Sales leaders need to know their team has enough of the right opportunities to reach their goals. They also need visibility into individual opportunities, especially the high-value deals. For their part, the sales force generally believes the CRM is Big Brother, a way to micromanage them. But what if there were a way to make the CRM a strategic advantage in creating and winning new opportunities? What follows here is a list of changes you can make to your CRM to accomplish this. None of these changes are difficult, but they create a strategic advantage. Let's get started.
Tracking and Targeting Your Competition
You know how you have all those records of prospective clients in your CRM? If I were to ask you which of your competitors has a contract with a particular company, would you be able to access that information? I don’t want you to obsess over your competition. If some of their tactics include undercutting your price or speaking badly about your company, you can’t do anything about that, but it can be valuable to understand who else is on the playing field.
Build a pick list that allows the salesperson to simply add the competitor to the client record. Include all the competitors you compete against. By tracking your competition on the client record, you can generate a report that shows all the records in your CRM that are currently held by each competitor. This will give you a better understanding of the market share each competitor has in your territory.
By knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, you can create campaigns to speak to the areas where they are weak, and the things they do or don't do that cause them to lose business. By knowing how you beat these competitors, you can pursue a strategy to displace them. You can also improve your sales performance against a competitor by knowing how and why they displace you or beat you for deals.
Now we are getting somewhere. With the competitors attached to the client record, you can develop the insights that allow you to level up. When your competitor has certain problems, you can quickly target their clients.
Identifying What Compels Change
There is every reason to track what compels your clients and prospects to change. A simple pick list helps you discern patterns and improve your conversations by making them more relevant. There are two ways you pursue making this information a strategic resource.
One way to track this is to create a field in the opportunity or deal record. By choosing the reasons the client needs to act, you have a better view of what they might need from you and your team. If you routinely have multiple stakeholders with different challenges that compel change, you may want to attribute each to a stakeholder. Otherwise, this information could be of limited value, especially as you are trying to build consensus.
By using contact records to track the issues that compel stakeholders to change, you can design different strategies and talk tracks to address each person’s needs and motivations
For each opportunity, you can combine the records of individual contacts to create a broad explanation of what compels the client to change, while also documenting what each stakeholder may need based on their individual motivations.
Enabling the Consensus Sale
Most contact records aren't very helpful. It's nice to have a person’s phone number and email address on file, but the contact record should be built out to include insights that help salespeople win deals.
I believe it is the salesperson's job to create value for their contacts, so I recommend including in your CRM guidance on how to do this. Several pull-down fields give you space to consider, from a strategic perspective, how to pursue each opportunity and how you are doing with each contact. Include the following information to uncover these insights:
- Compelled to Change: For each contact, use a scale of 0 to 5, with 0 meaning this person is voting for the status quo and 5 indicating that they are highly motivated to change. This gives you some idea about who may support you and who will oppose the change you are trying to make.
- Authority: Use the same scale to document who you believe has the authority to sign a contract and a check. Awareness of who is in a position of authority allows you to ask better questions and recognize who is going to be necessary to winning the client's business.
- Influence: Using a 0-to-5 scale, rate each contact’s level of influence. This is different than their authority. Some people have greater influence than others, and a contact may be able to influence their colleagues even if they are not in an authority role. For example, a person’s subject matter expertise may give them significant influence in a decision, even if their title doesn’t come with authority. A person with little influence isn't likely to help or harm you, but as you move from zero to five, every increase in influence means a person is certain to weigh in on any decision.
- The Perception of Value: My value framework is called Level 4 Value Creation™. The first level of value means you are a commodity. The second level means you provide a good experience. The third level means you can solve the client's problem. The fourth is an indication that you can create strategic-level value.
By tracking what you believe to be each contact's perception of the value you create, you have another factor to help you determine who may or may not find you compelling. The more strategic your conversations, the greater your chance of winning a contact's support. If you’re not sure, ask. Directly asking your contact who is supporting the change and who is defending the status quo can help you understand how to acquire the support you need.
These fields are not standard in any CRM, but the more you develop them the more valuable the database becomes. By using pull-down lists, you can help your sales force document this information quickly. You are also likely to find your salespeople like the CRM a bit more than when it was only Big Brother.
You've already paid for the CRM, and it already contains some data, likely the same data that your competitors have in their CRMs. To make the CRM into a strategic asset, it needs to contain insights that your team can act on in a strategic way. Information is—or could be—a competitive advantage in a contest for a new client or when defending against a competitor poaching your client.