I know, I’ve been writing a lot about politics lately.  I can’t help it.  The parallels to sales organizations and accountability are just too ripe to resist.  This week, lets look at Iran, and your CRM.

I recently met with a prospective client for my consulting services.  Like many who meet with me, he wanted to improve sales effectiveness in his organization with a group training and some follow up coaching.  I asked him how his salespeople were keeping track of their opportunities.  He told me that they all have “their own systems”.  I asked him how he keeps track of sales opportunities across the organization.  His answer was related to revenue at the end of each quarter rather than the paths his people were taking to get there.

In other words, there was no consistent information across the organization about how the salespeople were approaching and attempting to convert opportunities.

Meanwhile, in the same week I met with the above mentioned client, the third week of February, 2012, Iran was hosting a team of inspectors from the IAEA, (The International Atomic Energy Agency – the UN nuclear “watchdog”).  The purpose of the inspections was to verify that Iran was – as claimed – building nuclear capacities only for peaceful purposes rather than for the development of a nuclear weapons capacity.  On Tuesday, the inspection team was denied access to a military facility.  Sounds a lot like another similar story from that neighborhood not so long ago – and that story didn’t play out so well!  Here is a link to an article on BBC for those who may want more details:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17122738

The situations are completely parallel.  In both cases, “management” is unable to get data on activities.  Without data on activities, it is hard to know what is really going on.  Instead of data, management then needs to rely on stories.  The stories may or may not be true, or accurate, but stories are always easier to assess with some data behind them.  In both the sales organization of my prospective client, and in Iran, there is nothing to go by except for stories.

What my client needs – among other things – is some kind of CRM.  I tend to be agnostic about CRM systems – a well organized system of sticky notes is better than nothing – the point is that the system should allow the salespeople to track their opportunities and for management to get some insight from the data that naturally flows out of that tracking activity (by the way, there are many possibilities that are MUCH more efficient than sticky notes!).  The point is that managers should manage sales activity – the process of getting there.  Otherwise, the end of the month, quarter or year will bring a surprise.  Maybe a good one, maybe a bad one, but an outcome that is not predictable based on the analysis of data is – pretty much by definition – a surprise.

As for Iran, well, the same thing applies.  In this case however, the potential surprise could be pretty ugly.

****************************************************

Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David