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CRM Tutorial Part 4 - Managing for Profit

Managing Sales Processes For Profit

The key to effective sales opportunity management is to make it simple to use and simple to control. If it is too cumbersome/clumsy then sales people won’t use it and management will gain no value.

You need to design your web based CRM software to work the way you work so your team can access it anywhere from any web browser. Their sales tasks and sales leads need to be delivered directly to their Home page. Therefore the only excuse that they have for not keeping it up to date is if you make it hard to operate!

Your CRM system needs to be set up to help the sales person and this is key to success in the field of sales opportunity management.

Many sales people make several calls and progressively build up a picture of their prospective customers and sales opportunities over time as the sale develops. They often keep this information on cardex files (or worse, in their heads). This is bad practice in many ways as a) no one else can use their files when they’re not there b) the information is one-dimensional and c) they can leave your organization with all that knowledge under their arms or in their briefcase!

So, as an alternative to the cardex/spreadsheet/paper based knowledge systems that often prevail even in this modern IT literate day, have your sales people make extensive use of Worknotes features within the CRM software to record comments, sales conversations, details of meetings, phone calls,, snippets of information and outcomes. Most CRM software has a Worknotes facility and it is a great place to store and track contact points with clients.

In our opinion, every sales opportunity should have an extensive history of contact and process attached through the Worknotes. Here are some examples of good practice in this area:

• A call record for every sale opportunity and telephone contact showing who they spoke to and what was said/agreed. That way you can pick up the history of the sale in an instant and step in if the salesperson is off/unavailable when the client calls. Your CRM software should also date and timestamp the transaction for you identifying who entered the information.
• A business meeting report detailing what was covered and who was there as well as outcomes and indicators for next steps.
• General comments and information picked up along the way as the sale proceeds.

Every sales person is different and everyone will complete this admin task to varying degrees. Some will create very detailed reports and some will create one-liners that act as aide memoirs for them alone. In any event, it is a good habit to encourage -- not least because it will track automatically the activity at each stage of the process. Successful sales management involves the regular monitoring of productive activity and that leads to real results that you can take to the bank. One word of caution -- try to stop your sales team from recording negative comments about their experiences in the Worknotes. It’s bad practice, risky (in case a client ever sees it) and worst of all it will put them off making a call to the prospect if they read “Gatekeeper is a witch!!!” in the Notes!

In the best CRM sales systems, the Sales Manager focuses in on the activity that correlates to changes in the steps of the process.

For example, a salesperson who manages to move a sales opportunity through several steps of the sales process but has no associated activity/worknotes recorded on the transaction is worthy of speaking to -- just to see how they did it if nothing else! Conversely, a salesperson who has a sales opportunity stuck at a particular step and is showing a vast amount of activity and detailed worknotes on the call is potentially flogging a dead horse and needs help to either move the opportunity forward or perhaps even drop it and start on something more productive.

Our experience shows, overwhelmingly, that once sales people get used to using CRM software and recording information in this way it helps them to track and manage their own activity better. After all, most sales people want to be top-producers, high-flyers and big earners. The tools in the CRM software can help them do just that. And if it is web based then they can access it anywhere improving their productivity and your management information.

Processes like this not only improve communication, but they track and record the fact that the communication has taken place. The ad hoc, often rushed conversation between sales and technicians very often results in mistakes and future denials. Your sales CRM system can help prevent these misunderstandings and streamline your processes by letting technical/back-office staff see what is being discussed/agreed between sales staff and clients and take early action if something is being recommended that would not work for the client (sales people, of course, never recommend things that won't work...).


Every sales opportunity management system needs good, solid reporting and your sales CRM system needs to be shipped with a number of standard reporting templates created as well as the capability to develop your own.

The key to good quality sales reporting is to make it brief, to the point, accurate and unarguably fair! Ambiguity is anathema. You need to get to the pressure points immediately.

We strongly recommend that you develop one key report that can show you the entire picture at a glance on one A4 sheet. By the entire picture we mean a set of highly summarized Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that can be supported by readily accessible data.

Executive Dashboards will allow you to see the total number of sales opportunities that your organization is managing. This will give you a sense immediately of the overall activity. However, by itself, it is not enough and you will need to look beyond this in order to get a real handle on what is happening in your organization.

One of the commonest ways of slicing this data is to analyze it in terms of the steps of your sales process i.e. take the total number of sales opportunities and display/report them by each step of the sales process: 1-New Lead/Opportunity, 2-InProgress, 3-Quoted etc.

Another option is to analyze them by the sales person managing them. Best of all is a correlation of both so that you can see at a glance which sales person is managing which opportunities and what step/stage they are at in the process.

Reporting like this makes sales meetings and appraisals flow so much easier. You have hard data to hand and the sales person doesn’t have to spend days before the meeting preparing for it. It’s a win-win.

A key reporting area is the current Sales Forecast or Pipeline report. This is where the work done on refining your steps and improving the sales weighting process will pay dividends. This report should focus in tightly on that crucial final step, ideally it should be listed by sales person and then customer with the month the deal is expected to close, its value and its % confidence displayed.

The data recorded in your Web Based CRM software will make reporting like this easy to create and manage.

Effective business reporting is essential to the good running of your business and sales system. The planning you have done in the early stages of these Tutorials with regard to Classifications and Profiles will now bear fruit as you will be able to produce comprehensive reports to support your sales management process.

For quick links to other CRM tutorials and resources click on any of the titles below:

   - Hosted CRM in our Client's own words
   - CRM tutorial Part 7 - Customer Service Management
   - CRM Tutorial Part 6 - Customer Service Management
   - CRM Tutorial Part 5 - Customer Service Management
   - CRM Tutorial Part 4 - Managing Sales Processes for Profit
   - CRM Tutorial Part 3 - Managing Sales Leads
   - CRM Tutorial Part 2 - Sales Opportunity Management
   - CRM Tutorial Part 1 - Contact Management
   - Why not take a Quick Tour if iportinstant?
   - In our Free Trial there are Online Tutorials to help you understand and set up a CRM system

If you have a specific inquiry or question please do not hesitate to contact us using the Contact Form on the left of this page. We will get back to you as soon as possible with an answer - 24/7 - guaranteed. We also have a series of White Papers in PDF format which were commissioned by and these are available to you free of charge: please use the Contact Form on the left to request these by email.

Chic McSherry