The Impact of CRM and Sales Process: Monetizing the Value of Sales Effectiveness

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1 Call Center/Telesales Effectiveness Insights 2005 State of the Marketplace Review The Impact of CRM and Sales Process: Monetizing the Value of Sales Effectiveness Jim Dickie Partner, CSO Insights Boulder, Colorado Barry Trailer Partner, CSO Insights Corte Madera, California This white paper is provided compliments of:

2 Copyright 2006 CSO Insights All Rights Reserved. Terms and Conditions Printed in the United States of America. Except as permitted under the United States Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be produced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval systems, without the prior written permission of the publisher except in the cases of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For additional information, contact CSO Insights, 4524 Northfield Court, Boulder, CO 80301, Phone: (303) , The reader understands that the information and data used in preparation of this report were as accurate as possible at the time of preparation by the publisher. The publisher assumes no responsibility to update the information or publication. The publisher assumes that the readers will use the information contained in this publication for the purpose of informing themselves on the matters which form the subject of this publication. It is sold with the understanding that neither the authors nor those individuals interviewed are engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal or other expert advice is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The publisher assumes no responsibility for any use to which the purchaser puts this information. All views expressed in this report are those of the individuals interviewed and do not necessarily reflect those of the companies or organizations they may be affiliated with CSO Insights, Insight Technology Group, or Sales Mastery. All trademarks are trademarks of their respective companies. CSO Insights 1

3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY As part of our research report published in the July-August, 2006 issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR), we overviewed how changes in customers buying behavior, increased global competition, continued tight financial markets, higher customer expectations, etc. are forcing many sales organizations to redesign and in some ways reinvent how they sell. The analysis was based on data gathered from 1,275 sales organizations worldwide. In it, we explored ways companies are considering evolving their sales strategies and tactics to better align with and enhance the customer s buying experience. One particular point made was that the integration of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology and a formal sales process appear to be having a significant impact on sales performance. This struck a cord with HBR readers as we received numerous e- mails and calls asking for more insights on our findings in this area. The following white paper explores this topic in more detail. In this analysis, we compare the effectiveness of sales organizations who have implemented a formalized sales process that can be actively tracked and analyzed using CRM applications against those who have not. Compared to their peers, those firms who successfully implemented process and technology to focus and support their sales forces efforts are achieving: An 11.6% improvement in the number of sales reps achieving quota. Double-digit increases in success rates at each major stage of the sell cycle. A 13.5% improvement in win rates of forecasted deals. A reduced turnover rate (nearly 30% lower) in the sales force. We explore the reasons why these performance improvements are occurring and highlight the impact they can have on a company s sales performance. Questions or comments regarding the findings presented in this paper should be directed to Jim Dickie, (303) , or Barry Trailer, (415) , CSO Insights 2

4 INTRODUCTION A clear message received from those sales organizations that took part in our 2006 Sales Performance Optimization study was that sales continues to be more challenging than ever before. Customer expectations continue to rise, competitive pressures continue to mount, the complexity of the products or services being sold continue to expand, and the marketplaces being sold into continue to change. To work through all the issues necessary to get a client to say Yes is requiring sales professionals to be more effective and innovative in guiding the prospect through their buying process. Chief Sales Officers (CSO) focus on meeting this challenge is reflected in their top two goals: 1) increase revenues and 2) increase sales effectiveness. In this regard, sales executives have a number of options they can consider in terms of leveraging people, process, technology, and knowledge to optimize the performance of their sales teams. But which options hold the best promise of a significant return on investment (ROI)? As we cited in the HBR article, an area that shows significant potential for helping sales teams meet or exceed their goals is the effective alignment of process and technology. This is a topic previously explored in a report we published in March, Would our previous observations still hold true when they were held up to the benchmark data gathered in our most recent marketplace survey? As you will see, the consistency of the findings reinforces our earlier conclusions and makes a stronger case for why executives looking to optimize performance should consider this approach to achieve their goals. HOW ORGANIZATIONS SELL To explain the basis we used to conduct our analysis for this white paper, let s briefly review a concept we have written about numerous times. Over the past 14 years, as we have benchmarked how companies sell, we have found that their approach to sales falls into one of four levels.! Level 1: These firms may be perceived as having no process, though what they really lack is a single standard process. They are generally random in their approach to sales with everyone in the sales organization doing their own thing, their own way and often have as many sales processes as sales reps. Being Level 1 does not mean a company is unsuccessful, but it does mean it is unpredictable.! Level 2: These firms rely on an informal sales process, what we call tribal wisdom, which is based on directing the sales force on how to sell going forward based on what was thought to have worked in the past. Salespeople are exposed to these strategies and tactics, but the formality of the implementation stops there. Sales reps may be expected to adopt this sales approach, but its use is neither monitored nor measured. According to our survey results, this describes nearly one-half of all firms. CSO Insights 3

5 ! Level 3: At this level firms have gone down the process adoption path and have a method of selling that is formally defined and more rigorously enforced. Level 3 firms typically do monitor use of the process, but because the review process is often a backward looking view, these firms are susceptible to miscues and missteps in a constantly changing market.! Level 4: Finally, these firms have not only committed to a formal process, but they have systems in place to dynamically monitor and measure the effectiveness of how they are currently selling. This allows them to provide constant feedback on reps effective use of the process and proactively modify it as soon as they detect even minor changes in market conditions. As you can imagine, Level 4 firms are few. However, as you will see in the following comparison, when process is combined with CRM analytics, these firms become formidable competitors. LEVEL 4 PERFORMANCE ANALYSES The initial metric we focused upon when evaluating alternatives for improving sales effectiveness was the percentage of salespeople making quota. Are more reps making plan? Figure 1 shows the comparison of results reported by Level 4 companies taking part in the 2006 study compared to those of Level 1-3 firms. Percentage of Reps Acheiving Quota Comparison 70.0% 65.2% 60.0% 58.4% 50.0% 40.0% Level 4 Firms Figure 1 Level 1-3 Firms CSO Insights 4

6 The differences in these results pass the first test, as any CSO would be interested in having a significantly higher number of the reps in the sales force meet or exceed their plan. But when we see deltas in performance such as those above, we need to explore why these improvements are occurring: Are the reps truly working smarter than their peers or merely harder? To delve into this question, we conducted a comparison of the success rates these companies reported regarding their ability to successfully move prospects through the buying process. Figure 2 contains a table that highlights the percentage of companies which achieved high conversion rates in terms of getting prospects to the next stage in the sell cycle. This is defined as converting more than 50% of qualified leads into an initial customer call, converting more than 50% of those initial calls into presentations, converting more than 25% of those presentations into a sale or closing more than 50% of the prospects who received a proposal. Level 4 Firms Level 1-3 Firms Leads to First Calls > 50% Conversion Rate First Calls to Presentations > 50% Conversion Rate Presentations to Sales > 25% Conversion Rate Proposals to Sales > 50% Conversion Rate 44.4% 34.4% 54.0% 40.3% 28.0% 16.5% 51.1% 36.6% Figure 2 In each instance, the performance of Level 4 organizations is at least 10% higher than that of Level 1-3 firms. These numbers, while impressive, are even more significant when we look at what has been happening to conversion rates over the past few years. In general, we have been witnessing a slow decline in sell cycle conversion success rates. Yet, in Level 4 companies, we see a group that is still able to meet customer expectations well enough to consistently motivate a high percentage of prospects to seriously consider their products or service offerings. This is an issue we have been highlighting to CSOs for years but which is now taking on new urgency. With increases in Internet-based purchasing and the use of reverse auctions on the part of buyers, sales is being taken out of the equation in more buy cycles. Sales need to find ways to ensure that prospects see some value-add for involving a salesperson in their decision making process. A further review of the performance differences between these two groups drives home a hard dollar reason that we need to have higher rep involvement in customer buy cycles. In comparing the win rates (defined as the percentage forecasted deals that ultimately close), we find a significant difference, as seen in Figure 3. CSO Insights 5

7 Outcome of Forecasted Deals Comparison 60.0% 50.0% 55.0% 49.3% 40.0% 30.0% 30.9% 26.3% Level 4 Firms Level 1-3 Firm s 20.0% 18.6% 19.8% 10.0% 0.0% Wins Losses No Decisions Figure 3 Level 4 firms achieve a noticeably higher success rate at closing deals. Of the many things a company can do to improve its sales results, increasing the win rate is one of the most attractive because it is not asking salespeople to go out and uncover more opportunities to close. Instead, it is helping them close more of the opportunities they have already surfaced. The figures show an interesting relationship. While the no decision rates are relatively close, with a slight advantage in favor of Level 4 companies, most of the difference in performance is coming from a lower competitive loss rate in Level 4 firms. Let s look at a quick example. If sales reps carry a $1M quota and each deal closed averages $50K, each rep would need to win 20 deals a year to hit the target. If these reps could improve their win rates of forecasted opportunities from 49.3% to 55% that would equate to approximately two more wins each, or another $100K in gross revenue per rep clearly a meaningful improvement. And it is a significant contributor to profitability since these are deals already identified and pursued. The next question these numbers posed is: Why are Level 4 company reps able to achieve a higher level of success than their Level 1-3 counterparts? To find the answer, we first analyzed the performance metrics regarding how well sales reps performed specific tasks. We looked for deltas in performance of at least 15% in terms of the percentage of sales forces executing selling tasks at above average or excellent levels. CSO Insights 6

8 Above Average Sales Task Execution Comparison Accurately Target Prospects 27% 47% Understand the Buying Process 40% 64% Differentiate Versus Com petition Effectively Crosssell/Up-sell 21% 50% 60% 74% Level 4 Firms Level 1-3 Firms Effectively Introduce New Products 27% 55% Sell Value/Avoid Discounting 30% 73% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Figure 4 Level 4 firms are executing more effectively than their peers at Level 1-3 firms. They are doing a more effective job of determining which opportunities to invest time in pursuing, are more aware of the customer s buying process, are able to more effectively differentiate their solutions for those prospects, and portray the full value of what they are selling. All good things! Another interesting trend to consider is that the payback to Level 4 companies does not just end with more reps meeting their sales goals. During the past two years we have been writing about how sales rep turnover can significantly impact a firm s ability to hit its revenue targets especially if voluntary turnover (defined as a productive rep who chooses to leave the company) starts to rise. As an additional point to consider, we compared the voluntary and involuntary (defined as a non-performing rep being let go) turnover rates for these two groups of sales organizations. As can be seen in the table in Figure 5, there is a noticeable difference in results. Total Voluntary Involuntary Turnover Turnover Turnover Level 4 Firms 29.1% 15.1% 14.8% Level 1-3 Firms 39.2% 21.1% 18.1% Figure 5 CSOs looking for hard dollar justifications for sales effectiveness improvement investments can quickly calculate the impact of one-third lower sales force turnover on revenues. A software firm shared that each time a successful salesperson left the CSO Insights 7

9 company, it experienced a revenue hit of $1.2M for that territory during the course of the next year as a new salesperson was hired, trained, and went through the ramp-up period to become fully productive. Finally, we considered how being a Level 4 company might impact the ROI achieved based on investments already made. Specifically, since many companies have already implemented CRM systems, we were wondering if the benefits they were generating were different. In Figure 6 we overview the comparison of responses to the question, What are the top three benefits you are generating as a result of your CRM system? Benefits of CRM Investment Comparison Improved Communications 59% 63% Increased Revenues Reduced Admin Burden Improved Forecast Accuracy 26% 47% 41% 47% 45% 51% Improved Win Rates Shortened Sell Cycle Improved Best Practices Sharing Increased Margins Shorter Rep Ramp-up Time Improve Order Accuracy 8% 11% 9% 19% 23% 26% 21% 22% 26% 29% 26% 36% 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 70.0% Figure 6 Level 1-3 Firms Level 4 Firms The striking variation between the two groups can be seen in three of the ten items above. Going back to a point we made at the beginning of this white paper, when we asked CSOs to select the top goals they had for this year, number one on the list was Increase Revenues. While all of the above are desirable, when given a choice of only three improvements, CSOs most often opted for more revenues, higher win rates, and higher margins. In each of these areas, Level 4 companies outpace their Level 1-3 peers. GETTING TO LEVEL FOUR The appeal of being a Level 4 company is based on the results these firms are achieving. But if the benefits achieved are so dramatic, why are less than 8% of the firms surveyed operating at this level? In discussions we have had with CSOs of companies who have had problems getting to Level 4, we find at least one of the following five missing from their sales effectiveness initiative. CSO Insights 8

10 ! No Sales Process: A mistake that is easy to make is to confuse a sales methodology with a sales process. A sales methodology is the what of sales: What you need to do is find the economic decision maker, what you need to do is define their problem, what you need to do is differentiate yourself from the competition, what you need to do is create a sense of urgency, etc. While this is useful to know, what the rep wants help with is the how of selling: how do they do all the above? Unless the company is giving them training and support on both the what and the how, it is has not truly implemented a sales process.! No Sales Process Workflow Tracking: A company may have a real sales process, but it will not get to Level 4 unless it actively tracks what is going on in the process. This is more than just setting up a few tabs in the opportunity manager of the CRM system to track each stage of the sell cycle. Instead a company needs to track the detailed process workflow of the deal as it progresses (or falls apart) through the sales funnel. We are now seeing examples where the customer s buying process workflow is also being tracked to better understand how they are navigating the buy cycle.! No Sales Management Analytics: It is one thing to input data into a CRM system and another to get information/insights out. To get to Level 4, the CRM technology leveraged needs to have specific capabilities to allow sales managers to dive deep into the sales funnel and quickly surface why: win rates are rising or dropping; discounting is increasing or decreasing; sell cycles are slowing down or speeding up; channel sales are on the rise or the decline; and more. This means including a sales management dashboard as part of the CRM solution framework to allow executives to mine the insight gold collected as they sell and to provide meaningful feedback to their reps.! No Demand Chain Analytics: The need for insights extends beyond what sales needs to know about how they sell. Marketing also needs visibility into how effectively they are doing their job of demand generation. The ability to track the passing of leads from marketing to the appropriate sales channel allows companies to analyze what happened to those leads after they left marketing: no real interest, no decision, competitive loss, or win. Through this type of analysis a company can finally determine its true ROI on marketing and make the right decisions on which programs to continue, change, and drop.! Best Practices Sharing: The final error we see in sales effectiveness initiatives that keep companies from achieving Level 4 is that the insights gained by sales operations, marketing, and management are kept at headquarters and not shared with those in the field. Level 4 companies ensure that as soon as best practices are discovered, they are quickly shared with telesales, field sales, and channel sales reps, so that the lessons learned by a few can be leveraged by the many. In considering the list, we can assure you that you do not have to tackle these issues alone. The leading edge sales consultants and solution providers are enhancing their offerings to be true sales processes versus just methodologies. In addition, data gathering, analytics, and best practices sharing capabilities are available in the more CSO Insights 9

11 robust CRM applications. You can enlist help in your quest to get to Level 4 if you take the time to find the right partners. CONCLUSION As we have noted over the past two years, the concept of buying is changing, and as it evolves, so too does the concept of selling. While that statement is clear to most executives, how to do it is not. CSOs are bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands, of people promoting their solution to the sales performance challenges faced. This creates another problem. As one executive shared; If I bought every sales effectiveness product that promised me an ROI, we would be out of business in six months. So the path to success is not to buy every solution available, but to find the key few that hold the best promise for solving the problems your organization faces today. With this in mind, the correlation between peak sales performance and the process level at which a company operates suggests that this is an area that many companies should consider when they start a sales effectiveness improvement initiative. There are sufficient numbers of sales organizations that are generating world class results from this approach. We suggest you contact them and get first-hand feedback on what potential this approach may hold for you. If you need guidance in identifying successful Level 4 firms or if you have any questions regarding the findings or observations in this white paper, please feel free to contact us. About CSO Insights CSO Insights is a research firm that specializes in benchmarking how companies are leveraging people, process, technology, and knowledge to optimize the way they market and sell to customers. Over the past 12 years, CSO Insights sales effectiveness survey of over 7,500 sales effectiveness initiatives has become the benchmark for tracking the evolution of how the role of sales is changing, the challenges that are impacting sales performance, and most importantly, what companies are doing to address these issues. For more information on this research go to: Jim Dickie Barry Trailer (303) (415) About RightNow Technologies RightNow (NASDAQ: RNOW) is leading the industry beyond CRM to high-impact Customer Experience Management solutions. More than 1,700 companies around the world turn to RightNow to drive a superior customer experience across the frontlines of their business. As a win-on-service strategy becomes a business imperative, Customer Experience Management solutions have become essential for business success. Founded in 1997, RightNow is headquartered in Bozeman, Montana, with additional offices in North America, Europe and Asia. For further information, please visit RightNow is a registered trademark of RightNow Technologies, Inc. NASDAQ is a registered trademark of the NASDAQ Stock Market. CSO Insights 10

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