Even the best sales operations leaders can’t do their jobs effectively without good quality data. Analysis, reports and dashboards are only as useful as the data behind them. And since it’s the salespeople who input that data into the CRM, any good sales ops leader will do all they can to ensure a) the right data is being captured, and b) the data inputting process is as easy as possible. With the danger of getting too granular or stressing your salespeople out with endless required fields, it’s vital to get the balance just right.
We spoke to our community of sales operations leaders to find out how they capture good quality data from their salespeople.
Ryan Tutt, Director of Sales Operations and Analytics, ION
I always think that with a CRM system you should put a character limit on free-text fields, and make as many fields as possible a selection from a ‘pick list’ so that there is some structure around what is being captured. If it is a key field that drives decision making, make sure it is a pick list selection so that nobody can really go “off-piste” and introduce bad data into the system. When it comes to quality of input from business development, marketing teams, or from sales, it is always good to use best practice examples across the organisation. So, if you find someone that is good at using the CRM system across those different organisations, use that individual as a champion of best practice for the rest of the company. I also think it is important to give users of the system guidelines about what needs to be captured and the level of detail expected. So if it is a win/loss review, provide your team with 5 or 6 soundbites that you know management will be looking for which resonate with the business. If you give them an open 5000-character space, some reps will only put in two words and others will write a novel, so providing guidelines is key. Sales ops should also support and enable their sales team to follow the right process by giving feedback if they don’t see something that is quite meeting the defined criteria.
The use of required fields really depends on your organisation and it depends on what you are trying to achieve. I think that the key demographic fields – be it industry, tier level or geography – are always going to drive some decision making down the line. I’d also say that you need to capture as much information about deal outcomes as possible and what drove them, so you can provide feedback across your organisation about where you are doing well and perhaps where you need some improvements. I think we do a pretty good job here of capturing information around prospect feedback on product and the commercial sales cycle – areas which we can feedback across our team and improve our processes, not just in sales and marketing but also the wider organisation.
Look out for our interview with Ryan next week.
Joe Ort, Director of Sales Operations, LiveAction
If you have got something simple, for example, we need a better understanding of the types of meetings that we are doing, you can make it an easy action for the salespeople on the Salesforce Lightning app. It can be a ‘Log a Meeting’ button, which the rep can simply click and move along with their day.
You have got to try to find ways to make it simple, to the point where it is not going to be such a burden for them to relay this information. It is a change management piece, and you have to get people involved. It will not be the easiest thing, and you’ll need reinforcement from top down.
Read our interview with Joe.
Neel Suri, Director – Sales Optimization & Technology, Newsela
It can be a challenge. From a management perspective, it is easy for us to suggest that they add a field and populate it. However, you soon realise that although you have a field in there, it won’t necessarily be useful, or even used at all for that matter. We try to stay away from open text boxes because anyone can put any garbage in there. Also, you can’t analyse it – no one is going to read through every single piece of commentary. To exemplify how we tackled this: We sell subscriptions to schools and districts. When I first started, our sales reps would have to manually create a record for every school that we closed a deal with.
Now, what we realised on the back end was that records weren’t being created. Eventually we would begin to get bombarded with emails from various people nagging you about creating a record. We realised, we can get those outputs – know the school, know the product – but what we need to do is change the experience that a user has. So as opposed to them creating records after the opportunity is won, we modified our process and created a wizard for users to easily select the schools, select the products, create the relationship.
Now we have made a system in which records are made automatically – there is no need to chase anyone for them, and it can be done just a few clicks. You are not going to have to create separate records, we are going to embed it into your workflow and make it an experience for you. As opposed to, ‘another thing I have to remember’.
Ideally, we could move everything to one click, but the reality is there is no cheat code that can do everything for you. To combat this, we try to figure out whether there is data in other places that we can pull in. Is there data that we can calculate or derive from what we already have, to minimize what a person needs to do?
Sometimes there is a key piece of information that we need, but there is really no incentive for that user to provide it. In those cases, we will have to create blockers, such as, ‘you can’t close that opportunity unless you tell us what that funding source is.’
Read our interview with Neel.