In the beginning, you probably had so few sales leads that tracking them was no problem. When you start to grow, however, it gets harder and harder to keep track by memory alone. You likely have more people involved, too.
So perhaps you start keeping track using a spreadsheet. Or maybe a list on a Word document. But guess what? You soon outgrow that.
"The burden of inputting information initially and updating it every time something changes will wear you and your team down. Your document or spreadsheet will get bigger until you have a monster on your hands -- the creature from the black lagoon," says Ivana Taylor of DIY Marketers.
What’s the answer? A CRM tool.
1. Use a CRM System to Automate Your Sales Process
“The beauty of a CRM system is that you can set up a sales process once and then use it over and over again for every deal,” says Brent Leary, co-founder of CRM Essentials LLC.
A good CRM system offers pull down menus to check off what part of the sales process you're in, who's involved in each stage and what's next.
Instead of having to enter this information on a spreadsheet for each new deal, your team can choose from what's already entered in the system only adding new information when something changes.
But what if you want to avoid having your team doing ANY data entry at all?
2. Choose a CRM System to Pull Data Directly from the Web
Every sales expert tells you that you must use a CRM so that you can keep track of your sales. But the biggest problem most small business owners face is choosing and using a CRM system without all the tedious work of importing and entering lead and prospect information.
And, if you happen to have a sales team -- good luck. Sales people (really good sales people) would rather spend their valuable time looking for and closing new business -- not entering data so that management can see reports.
The best way to track sales without doing a lot of data entry is to use a CRM tool that has the ability to reach out to the web and pull contact data from your sales leads' online profiles, website and activity. Or that captures data from emails you receive.
Typically, all the sales person needs to do is highlight the lead's information from any browser online -- on LinkedIn for example -- and the system will search for their information and fill out the basic fields such as email, social media channels, address and any other relevant details for that contact.
With that drudgery out of the way, all you or your salespeople have to do is add notes and set follow up dates.
3. Use the CRM to Generate Reports with No Additional Data Entry
Once the contact information is filled in, the system will consolidate all of your conversation and social media engagement with that lead. Now, you're ready to move that lead through your sales process.
You can create deals and start moving these prospects through your sales funnel. A good CRM will also allow additional team members to add information to that sales record which makes for a seamless experience for the customer.
You want to track the resources that are spent on the deal, how much time is being spent, the individuals involved, money involved and time until the deal closes.
Most importantly, you can generate pipeline reports, forecasts, contracts and even sales quotas automatically.
One last point: Today's CRM tools have an overwhelming set of features that may seem nice to have, but can actually slow your ability to use the tool effectively. Don't choose a complicated CRM if you're not ready for it. Choose a CRM tool that you can grow into.
- Create a short list of your current sales prospects and projects
- Test a few CRM choices to see how well they grab contact information and see what information is left for you to enter.
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