By John Cheney, CEO, Workbooks

The sales process remains 80% science, 20% craft and the old fashioned disciplines of sales still apply. When they are underpinned by new technologies and sophisticated sales methods, organisations can harness valuable data, greatly improve the end-to-end sales process and enable sales reps to become far more effective.

Far too often, organisations are failing to exploit CRM beyond a pipeline management tool. How many track the win/loss ratio (and why they were lost?); determine whether marketing provides sales with the right leads; ensure the sales process is correct; inform product development and marketing?

In my previous article, I spoke about the five evolutionary ages of CRM; here I explain the role that Sales can play to ensure their organisation moves into the 21st century.

1. Improving Lead Management (1st Age of CRM): Strong lead management underpins an effective sales process. Sales cannot simply expect the right leads: they must provide feedback to marketing if the activity is to be refined.

2. Effective Pipeline Management (2nd Age): If there are not enough deals in the pipeline to meet financial objectives, Sales needs to push back to marketing and demand new and higher quality leads.

3. Accurate Sales Forecasting (3rd Age): Sales must produce accurate, trusted forecasts to enable the business to be far more proactive – from increasing the marketing budget mid quarter in order to address specific requirements, to adding new sales staff in response to increasing demand.

4. Reviewing the Sales Process (4th Age): Using the CRM to support a clearly defined sales process maximises the chances of Sales reps closing the deal within a reasonable timeframe.

5. Improving Lost and Qualified Out Analysis (5th Age): Proactive qualified out analysis enables a company to improve sales execution and take the business to the next level.

However good the leads or effective the sales model, closing the deal will still depend on the skills of each rep. It is therefore important to use the CRM to track the performance of each individual in the sales team. The objective is not simply to assess performance and identify the top performing reps, but also to understand how each is performing at every stage of the process. Online CRM provides the data to improve the execution of the entire sales team.

To find out how your business can move with the times and increase leads using online CRM, download my eBook ‘Accelerating Sales Development with CRM’ here.