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Anyone involved in sales knows the devil is very often in the detail. Dozens of small improvements will result in huge overall gains in productivity. With the average sales rep spending less than 40% of their workday interacting with prospective clients, time spent researching leads can benefit massively from the right CRM package.


A coupling of sound business sense and powerful technological solutions can bring considerable gains on efficiency for any sales department, and can also be used to streamline other facets of a company's interaction with both prospective and established customers - for instance marketing and support. An isolated change to the way your company approaches the public at large may not bring undreamed-of rewards, but cumulatively, minor tweaks and refinements of a salesperson's approach can make the difference between the most sophisticated approach someone receives from your a salesman and just another unwanted sales pitch. 1. Ensuring leads are qualified and sales ready - a lot of sales time can be saved chasing up leads that aren't going to bite - at least right now. Pursuing leads will never yield a 100% success rate, so filtering out low quality leads ensures sales energy and drive is centred on those leads more likely to convert to a sale. That calls for a mutually-agreed standard between sales and marketing departments on what exactly qualifies as a lead.



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That's where lead automation can help, with some sort of inhouse scoring system built around your company's knowledge of a prospect. That might mean fine-grained analysis of their visit to your web site - did they visit the pricing page? Did they undertake a thorough process of research on your portal to the world? Or did they check a couple of blog posts then disappear? Lead management processes, designed to maneouvre prospective clients into hot leads, can make a huge difference to sales productivity and morale. 2. Producing quotes can be a bind, and generating sales proposals can be tiresome for sales people. Being able to call up a range of pre-made quote templates from a CRM system will ease the quotation process, and at the same time should refine the quality of your company's proposal. The success of individual tactical approaches can then appraised and the rankings compared, and any insights gained can be used to boost conversion rates and also to identify weak points in your business's overall strategy. 3. Sales staff are human - rejection hurts. And even after a conversion the paperwork can be an inconvenience any salesforce could do without. So at least minimise the grind back at the office by streamlining the workload as best you can. Nobody enjoys pummelling away at the keyboard entering the same data in ten different fields or formats - first in documents, then in your company's CRM system, then in Excel spreadsheets - streamline these processes, liberating more creative selling time. See to it that the bureaucratic side of sales is an efficient as possible. Chirpy staff are the best salespeople anyway.



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And as far as possible, have documentation generated automatically - a lot of time is taken up writing up sales reports, when so much of what is said follows a set formula, and is already in the CRM system. Automated checklists will lighten the load for your sales force, but also mean reports are generated quicker for others involved in the sales process. That in turn means more time to deliberate, cogitate and digest the best way to move forwards. 4. Quality of delivery, i.e. resolving post-sales hiccups, can easily eat into sales time, and as products and services become more complex and involve more business-to-customer time, the problem will only get worse. Many problems will be foreseeable before any deal is struck, so maximal oversight and control of the whole quotation-sale-management process will reap big productivity gains. Many of these processes can be built into CRM systems, or perhaps investigate other related sales tools like configuration management software.



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5. Curating an on-going relationship with clients requires access to relevant data, but if that data is strewn around different departments (sales, finance, customer support), pulling it all together will not only be a chore but may well result in delays to your best-practice schedule for handling prospects. Not to mention that in the meantime, a rich seam of data analysis is going untapped. Centralising customer-facing processes into a company's CRM system will cut the time involved in dealing with customer queries, and at the same time means the info is more readily accessible for proactive use.



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