Different positions within a sales force require different functions from an SFA system, and tailoring to fit those functions is a big part of successful SFA strategies.
Corporate professionals can learn a lesson from George S. Patton, the flamboyant WWII general. "I don’t expect my men to understand anything more than what’s right in front of them, the tactical situation," Patton said. "As general, it’s my job to understand the big picture." This speaks volumes when considering how the rank and file and various corporate leaders should carry out their CRM or sales force automation (SFA) marching orders.
In sales, as in any department, when you move up the corporate ladder job roles go from tactical to strategic, so an SFA solution that serves every member of the sales hierarchy needs to address these various responsibilities. For simplicity’s sake, let’s divide sales forces into three segments: salespeople, management, and the executives. Each segment has unique requirements and functionality necessary to help customize its view of the sales department. What follows are examples of how SFA is used throughout the sales organization.
In the Trenches
Account executives are the revenue generators, and when faced with an opportunity to close a deal, they can’t stumble. However, with all the hoops they have to jump through, it’s a wonder when they don’t. Inside CRM and SFA systems, salespeople spend most of their time punching in customer data and tracking deals. A handsome amount of time is also spent responding to customer questions and preparing customer quotes. It is irksome, then, that the systems intended to help facilitate these efforts often hinder operations, forcing salespeople to wade their way through much complexity. Part of the problem is that salespeople are forced to do too much administrative work.
That’s why account executives need tools to respond to customer inquiries faster and more effectively than previous methods. To do this they’ll need the ability to easily record, track, and change customer and product information. Plus, they’ll need easy access to updated testimonials, sales programs, and competitive data. Naturally, the less complicated the system, the more productive employees will be. When the complexity is removed, salespeople will consider it a tool, not a hindrance, and will update it regularly, which helps managers who rely on this information to make smarter decisions.
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