Why Your CRM Process is Destroying Your Team s Prospecting and How to Fix It

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1 Proof of Prospecting Why Your CRM Process is Destroying Your Team s Prospecting and How to Fix It When implementing any kind of sales improvement program, most sales organizations understandably focus their efforts and attention on the sales rep. After all, that s who we expect to benefit from our investment in their success. The sales program we want to discuss today is a way to set more initial appointments. Due to the nature of the task of setting initial appointments, we must also focus attention on management: oversight of this program is extraordinarily important. Not necessarily because sales reps don t like the task to set initial appointments (they really don t), rather because this is a business process that can be coursecorrected quickly to improve performance (each week). Only a well-trained and equipped manager can make those course corrections. First-line managers are more critical to success at this component of the sales cycle than any other. They need to be competent at coaching a sales rep to a specific performance level and then to sustain their performance over time. What comprises an appointment-setting program? To properly understand how to manage appointment setting, you must first understand its individual parts. For success in setting initial appointments (cold calling, lead follow-up, referrals, networking, up- selling and cross- selling) three components must come together in the right way Art, Best Practice and Science. Art the skills to generate a conversation with a decision-maker and then to convert that conversation into an appointment. Best Practice the pursuit process where management defines exactly how they want a target to be pursued. This includes the number of calls to make, the frequency of those calls and what to do if the sales rep doesn t connect during those calls. Best Practices also require a decision about whether to leave voice mail messages and/or send s after those messages. Every dial is valuable and Best Practices define how they should be used. Unfortunately, too many managers leave this important piece up to the sales rep. Page 1 of 7

2 Science- the automation that enables sales reps to follow the Best Practice easily and perfectly, keeping them organized and disciplined for consistent activity. This also includes creating automatic performance reports. Unless they address all the components of this business process at once and accurately measure the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the entire process managers do not have the ability to establish benchmarks for performance, to hold sales reps accountable for prospecting activity, and to analyze performance against the benchmarks. A KPI measures the essence of the performance of a critical step in a business process. If the KPI is at an acceptable level, the process is working fine. If not, the process (and perhaps the business) is in trouble. The KPIs of the business process of setting appointments are simple, difficult to capture, and not usable unless credible. They are: 1. Activity How much resource did the sales rep use? These are mostly Dials, but can be s, letters or Canvass calls. Measurement is whether the sales reps hit their dials goal. 2. Conversation Ratio How efficiently did the sales rep operate the process? When calling to set appointments, the Rep must first generate a conversation with a decisionmaker AND also have a meaningful dialogue. This sounds simple to record, but is actually the most miscounted metric of the three. The KPI measurement is the ratio of Conversations generated to the numbers of Dials made. A typical range that we see for Contact Science customers doing business-to-business calling is 8% to 18%. 3. Appointments Ratio How effectively did the sales rep achieve the end result? This KPI is a measure of caller skills in converting a conversation into an appointment. The KPI measurement is the ratio of Appointments set to the number of Conversations generated. A typical range that we see with our customers doing business-to-business cold calling is from 15% to 22%. Without accurate KPIs, management is operating on hopium. We hope the folks we hire know how to do this, and we hope we don t spend too much time and money before we determine that they don t. The blind spot in appointment setting Most companies, rightfully, reach out to sales trainers to help their teams become more effective at the communications skills (Art) to reach a decision-maker and to turn that conversation into an appointment. The blind spot in most programs is that telephone prospecting is a business process, not just a skill. Most companies stop at Art. They bring in a sales trainer to increase the skill level of the sales reps but do not do anything to address either Best Practices or automation that enables easy and efficient prospecting. While certainly a requirement for any successful calling program, Art alone is not enough to win big and to win consistently. Damage from the blind spot manifests itself in two ways: Page 2 of 7

3 1. The performance debate goes in an entirely wrong direction. For instance, most managers can cite examples of sales reps that seem to be good closers but fail because they cannot consistently set initial appointments to keep the pipeline filled. Managers often struggle to determine why these reps are not able to set enough appointments, and how to course-correct and save them. Management often has no tools other than the mantra of make more dials. This is pressing the elevator button repeatedly expecting it to arrive faster. 2. Without proper management oversight, return on investment in a new skills training program (Art) is usually short-lived. Every company has an example of performance increases right after skills training for appointment setting. The pipeline fills, but those gains from the training class aren t sustained over time. This is because of a lack of credible metrics. If there is nothing to analyze every week, it is close to impossible to determine who is doing the required work and where folks are struggling. It is also close to impossible to keep folks accountable. Most managers agree that the blind spot is obviously there and probably needs attention. Prospecting is just another business process; it is the one that starts the revenue stream. Managers want to address this process like they do other processes. This is, however, where companies make a critical mistake. They assume their CRM can enable (even optimize) their prospecting process, and nothing could be further from the truth. CRMs are actually counter-productive. CRMs are event capture devices, not process engines. Think about how well your sales rep updates your CRM as an opportunity moves through the pipeline. Typically, getting updates are like pulling teeth. From the sales rep s point of view, CRM does not add value to their day; it is another requirement from management (and for management.) Updating a pipeline is a seemingly simple task. Sales reps, however, view it as I realize now it was the mechanics of prospecting, not prospecting itself, that kept me from making calls. painful and/or an annoyance. They often resist updating their data, or if they do update they do so in a slipshod manner. Case Study: Mastering Call Reluctance One of our customers came to us because prospecting activity levels were extremely low. This sales team was not setting many appointments. Most of the sales reps weren t even making any prospecting calls. There was little effort on the part of most of the sales reps to fill their pipelines with appointments. The sales manager told us that he thought the real issue was call reluctance; his team was afraid of the phone. Most people think of call reluctance as fear of rejection. Interestingly, that was not the issue. We trained the entire team on how to use Klpz, prospecting software that is designed specifically for prospecting activity. At the end of the first week of using Klpz, one of the sales reps said she had an epiphany. She realized she was not afraid of rejection, she did not fear the phone and she did not have call reluctance. This rep simply hated making calls because the entire process was so cumbersome. Finding data, entering data, going from screen to Page 3 of 7

4 screen She felt she was working really hard and having almost nothing to show for it. In her own words: It was the mechanics of prospecting, not prospecting itself that kept me from making calls. This customer found that as the prospecting process became less cumbersome, the prospecting activity of the sales reps increased, as did the number of appointments. What are you are asking a sales rep to do when you ask them to prospect? While the pipeline has 10 to 15 deals to update each week, prospecting can have hundreds of targets under pursuit all at once every week. Do we really think they will enter the data you require, or enter it accurately? History shows that more often than not they will not and do not. Plus, there is evidence that some don t even make the calls. Sadly, management ignores this reality for one, or a combination, of three reasons: 1. They don t understand what they are really asking the sales rep to do. They underestimate, or are oblivious, to how painful this process is when you have to do it with a CRM. Adoption of the process is in direct proportion to the ease of process operation. The chart below quantifies this issue. 2. They ignore (or rationalize away) the impact of poor prospecting on filling the pipeline and sales turnover by positing that prospecting is something a good sales rep is inherently good at and that those that fail are talentless, lazy, or both. 3. They are unwilling (even in the face of incredible Return on Investment) to invest in proper enabling technology because we spent a fortune on our CRM or we need everything in one database. They will accept underperformance in their ideal world over success in the real world. Looking to CRM for a solution creates the two classic problems that managers face. 1. Sales struggles to do the activity. Sales reps generally find using CRM to telephone prospect to be unwieldy, complicated and inefficient. The benchmark below compares specialized prospecting software (Klpz) with CRMs and proves their point. We don t suggest replacing CRM. Use Klpz to feed a CRM with Opportunities. Klpz is custom built software specifically for setting appointments. Here is a comparison between CRMs and Klpz in the physical activity and time needed to prospect 10 targets in a row. Contact Science worked with power users of the above CRMs, watching them execute the pursuit of 10 targets in a row. This is a typical task for sales reps. We used two counters and a stop watch to record: Page 4 of 7

5 When using salesforce.com, the sales rep must click the mouse 260 or more times, in order to navigate 126 screens or more; spending over 48 or more minutes of the day at that task. Using Goldmine, the sales rep must click the mouse 301 times to navigate 151 screens and spend 50 or more minutes of the day at the task. Using Act! the sales rep must click the mouse 312 times to navigate 150 screens and spend 53 or more minutes of the day at the task. By contrast, using Klpz prospecting software, the number of clicks and screens were dramatically reduced to 42 and 11, respectively. But, most important to the sales rep was the sharp reduction in the time it took to do the task less than 20 minutes. Continuing to demand that sales reps use CRM to drive their prospecting is like telling them to rake leaves with a shovel it has a handle and scoops stuff, but it was not designed to do the job and means many more hours of tedious labor to accomplish the task. 2. The metrics are not credible. CRM captures events as entered, so metrics are dependent on accurate data entry by the sales rep. We know sales reps are challenged to keep the pipeline updated, so we should not be surprised if reports on an activity they find painful is incomplete (if not downright, and perhaps deliberately, wrong.) Absent credible metrics it is impossible to tell what a sales team is doing (or not doing) or how they are doing it. It is thus impossible to course correct if a calling campaign is falling short. Case Study: Gathering Credible Metrics One of our customers was an operations executive who did not have a background in sales. His background was process and metrics, so he was very frustrated with the lack of credible prospecting metrics from the CRM they were using. He would often try to coach the sales reps on his team by reviewing reports generated from CRM. His reps would tell him that the reports were not accurate because they forgot to enter some of the data or were planning to enter it later. Because this manager did not know what his team was really doing; he did not know what to do to improve their prospecting performance. He had no way to determine whether his team s shortcomings were process or people related. Contact Science solved this problem for him because the Klpz prospecting software automatically generates reports on prospecting activity and is not reliant on sales reps having to do anything special (like they do to record activity in CRM). There were no more instances of sales reps forgetting to enter data. The manager found that the metrics he needed to analyze his team s performance and to coach them were truly amazing. I never imagined what these simple metrics could tell me about my team and how I can help each rep get better. Amazing! Page 5 of 7

6 Klpz is like having GPS tracking for prospecting activity: the sales manager can simply watch what they do, as they do it. It s a GPS for the sales rep as well as it keeps them organized and on track, no matter how many names they are pursuing at one time. A well-thought plan, a great list and a motivated sales rep can succeed using CRM, however, using CRM for prospecting often results in wasted time and effort and adds no real value to the time a Rep spends calling. Sales reps that succeed at prospecting with CRM are often succeeding despite the CRM. The Solution Shortcomings in any telephone prospecting program can be traced to one of four areas: the list, the Best Practice, the enabling software, or the skills of the caller. Too many companies unfortunately focus on the list and the skills of the caller and ignore the importance of Best Practices and the correct enabling software. The nature of the appointment setting process demands that managers become more involved than perhaps any other part of the sales cycle. Managers are more challenged in this half because prospecting does not have the metrics (that are generally available in the Pipeline) to evaluate the calling program and/or coach the sales rep. Management needs to know: Are my prospecting reports credible? Can I make decisions with this level of accuracy? What, exactly, is going wrong and what are the solutions for my underperformers? Do I have a process issue or a people issue? How do I hold my team accountable? Could I reduce the amount and the cost of my sales turnover by knowing earlier who cannot and will never be able to set initial appointments? How can I get new reps off to a faster start? How can I become a better coach in this phase of the sales cycle? The solution is to create a comprehensive program using the right combination of Art, Best Practice, and Science for your product and market building on the Art (the skills and scripts) you already use. Contact Science provides a program - Proof of Prospecting - to help companies with the four items needed to round out a comprehensive program for setting appointments: 1. The ideal pursuit process (Best Practices.) 2. An enabling tool (Science) that the sales rep will adopt because it adds value to their success at this critical, difficult process. 3. Accurate, automatically generated reports on the three KPIs. 4. Management training to assure adoption of the new appointment setting process, regular analysis of the KPIs, and a set of remedies for either the process or people shortcomings the reports indicate. Page 6 of 7

7 Proof of Prospecting consults with management to design the ideal way to pursue any list of targets a precise Best Practice for success. Next, instructor-led training enables the sales rep to operate the Best Practice quickly and precisely with Klpz software the Science can enable any Best Practice. Proof of Prospecting then trains management how to use credible, timely, and precise KPIs to continuously examine performance (and detect process deficiencies) to coach the team to improved and sustainable results. Proof of Prospecting takes the guesswork out of the three critical KPIs in the prospecting process dials, conversation ratio, and appointments ratio by capturing process mouse clicks and converting them into reports that will help management monitor, measure and manage the appointment setting program. Summary a sustainable solution The primary value of the Proof of Prospecting program is to provide managers with a way to immediately and quickly address the current challenges of setting more appointments. They do this by designing the right business process for their business and using precise KPIs to track performance, to identify problem areas, and to course-correct weekly. The longer term value is to create a prospecting culture that can sustain the gains achieved during implementation and to provide a framework for continued improvement. Case Study: Improving sales Performance A customer whose sales force sells into their local market was struggling to increase their production. By using Contact Science s klpz software program, they were able to create a comprehensive prospecting program that included Art (skills training), Best Practices and the Science that specifically enables prospecting. Doing this allowed them to gain control of their prospecting process which resulted in dramatic 600% increase in appointments set. They were able to move sales performance forward and keep it there. As of this writing they have maintained that 600% increase for the last 12 months. Managers must own the business process they want followed. Once they do, the callers who operate it are much easier to evaluate and to coach. With accurate KPIs, managers can identify and address shortcomings. Without them? Well, you may know already; it may be what you are doing today. If your team must succeed on the telephone, click here to learn how the three steps in the Proof of Prospecting program will result in immediate results. And, take the first step for free. Or, give me a call to discuss your current process and whether Proof of Prospecting program can help you to improve it. Bob Howard Page 7 of 7

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