Ask Colleen

Dear Colleen, question-logo2

We are a small company with only a couple sales reps. Do we need to invest in a database or CRM? They seem big, expensive and I am not convinced anyone will use it!
– Meghann in Naples, Florida.

Hi Meghann,

Your business and your sales team can not be successful if you are not organized. Being organized does not mean having a spotless sanitized desk with a pen in every color to match your color coded file system. Nope. Being organized means having one place, one contact management system that you use everyday to manage all client files, your complete calendar, every task, and all information you need to prepare for each sales call.

There are a variety of systems you can use. Choose one that meets your business needs. I will not tell you what to buy. I will tell you that spreadsheets, databases and email systems are worthless systems to manage your sales opportunities. They do not allow you to manage key aspects of your business such as, scheduled follow up calls, your calendar, multiple account contacts, and your sales opportunity funnel, in one place.

I recommend a true sales force automation system such as (for example) Act!, Salesforce, SugarCRM, Maximizer, Pivotal, SalesLogix, GoldMine, Infusion (the one we use) or Oncontact, because they become your sales dashboard. A well used contact management system, organizes your day and your calls, while allowing you a complete view on all tasks required to close a sale. Please note that I am not endorsing any of these systems above. They were the only ones that I could think of off the top of my head….

A well implemented CRM is NOT an administration tool, it is a sales tool. If used properly it will help you sell more, in less time, and with less stress! Your objective is to get into the habit of using it everyday, for everything. The best sales people I know use their contact management systems to track, at a minimum:

1) Customer contact details for multiple account contacts
2) Personal and professional milestone dates such as birthdays and company anniversaries
3) Sales funnel opportunities such as how much a prospect will buy and when
4) Status of the prospect in the sales cycles, probability of close, and by when
5) Scheduled meetings, calls, and follow up tasks
6) Notes of past calls and actions
7) Links of emails sent

In short, every correspondence to or from a customer goes into the contact manager. Using it this way allows a top performer to empty their mind of data clutter, and forever eliminates the “…I have a funny feeling I have to do something today but I can’t remember what…” problem we inevitable get when we are busy, and disorganized.

With their mind freed up from “customer information clutter” the top 10% can focus their attention completely on the task they are working on at the moment, usually prospecting, presenting and closing without fear of missing another important task..

You can’t be expected to commit every sales activity to memory. This is a sure recipe for failure and the reason why sales reps forget calls, are late sending proposals or routinely repeat the same questions to clients in successive meetings.

Get and start using a contact management system today. If you have one in place, make sure you are using it to its full capability.

Good luck! Colleen