Mastering Your CRM with a Bucket List

Mastering Your CRM with a Bucket List

by Amy Keuper, VP Sales

You’ve heard of a “bucket list,” that ultimate “to-do” list in life. When it comes to work, most of us have “get organized” and “increase sales” on our corporate task planner. Take a small step today and begin to master the chaos in your CRM system with one simple step: separate your list into buckets.

Sales executives instinctively know that they need to categorize accounts according to their relationship. We know that we want to distinguish between groups of companies and treat them differently. Hence, most organizations store prospects as “leads” and reserve the “accounts” label only for customers. The Salesforce.com Sales app contains by default a “Leads” object which accommodates this desire to separate prospects from clients.

However, utilizing the Leads object within your CRM is not the only way, nor the best way, to classify your various contacts. We at Initial Call are passionate about tracking sales activities with an accounts-based approach. You can read in depth here why a leads-based approach causes problems for the complex sale.

When you have a complex sale, working in Leads and creating an Account only when a company becomes a client limits your view of the sales landscape. “Leads” in most CRM systems are individuals, and closing sales often means coordinating multiple buyers. Working the entire account and all the associated contacts simultaneously is the only way to effectively see the whole picture.

We recommend that you group all the companies in your database into named “buckets” or piles so that you can address each appropriately and see everything comprehensively. For our clients, we solve the categorizing problem by using a field on the Account object to capture the relationship between our client and each of the accounts in their database. Every company is officially an “Account.” We use the Leads object sparingly, primarily to capture web leads or manage unverified data.

The process is simple. For every Account, define the relationship to your organization. You might simply expand the picklist choices in the standard field called “Type” in Salesforce.com. Or you can create a custom picklist field called “Relationship to [Your Company].” Lists vary, but some universal picklist choices are:

Suspect
Prospect
Potential Partner
Partner
Referral Source
Customer
Former Customer
Competitor
Potential Vendor
Vendor
Disqualified Prospect

Labeling all companies according to how they relate to you provides three clear benefits.

  1. Organizing your marketing lists. Think of the possibilities. If a client ceases to use your product or service and you have appropriately coded them as “past client,” then you can easily find this group to target with a “come back to us” campaign. Rather than sending your partners and vendors a sales message, you can craft specialized messages relevant to how you can help and serve each other. It’s wise to track information on your competitors, and by naming them as such, you can store market intelligence while excluding them from receiving your marketing communications.
  2. Ordering your prospecting efforts. A segregated database helps manage your sales team’s workflow. When you can quickly see the various groups, you can be intentional about spending a planned percentage of time on each type of account. Devote 20% of your time to developing channel partners. Dedicate another 20% of your time to cold-calling and qualifying suspects. Set aside 40% of your time for nurturing prospects. And so on.
  3. Enabling better reporting. With the addition of one simple field, you will multiply your insight. You can see what percentage of all the accounts in your existing universe are customers and how much more of the pie you have potential to win. Measure the effectiveness of campaigns by examining how many of your prospects opened your newsletter relative to how many of your clients did. Watch how many accounts are being objectively disqualified and take action to add accounts or modify your offering if you see your prospect pool shrink rather than grow.

Implement this master labeling system to enable tailored marketing, intentional time management, and superior reporting --and cross one thing off your list!

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