Tweak Your Biz » Sales » The Five Essentials of a Sales CRM System

The Five Essentials of a Sales CRM System



Keeping track of your customers – and potential customers – is a must in every sales driven business, yet a surprising number of companies do not have any formal, standardised way for staff to monitor their relationships with customers.

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and it really is an essential for any business that has an involved sales process or that has a team of people working in sales. At a very basic level the purpose of a Sales CRM System is to organise the sales process, improve communications between members of the sales team and managers and free up time for sales.

There are many different methods a company can use for their Sales CRM; you could monitor it all in shared Excel documents, you could sign up to a web based service like SalesForce or use a local software based solution like GoldMine.

Whatever you choose to use there are certain features of the system that you have to have to ensure that you’re capturing all information that will be useful at different stages of the sales process.

#1. Contact details

At the very basic level, you should be centralising and formalising the contact details for all leads. It is vital that members of your sales team are aware of who owns which leads to avoid awkward situations. The last thing you want is for potential customers to be contacted multiple times by different members of your sales team.

Also, if there is a situation where a member of the team is on holiday, has fallen ill or has left the company and you need to make contact with a client, it’s best if there is one single place where you can find all their details.

Take care to make sure you are recording all the information you need in the contact details. I would consider Name, Title, Company, Brand, E-mail Address, Phone Number and Mail Address the minimum amount of information you need.

If you also send out e-mail shots or the like you should also make sure to record whether or not each contact has opted in or out of e-mail newsletter contact – you do not want your company to be accused of spamming potential customers.

Related: Hope Is Not A Strategy Neither A Metric.

#2. Calendar

Having a shared calendar, be it with the whole team or just shared with the sales manager, will allow you and your sales team to keep track of where they need to be and when.

Your Sales CRM System is an ideal place for this so that it can be integrated with the sales process. Team members should be able to quickly and easily schedule follow up calls, meetings or proposal / project live deadlines.

Dedicated CRM systems will allow you to tie a calendar into a To Do list, enable users to send notifications if other team members are required at meetings and sometimes attach documents to calendar entries.

#3. To Do List

A Sales CRM System should also enable the user to prioritise their work load. To Do lists are the kind of thing that can get out of hand but, because it’s just too easy to forgot everything you need to do, they too are an essential.

There are different ways to work a To Do list, some people try to clear them every day, others use them as reminders for less important tasks that might be forgotten otherwise. What you can be sure of though is that there should always be something To Do in Sales.

#4. Call log

As many sales people will know, when you’re making calls to generate sales, you have to make A LOT of calls. I’d estimate that back when I worked in Sales I probably got one or two meetings for every ten calls and (obviously) not all of those meetings would lead to a sale.

If your sales team members spend a lot of time making cold calls, they need a way of keeping track of whom they’ve contacted. Again, this information should be contained in your Sales CRM.

Not only will it be useful to team members, it will allow a sales manager to see what kind of volume of leads the sales team are getting through. If calls are not leading to meetings, or meetings are not leading to sales, then there may be a requirement for staff training or to get an outside company to generate leads and allow sales people to focus on closing.

Related: If We’re Not Selling When Making Cold Calls, Why Are We Making Them?

#5. Call notes

This goes hand in hand with the call log. With high volumes of calls it can be very difficult for sales team members to recall off hand what was discussed on a specific call or at a particular meeting.

Similarly it can be time consuming for a manager to have to chase sales team members for reports. In turn it’s often irritating for a sales person to be asked about details for every call and meeting they go to.

The ability for a sales person to attach notes to a call significantly cuts down on time wasting at this stage of the process. With call notes as part of a CRM members of the Sales team can easily and quickly look up what was said the last time they spoke to a client. This will prove extremely useful if the client makes contact unexpectedly or if a sales person is out on a call and a manager wants to look up what stage a potential sale is at.

These are the very basics of what you need to have to run a functioning CRM System for your sales team. There are many other services and features that can be added and integrated to further streamline your sales process. One particular aspect that should not be ignored is Reporting. However, I thought I’d save them up for a later article, no need to over-complicate the basics!

In the meantime, you tell me. Do you have a Sales CRM system implemented in your company and if so, what would YOU consider the essentials?

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Image: “customer relation management symbol” / Shutterstock.com




The Author:

Nicola Timmins is the Social Media and Research Manager in Grafton Media. She has worked in advertising and research across TV and cinema for over 8 years. She also brings years of personal experience with social media and content creation, having run her own multi award-nominated website - Average Film Reviews.

Add Your Comment

  • http://www.sianphillips.ie/ Sian Phillips

    Welcome to TweakYourBiz Nicola and a brilliant first post.

    I remember working in an open office with some great sales people and they used a customised CRM system (although in those old days I’m not sure there was a name for it) and it was brilliant for the whole sales team – plus me when I was doing the accounts.

    The call logs were especially useful as perhaps that customer hadn’t been spoken to in a few months but they liked the fact that the sales person remembered something happening then – birthday or whatever. It built up the rapport and created a great connection which I believe was key to the sales team being so good.

    I’m looking forward to reading more posts from you on TweakYourBiz.

  • http://www.bloggertone.com Niall Devitt

    Hi Nicola & welcome to TYB & great first post. I think a lot of companies/sales departments misunderstand what CRM is supposed to do/how it helps. Looks like Grafton has it figured out though! :)

  • Erin Mc Cann

    Great piece on Sales CRM, Nicola. I am Product Manager for Sage CRM in Ireland so have had the opportunity to engage with different companies, ranging from small start up companies to large businesses, discussing how a customer relationship management software can help drive more revenue while delivering an extraordinary customer experience with every customer touch point from sales, marketing and customer support.
    The one piece of advice I would give to every customer, no matter how small or big their buisness is, adapt and mould your chosen CRM system into your buisness strategy/plan. Do not adapt or change your strategy and objectives to fit within your CRM system. A CRM solution should be flexible enough to work with your goals and objectives. If its not, time to consider a different solution.
    Last piece of advice, try before you buy. Don’t commit to any software until you have “played” around with it. Most vendors offer a 30 day, no obligation free trial.