How the best sales software DOUBLES productivity instead of running it into the ground

by Ramin Assemi

Companies purchase sales software primarily with strategy in mind. They want to collect data that will help inform the business’ evolving strategy and drive long-term growth.

In many cases, this is bad news for the sales staff. It means they have to learn complicated, unintuitive new software. It means they have to spend a significant chunk of extra time each day manually logging all sorts of activities. It means they have less time to actually sell.

In short, it means a decrease in productivity, and it happens so often that 63% of all new CRM rollouts fail.

At the same time, studies show that sales teams using CRMs outperform teams without sales software across several key metrics:

crms-increase-productivity.pngThe good news is that it’s possible for sales software to give you the best of both worlds—to help you drive strategic growth while actually increasing productivity as well.

Today, we’re going to show you why so many CRMs sabotage productivity, waste money, and suffocate a sales team’s performance into a slow, gasping trickle. We’re also going to look at how the right sales software can help you track data and drive strategy while actually increasing productivity in the process.

First things first: Why modern sales is so damn complicated

Sales should be really simple.

A salesperson contacts and qualifies a lead, then attempts to close the sale.

That’s it.

Contact. Qualify. Close.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat

This is the core of sales, and it should account for the vast majority of time spent by any given sales team.

So where do things get complicated?

Well, there are a handful of big issues that tend to scale with the size of the company:

  1. Leads come in from multiple channels at varying levels of warmth and qualification.
  2. Lead follow-up needs to be tracked and recorded across thousands of interactions.
  3. Data needs to be analyzed and utilized for adjusting sales strategies.

In the digital age, there are more channels than ever actively bringing in leads for businesses. Each channel brings in a different variety of leads and some even bring in multiple unique segments.

Each segment must be nurtured and sold to differently, and ALL of this activity must be tracked, recorded, and analyzed. We’re talking thousands upon thousands of data events, and the bigger the business, the more activity needs to be coordinated and the more data needs to be tracked.

It’s virtually impossible to do all this without software.

And when it comes to sales, the central piece of software is the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform.

Your CRM platform is supposed to be the central cog in your business machine, connecting marketing, sales, analysis, and retention into one cohesive, automated system on which your entire business is built.

As we mentioned earlier, the CRM’s number goal is usually to inform strategic decision-making, and that has often come at the cost of sales team productivity. Instead of making day-to-day activities simpler and more efficient, it often ends up doing the exact opposite.

Let’s look at why that’s the case.

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Why 63% of CRM rollouts fail

Just like it takes two people to have an argument, CRM failure can be the result of both the CRM platform and company itself. For the purposes of this discussion, we are going to focus on platform-based factors that prevent a successful rollout.

Here are the 4 primary software-based reasons sales software fails:

  1. Expensive, complicated setup
  2. Not built with sales staff in mind
  3. Shady pricing models
  4. Limited integration

Let’s take a close look at each of these problems.

1. Expensive, overly complicated setup & maintenance

The simplest way to put this into perspective is to point out that the largest CRM platforms have created multimillion dollar third party industries devoted to helping companies set up & maintain the platforms and train staff in their use.

Implementation for even a small team typically runs in the tens of thousands of dollars and can take several months to get fully up and running. For some of the leading CRMs, it’s recommended that companies have a full-time administrator devoted entirely to running and maintaining the platform.

While this isn’t an issue for larger companies, it can be a significant and unsustainable expenditure for SMBs and startups.

Expensive, complicated setups and maintenance are just the first reason many CRM rollouts fail.

2. Not built with sales staff in mind

Using new software is always a challenge, even when that software is built intuitively and with the end user in mind.

Unfortunately, this is not the way a lot of sales software is built. With the #1 goal often being data collection and reporting, the sales staff can be handed a messy, complicated interface that requires them to spend a significant chunk of their time messing with software instead of making sales.

Surveys have found that the average salesperson spends well over an hour per day inputting data into their CRM, with even basic data entries requiring more than 10 clicks to log.

For example:

Even after investing in implementing and customizing one of the leading CRMs, Foursquare’s staff needed to make 16 clicks just to log a single sales call.

16 clicks ... to log a single call.

When you multiply that by as many as 150 calls per day, PER REP, and then multiply that across teams with 20, 30, 50, 100+ reps, we’re talking about a massive amount of time wasted on simply logging calls.

While any software rollout will require some adjustment from the sales staff, ultimately, if the software isn’t built with them in mind, it’s more likely to fail.

3. Shady pricing models

Expensive CRMs are often pitched as an all-in-one solution for a company’s needs, but after everything is setup and the bill comes in, many businesses find themselves paying hidden feeds and unexpected costs.

It’s not uncommon for platforms to charge extra for popular features, important integrations, or even API usage. Both expected and unexpected costs of ownership are some of the most common complaints businesses have regarding their CRMs.

“Salesforce customers see a lot of hidden costs that could turn them away from renewing their contracts. For example, to create a sandbox environment, a popular feature for testing applications, Salesforce charges an additional 15% or more on top of its annual subscription fee. There are extra charges for additional integration and API usage too, Forrester says.

In fact, in a recent Forrester survey, 52% of the respondents picked 'high cost of ownership over time' as the one thing they most dislike about Salesforce’s Sales Cloud, followed by 'rigid and inflexible pricing model' at 42% of total. As a result, 43% of the respondents said they will 'renegotiate our contract with Salesforce when it comes up for renewal,' while 8% said they will move to a different vendor.”

4. Limited integration with popular software

The 4th issue we’ll discuss is the most straightforward. If your sales software doesn’t integrate with the other software you are using, the rollout won’t be successful.

While it is typically easy to ascertain compatibility beforehand, it’s not uncommon for integrations to have bugs or other issues, even when they do exist. It’s also possible that you will discover the need for additional integrations that don’t exist during rollout.

How sales software can double productivity

The best sales software doesn’t just drive strategy, it also makes things simpler for your sales staff. It solves all the problem we just talked about and allows your sales reps to spend their time contacting, qualifying, and closing sales.

Here’s how sales software can actually DOUBLE your productivity, instead of suffocating it.

1. Simple, low-cost setup & maintenance

On the one hand, a simple, low-cost setup beats a complicated, expensive setup any day of the week.

Duh.

On the other hand, most businesses are willing to absorb some upfront hassle if it means a long-term boost in productivity.

This is why ownership and maintenance costs are so important. The more often your system is down or being worked on, the less productive your team will be. The more times you need to hire a 3rd party to perform some massive infrastructure customization, the less productive your team will be.

When you're using a simple, essentially maintenance-free system, you never have to worry about losing productivity while you perform technical work on implementing or maintaining your CRM.

Michael Bassin, Chief Revenue Officer of FirstImpression.io, shared how the sales software you use can make all the difference.

“Naturally, the first CRM solution I checked out was Salesforce, since it's the most well known.  I signed up for a trial and used the software for a week. It was a disaster. While admittedly Salesforce can be a really great option if heavily customized, as a sales team of 1 I didn't have a budget to invest in some complex solution. I got so frustrated with working with Salesforce after the week that I started doing some research.

I found out about Close.io from a Quora group. I signed up for a trial, spoke to Kevin about the ins and outs, and was up and running within a day.”

2. Straightforward lead assignment

Thanks in part to the dynamic nature of digital marketing, leads reach the sales department with an increasingly diverse history.

  • PPC ads
  • Content marketing
  • Social marketing
  • Direct calls
  • Partner referrals
  • Contact forms
  • Offline events
  • Prior purchases
  • Mobile opt-ins
  • Etc.

Sorting through these leads, tracking their activity throughout your lead funnels, matching them to sales staff, and briefing salespeople on past activity are all functions that could occupy an entire team of administrators if it weren’t for sales software.

The best CRM platforms are designed to integrate smoothly with marketing software on the front end, allowing sales managers to easily import, sort, and assign leads to staff with an automatically included briefing on each lead’s history.

crm-easy-lead-assignment.pngWhen done correctly, this allows the salesperson to sit down and begin contacting leads as simply as if they were working their way through an email inbox.

Scott Furlaud of Autobytel had the following comments after moving to Close.io:

“Close.io lets me assign my day-to-day tasks in great detail. I have all of my tasks in front of me and I know exactly what I need to do. Love the tasks! I never forget a thing using Close.io and nothing slips through the cracks!!”

While this may seem simple, that’s exactly what we want when attempting to increase productivity, and it’s sorely lacking from many of today’s CRMs. The simpler the better."

Michael Bassin of FirstImpression.io had this to add:

“Close.io has a really easy interface. It's very easy to import and export leads, create customized fields for different circumstances, and manage all different types of email templates. The layout is very clear and easy on the eyes and on the whole it ensures there is as little manual entry required as possible for the entire sales and post-sale experience. There's no doubt my team and I would be substantially less productive if we didn't have a system like Close.io in place.”

3. Better pipeline management & sales conversations

The primary methods for contacting leads today are phone calls and email, neither of which require particularly advanced software. Pull out any stock smartphone and you can do both without even needing to download an app.

Making the call or sending the email is the easy part, however. The more challenging part is tracking and recording that contact for the purposes of future review, training, and strategic adjustment.

As we’ve mentioned previously, many CRM rollouts fail because they aren’t built with the sales staff in mind.

The best sales software IS built with the salespeople in mind. It eliminates all of these issues by allowing email and phone contact directly through the platform and automatically recording and tracking every single activity, without the salesperson needing to do a thing.

crm-call-and-email-tracking.pngRemember how Foursquare’s team had to log 16 clicks for every single sales call?

With Close.io, the exact same process only requires 2 clicks, which is just one of several big reasons why they were willing to go through the hassle of changing over to the Close.io CRM.

It also made training new sales reps a breeze:

“Whenever I tell this to colleagues, they can’t believe it. We spend less than an hour training our reps how to actually use Close.io. We have some SmartViews preset for each rep to make it easy to get started.

A lot of the training is actually about familiarizing them with our products and our workflows and systems, and not so much specifically about Close.io. Usually, on day four, they’re already making calls with Close.io.”

Marcus Franck of Franck Energy had the following to say:

"The way Close.io captures all customer communication and notes in one place. In our sector we have very long lead times so being able to go back and look at previous engagement with customers is essential.

The less the salesperson has to do on the administrative end, the more accurate the data and the more time they have to contact leads, which translates to more revenue."

Razvan Creanga of Hackajob had this to say about Close.io:

“Transparency is key for us. Close.io allows everyone to find what they need really quickly. It also helps with reporting, since you can’t improve what you can’t measure. Since transitioning from our own bespoke CRM to Close.io, we’ve seen a 100% increase in revenue.”

Jacob Garlick of Revsite shared the following:

“Revsite is completely focused on sales metrics. The number of dials our reps can make per day is a big deal for us. With Salesforce, the best we could do was 60 dials per day, and in order to break that barrier, we were going to need to purchase an add-on to the system that cost another $150 per month per rep.

With Close.io’s standard calling license, my reps can power dial 100+ leads per day. Since switching platforms, our average number of dials per day has doubled and revenue from our sales team has increased by 80%.”

4. Integrating marketing, sales & customer support data

While the first priority should always be helping your sales team make more calls and send more emails, you also want the ability to train your staff, refine your sales approach, and evolve your company strategy over time.

Data analysis is how you achieve this, but in order to accumulate usable data, you have to track everything from beginning to end—from marketing to sales to customer support.

This is impossible to do without integrated software, and that’s why integration is a fundamental part of any sales CRM worth its salt.

Ideally, you’ll have two main choices when it comes to connecting your CRM with other tools your company uses: via an out-of-the-box integration, or directly via the API to allow for more customization. Automatically creating custom reports, generating commission reports for your reps that match your comp plan, feeding data from other apps directly into Close.io, custom admin panels and much more can be accomplished with our API. Anything you can do from within Close.io, you can also do via our API.

crm-api.pngIt’s also important to have easy access to your data, with the ability to quickly sort, analyze, create reports. The best sales software will make both integration and reporting easy for your team.

Conclusion: Sales software doesn't have to suffocate productivity

As we’ve discussed, CRMs today can be a drain on a sales team’s productivity, but fortunately, you aren’t limited to those platforms.

Sales software like Close.io can drive a significant boost to your team’s productivity in the following ways:

  1. Simple setup and maintenance
  2. Straightforward lead assignment
  3. Better pipeline management & sales conversations
  4. Integrated data across departments

Get started with Close.io now to boost your productivity.

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