What if all you needed was a special device to tell the future? Would you be interested?
One of the special devices could be a DeLorean Time Machine. But one drawback is that you would need to reach a speed of at least 88 MPH to achieve your goal.
Or, you could borrow TARDIS, the time machine Dr. Who uses to travel through time, but good luck finding him when you need him.
A last option might be an old-fashion crystal ball; however you must be gifted with mystical ability – and not all of us are that fortunate.
Of course not all of these options may be feasible for your company. Nonetheless, an important function of any business is to forecast company sales for planning budgets and future strategies. Some organizations put their sales and marketing department in charge of this “fortune telling” responsibility. They may routinely create spreadsheets with arbitrary numbers, or even worse, jot their guesses on a notepad to help them prognosticate the future. There are better ways to measure the success of your sales – these include profit margins, revenue, and EBIDTA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization). These are real figures that require a diligent and disciplined accounting team to record and calculate using sophisticated software.
Without a reliable, easy-to-use CRM system and a well-trained sales team, you may be at the mercy of subjective guesses. You may also be forced to create emergency reports with complex spreadsheets, and hold hours-long meetings to answer these important questions:
- Which products or services are the most profitable? Which are the easiest to sell?
- How many leads are you actively marketing too? How many of them are lukewarm or red hot?
- Where do your leads come from?
- Who finds your opportunities?
- Who is responsible in your sales team for closing each prospect or opportunity?
- How large is your average sale?
- How can you tell who on your sales team needs more training?
- What is your average sales-cycle duration?
- When do you need to increase or decrease your inventory and/or staff?
- How long does it take for each of your sales staff to respond to a lead?
Here are some initial steps for you to consider in implementing a CRM system that will suit the needs of your company:
Step 1: Choose a CRM system – Sign up for a trial account with a well-known brand such as Microsoft Dynamics. Keep in mind that most CRM systems do not come ready for use “out-of-the-box” and will take effort to setup to exactly meet your business requirements.
Step 2: Seek out a CRM expert – Speak with a consulting organization that has technical expertise in CRM systems.
Step 3: Set expectations with your organization that implementing a CRM system is going to take some time and resources – Unless you corner the market or hold a patent on a unique, in-demand product or service (such as a Flux Capacitor), you can be sure that you have competitors in the marketplace, and that your whole company must be diligent in using and leveraging your CRM system.
Step 4: Define an initial sales process and measure everything, including:
- If your sales people are using the system (note: this is the most important item listed here)
- Which of your products are the easiest to sell and which are the most profitable
- Lead generation (who, when, where, how)
- How long it takes your sales staff to engage with the lead? Every minute that goes by without sales dedicating some time to the lead reduces your chance to close. After a day without contact your lead has probably found some other organization to engage with. Time is money and this is especially true for the initial steps of sales engagement.
- How long a sales person works a lead before putting them in the lukewarm or marketing drip process
- How long it takes from Lead-to-Opportunity-to-Customer
- The size of each order
Step 5: Revise and tweak your sales and marketing processes –You’ve paid for all that data in the CRM system; devote time and attention to your processes to maximize potential.
Step 6: Set goals – Make sure when your folks log in to the CRM system they see measurements against goals.
Step 7: Train your people – It is absolutely imperative that your team knows how to use the system and has been involved in the implementation process.
As you can see, if you choose to implement a CRM system you don’t need time-traveling equipment or clairvoyant abilities. With expert consultants and some dedication on your part, all you need to know about the success of your company could be right in front of you.
If you are considering implementing a CRM system for your company, please contact the experts at NexusTek at 303.773.6464 or visit http://www.nexustek.com/contact-us/ to send a contact form.
Dale Laushman is a Microsoft Dynamics CRM expert at NexusTek.