Deals be opened post closure

A Deal record is about the progress of a sales opportunity through the funnel. A deal record culminates in a closure. Status changes to Won or Lost or Dropped. After that, we do not permit an changes to the status.

We just made it possible for you to re-open the deal.

So, if you mistakenly closed the deal, you have a chance to re-open it and work on it some more.

For example:

  • You closed a deal as won, but actually it was lost!
  • You closed a deal as Lost- but the customer just called and said you are still in consideration as a vendor.
  • You closed the deal correctly as Won; but the value was wrong.
  • Etc

So, go to the closed deals list, click on the deal value of the closed deal and click on the “Re-open” button of the Deal record that popped up. The deal will then move from the closed deals list to the Open Deals list.

To ensure that this is only done with proper approvals, the ability to re-open a deal is available to admins alone.

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?

How do you like being able to upward delegate?

Tasks can now be assigned to your boss and his boss too!

The most used feature in Saleswah CRM is the ability to create and assign “Tasks” to your own self or someone who works for you. Every Saleswah CRM client account (through their admin) can define the Task types that make sense for them.

Tasks in Saleswah are more powerful than in other simple calendar type of applications. A Task in Saleswah is linked to a “Contact” – a person who works for an Account (Client). It can also be optionally linked to a product type and can be updated, rescheduled and tracked till closure.

Tasks can also be re-assigned.

So, if a user is overloaded, he could always re-assign the task to someone in his team.

Let’s see a typical sales user hierarchy.

Task upward delegation

Who is a sales co-ordinator?

A sales co-ordinator has a valuable role- she provides back office support for her team of field sales persons. He/ she may free up admin time for the boss. It is also common to see the sales co-ordinators perform inside sales functions; that is follow up with clients of their team members.

Sales Co-ordinators can see all Account and Contact details for the level at which they are “attached” to the user hierarchy. So, the Sales Co-ordinator 2 can see all accounts which her boss – the Sales Manager 1 can see (his own and those of his reportees- Sales Exec 11 and Sales Exec 22).

The new enhanced task assignment/ re-assignment functionality

The biggest enhancement is that now while logging a task or assigning/ re-assigning it, the user can select any person below OR ABOVE him as well.

Why did we do this?

There are multiple situations where you may need your boss to intervene with a client. Or, during a meeting with a client, you might get a request to – “ask your boss to meet my boss”. Instead of noting it down and waiting to get back to office to inform your boss, you could now log it in Saleswah CRM.

So, earlier the Sales Manager 2 could only assign a task to himself or his two reportees: Sales Exec 21 and Sales Exec 22. But, now, he can assign the same task to his boss, the Sales Head as well.

Take another example.

The Sales Co-ordinator 1, who has visibility to the entire database- by virtue of being attached to the same level of user hierarchy as the Sales Head, can assign any Task to anyone including her boss, the sales head.

Hope you like it. Go ahead, enjoy the freedom to upwardly delegate!

Visit management: spoofing your location in CRM

Using location data in visit management for convenience and productivity

Visit management on our mobile app depends on the GPS coordinates reported by the phone hardware. The location is used to query Google maps and it makes your life simple. We wrote a fairly detailed post on the technology some time back.

Using location data in visit management in CRM

Let’s say, you are meeting a client for the first time- let’s say a retailer who you are visiting. Since he is not in your database, you would have to go through a lot of hassle to first add the retailer in the database, and then log the activity.

This wastes time.

So, on our Android app, we allow you to add an account (a customer/ dealer etc) from the mobile app – straight from logging a visit. If the account exists already, well and good- the app will simply log a visit. If the account does not exist, then Saleswah automatically fetches the street address (where you are standing) from Google and goes through with logging a visit.

In the process, it creates a new account record,complete with street address.

Saves time. And, that was all we wanted to do.

Control, convenience and spoofing

We recently got a call from a client and then we had to relook at the visit log method. Because, some folks, who did not want their whereabouts known, or worse, wanted to pretend to be on tour or in the field – had found a way to fool the app.

So, what we thought was for convenience, was being used by management for control. And the users were finding ways around it.

Apparently there are tens of such apps in the Playstore- all can spoof your location and help you pretend you are in Georgia where you might be in Georgetown.

We stopped it of course!

Many of our functionality depends on careful logging of GPS data and accurately querying Google maps. Finding distances, directions. We could not afford uncertainty over actual location data.

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.

What makes a sales lead valuable?

A case for valuable sales leads

Sales folks are rarely enthusiastic about sales leads- which is surprising, or not- depending on how you look at it. There is obviously pressure to get to an opportunity before your competition. But, the worst thing for a sales guy is to have to chase dud leads. What are valuable sales leads?

Leads come in all shapes and from all sorts of sources. Most of them have little information other than a name and a number. Some have an email. And most of them result in nothing. Reasons are too numerous to go into, here.

Lead generation to qualification

Leads to deals to winMarketing generates the most leads for sales. And those are the leads that sales people are the most sceptical about. So, over time, most marketing leads tend to go through at least a level of “qualification”- typically a telecaller who would call the lead and gauge the seriousness or interest in purchase.

The filtering tends to be quite severe. I have seen as much as 80% leads fall by the wayside and only the 20% or less make their way to sales people to follow up. These bunch have a much better chance of closure.

The goals of the telecaller and the sales guys are – even if slightly, misaligned. The Telecaller is the “man in the middle”- he filters the marketing leads. They differ in their understanding of what valuable sales leads are.

Valuable sales leads

The telecaller – typically- is looking to get the lead to commit to a meeting or follow up call – from the sales person. He counts his success as a number of leads who have managed to say yes. This, needless to say is what the marketing guy wants too. More marketing leads result into a follow up call, better his metrics look.

Now, if poor quality leads make into the sales funnel, the sales metrics of conversion will look bad. Which is why I say, the goals of telesales and sales are often misaligned.

On balance, I still prefer the marketing to fund the tele-qualification function. There is of course scope in sales and marketing teams sitting down together and drawing up pre-agreed crieteria for deals qualification.

Okay, so what are valuable sales leads?

Having talked with hundreds of customers in scores of 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.

Interest in the next step

Interest shown by the lead in being contacted it seems is a big factor. 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.

Lastly, when you work on a common platform for lead capture, qualification, conversion to deal and deal nurture and close, it definitely makes it easier for all. The lead qualification is a learning process- over a period of time and by capturing data of hundreds of leads qualified – your own criteria for evaluating leads will get better.

Asking questions of enterprise sales management

What are we about?

We are about enterprise sales management. Saleswah CRM helps you in selling products and services to other businesses.

CRM is a vastly misused term. Anything from a spreadsheet to a rolodex- a CRM has been used to describe many things, a lot of it is not even software!

And then, because a lot of our business interactions deal with people- “contacts” in CRM-speak, it is not surprise that contact management is a big chunk of CRM. Many CRMs simply stop there- they simply manage contact profiles- social media and all. Then they manage interactions, appointments and through in the sales piece as almost an afterthought.

The workplace – where these contacts go to work 10 hours a day- is not so important in many CRMs. Because their root is in Contact Management.

Saleswah is about enterprise sales management

Saleswah was built by people with deep roots in enterprise sales management- big and small. And it shows in the way it is built. “Accounts”- companies where contacts work have as much if not more importance. While interactions still get captured by contacts, they are grouped by accounts.

And, sales targets and achievements are captured by Accounts.

enterprise sales management CRM

Saleswah understands the true nature of enterprise sales. Long gestation cycle, multiple influencers and their roles, mutiple touch points and often formal nature of proposals and quotations. For a CRM to be effective in enterprise sales management, it has to map the linkages. It has to manage territories, teams and hierarchies- both internally and at customer locations.

It does not mean abandoning contact management. Neither does it mean not capturing contact interactions or updating profiles. But it does mean leveraging the interactions for business results. Recognizing that the business is long term. By logging history and linkages. Also by recognizing that it is the enterprise – a collective- which is your customer.

 

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.

 

 

 

Sales target setting in B2B

We recently created 2 interfaces to better handle your sales.

They look the same but are actually different.

One helps in monthly sales target setting for sales executives – split by product categories (lines).

Sales Target Setting in Saleswah CRM

 

The other helps in forecasting the potential business from every “Account”- client organization that you are selling to.

From the questions we get, I guess folks easily get the 1st one- it is the second one that takes time getting used to.

Conceptually, we need to differentiate between target and potential.

Target is what a salesperson lives by. He is measured on target. Month on month, quarter on quarter. Set a target and achieve it.

Potential is different- some call it total addressable business, in the B2B scenario.

As an aside, what is Total addressable business? All know of Total Addressable Market- which is basically the value of all the potential business you can generate from your product from its target market. This is assuming there was no competition and the entire pie was for you to grab.

The total addressable business- potential- is the revenue potential for your product / service in a particular client account assuming there was no competitor.

Why have this? Two reasons I say:

  • sales target setting should not happen in a vacuum. It should be done with careful planning, and some hard numbers backing up hunches and gut feel. Carefully listing your potential in the market you are going after, comprising accounts – will help you set realistic goals.
  • resources, that is sales executives can then be better aligned to markets with more potential – and of course they can be supported better too with marketing.