If information is the life blood of business, then information collection is the heart that pumps life into every team and geography.
However, the mind-numbing, mundane tasks associated with entering information into a CRM sucks the souls out of business people, especially sales people.
Repetitive, routine work crushes creativity, and sales people just won’t do it. This is a problem that applies to every sales team, and I’ve spent most of my professional life managing sales teams. Communication is especially vital when you have distributed teams because you miss the hallway conversations that help you to understand what is going on and so can’t begin to assist without having accurate, up-to-date information recorded in applications like Salesforce.
Beyond business predictability and forecasting, information helps you to identify opportunities and overcome obstacles. Sure, you’re accountable for providing an accurate forecast if you’re a sales manager. But nobody wants an accurate forecast that predicts you’re going to be 50 percent of quota. You really want to discover new ways to find new opportunities, close more opportunities, generate more demand and drive more revenue.
When I manage sales people, a key way I add value is through “brainstorming” with a set of facts. At IBM, we had regimented processes to collect those facts including a signature sales cycle with well-defined sales stages and countless spreadsheets with pivot tables, and at the end of the day, it was unmanageable and out of date. The reports may have been accurate around the time of the forecast, but they didn’t stay accurate going forward. Keeping accurate, current information was still a challenge even when practices and procedures were in place.
How do we fix this? It is clearly not by demanding more reports. We need to find a way to make it easier and more relevant for the sales executive to capture accurate and up-to-date data. The solution is through empowerment, not top down mandates. Business users and sales executives need to be able to self-author their own wizards, or process automations, to simplify their lives, and thereby benefit the company as a whole.