Magazine article CRM Magazine

Bringing Science to Sales: Existing CRM Deployments Can Help with Mastering the Art of the Deal

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Bringing Science to Sales: Existing CRM Deployments Can Help with Mastering the Art of the Deal

Article excerpt

FACING FIERCE competition and heavy pressure to deliver continually improving results, many sales organizations today are in a bind. Executives' aggressive growth plans demand significant productivity improvements from the sales force. Those plans seldom come with additional sales investments, and the sales organization is often unable to produce accurate sales forecasts of the market's real potential.

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The solution is to combine the art of selling with science, using a company's existing investments in CRM technology to mine hidden insights leading to more sales opportunities and better ways to capture them. We have seen that adopting a science-to-sales process can typically yield improvements in revenue of between 5 percent and 15 percent with little incremental investment.

Many obstacles stand in the way. Despite the widespread use of CRM systems, many companies lack sufficient information to accurately gauge how well they've penetrated a given account or segment--or even to identify the best potential targets. Many sales organizations also have difficulty determining the factors that truly affect performance. Finally, the traditional foundation metric for a sales organization--how well actual performance compares to set quotas or targets--is flawed.

This is where the art of sales proves to be quite constraining. The application of science to sales is the answer, and it can be applied through a three-step approach:

1. Analyze performance to identify potential opportunities. Measuring the relative performance of each account or sales rep against metrics such as renewal rates, new-product penetration, or share of wallet will in short order show the extent of variability. Variance indicates opportunity for improvement.

2. Segment underlying factors to identify what you can--and can't--control. Many factors can determine relative success, but some--a sluggish economy, a downturn in a target account's industry, or even stepped-up activity by competitors--are effectively outside the sales team's control.

The sales organization, however, can take action to improve other factors, such as account coverage, product mix, discounting, and average deal size. …

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