As a sales engineer I’m often discussing business requirements with customers around features and technical specifications but I’m surprised I don’t hear more about the importance of getting a return on your investment. Contact Management or CRM software is supposed to make your employees more productive and time is money, so by that logic the software should eventually pay for itself, right?
There are a couple very basic tips I love to show customers when I’m doing demos that demonstrate how to get a return on your software investment. The first is very simple; required fields with locked down picklists. Make your Lead Source or Referred By field required and then lock the dropdown list so the end user can’t enter anything in it, they must select something from the list. You can have this field on a Contact or Company but by default the field resides on the Opportunity which is where I prefer to leave it as well since the same customer can generate more than one Opportunity depending on the lead source. By doing this you will very quickly gain insight into where your leads are coming from and invest your marketing efforts accordingly. Of course, the Administrator will have to manage the drop down list if you have a lot of sources for your referrals but it’s a quick modification that can be easily standardized into your normal marketing processes.
The second is Triggers, a feature that just doesn’t get enough glory in my opinion. The most common way (and one of the most effective) to utilize Triggers is on the Opportunity record. You can force users to select something from the Reason drop down list whenever they close an Opportunity as Won or Lost. And of course you want to lock down this list as well. This will start to generate many key performance metrics in just thirty days of managing a pipeline. Why are you losing/winning deals? What competitor are you losing/winning deals against? (of course you would have to make the competitor field mandatory in this case as well). Who is losing deals and in what stage of the sales cycle and why? If a sales rep is always losing deals in the Negotiation stage then that’s a training opportunity.
I could go on and on about the value and importance of designing your database with the goal of key performance metrics in mind but maybe that’s another blog post.