Effective Sales tracking for Freelancers using Sales CRM
If you are a freelancer and have stumbled upon this post, then I definitely assume you are looking for some ways to effectively organize your Sales Deal Tracking activities.

We understand that being a freelancer is not an easy job. In Freelancing, you are the Chief Operating officer, you are the Chief Marketing officer and you are also the Chief Finance Officer of your Business. Becoming successful in Freelancing requires you use the right set of technology tools to enable yourself for your actual business so that you can focus on more important tasks than spending precious time in sales data entry and sales tracking activities. 

But the fact is, to keep going, you need to make sales and to keep doing sales, you need to track your sales deal pipeline regularly and do active follow-ups to keep having a steady sales pipeline and revenue stream. 

With too much in your plate, it's tough to do all without going mad and experiencing burn out!

This necessitates that you use a right set of tool for organizing your sales process and automate the tracking processes around it instead of scrambling through your countless mails and excel files.




Why can't you rely on Email to track Sales?

Emails are not organized, it never gives you a clear picture of your story with your client, the kind of conversation you had with him, some sales metrics like since how long the deal is being open and what is the average time needed for closing that deal, when do you need to follow up next, etc.
 
For all those things, you definitely need something more than Emails. That's where ToolsonCloud Sales CRM comes into play and helps you organize your Sales so that get a clear sight of what is the action you need to do next instead of scrambling through emails and trying to figure out what is required to be done.

Why Sales tracking in Excel files are not as effective as ToolsonCloud CRM?

You can definitely use Excel for simple sales tracking with a small amount of data. But as and when you gain more and more data, you will start feeling the real pain with excel files. There would be lots and lots of excel tables and worksheet and you will always face issues deriving relationship out of multiple tables of deals, leads, tasks to be done, stakeholders in those deals, key person in the organization, history of organization, etc. You will definitely go mad trying to organize your Sales with 10s of excel files. 

If you spend even 1 hour a day trying to do data entry in excel and then another 1 hr trying to do joins, combining tables and trying to make pivot tables and charts on it, you will realize you are loosing your 2 hrs every day. You may estimate the potential opportunity cost of that by Multiplying the hours with your Hourly Billrate of your work you charge to your Clients. 

Imagine the amount of potential loss which you incur if you do not use right set of tools to do the time consuming tasks for you.

Hope this post help you make right decision on the pros and cons of manual sales tracking vs CRM based Sales tracking. 

Do checkout ToolsOnCloud Sales CRM which is designed to solve many of these kind of burning problems in Sales. At this time of posting this blog, ToolsOnCloud is free for Freelancers and Single Person Businesses. Do sign-up and try it out. Feel free to give feedback on how can we make it better to solve your burning Sales problems.
How to track Sales Deals Effectively
Hi, Hope you are doing great. In this post, I wanted to bring out a list of most important items to track for effective Sales Deal tracking.

To meet Sales Quota, Your Sales persons should follow a well defined sales process to efficiently close deals at the fastest pace possible. But very often even with a good sales process, teams might miss hitting targets. One of the obvious reason is lack of effective tracking. Sales Management is no less than Project Management and effective Project Management is all about timely tracking.

Let's us take a look at some of key things you should track to meet your sales targets always.


1. Age of the Deal.
If you have been keeping a deal open for long time, chances may arise wherein your client would have already found another vendor to get his job done. So try to quickly close the deals by doing regular weekly review of Age of open deals and take necessary corrective actions wherever possible.

2. Ratio of Open Deals in Sales funnel or pipeline
To stay sustainable in the business, you need to keep winning deals continuously month over month. This requires that you have a steady pipeline of deals flowing through each stage of your sales funnel. If you have got 10 deals in final winning stage, but no deals in previous stages like prospecting or demo or negotiation stage, it is highly likely that this month you may hit your sales quota, but the very next month you shall run out of leads to meet monthly quota. So every week, try to review that you are maintaining a steady ratio of prospective deals in the pipeline in each of the stages of the sales funnel. 

3. Deal win probability.
If you are using a good CRM, it would definitely tell you about the chances of winning that deal by providing a deal winning probability score. Always do a weekly or more frequent review of the deals with high winning probability and try to keep your sales persons actively engaged on those deals. Working with 80-20 rule does help you in meeting your sales targets which are necessary to enable your business to meet at least its operating expenses by trying to quickly grab the low hanging fruits.

4. Maintain notes of Customer Conversation regularly.
Educate your sales persons to make it a habit to key-in the summary or important points of their discussion with client onto the CRM, so that they don't have to keep running here and there searching for information in their diary pages, emails, ppts, old chat conversation just before calling the client for follow-up. This shall free up the sales executives' mind of clutter and help him focus on doing things that matter, i.e. Closing deals. Check for some parameters like "last updated date" for the deals so that you know your team is religiously making use of your CRM investment.


There are many other metrics to track, but for a starter Sales team, if you just religiously track above metrics, you would definitely reap the benefits in shortest possible time.

I hope you liked reading this post. Do share it among your networks if you found this useful.
Calculate your budget for buying a Sales CRM Software
Have you been lately trying to finalize a CRM software for your team but unable to figure out how much should you be spending for CRM?

As Businesses differ in size and type of deal value they deal in, It is complex for you to figure out the exact numeric estimate of how much of your allocated budget you must spend for taking up a CRM. Market is filled with CRM which charges from 9 USD per month per user to 500 USD per month per user based on the feature complexity of the Software and Value add provided by the service as per the needs of the Sales Team.

But How much should you as a Sales Manager be allocating your budget for CRM Implementation within your organization?

The answer is difficult and complex! 



But Let us try to find a simple solution to it.

Get an Estimate of Cost incurred by Sales Executive doing Non-revenue generating task:

  • Get an estimated figure of the amount you spend paying your Sales Executive's Annual Salary.
  • With that, try to find your hourly cost rate of your executives.
  • Guess the average amount of time each Sales team member spends in a day doing manual entry of his sales figures into an Excel file to be shared to his Manager or to Reporting analyst who will consolidate it further for the whole team. This could be roughly around 30 minutes a day out of 8 working hours of the resource.
  • Guess the average amount of time each Sales team member spends in a day trying to search or recall or figure out some of the past conversation history with some Client documented in some random email or document which is important for his follow up call. This could again be roughly around 30 minutes to 1 hour per day.
  • Sum up both the time.

Get an Estimate of Cost incurred by Reporting Analysts doing Non-revenue generating tasks:

  • Sales Reporting Analysts doing the task of Reporting and Measurement Analyst is redundant and detrimental for their career. Most of the time these resources are over burdened with the dirty work of following up with each sales executive and getting the sales figures, plugging it in spreadsheet application and drawing pivot tables, bar charts, pie charts, line chart etc and prepare a dashboard for the Senior Management. 
  • By the time Analysts complete this task for a particular week, the next week very soon arrives and his task keeps repeating week over week without an end. This is unproductive since Sales Analysts should be spending time trying to get important insights from Sales numbers which can help them beat revenue targets instead of trying to become a data gathering guy of the Sales Team.
  • Now get an estimated figure of the Salary you pay to your Sales Reporting Analyst annually.
  • Note: Do this step only if your team's sales analyst is involved with the above non-revenue generating activities. If your Sales Analyst is involved with other productive work, you may skip this step, or try to find the hours spent by him doing these non-productive tasks and get estimated Salary getting spend on that part.

Get the Total Estimate:

Total Yearly CRM Budget (Annual Salary of Sales Executive * (Total Time Spent per day doing Unproductive work/ 8 hours per day) *  Total Number of Sales Executives in team) (Annual Salary of Reporting Analysts * Total Number of Reporting Analysts in your team)


The above amount would be the yearly estimate of how much should you be spending on your CRM which is going waste in the Salary of resources doing non-revenue generating tasks.

How much should you be spending monthly per sales staff?

CRM Budget per User per Month = Total Yearly CRM Budget / (12 Months * Total Number of Sales Executives) 

This figure would give you a rough estimate of how much should you be ideally spending per team member on a CRM.

Let me know your thoughts on this.
5 features to look before buying a Sales CRM
Very often CEOs and CMOs of startups who are searching for a CRM for their Sales Team find themselves in a confused state. With numerous CRM applications available in the market, they are in a dilemma to choose from various available options.

To decide which CRM is the best for you, you need to list down the functionalities you expect from a CRM system. After my interaction with multiple people in sales on LinkedIn, I found a number of things which are being expected from a CRM.

Sales Manager [Image Credits]
In short, modern sales teams consider following 5 things to be must have functionalities in a CRM without which a CEO or CMO should never purchase a CRM from any vendor.

1. Deals or Leads tracker.

A Good CRM should have a Deals or Leads tracker within it as a primary functionality. With this functionality, your sales team members should be able to add Deals or Leads into your CRM system so that it can be tracked as it traverses through various stages of the sales process which might be analogous to sales stages of New, Contact Made, Meeting Scheduled, Presentation Made, Negotiation, Won or Lost Deals stage, etc. 

  • This gives a transparent view to the sales manager who can visualize as to which deal is stuck at a particular stage for long and need attention or follow ups. 
  • It also helps forecast the sales for upcoming months based on the number of deals or Leads which are present in the sales pipeline based on the conversion ratio of each stage. 
  • This helps you plan the number of deals required at each stage of sales process to have a steady flow of revenue every month.
  • This also helps Sales Managers prioritize the Deals based on multiple parameters like Deal size or Winning probability, etc.


2. Contact Management Functionality

Your CRM should have a Contact Management functionality which helps you organize the contact information of your clients whom you need to interact with regards to the various deals in your sales pipeline. A good Contact Management feature should allow the sales team members to not only add contacts of people but also contact details of a company with which the deal is in sales pipeline. 

  • Most importantly, the contact management functionality should have a sync with your Deals or Leads tracker rather than acting as a separate functionality in silos. 
  • This feature should allow you to visualize the relationship with contacts and deals. Hence, if you view a contact, your CRM should be in a position to give you information on which all deals you are interacting with that contact, the past conversations you had with the concerned contact and other information about the contact which can help you crack the concerned deal.


3. Sales Reporting & Analytics

Your CRM contains lots of data entered into the system about deals, contacts and associated activities happening on each of them. But as a Sales Manager or a CMO or a CEO, what you need to know is the status in terms of numbers. Hence your CRM should give a bird eye view of where do your sales team stand in terms of sales status. 

  • It can be in terms of numbers of upcoming deals in the pipeline, Deals Won or Lost in a specified time period, Reason for winning or losing the deals, Revenue forecast, Deviation of actual revenue from the forecast or sales goal, etc.
  • This helps Sales Managers act instantaneously as and when they observe any anomaly in the Real Time Reports & Analytics 


4. Multi User functionality

Since CRM is to be used by your sales team it should have functionality to support multiple users. Unlike shared spreadsheets shared among multiple users which has no logs of which user updated the excel file, your CRM should track activities of each individual user. 

  • It should enable the team members to stay accountable for their activities and not avoid accountability while entering status trackers which might happen when people are just editing a single excel file shared at a common location as it happens in a conventional companies which are yet to go Digital.


5. Flexibility in designing Sales Processes

Every business is different both in terms of the way they manage their sales process. Hence your sales CRM shouldn't force you to follow a rigid sales process which is difficult for your business due to complexities involved. 

I believe CRM should empower the sales teams rather than creating difficulties for your sales personnel. This means your CRM should be flexible enough to fit in your sales team within it rather than your sales team trying to fit their already established processes as per the CRM.

  • Hence your CRM should allow you to design and re-design your Sales Stages. 
  • Some Organizations might follow sales stages as New Deal, Contacted, Presentation, Negotiation, Won. 
  • While at the same time another Organization might want to design sales stages as New, Contacted via Phone, Proposal Made, Presentation, Demo,  Negotiation, Contract Preparation, Contract Approval etc. 
  • At the same time, some startup Sales Manager would like to experiment with different sales processes until they hit across a process which works out right for them.

Hence a good CRM should empower the sales managers with the flexibility to design their sales processes as and when they require.


Hence before buying your first CRM, do checkout these 5 must have functionalities for your CRM.

Related Posts:

Calculate your budget for buying a Sales CRM Software

3 Major types of CRM Systems
Recently I got to befriend a student who was keen to learn a few nuances of Marketing. While interacting with him, he fired up a few questions on CRM. In this post, I thought of explaining the Major CRM Systems currently being used in the Industry.

CRM as you must be knowing stands for Customer Relationship Management. From Strategic perspective, CRM is a strategy for processes which involves managing our relationships with customers. This relationship is not just about maintaining database of customer details, rather it involves more of Customer Engagement.

Often, when the term CRM is used by Sales & Marketing professionals, they usually refer to CRM Systems. CRM Systems are basically the Tools or Softwares used by them which helps them execute their Customer Relationship Management strategy.

As per current Industry practices, CRM Systems have been categorized into 3 major types:
7 Must Have Data Fields in your Sales Deal Tracker
While dealing with multiple activities associated with a sales process like Prospecting, Suspecting, Meeting, Closing, etc, you might have came across a situation where you have a lot of sales deals in your pipeline. A few of these deals would be in its initial stages while a few would be somewhere in the middle of the sales process which is just about to complete.