From Pipeline to Profit: Strategies for Sales Leaders
In this webinar, we teamed up with SugarCRM to explore effective strategies for cracking the code on complex B2B sales processes.
The best salespeople are always learning and adapting, so seize this chance to join like-minded professionals and become unstoppable in today's competitive market.
Watch back and discover easily implemented strategies to lead your sales team to success.
Webinar topic detail
🔍 How to identify high-value opportunities and improve pipeline management
🤓 Tips and tricks to improve user adoption rates
📊 Managing productivity and performance
🤝 Leverage CRM systems to enhance communication and collaboration across sales teams and other departments
🚀 Boost prospect engagement and build stronger customer relationships with the help of CRM tool
Joe Ducarreaux: How are you doing today, Christian?
Christian Wettre: Doing great Joe. Thank you very much for inviting me. This will be a fun session.
Joe Ducarreaux: Absolutely. No, it’s my pleasure. So, let’s get straight into it, why don’t we? How can CRM systems help sales teams better identify and target high value opportunities?
Christian Wettre: I think one of the values a CRM system can bring to that process is by really enforcing a little bit of discipline. Making sure that the whole sales team follows a process. Make sure you follow a playbook that you’re checking the important qualification criteria. That helps you identify. Is this a serious prospect? How big is the opportunity? I know that for instance, in our own sales organization, we use Lead Forensics. We’re a customer and it’s always a lot better when the salesperson comes back to me and says, “Look, there’s so many people from this organization checking us out”. “ There’s more than one person involved in the buying process”. And when that happens and you get confirmation from a tool like Lead Forensics, you know there’s probably a higher value opportunity than if it’s just a single person kind of kicking the tyres.
Joe Ducarreaux: That’s fantastic. I’m so pleased that Lead Forensics is working out for you okay Christian, that’s fantastic. So then in what ways can CRM systems improve sales, pipeline management and close rates.
Christian Wettre: So that’s kind of a maturity of organization type of process. The more mature the organization is, the more they have refined their KPIs and their processes. The sign of a really mature organization is an organization that’s aware of their KPIs and are continuously working to improve the process to make it better. So having a tool, having a CRM tool that has sufficient analytical capability to help the sales leader and the salespersons themselves, who is a leader of themselves, understand how they’re doing in the process and the team getting together to continuously tweak it. That is where CRM can work with sales leadership to just make things better all the time.
Joe Ducarreaux: I think that probably ties into my next question for you, Christian then. So how can a sales leader use a CRM system to track team performance and identify those areas for improvement that you mentioned?
Christian Wettre: Yeah, exactly. The leading question. So here at Sugar, we like to think of ourselves as a time aware CRM and then where we apply that is largely in the KPIs. So having KPIs that are tracked over time. So exactly to the point of that question, a sales leader can see how the KPIs are doing over time. How are your win rates improving, month over month, quarter over quarter? How are your conversion rates between sales stages improving quarter over quarter, team over team. Having that basis of tracking it over time is how the sales leader can say and share with their team, “you know what, we did, we did better this quarter” or “we did worse this quarter” and it’s a critical capability.
Joe Ducarreaux: So then what are the other features that a sales team should look for when selecting a CRM system to support their sales process? You mentioned that Sugar is time aware. What are the other features that you should be looking for when picking a CRM system?
Christian Wettre: I think you should think of a CRM system not as a commodity, but something that can be adopted to your sales culture. If you’ve been around for a little while and you’ve had some success, it’s probably because of a reason. Something in your culture, something in your processes, something in the way you treat your customers, something about the way you sell and allow your customers to buy. So you want to make sure you have a CRM system that can fit kind of like a glove to your process, can adopt your identity so you don’t have to compromise on any things that’s given you a competitive advantage in the marketplace over time. So making sure that the CRM system is configurable enough to fit you, rather than having to adopt too much to fit how the CRM system works, lets you retain that identity.
Joe Ducarreaux: Yeah. I think we’ve all been victim of a new system coming in and we’re all just like, “oh, I’m not really sure how this is going to work”. So ironing out those creases is important, you say?
Christian Wettre: Yeah, exactly. I usually sometimes refer to that shift as the sales team goes through a valley of despair when they’re switching a CRM system and the changes are too great. Then they’re depressed for a while as they slowly build up that system to work the way they want it to work. So the more you face that in the selection of the CRM and the implementation of the CRM to make sure that shift to the identity and your processes are there from the beginning, the shallower that valley of despair will become. And the quicker the ramp up to that improved productivity, which was the reason you bought the CRM system in the first place.
Joe Ducarreaux: It’s a very poetic way that you’ve put that Christian, the valley of despair there. Yeah. It’s strange, isn’t it, because change is a constant of life, but people seem very reticent to actually lean into those changes. So I guess that your decision on a CRM system has to reflect that, doesn’t it?
Christian Wettre: Yeah, facing it up front so that you know that there’s going to be that pain and preparing for it, to make it as least painful as possible.
Joe Ducarreaux: Absolutely. So then, how can you, how could you use a CRM system to improve communication and collaboration across sales teams and then other departments?
Christian Wettre: Yeah, so at Sugar we pride ourselves on having a full customer experience platform. So that means that we have a single platform that ties from marketing to sales and also to service. So basically everybody in the organization can be recruited to service and sell and make a customer happy by being on a single platform. That makes a difference because you then have the ability to take those KPIs we talked about earlier and use them across the organization. Kind of have a common definition of what the KPIs means. It means something understandable from marketing to sales, to service as you’re basically managing the same KPIs. Most CRM systems, including sugar, have concepts such as workflow and business process management. We can automate processes. When you have the CRM system deployed across marketing, sales, and service, you have the opportunity to take those business processes and run them across departments. So it kind of helps you mind the gap, right? It helps you mind the gap between departments and lets there be a little bit of a seamless handover from say, marketing to sales or from service to sales. Where you’re tracking that things ended up in the right place and that the SLAs and timeframes where you’re trying to perform service are being met.
Joe Ducarreaux: So what would you say are the biggest mistakes that a sales team could make when picking a CRM system? What are the big flaws in picking the wrong one?
Christian Wettre: Making assumptions that say, for instance, assumptions that everything is going to go well, that there’s not going to be any valley of despair. Not planning for user adoption from the beginning. Sometimes people get too eager about planning for all the technical challenges, the integration challenges, which there’s many and you should plan for. But, as early as you start the project for technical planning, you should also start planning for user adoption. User adoption is not just training. it’s user engagement. Making sure you have stakeholders, making sure you’ve set up proper governance during the process and after the implementation. That you have support mechanisms and listening posts set out in the field so that you can take feedback and that the users understand that you’re actually listening and recording the requests and possibly complaints that you’re getting. That you have a plan of actually doing something about it and that process goes on for a long time after that initial implementation. So making a plan to cover all that early on, generating excitement about the project for the stakeholders, telling them what’s coming, engaging them, making sure they know they have stakeholder representatives involved in the process. Basically selling it internally that this is something good, it’s coming, it’s a matter of time.
Joe Ducarreaux: Absolutely. Just keeping them happy and at the same time say, look, we’re going to be able to do such and such with these different CRM systems. Let’s say you’ve got a smaller organization with smaller teams. What are some of the more important metrics to track via the CRM in that situation?
Christian Wettre: So I like to track customer engagement and prospect engagement. Therefore, even in small teams, it’s important to think about marketing as a part of customer engagement and learn how sales and marketing work together. To measure engagement, to see that existing customers are engaged in listening and engaging with our communication and that prospects and opportunities are getting assistance from the marketing team and engaging with some of that. That’s very much measured in a tool like Lead Forensics where you know very specifically who is coming back to your website and who’s consuming your content. And getting that validation that those organizations are receiving the information you think they’re receiving, that they’re consuming it and engaging and maybe digging further into the other information you have available.
Joe Ducarreaux: This is wonderful Christian, you’re becoming quite the spokesperson for Lead Forensics here. We really appreciate that.
Christian Wettre: We’re big fans. I get excited emails and Slack messages from our sales team on a weekly basis with some kind of triumph of how they validated something with Lead Forensics. So we’re fans.
Joe Ducarreaux: Oh that’s smashing news. I’m a fan too, as well, by the way, just in case our CEO is watching. So you did touch on adoption of a new CRM system. What strategies can sales teams use to ensure a successful adoption of a new CRM system?
Christian Wettre: It comes down to communication. So it comes down to communication from the beginning. Having almost a newsletter, if you have an implementation team getting a regular cadence of communication… weekly, monthly, depending how long the implementation is. Basically where are we, what’s coming, where are we in the process so people feel included and when you’re getting close to implementation, there’s no surprises. People understand that this has been a thorough process, they’ve been listened to, everybody’s been engaged, people have been thinking through this carefully. They have had an opportunity to participate if they wanted to and provide their feedback. That everybody has some ownership in the process is critical. You want everybody to have a little bit of skin in the game so that when that valley of despair, as we so poetically put it, materializes that nobody feels like a victim. Nobody feels like a victim, that they’ve been a part of the process, they realize that they have some responsibility as well to learn about the system and to communicate the good, the bad, and the ugly to the rest of the team and be a part of it.
Joe Ducarreaux: So it’s about transparency, but also giving some responsibilities is what you’re saying?
Christian Wettre: Yeah. Transparency and really respect for the organization where you’re implementing CRM by including them. Not working in a silo, not working quietly off somewhere and then saying, we’re ready! But including them. That is a respectful treatment of the rest of the organization.
Joe Ducarreaux: And then how important is it to keep that channel of communication open once the system’s been implemented?
Christian Wettre: Usually what people do is they have specific escalation paths for how to receive feedback, how is it supported. If it’s support, then who are the escalation specialists that go to this and help your users. That your users know that that team is there, that they’re trained, that they’re specialists and knowledgeable and can help you. But also when there’s suggestions, when there’s suggestions or complaints, that there’s a process for retrieving those, for understanding those, for people to know that this is where they go, this is the team that’s going to prioritize them. Most people can accept that not all fixes are going to happen immediately but if people understand that the request for fixes are being recorded somewhere, that they’re being prioritized by somebody, that they’re being put into a plan where, if not tomorrow at least in a reasonable timeframe, they’re going to be addressed. Or if they’re not going to be addressed, it’s being explained to you that we’ve chosen not to do this because of this or that reason. That is engaging and again, respectful of your constituency.
Joe Ducarreaux: Allowing them to recognize they are being listened to. Yeah, absolutely. One of the regular viewers to the Essential B2B and the B2B Sales Playbook webinars and podcasts will recognize that our sort of motto has become people buy from people. To that end sales is all about building relationships with your customers. How can CRM systems be used to enhance prospect engagement and then build stronger relationships with customers.
Christian Wettre: When we engage in the sales process, we like to have an agreement, a contract with our customer or a prospect before they actually buy. We call it a sales plan, a mutual sales plan. Where we take somebody in good faith they’re looking to purchase a CRM system, they may or may not purchase it from us, for instance or your customers might not purchase from you. But they come to you presumably not to waste anybody’s time. They’re looking to purchase something, they’re looking to identify a product that could help them. If so, let’s make a plan to make that happen together. Let’s be systematic about it. Let’s identify what’s your process, what’s our process. Put some dates and some milestones on paper in a collaborative document and then work together to make sure we’ve checked all the boxes, make sure everybody gets a chance to do their due diligence…. from the buyer’s side, from the seller’s side…. and we openly and transparently communicate and hold each other as responsible. That sets up for a productive and honest relationship from the beginning.
Joe Ducarreaux: 100%. So you mentioned having a sales plan. What are some of the best practices for using CRM data to inform sales forecasting and those plans?
Christian Wettre: So I’ll speak about our product and we’re not the only ones who have these features. But, checklists are important. Whether you’re, whether you’re a pilot taking a plane up into the sky. They have a checklist of, you know, is the engine working or the flaps working? Those checklists are important in the CRM process as well. So here at Sugar we have something called Sugar Automate, where we can create playbooks. Playbooks are used in the pursuit of new sales opportunities. They’re used for resolution of cases. They’re used for a resolution of qualification of leads. Basically you design a best practice playbook where you make sure you have the checks and balances built into the playbook. That’s useful because one, even the most experienced salesperson or service person or marketer in their rush to do something could possibly skip a step. And we know that, for instance, if you’re a surgeon and you’re about to operate on somebody and you skip the step of sterilizing your scalpels, it’ll be a bad result in a couple of weeks. So having checkbooks and an automated playbook that takes both experienced users and new users through a hard one proven methodology on how to do things right, that produces the right results, for both the customer and for the seller. That’s a powerful capability. So you want to look for that in your CRM system. A good, solid, flexible playbook functionality.
Joe Ducarreaux: Well, absolutely. I’m no stranger to trying to create playbooks about all aspects of sales, myself there Christian. So I completely support that. How can sales leaders leverage CRM systems to drive team motivation and accountability?
Christian Wettre: So, a little competition never hurts. So, having clearly defined what the metrics are, having clearly defined goals where you can take your KPIs and metrics and compare them to goals. Then share that in the CRM system, sharing it on dashboards, sharing it on reports, talking about it in meetings. Basically saying, Hey, here’s what we’re all as a team and individual striving for. This is what will get us to our quotas and to our targets and to our budgets. And being clear about that and then continuously comparing what your actual results are over time to those budgets and transparently publishing them. I think, especially in sales, most salespeople are competitive. Most people are somewhat competitive, if quietly or loudly. Being able to go back and refer to dashboards and see where you stand in the team….. I think nobody wants to be at the bottom, to be on the bottom of a list. Whether you’re in sales or service or accounting, nobody wants to be on the bottom of a list. And most people will have some pride or ownership in their job function and without overdoing it and turning something into a sweatshop or anything like that, I think a little bit of competition always helps in driving a process forward.
Joe Ducarreaux: Absolutely. It’s the gamification of it, isn’t it? I suppose to encourage people to do the best they can to their ability, Christian, I’m going to come to you for one final thought on CRM systems, if that’s okay. What is in your mind, the most important aspects when considering CRM Systems? What’s the most important golden rule that everybody should take away from this conversation we’ve had today?
Christian Wettre: I think it’s the ability to understand your own competitive advantage and fully see how that competitive advantage is going to be materialized by the CRM system that you select. You should not become your CRM system. The CRM system should become you. You’ve learned over time what it takes in your specific market for the specific products you sell, for the people that you work with, what it takes to be successful and you can’t compromise on that. That’s got you where you are now and most likely is the best path for catapulting you onwards and the CRM system should just strengthen that, not force you to change in any way to adopt that CRM system.
Joe Ducarreaux: Absolutely and we shall guide you out with the valley of despair. How about that?
Christian Wettre: Quickly! Get out of that valley of despair fast.
Joe Ducarreaux: Fantastic stuff. Christian Wettre, thank you so much for joining me for this webinar. Thanks very much.
Christian Wettre: Thanks, Joe.
Joe Ducarreaux: Well there we go! Christian Wettre on the pipeline problems playbook. Our key takeaways:
Choose a CRM system that can be adopted to your sales team’s culture and processes.
Ensure that the CRM system can retain your sales team’s identity and competitive advantage.
Incorporate checklists and automate playbooks into your sales process to utilise CRM system data for sales forecasting and planning.
Customise the automated playbooks to include specific tasks and activities that must be completed before a deal can progress to the next stage in the sales pipeline.
Analyse the success rates of individual tasks and activities within the playbook to identify which tactics are most effective and adjust your sales strategies accordingly.
Thanks to Christian for joining me and thank you for listening. Remember to subscribe to the B2B Sales Playbook podcasts wherever you get your podcasts and rate us 5 stars wherever possible. We’ll be back next week with another brilliant B2B Sales playbook podcast.
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