Productivity is at the core of a business. Every day, employees, executives, board members and freelancers are looking for new ways to be more productive. This rings especially true for salespeople.
While technology has allowed for the exponential growth of productivity, it's easy to get so micromanaged by our apps, extensions, customer relationship management (CRM) systems and other tools that they end up chaining people down rather than freeing up their time. That's why so many salespeople end up bogged down in the process, rather than focusing on the actions and deals.
The promise of a CRM is wonderful. It's a personal relationship management system for all your customers -- present, past and future. But the reality of most CRMs is that they aren't designed for the people using them.
CRMs, in general, are designed for management -- for the higher-up folks who want to know what salespeople are doing, how they're doing it and when. So instead of being out selling, analyzing new leads or reviewing product specs, salespeople get confined within a system that fails to increase their productivity.
So, how do we design a CRM for salespeople? To answer this question, we must first ask ourselves: what makes a good salesperson? Salespeople are hungry, ambitious, scrappy and resilient. They're always on the go, moving a mile a minute, networking, listening, following up and closing deals. A CRM system should reflect that.
In fact, one of the factors attracting me to join Pipedrive, in the CRM space, is the deep need for a personalized, AI-driven assistant -- a constant coach, confidence booster and ally in delivering support, visibility, certainty and control over sales. In the complex picture of day-to-day selling, every sales pro will do better with a compass toward true north. In the years ahead, a sales CRM can and must do this to deliver more certainty for sales outcomes.
Keep It Simple
Simple is beautiful. Indeed, I have found that the best performing sales teams have a simplified sales process. That doesn't mean they're doing less; instead, they're spending less time checking boxes and more time selling. All of us could benefit from trimming the tangential steps and processes that do not serve our goals.
It can be tempting to incorporate every conceivable element into a CRM system, but more features does not automatically mean more efficiency and productivity. A streamlined process with a few simple, powerful steps is often more opportune. Sales teams need to customize and individualize their CRM in a way that best fits their process -- not the other way around.
Focus On The Right Data
Data is perhaps the most useful tool in a salesperson's arsenal, but it can also be their Achilles' heel. Based on my experience, inaccurate data or data overload is the enemy of the sales professional, while data accuracy is at the heart of a lean sales process. You don't need a million parameters to measure success; instead, you need fewer, more impactful key performance indicators (KPIs) to follow. Quality, not quantity.
What's more, salespeople should have clear and straightforward data that's ready to be visualized with a single click. Data transparency is vital to anyone managing sales performance. Both salespeople and their managers need to know where customers are in the pipeline, and that forecast information should be visualized upfront, not buried deep in spreadsheets.
Automate What You Can (And Should)
Many areas of the sales cycle still need better support from technology companies to better unify them. For example, prospecting, documentation and after sales are areas that are often fragmented and lead to lost time and inaccuracies.
Trends in innovation push us toward automating tasks more and more every day, and while automation can boost performance, it's important to be critical about what type of tasks need automating. Nowadays, no salesperson should be manually tracking emails, calls and conversations. Automation can take care of these so you can do what you do best: educating customers, maximizing relationships and closing deals.
Provide Sales Personalization
Personalization has perhaps the most vital part to play in empowering the sales professional of tomorrow. While consumer experiences of algorithmic learning can sometimes feel creepy, the same cannot be said of software that dynamically learns what we need to win at work.
The tailwinds of AI are blowing fast in this area. In the near future, every salesperson will benefit from machine learning that guides them reliably to close deals quicker and more accurately.
Ultimately, technology can either convey salespeople to their sweet spot or entirely throw them off course. At the core of innovation is delivering the right features to those who can benefit most. Salespeople need a good CRM system for themselves. They need tools that are intelligent, customized, agile and unique -- just like them.