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.
How to Reduce Churn Rate – 3 Legitimate Tips

Heya, in my previous post, we learnt what exactly is Churn Rate. Now you know, that more churn is bad for your business. Let us discuss some cool tips to reduce churn rate in your business.

Reason I titled this post with “Legitimate Tips” is because we would focus on building our fundamentals strong instead of trying out some quick fix leak patching techniques. This would take a bit of longer time, but is worth it in the long run, especially when you look towards sustainably scaling your business in the long term.

Legitimate Tips to reduce churn rate:

Preventing Customer Churn or Exits or Opt-outs

  • Price:

One of the primary reason many customers opt out of your service is because they do not like your price. Remember that nothing is too expensive for a customer if he is made aware of the real value of the product. Hence, work with the customer to make them aware of your product features, functionalities and business benefits so that they gauge the real value of your product or service offering. You may cite the benefits by doing a cost benefits analysis of non-tangible things like Time Value, Quality of your offering, ease of use, Customer Support and assurance being delivered in your offerings, etc.


  • Mis-selling:


Second biggest reason why Customers leave is because after few months they realize that the product is not really meant for their usage or they are not appropriate intended user for the offering. They realize that some sales person did a push sell just to complete their sales quota. In this case it is bound to backfire to your business, since they would opt-out in reasonable amount of time. In this case, try to avoid doing mis-selling or push sales. The world is big enough and hence try to sell to those whom you thing could be interested in your offering or are the right intended users.


  • Customer Success or Engagement

Many Businesses think that once they onboard any customer to sell their subscription based service, their job is done. Chief Marketing Officers should realize that once the sale is done, job is not yet over. The real journey of customer begins from the moment they start using your product or service. Hence it is important that you start engaging with your customers by involving them in regular product update announcements, social media interactions, priority support, training sessions so that they can effectively use your product to realize its true potential benefit.

Hope you liked reading this post. Follow us on our social media channels or email to get regular updates.

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What is Churn Rate?

What is Churn Rate?
If you run a subscription based business where you gain monthly or periodically recurring revenue, Churn Rate is one of the important parameters to consider for forecasting your future revenues. This metric is not just a KPI for Sales & Marketing department but also directly impacts Finance department for their future financial forecasts as well as impacts Operations or Delivery department in order to plan for scaling up or scaling down of existing business operations or infrastructure.

What exactly is Churn rate then?

In Simple terms, as the name suggests, Churn rate signifies the rate at which you lose your recurring revenue. Churn Rate can be estimated either on revenue or on the user headcount numbers depending on the way your business operates. In the Software subscription (SaaS) Industry, Churn Rate is usually calculated on user base.

Hence if you have 100 users at the start of the month and you lost 5 users by the end of the month. It would mean your churn rate is 5%.

However, I would also suggest you should keep a tab on Churn rate based on Revenue. This is because subscription rates of different types of users may differ based on the complexity of your business model and hence the user based Churn rate calculation may not give you an accurate view.

Churn Rate based on Revenue can be calculated similarly. If your Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) was 100,000 USD at the beginning of the month and by the end of the month you lost some 5 users who contributed 20,000 USD to your MRR. Then your Churn Rate would be 20%.

Why is it Important?

Churn Rate directly impacts your revenue and financials and is also an indicator of how dissatisfied are your customers. If you observe a series of increasing Churn Rate month over month, then it should definitely raise a flag and you need to accept that there is something definitely wrong which is leading to a spike in number of users opting out of your subscription or rental service.

Also, in order to stay in the game, your business should sustain for long.

What would happen if you fill a bucket with 1 mug of water every second but the bucket has a hole which keeps leaking 1.1 mug of water every second?


Leaking bucket of Water

You would never reach your goal of filling your bucket completely. Similarly, for your business to stay sustainable, its Customer Acquisition Rate should more than the Churn Rate. Otherwise you know what would happen.

Hope you liked reading this post. In the next post, I shall bring to you some tips to reduce your Churn Rate. Stay tuned and do subscribe us our Social Media Channels.

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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.
3 Sales Tips to get response from C-suite executives
Getting a meeting from a C-suite executive of a mid or large corporation is one of the most daunting task for a sales person. This is because unlike other prospects who are in the lower hierarchy of an organization where sales person can pitch in multiple times and try out different ways to approach the prospect, with a C-suite executive, the sales person stands just one shot.


That's the reason why sales professionals should have a fool proof strategy while approaching a C-suite executive while trying to get him for a sales meeting.

Here are 3 tips from my experience which can help you get a reply from CXOs while trying to get their response for a sales meeting:



1. Try asking for a referral within the organization.

Most of the time, top level executives especially CEO, CMO, CFO or COO would be involved with multiple internal tasks that they would hardly get any time for an external sales person which is you. Even if they find your short sales pitch to be interesting, they would hardly have bandwidth for a meeting. This is the reason they would try to defer it. But most of the time, CXOs would be ready to delegate it to their Subordinates or Executive Assistants. 

A few of the executives would refer you to another person in their organization on their own, but not the case with everyone until you ask them for that. So, next time you send a cold email, try asking them for a referral in their organization whom you can talk for discovery interviews or sales meetings.



2. KISS - Keep It Short & Simple

Almost every CXO of an organization is a busy person hardly having any time even for self. During these moments, if you get a chance to talk to him on phone, don't waste his time asking long discovery questions which you can ask others within the same organization. Try to keep your talk short, crisp and to the point instead of trying to blabber round and round about a concept just to gain his attention. Instead of getting his attention, chances are there that you would lose his interest which is lethal in sales.

Hence, the next time you get to talk to a C level executive, try presenting key benefits for him which you can offer via your products, instead of asking him his 5 year vision of his organization and asking generic time consuming questions as to what are their challenges. Ideally you should ask these questions, only if you have a longer meeting planned with the executive especially for discovery interview.



3. Follow Up

Following up is the key to sales success. But it takes a key precedence if you are trying to sell to busy C-suite executives. Often CXOs would be travelling a lot, meeting people around the world. This means he would stay away from his base office often. Chances are there that in his run up to catch up his own work, he would forget about your last meeting. This necessitates that you follow up with the executive by cut-off date before any competitor pitch in and grab the deal.

So, the next time you finish off a meeting with an executive, make sure you ask him when he shall be available for a next meeting and make sure to add that date to your CRM so that it can remind you for another meet up.


I hope you enjoyed reading the post. Do let me know your thoughts on this.

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 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.

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:
Should Startups Price their Products too Low?
Recently, I was going through the websites of many newbie startups started by first time entrepreneurs and found that almost all of them have priced their products or services very low. In this post, I will tell you why this is one of the very bad pricing strategy and is a recipe for ultimate disaster.