeople to learn the ropes.
This is still a great way to build the core team, especially when the lines of communication are clear and relationships are tight. But what happens when the founder is pulled into weekly board meetings and has to spend the rest of his time hiring and breaking in the new team? What happens when the VP of Sales isn’t training just one or two reps, but a brand new team of 10 salespeople and 5 new Business Development Reps.
Advanced Seed Stage/Series A startups and SMEs in a rapid phase of growth, in particular, face this problem all the time. What worked before, no longer works.
“To be the most useful, all that information has to be built into a system that [documents] the stages, the activities, and when you’re supposed to do them,” according to Brent Leary, partner at CRM Essentials.
Defining the sales stages in a CRM not only helps to firm up the process for your current team, but also has implications for future hires. “This makes it easy for people who have no idea what the sales process is when they get hired to hit a running start,” Leary added.
“But what if I told you a CRM can also help reps sell faster? I wouldn’t blame you if you chuckled a bit. After all, “CRM” practically translates to “thing that slows me down” for most sales reps.”
It’s fair to say that when salespeople gather around the water-cooler, the CRM is often the butt of their jokes. We get it.
But these anecdotes should not influence your view of the big picture. This has to change for modern businesses to thrive.
Modern CRM platforms can actually speed up the sales process instead of bogging it down. A CRM can shave time off salespeople’s day-to-day, and facilitate a faster deal flow.
According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Sales report, manual data entry is sales reps’ #1 problem with their CRM. This is not exactly a surprising revelation! But what’s more of a concern is just how much time a typical sales rep spends not selling.
Docurated’s State of Sales Productivity study found that more than 50% of reps’ time is wasted working on CRM-related and administrative tasks. When they’re not manually entering data, they’re looking for content online to send to prospects.
This frustrates sellers, who would rather be connecting with prospects than doing administrative work.
The right CRM system provides both sales managers and reps with actionable insights and benefits the entire sales organization. However, CRM is only as good as the data entered into it. If data entry is 100% manual? Good luck getting accurate information.
Many see CRM as the problem in this case, but it can also be the solution. CRMs today lessen the burden on reps by automatically populating contact information from the web and marketing automation systems. Manual data entry becomes minimal.
Using HubSpot Sales in conjunction with HubSpot CRM, sales reps can live the dream of one-click prospecting. Simply by pushing the “add to HubSpot CRM” button, sales reps can auto-populate a new contact record directly from a company website. The contact is added along with company information, contact details and other relevant data, while also being matched to any other contacts from the same company, so there’s no overlap or unprofessional outreach by reps reaching out the same customer.
Most sales organizations get their leads from a combination of inbound and outbound efforts. The specific mix will vary depending on the team, but it’s rare to find a 100% outbound or 100% inbound organization.
Generating inbound leads is generally the responsibility of the Marketing team, but outbound efforts require a bit more elbow grease from Sales. Reps often use a combination of social media sites and search to find prospects that seemingly fit their company’s ideal customer persona.
This process works … but not as well as it could. Traditional prospecting takes time. Reps often have to hunt for each opportunity individually, and then do a fair amount of guesswork to classify a given company as a “good fit.”
However, some CRM systems turn prospecting into less of a hunting expedition and more of a one-stop shop. For example, HubSpot CRM collects information from across the web on a variety of companies and then compiles that data into a searchable database. This information is presented to reps inside the CRM when a prospect matches a company in the records.
Most of the prospecting work is already done. All a rep has to do is conduct a custom search and the system returns a comprehensive list of prospects that fit that day’s requirements.
Sending buyers relevant content throughout the sales process fosters trust between buyer and seller and positions the rep as a trusted advisor who is knowledgeable about the prospect’s business issues.
Keeping in mind the amount of time reps waste looking for content, CRMs that double as content banks can help salespeople get the right content at the moment they need it. Need the latest demo deck? A newly-released case study? The most recent pricing sheet? No need to go searching elsewhere – just grab it from the CRM and go.
Content isn’t just external-facing. What about the emails reps send day in and day out? While each and every single email should be customized to the specific recipient, smart reps save templates of their most successful messages for reuse down the line. This is a good idea but they still have to dig through their outbox every time they’d like to use their favourite template. Not only that, every sales rep has their own stockpile of emails they like to use. Some are better than others, and there’s a total lack of consistency in the message, tone and content of the emails going out to prospects. This is not good.
Your CRM can help here too. By allowing reps to save email templates directly in the system, reps can access their time-saving messages without even having to open a new tab – they can just pull their winning messages directly into their email. They can also use the best performing templates from the team – providing consistency and bringing everyone’s standard up to that of your highest performing rep.
Getting a straight answer to a prospect’s question when there’s no single source of truth can be frustrating. Often, it’s only after being bounced around colleagues and departments that a sales rep gets a response … and then it might conflict with another version they heard along the way.
Implementing a CRM that everyone acknowledges is “the” source makes these situations
a lot less likely. Sales reps are more confident in knowing they’re providing the best possible answer to a query from a prospect, and your customer feels like they’re getting the attention they deserve.
“CRM puts all the information about your customers and your product in one place, so you never have to say ‘let me get back to you with that,'” said Marshall Lager, managing principal at Third Idea Consulting LLC.
Are you ready to sell better and faster with the help of a modern CRM system? Why not get in touch with us to talk about implementing Hubspot’s free CRM today? We can have you up and running in a couple of weeks – give it a try!
ABOUT Sales Hub Pro
Sales Hub Pro offers CRM implementation, sales and marketing alignment and sales enablement using the Hubspot platform. GDPR requires you know where your data lives. Your customer expects you to know your data and act accordingly. Hubspot now has a powerful Sales Hub that, when implemented correctly, is an affordable alternative to some of the more widely known sales CRMs. Correct implementation of this CRM emphasises selling to ‘active buyers’ vs. cold calling. No matter what level your sales agent is at- we can automate your sales process wherever possible to increase performance across the board.
Andrew is an Inbound Sales and Marketing expert with over fifteen years experience helping advanced seed stage and Series A Startups and SMEs to grow sales. A unique background in Science, Marketing, Creative Content and Sales has proved invaluable in working with emerging trends in customer focused business. His clients have included Google, Vodafone, Altify, Boxever, Glofox & Epsilon. Nowadays, Andrew calls West Cork his home, where he spends time in a thatched cottage with his wife Eva and two large white goats who raid the garden.