A System is not a Strategy

My company, Axispoint Solutions is a leading implementation partner for Salesforce.com and I am often called upon to be the Exec Sponsor for our larger deals.

It never ceases to amaze me that people believe that implementing a CRM system (Salesforce or otherwise) is the answer to their problems. Why is it so difficult to understand that a repository of data without a sales process will not yield competitive advantage? In order to be successful, your sales team need to have a greater understanding of your clients business than ever before. Your CRM system must provide rich data as part of the initial lead AND it must guide your sales team through the qualification and bid process.

We have shown (http://www.axispoint.co.uk/lead2cash/) a number of prospects how easy it is to link Salesforce with external systems like OneSource, Hoovers and Google News to provide the background information that give them an edge when calling or meeting their prospects and they are excited. However, too often, they fail to see the wisdom in ruthless qualification supported by a properly implemented sales process.

At Axispoint, our sales process (for complex sales) has a “Bid Review” step where the Sales Exec must:

  • Show a full 360 degree understanding of the clients business,
  • Be able to articulate the problem our solution will address,
  • Monetize the As-Is and To-Be to demonstrate the RoI for the client,
  • Describe their relationship with the problem owner, the budget holder, the IT Director and the Business Owner
  • Demonstrate the clients desire to solve the problem and their ability to pay.
Unless all of the above can be demonstrated our sales process will not let us move on to the next step. It may be that the Sales Exec needs to do a little more work and re-review or we simply “No Bid”. The key metric for us is that we are currently winning 90% of the opportunities that we decide to bid on. You might argue that we might win some of opportunities that we decide to “No Bid”. However, with a 90% win/loss ratio and a better than 40% improvement on revenue year on year I don’t mind one or two slipping through the cracks. I would mind if my sales team were wasting their time bidding on deals that we clearly aren’t going to win.
Thoughts?

About Peter Borner

Peter is an entrepreneur and successful business leader. Currently leading a consultancy firm specialising in technical diligence for M&A and advising global firms on IT consolidation and migration to consumption based costing through the use of Cloud Technologies.

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1 comments
Nick Spencer
Nick Spencer

I couldn't agree more and a previous experience of mine underlines Peter's point perfectly.
The company I was working for was migrating from a bespoke CRM to Salesforce. The only resources used were in-house IT and a Salesforce consultancy firm. The result? They managed to re-build a replica of the hopeless bespoke system they were replacing. Thankfully, Salesforce's flexibility allowed the company to correct this mistake over time and start to get some of the real value that they could have had from day 1. Unfortunately, that process took over two years.