CRM Can Help Salespeople Become More Productive
By Steve Lewkowitz, CDC Software
With builders needing a bigger share of a smaller pie just to keep afloat, customer relationship management (CRM) applications that automate and integrate sales and marketing processes are tools that can help builders pull in more leads at lower costs, while also helping sales agents prioritize follow-ups more effectively and make more sales.
Robust CRM applications that have both marketing and sales modules can help ensure that the right leads are generated and delivered to the right salesperson at the right time according to predefined criteria.
A good, integrated CRM system enables builders to determine the quality and urgency of the leads generated, as well as embeds the sales steps and stages into the system to ensure that every salesperson is following approved processes in order to close the sale. It essentially takes the guesswork out of home sales — which can be especially important with less experienced sales agents — and ensures that the sales team is following best practices.
Such a system should be flexible enough to allow individual builders to determine the details of these steps and processes — so that they can apply their knowledge of the market, incorporate their corporate culture and even integrate the proven processes of their company’s top sales performers within the system.
CRM systems enable salespeople to develop clear action plans for interacting with prospects, and because the system is also a central repository of prospect information, sales agents can tailor these action plans to individual prospects based upon demographics and preferences, including how they prefer to be contacted.
These systems foster smarter, more strategic selling and, ultimately, higher sales conversions and happier home owners.
For example, a CRM system can prompt a sales agent to invite potential “active adult” buyers to a weekday barbeque, because that’s when the prospects may be amenable and available to visit the community for such an event.
On the other hand, the system can also prompt other sales agents to call busy, young professionals in the evening or on weekends about another community, not because the community is different, but because the information about these prospects indicates that phone calls take less of their time and that’s how they want to stay informed.
Productivity Tools Are Built In
While the quality of a sales team’s strategic approach is indispensable to increase sales, sales performance can still boil down to basic productivity. No matter how hard they work, there’s still a limit to the number of activities a salesperson can fit into a day.
Accordingly, a builder can serve his sales force more effectively by providing tools that will save the team time and increase its productivity.
A sufficiently robust CRM system can become a central resource to salespeople, making home buyer information quick and easy to access at any time. It can also become the engine that drives the sales process — so the more sales productivity tools the system has, the better.
Some systems, for example, offer personalized dashboards that list top contact information, pending activities, new leads in order of priority and deadlines (such as mortgage and contract contingencies and deposits due) — all in a single screen that usear can set as their home page.
In addition, systems that link to users’ computer-based calendars can integrate appointments and other scheduled activities for easy reference on the same screen, without switching programs. These time-saving features keep salespeople productive and organized.
Administrative tasks, while important to company operations, take away from selling time. Good technology support helps salespeople cut the time they spend on paperwork, reporting and communications and frees up their time for more sales-oriented tasks.
For example, because CRM systems can track sales steps and details, managers can monitor sales progress accurately through the system and save the meeting time for discussions about sales techniques, role playing and other ways to boost sales.
Also, some systems can interface with support companies like mortgage companies and design centers in order to share timely information that will enable the sales process to move forward quickly. Two-way links to options selection features and design centers from the CRM system also can streamline and simplify the home-configuration process.
Generating quotes and contracts and obtaining management approvals can be another impediment to an efficient sales cycle. CRM workflows and tools can help deals flow through the quote-to-contract process more quickly by automating the assignment of steps to the appropriate stakeholder and notifying managers of needed approvals without any effort from the salesperson.
A Smarter Sales Process — With the Customer Experience in Mind
Each of these CRM productivity tools and process-support features is capable of increasing the ease and efficiency of the sales process.
Together, they add up to a significantly smoother and faster sales cycle — and increased sales productivity.
While, a CRM-supported sales process is smarter and more strategic, the increased efficiency does not cut corners in customer service or sacrifice the customer experience.
In fact, this type of robust CRM system does just the opposite. It infuses the sales process with a more personalized tone and approach that creates a higher chance of sales success and can increase the sales conversion rate.
Steve Lewkowitz is the professional services director at CDC Software, providers of Pivotal CRM for home building and real estate. For more information, e-mail Lewkowitz, or call him at 732-297-4060.
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