Even if your sales process is high-touch and ad hoc, you still have one and CRM software can help you scale it.
“And these,” I pointed out as I did an end-to-end demonstration of our CRM software, “are Opportunities. They allow you to track the flow of your sales process”.
I’m used to interruptions in the narrative and indeed encourage it. I try not to put any time into learning a script and instead try to have a deep understanding to allow a talk that flows more freely. However, this particular interruption did make me pause.
Partly, you need to understand the context that the person I had sitting across the desk from me was already running a successful business. He had employed his third full time sales person and was ramping up production operations for his patented product.
“I don’t have a sales process,” he said.
This came as quite a surprise to me as I knew he was shipping at least a dozen units a day. But, I cut the guy some slack. Afterall, it’s quite common in business that managers with a responsibility for sales – especially those necessarily close to the operational side of the business – don’t see their sales efforts in process form.
I knew that their sales reps were liaising with prospects and so together we explored what kind of interaction they had, what touchpoints there were and how long each step took. In particular, we were able to look back at the last 10 or so successful deals and see patterns.
From this deeper analysis it turned out that what our prospect was driving at was that the methodology that they apply to sales is far more ad-hoc and responsive than any process could allow for. Clearly there was an expectation that the sales process a CRM was going to track needed to be linear and single threaded, without room for interpretation or amendment by the sales representative.
This is always a hot topic for me. It’s amazing how many people think that by adopting a CRM system they have to dehumanise and flatten all of their processes. They think that each step where a human adds value through decision, action or interpretation needs to be boiled down to a set of protocol driven algorithmically determined equations to be interpreted by their CRM system.
CRM software reflects your own sales process. If you’re selling stuff, you do have a process.
The answer, then, is to ensure that your process is acknowledged and to look for a CRM system that allows you to continue working to your strengths. Some CRM software allows you to program or configure options to provide you with a tightly driven focus on the sales path. Others, like ours, take the other route and allow you to set up a loose framework of options that focus on recording and supporting the efforts of the sales agents.
So, take a look at your sales team and the way that they work from a delivery point of view and find a CRM that allows them to continue to add value.