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Why are salespeople so bad at sales admin?

There’s so much great literature available today in books, videos, blogs and LinkedIn posts about sales, sales process, sales methodology, how to prospect, how to handle objections, how to negotiate and close, etc. This information is very useful and we regularly read and review books and articles as a team to ensure we’re all continually developing our skills as salespeople and sales leaders. One area that often gets overlooked, at least in what I’ve read, is sales admin, why it’s so important and why salespeople are generally so bad at it?

Here at Workbooks, we’re in the business of CRM, which to a large extent means the effective collection, storage and retrieval of customer related data, in this case, sales data. Who are my prospects? who’s visiting our website and what are they looking at? how many people at an organization are we in contact with? what opportunities do I have? how are they progressing? you get the idea right?

As sales leaders, we’re keenly aware of the value that data can provide in making day to day as well as longer-term strategic decisions. There are many, many sales KPI’s that organizations track such as, what marketing campaigns are working vs. which are not, what are our conversion rates, are the team all performing and if not why not, do we have enough opportunities in our pipeline, is our close rate improving, etc. With a good CRM platform, you can answer all of these questions but only if you have the data.

I often hear things like, well salespeople are just lazy, or salespeople are just terrible at admin or you can never get a salesperson to fill out the CRM. Whilst that may be true with some individuals it’s definitely not true as a generalization. Salespeople like anyone else want to know that whatever they do day to day is worthwhile and adding value. Salespeople have many things to do in their day and tend to focus on the things they believe will deliver the best results. These include prospecting activities, discovery calls, sales meetings, presentations and demonstrations, answering RFP’s and RFQ’s, sending quotes and proposals, navigating the multiple stakeholders and decision makers in an opportunity, reviewing lengthy legal contracts, negotiating deals, scoping projects and many more. A good CRM implementation can help salespeople stay organized and on top of these things but only if they have a reason to use it effectively.

So how can you ensure salespeople become good at sales admin? In our experience, this is typically down to two things. Firstly, you need to establish the why, that is, to have a clear view of your sales process and the sales metrics you want to get from your CRM platform. You can always change these as the business expands or diversifies but having these clear from the start makes it easy to articulate what’s working and what’s not within the sales teams and the wider leadership. It also shows salespeople how much value the business holds with this data and that it’s not going to be a waste of their time updating all their current leads and opportunities.

To really solidify the ‘why’ message within the sales team and the leadership team you have to make sure you use your CRM platform in every sales meeting, deal review, project handover, QBR and any other customer data related meetings you have in the organisation. Don’t let anyone get into the habit of presenting with slides and spreadsheets, instead always use the views, reports and dashboards coming from your CRM platform. Everything you want to understand and review should be driven from CRM. In addition to the clear value this will deliver to the organization by having this level of visibility and transparency, it’s very simple to identify any lack of sales admin when it happens, which can then be addressed through training and sales management. By taking this approach everyone clearly sees the value of sales admin across the business and means it’s far more likely to be done and done properly.