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Embrace The Details; CRM Best Practices

Karina Schuelke | Director of Digital Strategy

June 10, 2019

Sales is responsible for making deals. That’s what sales teams do.

But in our increasingly complex (and personalized world), it’s becoming harder and harder to empower our teams, manage our pipelines, and ensure we’re closing quality business— all without inadvertently stepping on each other’s toes.

On the surface, it may seem simple: you have a set of requirements (business-level considerations like quotas, the type of business you qualify, and what a Closed/Won deal entails) paired with other types of requirements (such as completing certain fields at specific stages in the sales process or following company specifics for form criteria).

But the devil is in the details.

Here are some examples that, if not thought through, can derail key aspects of your system:

  • Record ownership (leads, contacts, accounts, and more)
  • Lead assignment & routing
  • Importing lead & contact lists
  • Connecting the final closed/won opportunity to the initial inquiry for reporting
  • Process for discount approvals & other internal processes that affect sales cycle time

Let’s look at one specific example in detail—the dropdowns on a picklist field like Lead Source:

It seems straightforward enough: you can make a change to the picklist, in Salesforce, in approximately two minutes (and that’s if you’re moving slow). But even considering a change like this introduces a whole host of ramifications and complexities under the hood.

Maybe you need those dropdowns to map to external dropdowns on a form, flow through your marketing automation system, and ultimately help you slice and dice the data in your BI tool. All of a sudden, the labels on the picklist in Salesforce really matter.

Compounding challenges like these, our increasingly integrated systems means even those details that seem specific to our CRM and our sales process can have far-reaching ramifications. For example, from the list above, ownership questions can affect other technologies like sales enablement tools, data in the CRM will affect the BI tool, and so on.

How can we address all of these considerations and create a system that truly empowers our sales team? The answer is: very carefully & one at a time.

Start with the details that are causing the biggest headaches where:

  • your team is feeling the most pain
  • your acquisition or up-sell process is the leakiest
  • your visibility is the lowest

—whatever it seems like will make the most difference if you tackle that first. (Usually it’s obvious.)

Often, by addressing that first, gnarly issue, other issues will also get fixed along the way.

For example, if you decide to start with your lead routing process, ownership questions will likely crop up and need addressing as a part of that effort. If you decide to start with the process for discount approvals, working through that may bring opportunities to rebuild your opportunity record, making data upkeep easier for your reps and potentially even cleaning your data in the process. Wherever you start, and whatever tangential considerations you address as a result, stay focused on your goal of solving a single, discrete problem.

Don’t allow yourself to be sidetracked.

Simply keep notes of all of the areas you see that need to be addressed and add them to a list for future work.

Addressing these kinds of details is never done. Even once you’ve built a complete system, business needs change. Maybe you need to integrate with a new technology that requires some adjustments in one part of your CRM and your process; maybe your sales team reorganizes and that impacts part of your process; maybe your qualification process changes and that impacts how you’ve laid out your sales path in your CRM. These changes and more will always happen.

It can be overwhelming, especially given myriad small details that may need to change whenever these larger changes happen. But embrace the changes—every change is an opportunity to keep all the nuances that help your team runaligned to the broader company goals as the company adapts to a changing world. Manage change with a process of ongoing improvement. Every time, with every detail, you have a chance to help your sales team function more effectively with a system that rightly serves the team and the organization at-large.

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