Managing Your Sales Funnel – How Does CRM Software Help?
When implemented properly, CRM software should improve your sales funnel and conversion rates.
CRM software is well-known for helping manage the sales funnel. But how exactly does it help your sales team?
Records all customer interactions
With CRM software in place, you immediately have a definitive repository for all customer contact data. A single CRM software solution can replace:
- Individual contact lists and address books maintained by sales staff.
- Separate marketing databases of contacts.
- A support database for dealing with customer service queries and issues.
Instead, one platform becomes the single point for recording all customer contact so that you can get a complete view of their purchase history, needs and upcoming opportunities. The same data can then be subdivided for targeted marketing efforts, or to follow long-term relational data, such as support calls.
In this way, every user of the CRM software is helping to maintain the relationship, paving the way for future sales.
'80% of business leaders believe they do a good job in building customer relationships, while only 8% of their customers agree, according to research from The Whetstone Edge. If your organisation uses more than one system to record and manage your customer touch points, centralised access to customer information will help your employees see the full relationship.'
Provides a logical pipeline to follow
Depending on how your business works, your ideal CRM software solution will be configurable to match your sales pipeline. By keeping accurate records of each customer interaction, particularly upcoming opportunities, it becomes possible to see where any account is in terms of the sales funnel. You can set 'Stages' to track progress, enabling your sales reps to identify where a prospect is in the buying cycle and whether there are any risks. Your sales team will know what they need to do to move each account towards a final sale. Over time it even becomes possible to 'template' the process, making it even easier for sales staff to close deals. Having data displayed in this way ensures a consistent workflow for every sales opportunity.
'The companies that do excel in SPM [sales pipeline management] have seen significant improvement in turning sales-qualified leads into customers in a predictable, well-disciplined manner and achieving revenue generation goals.'
Best Practices in Sales Pipeline Management, Michael Gerard, vice president at IDC
Automates common tasks
The logical extension of template procedures is to automate them. Using the built-in CRM software functions it becomes possible to send automated emails when certain pipeline conditions are met, such as order confirmation or acknowledgements of service requests.
Your marketing department can also take advantage of the marketing automation features to manage email campaigns designed to turn leads into opportunities, and to collect the data generated by such an activity. CRM software can automatically:
- Deliver the emails.
- Collect responses.
- Monitor click-throughs, message opens and other important statistics.
And insert new leads into the start of the sales funnel for progression to sale.
'47% of sales' forecasted pipeline is first generated by marketing in the Best-in-Class companies that use sales and marketing automation.'
Sales and Marketing Alignment, Aberdeen Group
Reporting and forecasting
By carefully monitoring sales activities, it becomes possible to ensure that leads and opportunities are being followed up adequately, and to report on the activities of individual sales team members or the team in general. It then becomes easier for the sales manager to allocate workloads or direct efforts to move more opportunities along the sales funnel.
The CRM software also provides accurate sales and revenue forecasting which can be used by the accounts department to calculate future company income accurately. The more data collected in the CRM software, the more flexible and granular your reports can be.
Remember - CRM software helps with your sales funnel by:
- Making all customer-related data available in one place.
- Helping your sales team see where any opportunity is in the pipeline at any given moment.
- Providing automation capabilities to increase efficiency and speed of business.
- Create reports on any aspect of customer-related activity or data.