It’s often been said that sales management isn’t about managing sales, per se, but rather managing the activities and processes that lead to sales. After all, as a sales manager, you can’t control the output, the end product, the deal – you can only control the inputs, all the things your sales reps do that might eventually produce a deal.
Which brings us to the importance of managing Salesforce activities.
After all, your CRM software is the hub of all your sales information – as it should be – with data on everything from individual accounts and opportunities to the activities each of your reps perform on a daily basis. That data has to be rock solid! And that emphasis on data entry and hygiene has to start with you, the sales manager or Sales VP, and be firmly embedded within your reps.
Make Better Data-Driven Decisions with Activity Management
When asking your reps to log all their Salesforce activity data, your reps might be suspicious and initially resistant. After all, there is a certain “Big Brother” feel to tracking activity minutiae, down to when reps are making calls, how many call they are making, who they’re calling, etc. That type of rigid data entry as part of the sales process might feel like micromanagement, something no employee will take too kindly too.
It’s on you and your sales management team to sell your reps not just on the importance of tracking Salesforce activities, but also in emphasizing the benefits they stand to gain:
- Having a centralized information hub will make their jobs easier. The extra work in data entry will be offset by all the time saved from having to track down individual opportunity data.
- Your reps will develop a sense of accountability against each other, and themselves. When activity data entry is an integral part of the sales process, your reps will know that they can’t hide behind the data, or other subjective evaluations. The sense of accountability they hold each other against will lift the overall team.
- The team’s overall time management skills will improve. Time is the most critical currency sales reps have to work with, which is why they must manage and budget it carefully. Knowing how many activities they’ve done – versus their daily or weekly goal – can set them straight.
- Sales management will have a better idea and a more realistic model to make decisions on. They will know what’s really involved in closing business, in terms of activity touches. With that data, they can then make better management decisions, such as setting fairer quotas and allocating resources more efficiently.
It is invaluable to a Sales VP or sales manager to know what an effective activity or call workflow for their sales team looks like. If data history suggests that prospects respond positively after 6 touches, but turn very negative after 8, your reps can now know what activity ‘sweet spot’ to shoot for. Of course, this means you need historical data to benchmark against – it’s never too early to start tracking Salesforce activity and opportunity data!
So, how do we manage Salesforce activities?
By thinking of activities through the Saleforce.com parlance of task types. On the prospect or opportunity page in Salesforce.com, there is an editable “Subject” field, with an accompanying “Comments” box. Reps can leave themselves subjective notes, keeping track of when they’ve made contact, what the conversation was like, what appropriate follow-up should be, etc.
However, this isn’t that useful for sales managers looking for a holistic view of Salesforce activities. Sales managers need normalization in their lives. They can’t afford to suffer the consequences of a lazy or sloppy sales rep, who doesn’t log his or her Salesforce activities correctly. They can’t import activities from a subject field over to a third-party sales reporting software for additional analysis. They need Task Types.
With a hard-coded drop-down menu, filled with a customizable picklist of the various types of activities that your sales reps might undertake while working a prospect, all reps will have to record information in the same way. There isn’t wiggle room – you can even set up your Salesforce instance to make logging a new Task Type a required field – reps can’t save their new information without first selecting one of these Task Type options.
Another great way to log activity information in Salesforce is with a Click-to-Dial integration. With the right software setup, every activity a sales rep performs gets logged in an activity history. Sales managers can then look up the history on any opportunity and quiz the rep on why they gave up their effort, or why it was successful.
It’s never too early to start recording and analyzing activity information in Salesforce. This data can provide both clarity and accountability, giving you better analytical data while helping to motivate your sales reps. Activity management in Salesforce.com is absolutely critical to sales management success – get set up immediately!