I work with sales managers every day and I don’t know one who likes uncertainty. Every sales manager I know wants to understand exactly how deals are progressing and especially when they are not.
But sadly, most companies reduce uncertainty on the backs of their sales reps. Last week's conversation with a sales rep at a major tech firm summed it up: “Questions drive everyone crazy — my manager and me. People at corporate want to crawl up your tailpipe so we have to take time to stay on top of reporting, even if it takes away from selling.”
I agree with him. It’s one of the reasons organizations initially adopted CRM. Unfortunately, CRM wasn’t designed for reps to use without booting up a laptop and wading through dozens of fields. And that’s not a practical solution for teams in the field selling.
Because reps are on the move so much, they need an easy way to keep their CRM updated and to give their managers insight into deal progress. They need software that meets the criteria outlined in a recent All Business Experts post titled 4 Things to Look for When Choosing Sales Software, including being intuitive, easy to use, and my favorite, making life easier.
Reps tell me they do understand why management needs timely deal status. For that matter, they need to track deal progress for themselves — weekly, daily, even hourly. They know any solution that accelerates deal progression is a huge win. Their typical knock on CRM systems is they make help with forecasting and reporting, but they don't help with daily selling. And worse yet, data input is too time-consuming.
The "time-consuming part" is not just how much, but when.
Reps will tell you they want to use their downtime — in a lobby while waiting for their next meeting, in line at the airport or Starbucks — to update internal teams and follow up on customer requests. They also want to be able to take back their evenings and weekends, providing updates instantly when they are at home, relaxing on the couch and planning their next day’s activities.
For sales professionals, a solution that accelerates the natural progression of a deal is a huge win, especially if it is quick and simple. Here’s how it might work to the rep’s (and the organization’s) advantage:
Post-Meeting Follow Up
Say I’m a rep and I just left a sales call. I am already planning my next moves. I need to send a price list, schedule an SE demo, update my manager, and more. Hopefully I remember all of my “to dos” until I get to somewhere where I can boot up my laptop and enter next steps in my CRM. The reality is, I probably can’t (and honestly probably won’t). So wouldn’t it be great if something else could do the busy work for me? An application that will send me a post-meeting reminder that hooks up to my opportunities tab in my CRM. While waiting in line for a cab or sitting in my car, I can quickly jot notes in real time about how the meeting went and assign any follow-up tasks. Data entered during what is typically lost downtime. Done. And it’s more accurate because only a few minutes have passed since I was in the room with my customer.
Upcoming Deals Tracking
Again, imagine I’m a rep. This time I have multiple deals in the pipeline at once. How much more productive could I be if one-to-two weeks before any of my deals is scheduled to close, I got a reminder alert? I’m pretty sure I’d double-check to ensure all of the pieces of each deal were in place for close. For example, I’d make sure all redlines were complete and that POs were being processed. Because it’s still one-to-two weeks out until close, I’d also have an opportunity to course-correct any deals that may have slipped out of the two-week timeframe or for my manager to get involved and provide coaching to get one of my deals back on track. Getting details about upcoming deals pushed to my phone would help me keep deals top of mind and prevent them from becoming overdue.
Overdue Deal Tracking
We all know reps and managers put their credibility on the line when they say a deal is going to close. So when a deal date passes and I haven't heard otherwise, I assume it closed. But what would be really valuable is an immediate notification on my phone if the deal date passed and it hasn't closed. Then maybe my manager and I could do something to turn things around.
Automatic Updating of Strategic Selling Fields
Say my company has invested in a third-party sales training process (e.g., Miller Heiman, etc.). You can be sure that as a rep, I’m supposed to follow it. So wouldn’t it be great if I had a way to easily stay in compliance? Using a mobile app that reminded me when to update key business fields that align to required selling fields would be ideal. My manager gets the information he needs and I’ve easily provided it as part of my more frequent updates.
Being on the road is hard work. Keeping the CRM system up to date shouldn’t have to be. If you want to see how Clari does it, we'd love to show you a demo.