How CRM workflows will help improve your sales process

 "Eighty-five percent of the reasons for failures are deficiencies in the systems and processes rather than the employee. The role of management is to change the process rather than badgering individuals to do better.”

W. Edward Deming

CRM workflows are a set of steps that define how a task is completed. This can refer to any activity in a business, but in this article we’re interested in how it can optimize the sales process, from cold calling to pipeline management.

With CRM sophistication increasing, it is becoming harder to optimize sales processes without using workflows. In a world where the ROI can be extraordinary – one study suggested the ROI for e-mail marketing is $40 for every $1 spent – businesses not using repeatable processes are leaving revenue on the table.   

Here is an example of a basic CRM workflow for sales – the example used is a company that sells an invoicing SaaS product to professional services.

The initial CRM population stage:

  1. A lead is generated from a website contact form.
  2. A record for the lead is then populated in the CRM with filters that include all detail from the form.
  3. Further data is uploaded via the API of a business intelligence database so the record now includes more detailed information.
  4. A notification is sent to a sales rep who manages this type of lead.

The beginning of the sales cycle:

  1. The lead is scored using the data available and added to the sales funnel.
  2. A set of emails are sent out to the lead that provide content and value.
  3. The emails sequence leads to the suggestion of attending a webinar.

The lead warms up:

  1. Once the lead attends the webinar, a series of further emails that suggest meetings and provide case studies are sent to the prospect.
  2. The sales team are notified, and a series of follow-up calls are scheduled in the calendar to book a telephone meeting.

The meeting is booked:

  1. Automatic calendar invites are sent that include further information on the customer.
  2. The sales team are sent a small report containing details of the prospect including how they have engaged with the email campaigns and further information on the company.

The follow-up:

  1. Emails are sent with links to sign up to the software.
  2. Over a few weeks, small discounts are offered.
  3. If no purchase is made as a final step, the sales team will schedule a further call to close the deal.

This is a relatively simple example of a CRM workflow for sales. The business is leaving nothing to chance; they’re engaging the prospect continually and giving themselves many chances to close the deal. A process like this is great because it removes human error, and by taking all prospects through the same workflow changes to the workflow can be compared in A/B tests to ensure they’re optimal.

Benefit to specific CRM functionalities

Building workflows supports a range of CRM sales functions; here are a couple of key ones:

  • Lead nurturing: engaging leads and bringing them to a buying decision can require activities across a range of channels; email, calls, and social media are all common. A workflow process ensures that everything is delivered at the best time and nothing is missed.
  • Managing proposals: for large proposals, workflows can assist multiple internal steps where teams need to deliver parts of the proposal, external steps where the prospect is engaged in pre-qualification questions, and follow-ups.
  • Sales management: For sales leaders monitoring and improving team performance can be assisted by workflows. A process can provide key reports to managers and provide a structure for meetings with team members.

CRM workflows help businesses avoid human error and constantly optimize their process. Once a system is defined, output can be easily tested and then improved. The alternative is not using a system and this leaves businesses without consistent operational delivery – from that position it’s very hard to get better.

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Doug Haines

About the author…

Doug Haines has worked on a variety of CRM implementation projects and now writes on a wide range of topics. He is a regular contributor to Discover CRM

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Doug Haines

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