By Drew Arthur
In working with a number of growing businesses, it has come to my attention recently that many business leaders struggle with establishing and maintaining control over the sales processes of their business. Without control, the sales team are left to their own devices and often, this seems to play out in a number of ways:
- Important opportunities are missed because sales people don’t follow procedures, or these procedures are poorly defined.
- Deals are not followed up on time, or at all, because of inefficiencies in the sales team.
- Heavy discounts are offered in order to ‘win’ deals at any cost, but without oversight of how this impacts the business overall.
Clearly, not having sufficient control of their sales processes is far beyond a mere annoyance – it’s losing these businesses thousands of dollars and making a significant dent to their bottom line!
Given the nature and the size of the businesses facing these issues, it occurred to me that there may be many others in a similar situation. So, let me share with you what I shared with those businesses I worked with.
The key to implementing stronger controls is leveraging intelligent technology
As a business leader, you’re very busy. Implementing stronger controls sounds like a great idea, but you definitely don’t have the time to constantly dive into the details and make sure your sales people are on track. The good news is you don’t have to.
What you do have to do is leverage the right business management solution for your business. Specifically, it should help you:
Leverage automation and manage by exception
Your business management solution should be one that is capable of smart, automated reporting and doesn’t require you to sift through hundreds of pages of reports. You should be able to tell it what to look for and let it be the watch dog.
For example, if you want to keep an eye on the heavily discounted deals impacting your profit margins, you shouldn’t have to wait until your customers are being invoiced. You should be able to set up a report to alert you every time the profit margin on a quote drops below the minimum percentage and stop the quote from going out at all.
Integrate your solutions into your business
You may ask, “But my sales people don’t always update the system accurately – how can a business management solution get around that?”
A strong business management solution should be part of your process, integrating seamlessly with your existing systems. For example, in order to have the quotation and profit margin visibility I described above, your quotations should be created within your business management solution and tracked against the specific customer in your CRM. In this set up, updating the system is part of the process.
Set it and forget it
By setting a few simple rules and reminders in your business management system you should be able to increase your revenue considerably – and the best thing is you should never have to think about them again. For example, you should set up a rule for each salesperson to receive an alert 5 days before the expiration date of each quotation they’ve sent out, reminding them to follow up with the customer. You won’t believe what a difference this can make!
Make continuous improvements
If your sales activities are tracked in detail in system, your reports will be full of insights to help you make small improvements that can boost your team’s sales performance greatly over time. It’ll also be easy to identify which salespeople are performing well and which ones may need a little more help from you.
I hope these thoughts will help you when you work towards gaining better control of your sales process. If you are dealing with any of the issues I’ve written about above and would like to discuss, please call me on 02 9542 2000.
If you’ve got some thoughts on my blog, please leave your comments below.
Drew Arthur is the Managing Director of Micronet Systems, and is focused on helping business leaders overcome inefficient sales, inventory and customer relationship management practices by leveraging cutting edge technology. If you want to gain better control of the sales processes in your business, click here to see how HARMONiQ Business Tuning Software can make a difference to your business, or click here to get in touch.