The sales industry isn’t traditionally very data-inclined. Look at the old stereotypes of high-performing sales agents and a very social picture comes to mind: well-dressed, smooth-talking executives taking clients out for meals and cracking deals over dinner or boardroom presentations.
Or worse, what comes to mind is the snake oil salesman that was best avoided at all times.
Today, however, the very definition of what drives success in the sales world has changed. Deals no longer come down solely to personal rapport – at least not necessarily.
More customers (and consumers) have access to information & data, and more importantly, are spoilt for choice to make better decisions for their business…in comparing apples to apples, data will have them going for your competitor’s products/services over yours.
In essence, purchase decisions are no longer made solely on trust – so neither should your company’s business decisions.
How Data Benefits Your Business Decisions
The amount of data available in the world today is unbelievable. Digital media has changed the way people search for products/services/solutions.
Most customers conduct a prime chunk of research online (even in B2B industries, Gartner research says 27% of the buyer’s time is spent researching online and only 17% spent in meeting potential suppliers) which means there are a lot of consumer insights being generated that can directly benefit your small business growth.
With all this data being made available to you, you can:
1. Better Understand Your Customers or Your Audience
Their likes/dislikes, aspirations, pain points, business requirements, and so on. You’ll be able to supplement what you already know about them with in-depth data that tells you what they do not…and then sell to them accordingly.
2. Better Understand Your Competitors
Why are your customers going for competitors’ products? Why are your competitors suddenly doing so well in the market? Data will give you better insights into the market around you, and how it’s impacting client decisions…so you can make better decisions to stay (or rise to) the top.
3. Reduce Churn
Understanding customers don’t just come down to great market research…it’s also about actually understanding the behavior of customers on your client roster.
The way they use your product, make decisions regarding your product, and so on, can help you reduce churn and increase Customer Lifetime Value.
4. Save Time and Money
Do you remember a time when understanding your customers meant making trips out to their office/factory just to say hello?
What if you had already built a whole report of data and insights on a customer, and reduced your trips down to twice a year, armed & ready with a range of solutions as to how they can better leverage your product? Better data can help you save on resource costs, travel costs, operational costs…you name it.
5. Increase Operational Efficiency
Let’s face it, your sales team’s time is much better spent trying to close deals and upsell customers than in handholding clients, making research trips, holding dinners just to convert deals.
There may still be an occasion for some of these, but it need not be part of the sales process. With the proper use of lead data, sales processes today can be sharpened to such an extent that selling remotely barely impacts the sale at all.
Your CRM Data and Business Insights
A CRM is, by definition, a Customer Relationship Management tool… which means it is chock full of data and insights on your customers.
Most CRMs are equipped to handle sales funnels and some parts of your marketing processes too, which means that a customer enters the system even before they turn into a lead.
Usually, your CRM data comes into the picture the minute a lead is generated on any of your touchpoints – these could be web forms, telephony numbers, messages on tracked email IDs, etc.
Your CRM is equipped to pick up lead data from all these systems and assign those leads within your sales team.
The minute this is done, you already have the personal information your lead has submitted, as well as information on which channel they discovered your brand through.
As each lead makes its way through your sales pipeline, you gather even more information. When qualifying a lead, for example, you learn about their pain points/aspirations and what attracted them to your product.
These insights help you form a better picture of your customer base and hence your target audience, so you can better target people with an optimized marketing strategy.
Your CRM data, in general, will not only help you make better marketing decisions but better product design decisions, better sales decisions, better distribution decisions, financial decisions, and so on to maximize small business growth.
Business Areas You Can Use CRM Data to Optimize
Let’s look at a few areas – and a few ways – in which you can use data from your CRM to make better decisions for your growing business.
1. Build Better Marketing Strategies, Improve Returns On Marketing Investment
As we wrote extensively, a CRM is a great way to get insights on which of your marketing activities are actually yielding high-value sales results.
If one of your marketing channels is bringing in higher-end sales than the others, all you need to do is glance at the lead qualification report in your CRM and you’ll know – you’ll then be able to ramp up your investment in that channel.
Similarly, let’s look at the different data points that usually come with a CRM that will help you make better marketing decisions:
Lead Source Report
Most CRMs will provide you with regular reports on where your leads are coming from. So if you have a web form on your website, a web form on a campaign landing page, a virtual number on a hoarding/billboard for people to call, and a chatbot or say Facebook Messenger where your audience can get in touch, your CRM will tell you which one of these is bringing in the most leads for you.
If you combine these insights with data from your sales report (also generated by your CRM), you also have insight into the whole pipeline – which marketing channels are bringing you more end sales, and proving most profitable.
You can then optimize your marketing spends to invest in the most viable platform, and stop investing time/effort/money on the others.
Lead Qualification Report
Lead quality always trumps lead quantity. While a lead source report will give you a numerical value to leads coming in from your marketing channels, a lead qualification report tells you all about the quality of leads coming in from the different channels.
If you’re getting more qualified leads from your website than from your hoarding/billboard, you’ll be able to see it clearly in your lead qualification report.
You can then stop investing the (invariably large) amount of marketing spends you are in your billboard, because it may only be bringing you quantity and not the right quality of leads.
Plenty of CRMs today help you build robust, thorough lead profiles for better consumer insights.
While some lead generation sources help the CRM fill out basic details automatically (a web form will automatically capture a full name, email ID, phone number, company details, etc. Into your CRM if you need it to), a lot of other data can be recorded by your sales professionals too.
Basic lead data, for example, can be supplemented by LinkedIn and Facebook profiles – helping you round off the demographic information with psychographic information too.
Many CRMs, in fact, will then help create insightful reports that reflect a holistic breakdown of your consumer profile to better inform your marketing decisions.
2. Make Better Sales Process Decisions for Improved Resource Management & Efficiency
Whether you’re heading the sales team or heading the company, one of your most important areas of results and growth is to optimize sales processes.
When your sales team runs as a smooth, seamless function of your company, it reflects in your sales numbers – leads get handled better, data gets stored in a cleaner manner, the number of cold leads reduces, and so on. In short, you see a direct impact on your sales numbers.
Let’s look at the different data points in a CRM that help you make better sales process decisions:
Lead Pipeline Analysis
Most CRMs allow you to set up customized pipelines i.e. customized pipeline stages based on your business’ buying cycle.
This allows you to create a sales pipeline that is as close as possible to the purchase stages you’d consider and follow in a completely offline sales process – essentially making it easy to marry your sales activities (calling, client follow-ups, meeting procedures, etc.) to your CRM pipeline.
Because of this freedom, you enjoy the pipeline in the CRM, you can also gather a whole lot of stage-wise data that is directly attributable and relevant to your sales processes.
If, in your lead pipeline analysis report, you realize that too many leads are getting lost at the “demo booked” stage, for example, you can conclude that there is some potential problem in either the way the demo is being scheduled or conducted…the demo experience needs an overhaul, and you have the data to prove it.
Lost Deals Report
There are many reasons why deals are lost and dropped, and a fair few of those reasons are out of your control.
This is not something you can leave up to chance, however, so one of the most commonly asked questions of sales representatives tends to be “How many deals are we losing, and why?”
The lost deals report from your CRM will tell you at what stage a deal was lost, who the attached prospects were, the steps and activities undertaken by the sales professional up until the deal were lost…
This allows you to do a thorough analysis of potential reasons why deals are getting lost (finding patterns in the data), and modify and optimize processes at your end – how often follow-ups are done, at what point, meeting/calls best practices, etc. – to minimize deal loss.
One of the biggest factors affecting your sales success and sales processes is your sales team’s productivity.
CRMs usually come with dashboards that give your team a list of follow-ups as soon as they log in, and there are usually tasks & reminders configured to ensure that no sales activity is left unattended.
That said, a CRM is only as effective as the salesperson using it – keeping their productivity up and ensuring sales processes are being followed requires a bit of monitoring on your/the sales manager’s part.
Productivity reports usually help in this regard by telling you where the team is collectively and individually spending time (in which activities) and what is getting left by the wayside.
Productivity is one element of efficient sales processes, but the real difference is made by the effectiveness of your salespersons.
Performance insights tell you how effectively your salespersons are conducting the numerous sales activities set in your sales processes.
If a particular salesperson is consistently losing leads in a particular stage or is consistently falling behind targets, if your team as a whole is lagging on expected revenue targets, and so on, your CRM will be able to keep you informed well in advance so you can resort to course correction as needed.
Call Reports & Listening
Do you find that a particular salesperson’s churn numbers are higher than the others? Or perhaps you find that one particular customer service sales executive has an excellent track record in retention and upselling.
One of the ways in which you can dissect and analyze your sales team’s selling skills is by looking at call reports and listening to call recordings.
Most CRMs offer this as a standard report or feature, based on hierarchy level – managers, for example, will have access to listen in on calls or barge in on calls, but peers won’t have the same liberties.
This is an excellent way to help convert a lead while the call is happening, as well as go back and dissect why certain expected outcomes are not being met.
3. Improve Conversion Ratios and Create Better Sales Outcomes
The most important metrics for small business growth are your revenue-led metrics: Your conversion numbers month on month, the sales targets you’ve set and achieved/not achieved, revenue from upselling and cross-selling, etc. This is also where you can best leverage your CRM data.
Lead Pipeline Analysis
As we mentioned earlier, a lead pipeline analysis report gives you a detailed insight into how leads are moving through your various pipeline stages.
And because the pipeline stages are usually customizable to your business processes, an analysis of your pipeline is akin to understanding the effectiveness of your sales processes against revenue targets.
By regularly reviewing your pipeline, you can gain insights such as which stage is most negatively impacting sales outcomes, which stage most leads are dropping off in, and so on.
You can then go back and analyze some of those individual lead cases, narrow down on potential problems and their solutions, and try to get your sales targets back on track.
Call Reports & Listening
Listening in on calls recordings and viewing call reports gives you direct insight into the impact your sales team members’ skills are having on your sales outcomes.
Call reports give you quantitative data such as the number of calls made to a lead, in which stage, and so on, as well as qualitative data by way of the outcome after the call, the recording, and so on.
Once you have this CRM data in hand, you can trace it back to its impact in terms of leads/deals that have been lost, why certain customers are upsold more easily, and so on.
Email & SMS Marketing Reports
Because a CRM helps you reach out to your prospects by way of regular email & SMS communication, it also helps you track the impact of that communication.
You can monitor which leads are actually opening and reading your emails, what actions are being taken (or not taken) after reading an email/SMS, and their impact on the final sale.
For example, if you’re seeing a lot of prospects drop off even after scheduling a demo of your product, you could test sending out reminder emails before the demo and feedback emails after the demo – if demo attendance and conversions go up, you know the communication has had a positive impact on your sales numbers. This also helps you build sales processes that continually optimize conversion ratios.
This one is a bit A-for-apple, but one of the reports you’ll look at the most as a sales manager or company head is the revenue report.
The revenue report will give you direct and concise insights into CRM data based on the number of leads and deals converted within the specified timeframe, the different sources and their distribution of revenue, where you stand in terms of meeting sales targets for the quarter/year, and so on.
Advanced CRMs with predictive analytics will also be able to tell you what your projected revenue will be for the coming quarter, year, etc. based on current conversions, lead/deal conversion patterns, and the quality and scoring of leads in the current pipeline.
With all this CRM data in hand and the actionable business insights that can be built from it, you’re well equipped to take the right steps towards small business growth. Making business decisions to do with revenue targets, resource allocation, resource planning, sales process planning not only becomes easier but data-driven and more likely to succeed.
Have any questions about how best to leverage your CRM data? We’d be happy to help! With Kylas, we’ve ensured that you get access to all these insights and more, so you have everything you need to maximize small business growth. If you have any questions about Kylas or CRM data in general, you can simply drop a line in the comments below and we will get back to you.