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.
What is Topline and Bottomline in Sales?
Hey friends, If you recently took up a role in Sales, then you would have frequently heard the two terms Topline and Bottomline from your executive level bosses. If you want know what are those, you have come to the right place.

These two Business Jargons have simpler meaning than they appear to be. Let me tell you what do they mean.

In any business, while you are doing sales, you would make revenue by selling something. Obviously, Once you sell the products or services, you cannot keep the whole revenue with yourself or organization. Major chunk of that revenue goes towards meeting the cost of making the product, income taxes, hr and administration costs involved in managing staff, etc. After deducting all these operating expenses and taxes, what we are left with is the net profit or net income which we can keep which belongs to shareholders and if they wish to, can be invested further into the business.

In this case, the revenue which you generate on making sales is called Topline and the net profit or net income which you generated after deducting all operating expenses and taxes from the revenue is what is known as Bottomline.

Whenever business executives discuss their financials, they monitor these two numbers very closely. Increasing Topline is one of the priority for them to increase the organization growth. However, with this they cannot ignore Bottomline growth because, if they are not left with enough cash after selling products and services, the business cannot survive for long and is not sustainable for long. 

Hence both the metrics should be monitored together since both go hand in hand for a sustainable growth of business.
3 Traits of Successful Sales Managers
Often you would observe the best salesperson when promoted to Sales Manager would sometimes fail to become a good at it and sometimes you might also find few instances where an average sales person went on to become a good Sales Manager.

Why is that so?

This is because of certain fundamental differences in the work performed by Sales Person and Sales Manager. The former is a individual contributor role while the later is the management role where the sales manager has to take the whole team into picture and think of every team member's growth in order to achieve the sales targets of the whole sales team.

Leading Sales teams towards team goals



Let us look at 3 key traits every Sales Manager should possess to be super successful in his profession.

1. He looks at the bigger picture instead of focusing on a few team members.

Often Sales Manager's tend to focus on a few top performing sales persons for achieving the team's sales quota rather than working with all the team members. This behavior usually leads to unhappiness among the other team members, who would start feeling alienated. This impacts their performance and ultimately makes it difficult for sales managers to achieve team's goals with a handful of top performers. Top performers should be given preference in giving costly and big deals, but it shouldn't become the case that a sales manager start becoming over dependent on those team members to cover his complete team's quota.


2. Sales Manager should mentor and guide the newer folks.

The Manager should not look only at the short term picture where his only goal is to extract out revenue from his folks. Often sales team would have a range of members with varied sales experience each having his own strengths and weakness. The Manager should identify those gaps and try to mentor the team members and help them overcome their shortcomings which in turn would help the team achieve revenue targets. This would also help boost self esteem of the team member and hence he would like to work within your organization for longer rather than planning for a job switch.


3. He should be a team contributor instead of Individual contributor.

Third and most important as I already wrote in the beginning, an individual contributor sales person is not a good fit for becoming a sales manager. This is where I mentioned if a top performer sales person is given a responsibility of becoming a sales manager, he should also start working with the whole team for their development in addition to his own individual performance in sales closures. Individual contributor should start empathizing with other folks and work with them to achieve the whole team's sales quota. If this is not the case, then manager would sometime get frustrated and would think that he himself can complete the quota alone rather than guiding the team members. This would ultimately lead to disaster because the ultimate purpose of sales management is actually to manage bigger sales teams, not doing everything alone. Sales Manager's job is to focus on bigger things rather than doing the sale himself.

Hope you would have liked this post. Do comment your opinions and let me know.
3 Price Negotiation Mistakes every Salesperson should avoid
Often, Salespersons tend to make mistakes during their Sales Negotiation conversations and tend to lose out on the sales wondering what exactly happened. The lead which they have been following up for many month now is lost just at the last phase of the sales cycle at the time of Sales Negotiation. These are the 3 expensive mistakes which every sales person should avoid at the time of negotiation.


1. Price Negotiation on High Cost Products


Avoid negotiation with Customers for reducing the price of high cost products. Always try to negotiate with customers only for the low cost products having a high perceived value in the minds of the customers. If you reduce the price of High Cost Products, then customers would expect that every time they buy from you. This is detrimental for your business growth since you would find it difficult to run your business on thin margin for a prolonged period of time.


2. Not knowing the Urgency for Customers


As a Salesperson, you would stand good at negotiating position if you are aware of the extent of urgency of the customer who wants to buy from you. If they are having less time and the purchase of the product you are selling is urgent for them, then you stand a better chance. In this kind of situation, you have more chances to crack the sales deal with lesser amount of negotiation with the customer. This is because since customer doesn’t have much time to search for another vendor, they would happily agree with your price. 


3. Starting Negotiation without understanding the needs of the customer



You should never start sales negotiation at the start of the sales cycle even without understanding the needs of the customer in the discovery phases of the sales cycle. The more questions you ask to your customer during the Need Discovery phases of the sales cycle, the more information you will get on the needs and requirements of the customers. This will help you set the expectations of the customers and would help you negotiate better. The more you know about the expectations of the client, the more you would be able to point out those facts during your sales negotiation conversations and hence customers would be willing to pay a higher price if their expectations are met.

What is RFI, RFP and RFQ in B2B Sales
Often, Sales Professionals in B2B Direct Sales would come across these 3 important sales terminologies.

1. RFI
2. RFP
3. RFQ



In this post, Let’s go through each of these sales terms.

1. RFI

RFI is the first step in B2B purchase step. This acronym stands for “Request for Information”. As the name suggests, the client who is looking for purchasing a solution is looking for some information from the vendors. Usually, Purchaser would float a “Request for Information” from the available vendors when it is new in that particular product’s market. For. e.g. A company might be looking for a solution for improving sales productivity but might be lacking much information in that area or domain. So they would seek RFI from multiple vendors seeking information on the available solutions and problems those solutions can tackle.


2. RFP

RFP is ideally the next step after RFI. This acronym stands for “Request for Proposal”. In this step, the client who is looking for purchasing a solution floats a RFP from vendors asking them to propose for a solution to the problems of the vendor. In this, the purchaser usually mentions specific problems which it is facing and would like to have an answer or solution to those specific problems. For E.g. A company might be looking for CRM solution, but it might be specifically interested in solving its problem of managing customer contacts. In that case, the buyer would be specifically interested in getting proposal for vendors for solving the problem of managing or organizing customer contacts. In this step, sometimes buyer also expects a high level overview of the cost for the proposed solution from the vendor. 


3. RFQ

RFQ is ideally the next step after RFP provided the purchaser doesn’t mix it up in the RFP stage. RFQ stands for “Request for Quotation”. If the purchaser had not asked for detailed costs for each solution item in RFP stage, then they would float a request for quotation asking the vendors to provide detailed cost structure for their proposed solution. Sometimes, purchasers who are directly looking for a list of goods with certain predefined specifications instead of solutions provided by the vendors would directly jump to RFQ stage without even floating any RFP. In this case they are looking for commodity type of goods with industry standard specification rather than looking for any consulting support from vendor on these.


I hope you found the explanation of these 3 terms to be useful. Do comment below and let me know your thoughts.
What is Sales Prospecting
Any Sales Lifecycle comprises of various stages which starts with Prospecting. But very often newbie salespersons or enthusiasts asks "What exactly is Sales Prospecting?".

In this post, I would like to address those newbie and ambitious sales persons to understand what exactly is Sales Prospecting.


If you are in Sales, you would most certainly have following ways to get business:

  1. Leads from Networks.
  2. Leads from Inbound Marketing.
  3. Leads from Outbound Prospecting.


Aaron Ross, the author of Predictable Revenue mentions Outbound Prospecting to be one of the powerful weapon in your sales arsenal to achieve 10x revenue growth.

The reason for this is simple. First, Leads that you can get from your Network is limited and hence for 10x revenue growth you cannot always rely on networks for your whole business. Second, Getting Leads from Inbound Marketing takes time. You need to get your SEO right, you need to carve out a lot of contents to be absorbed by visitors before you get your first lead subscribing to your mailing list. Both of the above techniques are little unpredictable though they do have significance in the long future. This is the reason companies should never ignore Outbound Prospecting.

Ideally Outbound Prospecting is done by Sales Development Representatives wherein they try to find out new leads for the business. Prospecting is an act of finding or hunting for new leads. This is done by trying to contact the leads via cold calls, cold emails, etc. Sometimes this may also include calling or trying to contact the leads who went cold after some time in the past (technically, this comes under Lead Nurturing).

Contrary to the age old belief that Prospecting is a kind of tele-calling job, it has actually changed a lot in the recent years of modern Sales and Marketing. The quality of work done during Prospecting stage can truly break or make a company. This is an important determinant for the Business Development Representatives to be able to convert the deals given to them by Sales Development Representatives. If Prospecting is not done on the right customer persona and lead qualification is not done correct by the Prospecting team, it can ultimately waste months of lead nurturing time given by the Business Development Rep.

Hence Prospecting should be done very carefully.

While doing Prospecting, a Sales Development representative should clearly prepare the persona of a prospective client by preparing a checklist by acquiring data of the customer profiles acquired in the past. This can include the typical industry where the clients come from, the typical revenue which clients have, the typical budget they have for the product which you are selling, job role of the person who took the decision to buy your product, job roles of the key influencers in those deals, etc.

Once the customer profile persona is ready, the prospector should start Prospecting by trying to contact the leads in appropriately applicable ways and try to analyse if they fit in the persona. If the lead fits in, it should be advanced to the next stage of the sales process to the Business Development representative so that he can take it to closure.

Prospecting is like Going to Gym for Exercise. It should be done regularly and with adequate frequency. If you do not exercise regularly, sometimes you will feel tired, some times energized but you will never get to your ultimate objective of attaining fitness. Similarly, if you do not do Prospecting regularly, your Sales Pipeline would have inconsistent and unpredictable flow of revenue. A few months you would have a surge of leads for your Business Development reps to work on, which would become unmanageable and they would end of losing many of them. While a few months would have very less leads for your Business Development team to work on rendering them underutilized or less productive. This will also hit back in the form of inconsistent revenue flow.

Hence to keep your revenues in control, Prospecting should be done by dedicated sales development representatives and should be done regularly.

Hope you found this post useful. Do comment below and let me know your thoughts.

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.
Stop committing these 15 Costly Sales Mistakes
I tend to read a lot of books on Sales Methodologies. Now that I have read a numerous materials on Sales, I felt let me share a list of Costly Sales Mistakes or Situations which every sales professional should try to avoid in a Sales Process.

As per my experiences, the following 15 types of sales mistakes should be avoided at any cost:
Why newbies should focus on Vertical Selling instead of Horizontal Selling
Are you a Newbie just delving into your Sales Career?
or
Are you a Sales Manager looking for assigning a territory to a newbie in your team?

or
Are you a Newbie startup looking to start with Selling your Product or Solution?


If answer to any of these questions is "Yes", 
Then you should focus on Vertical Selling instead of Horizontal Selling!


Surprised? In this post, I would tell you why is that so!