By building out those processes in Salesforce, they’re not flying blind. They can really understand where and how they’re spending their time. And they can think about where they should be spending their time today versus tomorrow, so they can really drive customers to close. It’s a challenge, but Salesforce is really going to give them the insights they need to be able to make better decisions. Sales, marketing, and customer service teams can benefit from it.
Q: What can executives do to drive better adoption today?A: First, stop talking about quotas. This happens especially when executives come from a sales background. A lot of those leaders will mention a sales rep who doesn’t log into Salesforce, doesn’t follow the process, goes rogue every waking moment. And that’s their best rep. He sells more than anyone and brings in more business than anyone else. They need to stop rewarding folks who are just hitting quota. They need to focus on steps that they can control, like activities. An activity-based selling system is what’s going to drive acquisition, new business, and closing new deals. It’s the same on the customer-service side; those activities matter. How responsive are you? How real-time are you? Those are the metrics to focus on. The next thing I would say is for leaders to think about what they expect sales reps to do to drive new business. Maybe they expect sales reps to make five calls or send five emails per day. Maybe it’s a set number of customer meetings. I worked for a company that used to sell space in a data center. One of the metrics we started to track as an organization was data center visits. When prospects saw the center, they got a feel for it, they had a conversation, and so on. So driving and rewarding reps—with financial incentives, accolades, or pats on the back—that’s what pushed the right type of activity. With the right type of activity, the sales take care of themselves.
Q: When shifting from quotas, what metrics have you seen work for teams in these scenarios?A: I think they should focus on the things that lead them to their goals—not the goals themselves. For example, they can’t meet with prospects without scheduling appointments, and they can’t schedule appointments without prospecting. So a common and important KPI would be around prospecting activities. We’d then measure prospecting activities for the day, week, and month. How many outbound prospecting phone calls? Outbound emails? If lead generation is a goal for reps, how many networking events and trade shows do they attend daily or weekly? It’s critical to narrow the focus on what’s important, the key measurable things that lead to success in your business. This focus can be applied to ensure sales and marketing are both doing the right things for each other and the organization. For example, you might want to track defined lead sources or campaigns, specifically when a rep inputs a Sales Generated Lead into Salesforce. (I’m a big fan of campaigns and think they’re heavily underutilized.) Or maybe you track how long it takes sales to follow up and update the status of Marketing Generated Leads, so you can ensure timely followup and real-time communication about leads. Of course, you’ll need a defined lead process with stages, so sales reps can update statuses accordingly. It’s not just a sales thing though. Marketing can work to define clear criteria for inputting campaigns and lead sources. They can focus on better understanding the stages of their buyer’s journey to improve when they hand leads over to sales. They can communicate these things through dashboards and fields in Salesforce.
Q: How can we create better alignment between marketing and sales?A: I think marketing and sales need to go to relationship counseling. It’s a relationship. They both bring something to the relationship, and they both expect different things. So they need to understand each other, so they can work together and be more effective at what they do together. Marketing is going to be instrumental at the top of the revenue funnel, specifically working on activities with potential leads who could turn into prospects. They can communicate the value proposition of the company, or help leads better understand their own needs. Then when those leads are passed to sales, they’re much more qualified and ready. And the sales rep doesn’t have to spend hours, days, or weeks trying to work that lead to the point of readiness. When I work in that relationship and alignment space, the returns are almost immediate. Sales loves it. They have leads that are more ready to go, and when they call these leads, those leads are expecting the call and pick up. But it’s important that sales understands that marketing isn’t a binary driving the bottom-line or wasting their time. They can really help marketing by being consistent about the process they agreed to follow. By just using the system in a consistent way, they inform marketing in terms of where they can improve. Where can we optimize? What’s working? What can we automate? Marketing can even help with hurdles down the funnel if it addresses sales challenges sooner in the marketing cycle. For example, they can set the stage for pricing, so it isn’t such a surprise later on. No one complains about $1000 iPhone or Galaxy, because people understand the value. The marketing effort helps customers justify that expense, and it takes the load off sales. It’s a matter of building marketing materials that resonate, applying content marketing for growth concepts in the real-world funnel. If you really want to make the relationship official between marketing and sales, I’m a big believer in Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Those agreements can happen between departments, almost like vows. Marketing, what do you promise to deliver? Sales, what do you promise to do?
Q: In terms of alignment, the SLA is a great idea, but then how do you translate that into Salesforce action?A: Many of my customers write one- to two-page SLAs. They never work on it in silos. It’s typically the head of marketing and the head of sales sitting in a room together and writing it down. If it’s not a department head or executive, then we bring the entire organization in. There’s something different about putting it on paper. Having the agreement on paper, and then having people put their signatures on it, that’s a different level of commitment. It’s really powerful for the organization, sets the tone for the communication moving forward, and puts them on a path to being a real revenue team. Starting off with an SLA can really help toxic sales and marketing relationships push past that toxicity and transform them into productive relationships.
Q: What resources are recommended for companies that have made a big financial commitment to Salesforce, but have not seen the payoff and are thinking about dropping it?A: Call us. We’ll fix it. Just kidding. But the real thing to understand is there is no magic wand. I wouldn’t be doing this if it was a matter of setting up one system and calling it a day. It’s usually not just a matter of switching CRMs. Or moving from one marketing automation platform to another. It’s often not even a matter of features, user interface, or those types of touches. The secret sauce is what a company puts into the tool. Before they bail out on their investment, I recommend that a company that has never seen a payoff bring in an expert to understand why that return isn’t happening. In terms of my own experience, I can count on one hand where it came down to Salesforce not being the right tool for the customer. More times than not, the return comes down to business process problems. If they jump ship, they’re going to bring those problems with them into the new system. And that system won’t work either.
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About Bilal MutaBilal is a seasoned Salesforce, HubSpot, and Pardot consultant with experience in inside and outside sales and operations strategy. Using his methodology on putting business process first, he helps organizations marry business, marketing, and sales. Bilal works as a consultant and has a full-time role as the CRM Technical Manager at The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan. He invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.
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