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What drives great sales results and what holds companies back?
As fractional sales leaders, we at INDICATOR work on the front lines of a wide range of businesses. This gifts us a unique position from which to observe, absorb and influence best practice in the sales sphere. We see businesses outperforming their peers, and we understand why.

We witness trends, styles, entrenched views and changes in the way people lead businesses and conduct their sales processes, regardless of the sector in which they operate. In a challenging economic environment, it can pay to seek out any gaps that may be hindering your business potential. 

Here are a couple of examples of such gaps I have witnessed while working with businesses recently, which may be relevant for you to consider.

1. Low customer connection post-deal close

I often see companies focusing on new business development at the expense of existing customer success. Too often, a gap between sales team and client is allowed to grow post-deal close. This disconnect has the potential to dim your brand, dissuade client loyalty and can represent a missed opportunity for referrals and new business development.

Trust builds credibility. Credibility builds trust. In sales, this can be underpinned by perceived self-interest, ie. Are you here just to deliver a sale or do you have a genuine interest in helping your prospects beyond sealing the deal? 

Which side of the coin your sales team sits on can be demonstrated not only through actions, but through words. Beyond the maintenance of strong one-on-one relationships with clients, post-sale, your company can highlight its customer-centric approach by well told, genuine customer stories. 

Real world examples of client relationship success stories can go a long way to building trust and credibility, assisting you in retaining and growing your client base. 

Maintaining a focus on driving internal company dialogue around customers’ experiences can have a powerful impact on the way your sales team operates. The more success stories that are shared, the more will tend to generate. Encourage your sales team to relate to customers’ goals being achieved. Ensure they see this as equally important to achieving their KPIs.
If clients are often handed over to onboarding/operations/customer service functions within your business, with sales team visibility and client contact being reduced in the process, consider the impact this has. Beyond the customers’ potential disappointment at being shifted away from a flourishing relationship, salespeople miss out on being an invested part of so many businesses and their professional – and personal – stories. 

In summary, a common gap we see is a missed opportunity that stems from not having a whole team focus on the customer journey. More excited customers lead to more excited sales teams, and vice versa. That’s a pretty good formula for sales growth. 

2. Underutilised Customer Relationship Management system, or worse – no CRM.  

How often we see this: Sales business leaders not seeing, believing in and promoting the value of a fully functioning CRM. A common view of CRM for many sales teams is, ‘that’s where we go to add a few new customer records, tick a box and add marginally qualified lists prospects to the system, where we leave them to die’. Harsh? But so often true.

Usually, we see low engagement with CRM is due to sales teams seeing this as ‘just another bit of admin’. Or alternatively, ‘big brother is wanting to keep an eye on me’. 

What I know, from years of experience, is that a well set up CRM, utilised to support and enable the sales function can quickly be viewed as admin with benefits! What’s more, the best sales teams view CRM as a valuable, even essential tool that helps them be that point of difference others are often struggling to create.

If you are in a market or environment where technology is not yet being widely – and effectively – utilised by your competitors (yes, this is a rapidly shrinking pool), you have a window of opportunity to get ahead. Connecting everyone in your value chain to ‘one source of truth’, and having reliable, personalised communication cycles improves visibility and can predicate success in customer interactions.

Creating a central connection for all leads to better shared understanding. This can clarify and smooth the customer journey, providing a means through which any member of your sales team can pick up a conversation, at any stage of the process. Doesn’t everyone love that feeling when someone remembers us? Or when someone recalls details that make us feel listened to and valued? With an effective, fully functioning CRM system, this level of customer service and sales experience can be achieved at any scale.

As a sales leader working across multiple businesses and industries, I have a clear picture of how a CRM can supercharge sales teams, and I advocate this to all business sales leaders and stakeholders I work with. Effectively utilising CRM is a constantly evolving and sometimes challenging journey but, trust me, it’s worth it. 

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