For your sales manager and your organization, your sales force automation is a way to measure activity, to manage the pipeline, and to forecast revenue and client acquisition. These are all fine and important reasons to use sales force automation.
However, there are better and more important reasons for you to use your sales force software—at least as they pertain to your producing results and winning deals.
Your most important and prized possession as a salesperson is your relationships. These relationships cannot be contained in your sales force automation, but the placeholder for your relationships can be, and that placeholder is your contact database.
Not all of the contacts in your database are equally valuable, but individually and collectively these contacts are the relationships that you need to develop, to nurture, and to maintain to succeed in sales.
Keeping your contacts in your sales force automation centralizes them in a single location. If your software is good, you will have web access to these contacts. If it is great you will be able to code them and sync them to your cellular phone.
The great game of sales is won by having the relationships you need before you need them. Your software is a useful tool for keeping track of those relationships—if you use it.
Managing What’s Important to Know
Your dream clients share important information with you. They share information about their business needs, the areas in which they are dissatisfied, and their ideas about what the right solution might look like.
They also share all kinds of technical information that it is useful to know when putting together a proposal and when you finally go to execute on your solution when it is accepted.
Some of this information may seem pretty mundane, but later on, when you are deeper into either the sales process or deeper into delivering on your promises, this information starts to become more and more valuable. It’s hard to remember who said what, who wanted what, and why they wanted what they wanted the way that wanted it months after the conversations occurred. When the contact that gave you the information was two or three levels deep in the organization, this information can be the critical difference in meeting their needs—or not meeting their needs.
Should you long every phone call? Should you log every left message? The answers will be different for different salespeople in different organizations. But you should keep any information that you suspect may be valuable to you in winning the deal later, and to your company in serving the client later.
Managing Your Own Pipeline
Because your sales organization requires you to keep your software up to date, you believe that it is all about them. It’s easy to believe that the pipeline and the forecast are for your company—especially since they want them so bad.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you only use your sales force automation for your company, you are making a mistake and you are missing out.
Your pipeline belongs to you. Your forecast belongs to you. It’s true that your company is paying you for it, but knowing how you are doing, knowing what your future looks like, and knowing what to do about it is a powerful recipe for improvement.
You need to quantify yourself.
Your sales force automation can allow you to monitor your own personal metrics. What does your activity look like this month? What did it look like last month? Are you more effective, or less effective? What will you close this month? How does that compare with prior months? These metrics are important to your company, but they should be way, way more important to you.
Ultimately, your results and your performance are your business, and you should monitor your performance and you should develop yourself. Your sales force automation software can be an important doing so.
What does your sales force automation software do for your company? What does it do for you? What could it do for you if you let it?
How much information is it important to collect about the relationships that are represented by contacts in your database? What do you as a salesperson that is more valuable than these relationships? If today you were forced to start over from scratch, what would be the one thing you wished you had and in what form?
Where do you capture the information that is critical to both winning your dream client and later serving them? In what format do you keep this information and how do you share it with the rest of your team?
Do you manage your own pipeline? Do you quantify yourself, capturing your own personal metrics so you can improve from quarter to quarter and year to year?