This article is the third in a three-part series on sales visibility. Start with Part I or Part II here.
Every CRM promises to improve your sales visibility. It’s one of the primary selling points of CRM in the first place. But the meaning of the term ‘sales visibility’ can sometimes be unclear.
That’s because sales visibility can refer to two distinct views from two distinct perspectives: your sales team, and your management team.
Those distinctions are not always clearly defined or even acknowledged when the term is used, and can often be misunderstood as a result. Some of the more common—and harmful—misunderstandings are that sales visibility is an end-goal or cure-all, or that sales visibility is about micromanaging or spying on your sales team.
Neither is true, and both can sabotage attempts to improve your business processes—and improving your business process is precisely what good sales visibility is supposed to allow you to do!
So what is sales visibility, why is it important for your business, and what does CRM actually do for you and your team in terms of visibility?
In Part I of this three-part series, we looked at what sales visibility means for your sales team. In Part II, we focused on what sales visibility means for managers and the importance of reconciling the two views. And in Part III, we’ll analyze the role of CRM in improving sales visibility and, ultimately, sales.
How CRM improves sales visibility (and why you should care)
Both your sales and management teams want to sell more. To do so, they need to understand their customers, their processes, their priorities, their successes, and their failures. They then need to take that information and turn it into action by creating and testing plans for improvement.
Sales visibility gives your team the insights they need to do all these things. And once properly set up, CRM makes day-to-day sales pipeline visibility almost effortless.
Of course, that set up is not effortless. CRM implementation takes time, training, and resources to succeed. But once you have your system up and running, your ability to track sales metrics through your pipeline improves dramatically.
In previous sales visibility posts, I recommended you track at least five of those core sales metrics:
- Quantity: How many opportunities are in the sales pipeline? How many are at each stage?
- Size: How large is each opportunity? What is the average opportunity size? What is the average qualified opportunity size?
- Velocity: How quickly do opportunities progress through each stage? Do they tend to stall at some stages, or move quickly through others?
- Quality: How many opportunities offer enough value to offset the time and money that would need to be invested in that opportunity? (Translation: Is the juice worth the squeeze?)
- Close rate: What percentage of active opportunities close each evaluation/bonus period?
I argued that the more easily, clearly, and quickly your team can see these metrics, the better information they will have, and the more they can do with that information.
CRM done right tracks all these metrics for you. As long as you have a robust, well-implemented system, and your team is entering their activities into that system reliably, your team has access not only to these numbers, but to built-in visualization and analytical tools that help them understand what the numbers are telling them.
CRM helps you learn more from your sales pipeline with less effort from your sales team
Once your CRM is tracking everything from leads to wins as they move through your pipeline, your team can more easily find patterns in your sales numbers. These patterns can help your team forecast sales more accurately, budget time more effectively, and make improvements to shore up weak spots in your pipeline.
For example, if you limit your view in CRM to opportunities that have stalled out, your first question might be, “Where do our opportunities stall?” If you see stages where your missed opportunities tend to cluster, then it’s time to do a deep dive into those stages. Is there something that is negatively impacting lead nurturing at or before those stages? Are those factors part of your process or otherwise under your control? Can you identify ways to overcome the obstacles you find?
Worst case, your team will know the warning signs of an opportunity that is less likely to close and can focus their efforts on higher value activities. Best case, your team will find ways to turn some of those dead ends into more consistent wins.
But best of all, with CRM, your team can create and run these reports in a fraction of the time it would take to calculate and build them manually. After all, the more time your sales team spends creating and analyzing reports on their sales pipeline, the less time they’ll spend actually selling!
CRM makes sales reports and pipeline analysis simple. As long as your team keeps good data flowing into CRM, they can use CRM to analyze, visualize, and report on that data quickly and easily.
Finding the right CRM is about finding a system that fits your process
CRM done right can transform your business, but we know what often happens when CRM is done wrong, or when a company chooses the wrong system for their needs. You do not want to force a square peg through a round hole when it comes to CRM!
Good data into CRM improves sales visibility by making a ton of information, visualization, and analysis available to your team. But the more onerous the process, the more likely salespeople will resist or ignore it, and the less likely you’ll get the information you need. And the less information you get, the less likely you are to see the full benefits of CRM.
The more compatible your CRM system is with your sales processes, the more and better you can automate your data collection and analysis. Automation is one of the biggest benefits of CRM. Done right, it saves your team tons of time and effort that they can focus elsewhere. But done wrong, it can derail the very processes it was designed to keep on track.
We believe in Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales. We have seen what it has done for the businesses we work with, and we have seen the time, effort, and money that Microsoft has poured into improving everything in Dynamics from UI to AI. But we understand that for some businesses, Dynamics 365 for Sales is not the right fit.
That means when you contact us, we work together to determine whether Dynamics is the right CRM for your needs. If it’s not, we’ll tell you so, and recommend other options that better fit your needs. We’d much rather send you to one of our partners than sell you a solution that doesn’t fit your business.
We also know that without proper process and training, you won’t see the benefits to sales visibility and process that CRM is capable of providing.
That’s why we developed the OnTrack CRM Success System. Our OnTrack system is a structured approach to CRM adoption, training, and implementation that is guaranteed to ensure the short-term success and long-term value of your Dynamics 365 CRM system.
OnTrack is a fixed-price subscription service with a full money-back guarantee. We provide a calendar of activities, step-by-step instructions, videos, workbooks, worksheets, coaching calls, deep-dive sessions, custom add-ons and solutions, and ongoing support, all of which are the product of hundreds of successful CRM implementations over the last ten years.
Every business can benefit from better sales visibility. CRM improves sales visibility while minimizing the burden on your sales team.
Are you ready to find out whether Dynamics 365 for Sales is the CRM solution that’s right for you?
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