Scott Nicol
posted by Scott Nicol on December 17, 2018
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What sort of questions should you be asking from your CRM system to extract valuable sales performance insights? This will depend on your industry and business model, but here are some pointers to get you thinking:

Which customers do you spend the most time and effort on?

Effort could be in the form of emails, meetings, phone calls and more, so which customers take the most time? Which consume the most resource and incur the highest cost to service? Once you have this information (and this will depend on proper use of the CRM system by the team), compare this with how much revenue this actually generates for your business.

Understanding the value of high maintenance customers in terms of quantifiable value is vital in helping you decide what to do. If you can identify which high maintenance customers are simply not bringing in the orders to justify their upkeep, you can start planning on refocusing your efforts with them. Furthermore, these high maintenance customers could be preventing your team from reaching their sales targets. At this point you might reallocate such accounts to attempt different, lower-effort strategies to maintain the customer. You may even decide that it is just not a profitable relationship and use the effort to look for new customers instead which more closely match the business’s ideal customer.

What is the average sales cycle length, and how does this vary by salesperson?

Being aware that your average time from enquiry to order is say, 6 weeks, makes it easier to establish a baseline to compare sales cycles against each other. Questions should be asked for sales reps who are averaging longer periods than this, such as:

  • Could they learn from some of the more senior sales reps, who have more experience?
  • Could they pick up on tips and tricks from sales reps who close a deal much faster?
  • Would it help to have them shadow another person to see how they handle customers?
  • Is motivation a problem, or could it be that some reps don’t like to keep prodding customers until they order?

All of these things are simply speculation until you can put actual figures, person by person, on the table and compare who closes deals at what speed – which will vary by deal specifics such as product or service type, new or existing customer etc.

In the same manner, looking person by person, what is the average deal size? Now of course you will not be assigning your highest value customers to reps who are learning the ropes, but having this information again gives you that baseline of something to work towards with the lower performing reps, and help you set the right sales targets for more experienced reps.

Of the products or services sold, which team members were involved in the sales, and more importantly, which were NOT?

Understanding who is “good at selling everything” and those who only sell a limited number of your products or services is extremely useful for knowing who to upskill on specific product ranges or professional services. This might lead to internal product demonstrations or walking through case studies of how they have helped other customers, so that the reps really understand the value of the products. In turn, when they talk about it to the customers or prospects, they feel genuine value through their expertise.

How accurate are my team’s predictions for orders coming in?

In any sales team there will be optimistic and pessimistic people. The key as a sales director is to understand who’s predictions are accurate, and identify trends in the less accurate reps. Are they consistently forecasting too early or too late? Are they forecasting too much or too little? Or are they simply all over the place? Consistent inaccuracies can be dealt with fairly simply, but if the inaccuracies are inconsistent, you will likely need to put a framework in place to standardise the way opportunities are evaluated by reps. Using this information to work with the reps will undoubtedly help you get more accurate and consistent pipeline forecasts.

These are simply some pointers to get you thinking the right way about evaluating and improving sales performance through CRM. In some cases where you need to drill even further down to identify very specific anomalies or areas which could be improved. A Business Intelligence (BI) system can also provide huge value as an extra to CRM. The reporting provided by BI systems is often much more capable than CRM’s built-in capabilities, and is flexible enough to work with data from multiple systems together (even Excel if your reps still insist on using it!). Worth investigating if you find you are not quite getting the insights you need.

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