The celebrated US motivational speaker and owner of ‘The Sales Hunter’ website, Mark Hunter, once famously said of a successful sales process:
“It’s not about having the right opportunities. It’s about handling the opportunities right.”
And that’s exactly how you should use the Customer relationship Management (CRM) platform Salesforce. Getting the opportunities right, by using the right technology to help you along the way. But first, what exactly is Salesforce, and what can it do for the business operating it?
What is Salesforce?
Salesforce is a CRM platform, which provides enterprises with tools to analyze, monitor and manage customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle.
There are a variety of facilities to control and build a sales process in Salesforce:
- Sales automation assists with streamlining workflows such as lead tracking, revenue forecasting and sales process management – at any time, a sales manager should be able to see on a dashboard where any given customer is on their journey with the service or product provider. Are they a regular customer re-ordering a product, or a newbie trying your company’s services for the first time?
- Marketing automation allows businesses to carry out marketing campaigns and measure their Return on Investment (ROI).
- Support tools can manage customer service and support requests, allowing customers access to knowledge base articles and automating service processes by integrating with ChatBots or outsourced ‘Live Chat’ agents.
- A ‘Virtual Rolodex’ allows businesses to keep tabs on prospects and customers’ details. For example, it often happens that a loyal purchaser who works for firm X moves to a rival at firm Y; such information can be gold dust.
- Analytics and reporting can provide priceless business intelligence. Integration with other tools is also essential, to ensure that the Salesforce CRM talks to your email client or enables certain content to be posted when required on social media platforms, or perhaps to add data to marketing newsletters. For example, you can create a process to automatically send a pre-populated and correctly formatted email to a prospect when they reach a given stage in the sales process.
- Customizable dashboards and forms also allow businesses to monitor specific types of data, say from the achieved percentage profit markup for a given client to the efficiency of cold calling hit-rates for each member of the sales team.
As Salesforce is cloud-based, it can be accessed from anywhere via the world wide web, another big plus for a salesperson away from the office at a conference or working from home. Weflow, a popular integration platform, can connect Salesforce with other applications and automate workflows, allowing even more efficient and effective use of the CRM platform.
How can Salesforce improve scalability and results?
Salesforce can enhance the sales process in many ways:
- Lead and process management allows businesses to track and manage individual transactions from the first sales call to the remitted invoice.
- Analytics and reporting capabilities let companies track monetary receipts and production output figures, which help senior level managers make informed commercial decisions.
- Running a BANT process (Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline) can help in converting a prospect to a customer by ensuring that the prospect’s requirements can all be met by the product or service provider.
- Defining the various sales journey stages can create a success roadmap, asking questions such as: Where did this lead come from? Why is the prospect interested? Has the prospect been ‘qualified’ (i.e. are we sure that this potential new customer has sufficient funds to pay for what we’re about to sell them?)
- Defining account types is also critical to scalability, for an at-a-glance panoptic view of what makes every customer and prospect tick. Salesforce can categorize accounts into prospects, active customers, partners, collaborators, competitors, advertisers, media providers and more.
What could happen if you don’t use Salesforce, or not use it correctly
If Salesforce is not set up correctly or if users are not trained properly, the consequences can vary from irksome to severe; in any case ultimately causing loss of revenue. Here are some of the potential consequences of not applying the above processes optimally:
- Duplicated or inaccurate data entry can lead to increased workload and longer sales cycles. There’s an old expression in computing terms called GIGO – Garbage In equals Garbage Out. In effect, salesforce can only be as good as the accuracy of data provided to it by humans. Getting that input correct is paramount to success.
- If Salesforce is not set up correctly to provide relevant insights and reports, it can be difficult to monitor meaningful results.
- Sloppy use of Salesforce can also lead to poor customer service, as teams may not have access to the information they need to address customer concerns or resolve issues in good time.
- As any business grows, sales processes become more complex. Salesforce’s very scalability can be hindered if it is not set up correctly.
Software is only ever as good as the people who set it up…
In summary, we can see how Salesforce has all the tools in place to facilitate an excellent scalable sales process for a company of almost any given size. Furthermore, the company behind Salesforce is ever growing, so its facilities aren’t going away any time soon. Salesforce recently acquired the collaborative platform Slack, which is a measure of success for the Salesforce suite.
However, staff training with the platform, overall human competence and a constant awareness of the need for accuracy of input can make or break whether Salesforce can be used successfully. If not, it could just become an expensive waste of data sitting somewhere in the cloud.
In fact, one might use an analogy of someone buying a Ferrari, then putting paraffin into the fuel tank – you can have the best technology in the world, but the people using it really need to know what they’re doing.
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