crm best practices for b2b sales

If your B2B Sales team has the best customer relationship management software, do they still need CRM best practices?

In B2B scenario, the contact database is smaller with limited number of lead generation sources. But staying with the leads throughout the process is critical. Despite all the capabilities which a CRM like Salesforce has to offer, we have witnessed many B2B businesses still struggle to see an impressive increase in their sales team’s closing ratio.

At Cymetrix, one of our goals as Salesforce Partners is to maximize the value from the CRM platform. Based upon the insights gathered by our Salesforce Consultants, we believe that such businesses can maximize their RoI in CRM investment, provided they also focus on strategy, process and people around the CRM. 

In this article, we outline CRM best practices along with suggestions for technical enhancements to help you get the most out of your CRM.

CRM Best practices to maximize RoI for B2B sales

Based on key factors that cause CRM failures, we have put together some tips or best practices for sales team to maximize the potential of their CRM system.

1. Map Sales Process with your CRM

In a B2B sales cycle, it is difficult to tell at what stage a customer is at. Unlike a single customer (B2C), businesses have different touch points and considerations. To gain visibility into your organization’s sales pipeline, your sales team will have to map your CRM to your own refined opportunity stages or sales process. This is one of the most important CRM best practices.

Configure the nomenclature of your sales process into your CRM system.  Do you call questions ‘clarifications’?  Are your bids before the pitch ‘initial quotes’ and after the presentation ‘proposal’?  Put these terms in your drop down menus and column headings.  This will reinforce the methods and bolster your sales culture.

That’s when you can accurately predict future revenues based on all deals in progress. You can also track any individual deal, to know when to step in to help a deal along and guide the rep, as necessary.

2. Train your workforce

Educate your Sales team on how to use CRM. Give them training in sales processes, tools & platforms as well as in-depth to use the CRM tool. During the training, focus not just on how to accomplish a task  using the system, but also help them understand the information being presented and the value it adds to the overall sales process.

3. Lay down some rules to enforce the correct use of CRM system

Educating your sales team about adding opportunities to CRM is a best practice. But unless enforced, it would remain just a ‘best practice’ and would not become a disciplined sales process.

CRM is only as effective as your business allows it to be. If your workforce isn’t using it to its full potential, then the CRM will be unable to give the expected or anticipated benefits. Establish a list of rules relating to the use of CRM. Enforce these rules by making them company policies. For example, every new lead, without exception, be processed through the CRM. By enforcing the correct use of the CRM system as soon as it is established, you’ll be able to guarantee a smoother transition, as well as a more-unified team.

4. Measure the sales process

You’ve mapped your sales process to the CRM, trained your workforce on the key actions to move leads from stage to stage and even laid some rules to achieve a disciplined sales process. Now you also need to know if your sales process is working.

One important step is to find out if your sales reps are effectively following up with the leads. Is there a problem with their follow up? B2B communication needs to be more personal. Is your sales team personalizing their outreach?

5. Get a competitive edge by keeping your data connected

Sales team of your organisation is not the only group of people interacting with your prospects. By integrating sales data with other client-informing data sources, B2B sales team can produce highly personalized and even predictive marketing sales approach.

For example, to align sales and marketing, you can integrate Marketing Cloud to the Salesforce platform. It will let you track the effectiveness of marketing campaigns so you know exactly where those quality leads in your pipeline came from.

You might also be interested in: Key imperatives for sales and marketing alignment

5. Mine for actionable data

By integrating your CRM to other data sources, you’ll be able to collect really insightful data. But a CRM with more data cannot help your sales team close more deals or win repeat business on its own. Companies must plan a CRM strategy to make the massive amounts of collected data actionable, and use that information to produce valuable conclusions to make informed business decisions.  If your sales team fails to analyze the data that the CRM gathers, then all of that valuable information is doing little more than taking up storage space.

6. Customize your CRM

Get a competitive edge: Sales and marketing heads must be able to make decisions based on  real-time view of the marketing and sales activities. That can improve the effectiveness of a particular process of lead generation and conversion. Customize your CRM to develop custom dashboards, reports or objects for that purpose.

Alter CRM for changing sales process: In B2B environment, because of limited sources of leads and a smaller contact database, there will always be new information being discovered about the buying experience. And a part of this information would affect the sales process, on the on-going basis. CRM tool should be customized as the sales process evolves.

Rely on automation: Moreover, many of the tasks associated with data entry can be automated for the sales team. Taking advantage of that automation would free up your sales rep’s time on repetitive tasks.

One of the most important steps in a CRM implementation, whether you’re working with a CRM consultant or configuring the system yourself, is defining your requirements. Salesforce CRM, for instance, is built for customization.  In fact, it’s tempting to go beyond the out-of-the-box features provided by the platform. It’s not uncommon to end up with complicated implementations, customization built over previous customization. But that’s not a CRM issue, but the analyst’s challenge.

7. Keep up with CRM technology

Customizing your CRM software for automation and to make better decisions is one aspect of tech related CRM best practices. But if your CRM technology is outdated, you could be missing out on some valuable tools designed to make your organization more successful.

Salesforce, for example, introduced the Salesforce Lightning Experience which provides a fresh, more intuitive experience that allows CRM users to be more productive. In fact, it has proven to enable companies to close deals up to 23 percent faster and boost productivity by up to 41 percent. Take a look at the following presentation to see how leading brands are unlocking the speed of Lightning.

As a side note

This is not exactly a best practice. But when it comes to sales effectiveness of B2B team, it’s worth mentioning
about the CPQ tools. A CRM integration with a CPQ tool allows salespeople to easily work with a customer to get
an accurate, custom quote, while also tracking each customer interaction and storing it in a central location.

Related Post: What is CPQ?

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Cymetrix Software is a Salesforce Consulting Partner and helps customize Salesforce standard programs to meet individual business needs. Our certified SFDC consultants can customize your Salesforce to adapt to your business needs- whether you are starting from the scratch or migrating from other legacy systems. Contact Cymetrix for Salesforce customization.