Sales lead management

Lead management in Saleswah

Lead management is crucial. Sales Leads – whether from marketing efforts or from Sales efforts, are the life-blood of a sales operation.

Leads have a very limited life-span. Customer may not be looking at you alone but at other vendors as well. So, getting back promptly is important.

A typical lead follows the following stages through the sales process (before it is “closed”-hopefully as a win, of course):

We are today going to discuss the first two stages of leads management – the marketing lead and the sales lead.

Marketing lead management

Marketing leads are most often nothing more than a name and a contact number- phone or email.

More information is welcome, of course. But typically, we get nothing more than the bare minimum.

The main idea is to get a number and start calling them to qualify their interest. So, after the leads are “captured” in the CRM, it is imperative to get it to the right sales/ telesales person as quickly as possible.

Leads can be added to Saleswah one by one.They can be also uploaded from a spreadsheet.

Lead management: assignment, conversion, rejection

While adding/ uploading we check for a match with an existing contact, based on email address and if found, we attach the lead to the Contact record. Now, this contact may already exist in the CRM but under a different Sales Exec. So, tough luck! The assignment will happen to the person who already has the Contact ownership (and thus Account ownership).

This could be tough for the guy entering the lead but good for the company for whom the executive works.

After the lead is entered and assigned, the responsible user can then reject it (after recording a reason), re-assign it to someone else or work on it. If she finds it valuable and worthy of further follow up, she “Converts” the lead to a Deal. By default all Deals start off as a Sales Lead– the earliest stage in the funnel.

Sales lead management

At this very early stage of the funnel, the accent is very much on trying to “qualify” the lead – find the genuineness of the interest, see if there is budget, start identifying the decision makers and the purchase process.

Email templates for sales campaigns

Email templates that win sales

We use email templates for marketing campaigns. What is less appreciated is using email templates for running sales campaigns.

Unlike marketing campaigns, sales campaigns focus on more immediate revenue generation activities- tasks that relate to specific funnel stages.

Why do you need templates?

Sales people are busy and there is a lot of demand on their time. They win business when they are in front of their customer- face to face or on phone.

But, there is a lot of paperwork in sales. The need for paperwork stems from:

  1. Cold prospecting- or introduction.
    • Have you ever faced this? You call a prospect and he says, “can you send me a mail saying exactly what you do?” If you sat around and sent out a mail only hours later, he may even forget you called, or the context of the conversation.
    • Having a template for an “intro-mail” is a no-brainer. It saves time. Imagine getting off the phone and firing off the email at the click of a button. It does not have to be complex. It may contain bare facts about your company, how your product relates to his needs and what you will do next.
    • You will obviously tweak the text a little bit before sending it to personalize it.
  2. Meetings notes: minutes
    • You have a meeting. Either on the phone or face to face. If you are sending the minutes, let it be professional. Nicely formatted and the names of meetings attendees recorded in the email.
  3. An email for every occasion:
    • Thank you for a meeting..
    • Thank you for an order.
    • Gentle reminder for follow up on a visit.
    • Update on a commitment.
    • Relevant company news.
    • Sending literature.
    • Response to a demo request.
  4. Email for proposals.
    • Product/ category wise preliminary proposal: cover salient specs, budgetary ideas and success stories.
    • Product/ category wise firm proposal: cover detailed specs, clear budget and other standard terms of business.

How many of these can you automate? To save your time and that of your team? And help win business faster?

Who is Saleswah for?

Customers we serve (and benefit)

Years after we started our journey – our focus continues to be those companies who are selling products and services to other businesses.

CRM tends to be a bit of an omnibus term. Here’s how we explain to customers when we talk. In our view, CRM is a software that helps manage- schedule, track and facilitate all customer facing processes. The way I see it, the difference between ERP and CRM is that ERP manages the processes “inside your gates”. CRM manages “outside the gates” processes.

So, within this broad ambit, there are sales and service processes- both.

Let’s discuss them one by one and position Saleswah appropriately.

Sales CRM

If you are scouting for a Sales CRM, first ask two important questions to yourself:

  • Who is my customer?
  • What is my selling process?

Am I selling to individuals or am I selling to companies? Normally most companies do either one or the other. Your product or service will typically determine your choice of customers.

There are exceptions. For instance, you may be a soft-drinks company and have 2 target segments. Individuals who you target through your retail play and corporates like clubs, airlines, hotels who you sign up with for exclusive deals. While the latter is a B2B sales process, the former is B2C. Saleswah does not cater to B2C process at all.

A B2B sales process will need salesmen with feet on street. There will be territories, hierarchies, target setting and periodic reviews of achievements against targets.

A B2B sales process needs profiling of customers- organizations and people who work for them- for they decide on the purchase. The history of interactions, captured over time guides future interactions.

Why Saleswah Sales CRM?

Saleswah Sales CRM helps sell products and services to other businesses. So, all other entities in Saleswah (Contacts, Deals, Tasks, Appointments, Quotations- and even sales targets and achievements) are linked to the Accounts (companies that you sell to). “Account owners”- sales people who are the first line contact for the customer (Account in question) have primary ownership of targets, get rewarded for achievements (deals won) in the accounts, get assigned tasks related to the accounts and so on.

Does the above describe your sales process?

Ask for a demo or Register for a free trial.

Service CRM

If you are looking for a Service CRM, the defining questions are:

  • What is my product or service that I need to provide after sales service for?
  • What is my post-sales service process?
  • Do I provide in customer site or does he bring the product in for service?

There are many products that require no post sales service. Most home furniture, consumables etc require no service. Some products may simply be too inexpensive to require customer service.

But, many products- home appliances and industrial products  (and even services- think the cable TV or broadband service) require services to keep going. Many software products which are customer premise installable, require service as well.

Service can be during the warranty period and after.

Service can even include installation support. And, typically warranty coverage kicks in after installation is complete.

There are products that the customer brings in to be serviced to the service station. Think cars or laser printers or laptops.

But there are many products that are only serviced on-site. Home appliances, large machines – Diesel Gensets, Chillers, CNC machines. Some machines are serviced onsite for minor complaints and brought in to the service centre for major work.

Software support is normally always onsite- this is irrespective whether it is an installable software like Tally or cloud based software. Of course, you may end up providing the support on phone, email or internet.

Why Saleswah Service CRM

Saleswah Service CRM helps manage after sales service processes that require:

  • Onsite services.
  • Tracking warranty and/ or Maintenance contract based service.
  • Require field visits tracking.
  • Asset management- based on serial numbers.
  • Managing out of support cases.

Saleswah can help manage large installed base of equipment- running into tens or even hundreds of thousands. It can easily scale to hundreds of users, many roles and hierarchies and and a complex process of onsite service deliverable.

If you are looking for a easy to use service CRM which can scale to the most complex of requirements,

Ask for a demo or Register for a free trial.

The CRM walled gardens in the enterprise space

The enterprise CRM and office software space just got exciting

Microsoft bought LinkedIn (old news!) . That was the first of the CRM walled gardens created in the office enterprise space. What is hot off the press, comparatively speaking, is the alliance announced between between Google and Salesforce. After months of rumor about SFDC joining the Microsoft camp, this announcement pretty much completes Google’s arsenal against Microsoft in the enterprise segment.

The key, as both Google and SFDC execs said separately- is that these companies are “cloud natives”. So, they see natural synergies. Some of it may well be spin, but a lot of it is true. I do find it interesting though the price points of the 2 offerings are far apart. An SFDC license could cost anything between 10 to 30 times more than a Google G-Suite license. So Google can run a scheme like take a G-Suite license free for every SFDC license, but it will be highly unlikely for SFDC to run a similar scheme (take a SFDC license for every G-Suite license you own!).

It leaves the rest of the CRM vendors a little left out to say the least.

The enterprise CRM walled gardens

There are now two CRM walled gardens- MS and LI are a camp and now SFDC and Google. It leaves SAP looking for a partner of similar heft in a parallel space to ensure the world of CRM is not bipolar.

What will Facebook do? It is moving to the enterprise space- there is the Facebook for business initiative- right now, little more than an ad and page manager. Whatsapp is beta testing its api or enterprise customers. Either it announces a CRM or partners with a CRM or buys one. Perhaps buys into one of the inbound marketing companies like Marketo or Eloqua or more likely, Hubspot.

Zoho and Sugar CRM will be rethinking their game as well. Zoho has built a office suite with the breadth of Google and will feel vindicated that their strategy to broadbase their offering seems to being followed.

What about us?

The SFDC Google alliance does not solve what we see as the problem with the way SFDC works. It is a software which managers love, but the users are less enamored of. Adoption is not easy, requires very strong consulting support and constant engagement with business IT.

We are in a quest to build a CRM software that SFDC perhaps set out to build when they started- something that requires very little training or customization and users liked using. And, then we have the benefit of wisdom acquired through the efforts of the current players and the changed technology landscape.

The changed technology landscape

Today it is all about connectivity and being present on multiple platforms and stores. Even SFDC hasn’t severed its links with Office 365 and it still calls AWS as a preferred partner.

It is also about mobility. As a customer told me the other day- they don’t even use our product on the web- they only use the Saleswah Android App. No reflection on our web app- it is just that his team is constantly on the road and it is not convenient (and it is expensive) to use laptops on the move.

So as we straddle both MS and Google and keep an eye out for Facebook and sharpen our play in mobile, we are aware that we simply have to continue doing the same thing- but do them a lot better than we have so far.


Guarding against exuberance: Deal scoring in CRM

The role of deal scoring in CRM

All salesmen are optimistic- it’s their nature; that is why they are in sales.

They honestly believe till the last hour that their deal will close. Even when the evidence piles up against them. This creates problems for the manager and of course the company.

Okay, so what deals are valuable?

Having talked with hundreds of customers across industries – my only answer is that it depends. It varies from industry to industry and even within the same industry, it varies from company to company. And, I am talking of companies who have actually invested the time to define the threshold of information and interest and how they measure both before passing it on to a sales guy.

All deals are not the same. All customers are not the same. Purchase procedures differ. Even different salesmen have different judgments about the same deal.

Deal scoring in CRM helps everyone evaluate deals using the same parameters.

How do you evaluate your win chances in a deal? How optimistic are you about your funnel?

How do you know the person committing to close a deal this month, is right about his optimism? Or the other salesperson, who equally vehemently argues against including his deal in the monthly forecast, is right?

Multiply the problem with 10- the number of your reportees. And another 10, for your reportees have reportees too. It’s a huge problem. Sales forecasting is a big problem.

Interest in the next step

Interest shown by the contact in being contacted it seems is a big factor behind the deal being taken seriosuly. Also, the nature of interest matters too. Some would simply want more information to be mailed, while the others might want a visit from a sales person. I know at least one company where professed interest in meeting a sales person is ruthlessly scrutinized because the sales people are so senior and their time, expensive.

Where telecallers inevitably falter

Almost all companies have a script for the their telecallers. But I have seen most falter in sifting through the tyre-kickers and the door-keepers. Sales does not like information gatherers- though in some B2B enterprise sales processes, information sharing is mandatory as part of a long sales process. Sales also wants to talk to decision makers- and most leads tend to be from folks who are merely gathering data for their bosses. You do not want to be at the mercy of people who are not able to represent your case in from of decision makers- though sometimes you may not have a choice.

Action, level and logical fit

Sales love leads where there is clear action plan and it is obviously set up at an appropriate decision making level at the customer place. If the lead is from a customer or industry segment which is a logical fit- that obviously helps. If it is not, the telecaller should try and establish the need or the pain-point of the lead.

To summarize, valuable sales leads are where meeting is set up at a decision making level where a logical product fit can be established. After this is done, the lead can transition to the sales person and who will have a lot more confidence in accepting it.

We can now legitinately call it a sales deal.

Qualifying a sales deal through the sales funnel

Sales deals have been subjected to “qualification” for a long time. The most popular and long tested method is BANT. 

B- Budget, A-Authority, N-Need, T-Timeframe: are key parameters that are used to quickly sum up the chances of the deal progressing in the right way.

Now, every organization probably looks at BANT a little differently and that is okay. With Deal scoring in CRM, what they get is a method for standardization of the parameters. So, all deals get a standard score. That makes forecasting easier because that takes individual subjectivity out of the equation.

This totally makes sense especially when the team size is large. And the experience levels are vastly different. And that brings us to the next point.

Focus on key opportunities

Another key area where deal scoring in CRM helps is helping the salesman focus.

When you are new to sales, it can be hard to know what to focus on. The bigger one or the one down the road or the customer who always picks your phone or agrees to a meeting?

A CRM deal score helps achieve the objective- your rookie team member has his priorities set for him.

What do you think?

Do you think it makes sense to demand that your CRM gives you some feedback on the funnel which you can look at objectively.

Simplifying the Deal qualification algorithm

The latest update to the Deal Qualification algorithm

We periodically update the deal qualification algorithm to make sure you and your sales team constantly focus on the high value opportunities. The deal qualification algorithm is how Saleswah automatically classifies a deal as either Lead (early stage), Prospect (active follow up), Warm deal (this is the stage where your boss has gotten interested enough to start following up with you!) and Hot Deal- about to close and soon!

We wrote a post long back explaining the logic. It was called the Sales Funnel Stages. Look it up.

The deal qualification algorithm is our way of keeping you honest! It is our cold hard look at the deal progress. It is Saleswah’s internal algorithm which evaluates the deal progress. Based solely on the information captured. And it gives a score. That score tells you whether the deal is an early stage lead or progressed enough to be called a prospect or is a “hot deal” – about to close in your favour and soon.

You may like the score or dislike the score. You may choose to discount it or believe in it. But there is a very good reason to not disregard it. Its judgement is consistent across all sales people in your team. It has no bias.

The deal qualification algorithm is not made public

There is also another matter. The deal qualification algorithm is our secret sauce and we do not publish it. We might share a broad outline of the logic with some clients- but, we do not share the entire logic. This is simply to ensure that no one “games” the logic.

You see, we think the sales team’s job is to sell. The sales team best does the job by focusing on a target and following up on the opportunities. Saleswah should simply help in any way it can. If the sales team knows the deal qualification algorithm, they tend to second guess the outcome and log the answers that they think the machine is looking for.

We changed the algorithm

It is no secret that we count the activities and give different weight-ages to them. We added more activities to the “basket”. We also tweaked the formula. There are more factors in calculations as well.

Your team should see more hot deals in the funnel- as a result of the re-classifications that the change in algorithm has brought about.

We understand that some of you want more information on how the deal scoring algorithm works and in fact want more control on it- even modify for your own use. To all of you, we say- all in good time.




Enterprise software sales to enterprises

Enterprise software sales in India is enterprise sales. This has major implications for all of us who are trying to evangelize SAAS as a means of delivery as well as recurring revenue collection.

Enterprise software salesWhat do I mean by “enterprise sales”? It means a sales process which is definitely non-transactional. It means that no matter how you choose to deploy your software, the customer will not buy on the phone or on the web. It means that you can’t win in enterprise software sales by demo over the internet. It means that you need a direct sales team who will need to make face to face calls.

The direct consequences are not limited to the need for a direct sales force. You need to be prepared to customize every time- no matter if the number of users is 5 or 500. The only “Off the shelf” software customers in India buy is MS-Office! For every thing else, there is customization.

Most customization is trivial- but, the catch is that it makes sense only to one customer and none else. There are of course, those customization requests that have significantly enriched our product. That is, they have become part of the mainstream product. Many reports are examples of requests that came from customers. Location tracking of traveling salesmen, service executives etc were customer requests.

The benefit of face to face selling is that you understand the customer business process really well. So, you know if your product is a good fit or will fit only at a stretch. But, I am not convinced face to face selling works for the enterprise software sales on SAAS platform. The upfront cost of acquisition is very high; so, the customer needs to stay with you for 3-4 years for you to break even – for a moderate ticket sale (20 or less licenses).

SAAS is meant to be a friction-less delivery model- but, this assumes that from the time of initial evaluation to adoption to use and re-use, though repeated payment and renewal cycle, it is “low-touch”. But, low touch can lead to low adoption as well- which leads to disengaged customers. Disengaged customers switch and while the switching cost is moderately high for an enterprise software product, the vendor makes a loss if the customer switches early in the adoption cycle.

So, what is the solution? Someday, the realization will dawn on everyone that by being a little flexible and bending your own business process to how the software works – and as it does for many others- you will have a faster and more successful adoption and also cheaper software. Till such time, we vendors and customers will continue to chase the mirage of custom built software paid for with the flexibility of per user per month.

How to handle multi-location clients

Multi-location clients need special treatment

When you have multi-location clients, you need to be careful and understand how those offices work with each other.

This is of course in the context of your business. How they deal with you. How they procure from you. How you service them.

Sometimes you need to group them. Sometimes you need to look at them separately. You might want to know at a “global” level how much is Reliance worth to you as a client, for example. Or, you might want to know how much business you get from their UP circle. Or even how many of their sites/ offices are your customer support people servicing in the country.

Sometimes aggregate. Sometimes dis-aggregate.

Multi-location clients have a parent

Just introduced the concept of “Parent Account” in Saleswah.

This enables you to group multiple accounts under one parent account. So, if you are selling to HCL (say)- who have tens of addresses in NOIDA alone and hundreds around the globe, you can choose to group all or some of them under one parent company.

Handling multi-location clients using Parent AccountHelps in reporting. Helps in knowing that even if one particular office is not giving a lot of business, it belongs to a large organization which is very very important! And, you will have data to back it up!