21 Oct Strong Arm Sales Reps into Documenting Sales History?
If you were to ask any business owner what they would claim as one of their most valuable assets, a large percentage of them would include their customer/prospect data and history. You can burn down the building, you can replace (most) of your people, but there would be a serious problem if you erased all of the client/prospect and sales history in the database. The data from your sales force automation and CRM is the lifeline to the growth of the business.
A serious challenge exists with companies in keeping their sales information fresh and contact history relevant. Whether it’s a cell phone number or notes from a cold call conversation, each little nugget of information can make all the difference between a cold call and a closed deal. So, why then is it such a pain in the neck to convince your team to document and update information in your system? Mainly because it’s not convenient, it’s too much work, and it’s a process that everyone isn’t bought into. Busy and successful reps don’t have time to update notes or keep records current; that’s understandable. But for the sake of your business, it’s vital to have a process in place in order to sustain accurate sales history.
Data has come a long way over the past 5 years. With business models focused solely on sales contact information, it has become far easier to obtain org charts and email addresses of your target audience. At varying price tags, tools like discoverorg, LinkedIn, data.com, ZoomInfo and Hoovers give your team the names of the people they need to target in order to effectively prospect. However, the gap between having an accurate list and accessing past contact history is quite vast. This is where your sales team’s documentation efforts make a huge impact to your business.
From a business owners perspective, a sales documentation process is quite valuable because it will help others transition opportunities should there be any turnover among the sales force. Keeping precise records on sales deals and prospecting will also help keep your team more organized and successful. On the other side of the fence, it’s a time consuming effort which could decrease time allotment to prospecting. It’s beneficial to balance the short term activity with the long term gains by effectively planning your data collection and enforcement strategy. It’s important to remember that in the long run, sustainable accounts and relationships owned by the business (not an individual) are what keep an organization thriving and growing. Prospecting in a way that paints a story in your ATS or CRM is vital to the success of a sales team.
So, the question remains as to whether or not your business forces its hand in requiring all sales information be logged based on a defined sales documentation process. What can you do to make them comply and what’s in it for them? We’ve seen some organizations implement different programs that incentivize sales teams to comply with documenting sales history. Here are a few examples:
- Quarterly bonus based on accurate data. Perform a random audit on information each quarter. No documentation, no bonus.
- Deals are paid based on information documented at each sales stage. Percentage commission is based on documentation behavior.
- Leads and new prospects are assigned based on documented history. If a rep wants to claim an account, but there is no documented history of their activity, the account is up for grabs.
There are other options for changing sales behavior, but a fine line is drawn when forcing the hand of your team to document their efforts. If you examine high performing business development (not account management) teams against those that are lagging, it’s almost certain that the companies that are doing well with prospecting have tight data and well documented history. We often hear prospects tell us that they are looking to open new accounts and increase lead generation. Our follow up question is “How well documented is your sales data?”. The answer is almost always “Pretty bad and outdated”.
Kevin O’Brien is a Co-Founder and Partner at echogravity. Kevin’s credentials include being a top recruiter for a international Big 8 consulting firm, top business development rep for a global consulting and staffing firm, and consulting with over 100 companies across North America.