Putting The Organization in Sales Organizations
Staying organized and up to date with sales reporting and CRM software can be a chore for many B2B sales reps. Sales leaders appreciate the value of this kind of data, but it can be difficult to help sales reps see the value of spending their valuable time inputting this information.
With the explosion of virtual selling over the past year, it’s more crucial than ever for sales reps to be organized and on task with tracking their sales accounts. That solid foundation of organized information allows salespeople to spend more time serving their customers and helping solve their business problems.
To unpack this subject, I sat down with Jeroen Corthout CEO and Co-Founder of SalesFlare, “a simple yet powerful CRM for small and medium businesses selling B2B.” We discussed how sales reps, with the right tools, can be more organized, spend less time on admin and reporting, and focus on their true role: being an attentive and trusted partner to their customers.
If you prefer to listen to our conversation about this topic, please feel free to check out sALES with ASLAN podcast episode 78:
The Value of Organization for Sales Teams
Generally speaking, sales reps are very personable, quick on their feet, energetic individuals. Our strong suit is typically speaking, interacting and engaging with customers, whether on the phone, virtually, or face-to-face. This tends to be the part of their role that sales reps enjoy most. Although we’re speaking generally here, and this may not be true for all salespeople, this personality type is not as detail-oriented and organized as others.
This is not to suggest that all salespeople are disorganized – of course, that’s not the case. However, there is always room for improvement and development.
This is where sales enablement tools come in. CRM software can help sales reps be more intentional throughout the sales cycle, establish a process, and keep track of where they stand with their many accounts.
And it’s not just about reporting for sales managers and company leadership. Using a good CRM tool helps reps track the health of the opportunities, sell effectively, and close more deals.
Many companies today are global, employing people all around the world, across multiple time zones. This often makes scheduling calls very challenging. Having accurate data in one place can alleviate some of the need for constant communication. When implemented and used correctly, collaboration through a CRM system is a great option for global sales teams.
Additionally, as we deal with the challenges and changes that have come with virtual selling, being organized and consistent with tracking sales opportunities is more important than ever. Since we can’t be in the office with our peers, it’s even more valuable to have an organized record of sales opportunities, so that sales organizations can stay on the same page and execute their goals efficiently and effectively.
The New Frontier of Virtual Sales
The onset of the pandemic last year brought in-person selling to a screeching halt. All salespeople (B2B, B2C, field, etc.) essentially became inside sellers. And even though things are beginning to open up again, especially in certain parts of the world, remote selling continues to have a strong foothold in the world of sales.
The Effect on Productivity
Salespeople are pretty much confined to their desks (in a home office most likely) using video conferencing and phone calls to advance sales opportunities. We’re no longer spending time traveling to visit prospects and accounts; windshield time has been all but eliminated.
How are sales reps spending that extra time they now have back on their calendars?
Corthout says that many of his customers’ sales teams have seen productivity skyrocket. Sales reps now have the ability to book back-to-back meetings and calls all day long. There is still prep work involved, but it’s easier to create a more efficient schedule that fits in many more meetings and calls in just one work day.
With more opportunities on the table, more meetings happening daily, and more chaos in the office (for some of us, this may be the kitchen table), tracking the status of our sales is critically important.
But Corthout also sees the new challenges that have arisen, ones that sales reps are still struggling to overcome. It’s harder to connect with prospects when they’re on a screen in front of you, instead of across the table form you.
It’s harder to read body language and easier for things to get lost in translation. Your tone of voice can come across differently on a virtual call. The “feel” of the engagement just isn’t as natural. Sales reps are simply finding it harder to connect.
Positioning Virtual Selling as an Advantage
Corthout’s advice to sales reps is to focus on the positives of virtual communication. In some ways, the bar has been lowered due to the WFH environment. There’s a universal attitude of “we’re all in this together.” Having children or pets interrupt a meeting is not uncommon. It can spark a real, authentic conversation with your prospect.
The expectation for attire has also been lowered. It’s very rare to see someone wearing a suit on a Zoom call. Being overly formal on a video call can even be off-putting. While it’s still important to be presentable, prospects expectations have adjusted along with the rest of the world. In some ways, selling virtually has made selling more personal.
When I went through my first sales training, (at the risk of dating myself, it was before Google), we were taught that sales reps need to be extremely observant. In order to build rapport with your prospect, you had to observe their office and find something to connect with in their professional space. In some ways, now that almost everyone is conducting meetings virtually from a home office, this task has become easier for sales reps. People typically have more personal decor in their WFH spaces that sales reps can use as a conversation starter and break the ice with prospects.
Another upside of selling virtually is the ability to record calls or meetings. Instead of both parties having to feverishly take notes throughout the conversation, the recording can live on as a resource for both buyer and seller to look back on.
The point is, staying focused on the positives and benefits of selling virtually can help sales reps overcome the physical distance and forge true connections with prospects.
The Importance of Organization in Team Selling
Many salespeople who sell complex solutions work in teams of sellers composed of reps, managers, engineers, specialists, or other roles that are important for showcasing the product or solution.
Organization is even more important when there are multiple individuals involved in the sale process. Having a system, like SalesFlare or another CRM, is key. When everything lives in one place, the sales rep, sales manager, VP, and specialist each have access to all the information on the account. Everyone has visibility into the status of the sales opportunity. Everyone has a single lens of the truth.
When everything is digital, this becomes much easier. As I mentioned earlier, the challenge that most reps have with CRM is the monotony of entering and updating information. It’s tedious! Especially for sales reps who would just rather be out in the real world selling. But it’s vitally important.
Luckily there are now options out there that automate much of the input for sales reps; pulling from email, company databases, calendars, and other information in the rep’s various accounts to provide an accurate picture of each prospect, account, or opportunity.
Modern CRM and sales organization platforms can definitely lighten the load for sales reps and make cross-team collaboration that much easier.
The Role CRM in Sales and Marketing Integration
In many companies, effective collaboration between sales and marketing departments is still forthcoming. As the leader of the marketing department for a sales training company, I have a pretty good insight into this. I hear it all the time from customers. Sales and marketing are not as aligned as they could (and should) be.
The rise of account-based marketing strategies and marketing automation tools have helped to break down some of the barriers between sales and marketing teams, but CRM has a role to play as well. A comprehensive CRM tool can help bridge the gap between salespeople and marketing teams.
When it comes to inputting and updating CRM systems with the most current and accurate information, salespeople often don’t see the immediate value for themselves. But this can cause issues to arise for the company as a whole, because no one (except the rep themselves) knows where things are, when the last contact occurred, or who is involved. These are pieces of information that are essential if sales and marketing are going to have a good, productive, working relationship.
That visibility into sales teams’ activity is vital in solving the collaboration issue between the departments. If both sales and marketing teams keep their data current and organized, alignment becomes achievable.
The Future of CRM and Sales
As business becomes increasingly “digitalized,” more information can be extracted and more intelligence produced from our interactions with customers and prospects.
Eventually, Corthout believes, with the growth of technology and CRM tools, we will even have visibility into offline sales interactions.
As software programs built for sellers continue to develop and become smarter, the tedious work of reporting and tracking will become much simpler and more cohesive. The sales process will become seamless.
AI is now reaching a point that, when applied to the world of sales, exciting developments are occurring. For example, Google Hangouts now has the ability to transcribe conversations and provide real-time “subtitles,” an incredibly useful tool for sales reps who are having trouble overcoming a language barrier when virtually meeting with prospects or customers.
When asked about the future of sales enablement tools and sales software, Corthout says,
“There’s going to be a lot more data, a lot more automation, a lot more intelligence, which is going to help sales teams sell more effectively.”
The development of these digital tools will decrease the time that sales professionals need to spend with data and organization, allowing them to focus on human interaction. Software will be able to automate the sales process and take over that tedious part of the sales rep’s job. By helping sales reps stay organized, sales enablement tools of the future will cause the role to change.
The role will naturally shift, but the core of a sales rep’s role will remain: engaging with customers, understanding their issues, guiding them through the sales process, and providing creative solutions to business problems.
Future CRM tools of the sales world will take the weight off salespeople and let them focus on the part of sales the salespeople love, the human aspect. Being Other-CenteredⓇ and serving customers well is, and always will be, the true role of a salesperson.
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The best way to get to know us is to know what we value. If we teach it we live it, because what we do speaks far more eloquently than what we say. We’ll always choose people over profits, and we’re most fulfilled and effective when we serve. It drives our culture, frames our training programs and transforms the lives of the clients we partner with.