Why your Business Needs a Sales Pipeline

CRM software has helped businesses in a multitude of industries improve their sales. In 2014, Nucleus Research discovered a Return on Investment of $8.71 for every dollar spent on CRM. Getting a positive ROI is great but what are the underlying benefits that contribute to a successful CRM system?

What is CRM?

First things first, you need to know what we are talking about. CRM is short for Customer Relationship Management. When I mention CRM, I am referring to software that helps an organization manage their customer relationships and their sales pipeline through leads, opportunities, accounts, contacts, and activities.

CRM software is intended to not only help the organization and sales managers but salespeople too. Don’t believe me? Keep reading and decide for yourself.

Heads up: I am not going to duplicate the benefits I wrote about in a previous post “Why your business needs a Sales Pipeline”. This list will go over the benefits of a CRM in addition to creating a sales pipeline for you.

Benefits of a CRM System

1. Reporting

Pre-Made and Easy to Create CRM Reports

Each CRM comes with pre-made reports that work with your data instantly. This saves time in creating reports.

Popular Reports:

  • Sales Pipeline Report
  • Open Opportunity Report
  • Closed Won Report
  • Win-Loss Ratio Report

Reports help sales managers and salespeople make sense of their data, quickly and easily. If you want to measure something different, you can create a new report or edit an existing report.

Examples of questions that can be easily answered by reports:

How many open opportunities does Salesperson A have?
What is the Win-Loss Ratio for the sales team?
"How much business did the sales team win last year?"
"What does our sales pipeline look like currently?"

2. Data in One, Central Location

Most CRM software hosts your data in the cloud (on internet-accessible servers located outside of your company) and not on individual spreadsheets on each salesperson’s computer.

This means salespeople, sales managers, upper management, etc. can access CRM data from anywhere they have an internet connection. Does a salesperson need to review their recent interactions with a customer right before an onsite meeting with this customer? They can, using the CRM software. Most CRMs have a mobile app, so salespeople won’t have to start up their laptop to use the CRM.

Data can also be generated from anywhere with an internet connection. This gives salespeople the flexibility to update their CRM data from wherever they are while the information is fresh on their mind.

3. Promotes Teamwork

The starting page on most CRM’s has a sectioned called “Recent Activity”, where the latest additions or changes to any lead, opportunity, account, contact, and activity are showcased along with the salesperson who did it. Before you cringe, this is a good thing. Salespeople can look at the recent activity and see where their relationships or priorities align. Salespeople can see where they can help each other. Without a CRM, you would have to wait for a weekly or monthly sales meeting and hope a salesperson would mention the lead, opportunity, customer, or contact that catches the ear of another salesperson who has the relationship.

Another example would be when a salesperson tries to enter a new account or contact into the CRM software and sees the account or contact was already added by another salesperson. This presents a chance for them to pool their resources and work together.

Teamwork can lead to more wins. Two people bring more strengths and help each other stay productive and proactive, working harder on winning opportunities.

4. Know What the Sales Team is Working On

CRM software has the ability for salespeople to enter their activities with a customer, meaning emails, meetings, tasks, calls, notes, etc. This lets the sales team manager (and upper management) know what is going on with each account, lead, or opportunity.

Sales Manager: "Has Tom called on Company X?"

The sales manager can answer that question by going to the account page for Company X in the CRM software and review calls in the activity pane. This will save time on not having to track down each salesperson to see what they are doing each time the sales manager has a question.

Logging activities also helps the team not step on each other’s toes and not appear unorganized to the customer.

Salesperson: "Tom did call Company X. I see in the call notes that the customer gave Tom the information we needed to go forward with the bid. Now I can move to the next task on my list."

Tip for Salespeople: Logging activities is a great way for a salesperson to show their worth to the company. It provides proof of work completed that can be presented by the salesperson at review time or when asking for a raise.

5. Improves Customer Interactions

Salespeople can save emails, calls, meetings, and notes to the corresponding account. This makes for easy organization of correspondence.

All activities, correspondence, contacts, leads, and opportunities connected to an account are displayed on an individual company’s account page. This page is great to review before a meeting with or during a call with that customer. Salespeople can refresh their memory on what they have already sold the customer, what issues the customer needs to be solved.

Use CRM Activities To Benefit with Customer Interactions

Salesperson: "When was the last interaction I had with customer X, and what did we talk about?"

Check the account page for that customer and you will quickly find the answer.

Tip for Salespeople: When a salesperson logs a call activity into the CRM, they should add some notes about what was talked about along with important information that came up during the call. This note will help the salesperson stay on top of the opportunity.

6. Helps Salespeople with Their Job

A CRM system can help salespeople stay organized and engaged with their accounts, leads, and opportunities. They can view their past activities and upcoming tasks that pertain to that customer. Reviewing past activities can help salespeople with planning the next move.

Tasks are a great way to keep up with what to do next. A task is an activity that needs to be done in the future, has a due date, and has a status such as “not started”, “in progress” or “completed”. Most CRMs send reminders when an open task is approaching its due date, helping the salesperson remember to complete their task.

Even without using tasks, a salesperson can use the sales stages as an indicator of what to do next.

Salesperson: “What is the next step on Opportunity A? The next sales stage is ‘Qualify Lead’. I will work on qualifying the lead.”

In Conclusion

A CRM system can provide benefits to your company and your sales team, but the most important benefit is improving sales performance. Each benefit listed above supports improving the performance of each salesperson and therefore the sales team. Don’t be surprised when you notice your sales team being more productive and closing more opportunities.

About Stryker Stinnette

Stryker has worked with multiple CRM platforms over the past 8 plus years while working for multiple specialty contractors in the Oil and Gas Industry. As a member of the Business Development Team, Stryker has been involved in and lead multiple CRM Implementations. He has worked for companies with and without CRMs and seen first hand what they deal with when it comes to selling and tracking their services. View his website at stryk3r.com.