Activities are the little but powerful gears that help you move deals forward in your sales pipeline. They represent just about any action (or set of actions) a salesperson makes in attempting to close a deal.
By focusing on tracking activities in a Customer Relationship Management software, you can evaluate which things influence prospects to move forward in your sales process. Understanding exactly what’s moving a deal forward will help you decide the best next steps you should take to close any similar deal in the future.
Tracking activities also highlights the telltale signs that a deal might be slipping away, and helps you pay it the proper attention to keep it moving forward.
Which sales activities should you track?
There are seemingly an endless number of activities you can track within your sales CRM, and it can become overwhelming. It is important to note that the necessary activities you need to track will differ depending on the type of product or service you have, and the length of your sales cycle.
However, here are some key sales activities you can track to keep your pipeline flowing, and what to consider before using each:
A phone call seems to be the first and most common sense form of getting in touch with a prospect. In just a few seconds, a phone call can bring your product or service to life, and you can ask questions, listen carefully, and answer objections in real-time.
But, an initial phone call may not be as effective for businesses that have physical products such as a magazine. You may want to introduce your brand with a free sample in the mail, and then initiate a phone call to discuss what they think. A phone call, without prior context, may make it difficult to explain to the prospect.
Either way, most organizations should be tracking their dials, conversations, and the results of those calls.
Putting a face to a name is always a great idea. In sales, a pleasant face and a warm personality can help make a prospect more comfortable, allowing them to open up more while helping you discover their needs, to serve them better.
But there are times when it can be difficult to arrange a face-to-face meeting, be it due to distance, conflicting work priorities, family commitments, or any other reason.
So when you can get a meeting with a prospect, you will want to plan and share a concise agenda, and respect people’s time. You will also want to set reminders and follow-ups, as well as track the results of the face-to-face meeting.
A sales task could be any minor thing that contributes to your overall success as a salesperson. If it doesn’t contribute, leave it out of your schedule and your sales management tool.
Tasks are useful when you need a reminder to research a prospect before you call them, or to send them a questionnaire to better assess their needs before you decide whether your product or service is a good fit. Pre-call planning can make be the difference between making a sale or not.
There’s no limit to what you can do to help initiate a relationship with a potential customer, and if a task is useful, you’ll want to track it and consider including the same task as an activity in other deals.
If you aren’t pressed for a deadline and need a less invasive way to follow up with a prospect, this is where an email is most appropriate. Emails are also a great way to clarify visual elements or complicated data, which can be difficult to explain over a phone call. They also have the added benefit of making sure all important communications, offers, and agreements are automatically dated and in writing.
Perhaps the most valuable use for email in sales is as a medium for sharing content with prospects – as a link or attachment – so they can access resources on their own time and be better informed by the time they require your input. Downsides include possible long delays between responses, and miscommunication from lack of tone and body language.
But, another great thing about email is that it is easy to track in your CRM, both your activity and the responses.
Setting deadlines is essential in sales. Forget “you snooze, you lose,” true as it may be in many lost deals. The simple fact is that missing deadlines makes you look bad, and makes a prospect worry what would happen if they become a customer and need to rely on you.
One of the most important things in the sales process is to communicate properly and promptly to show you respect the prospect, their time, and their business. And, there is virtually no downside to tracking your deadlines.
CRMs and other pipeline management software allow you to easily set and manage deadlines throughout the sales process.
Managing sales using activities
For sales managers, creating metrics or processes around activities and how to move a sale forward helps you to understand where your salespeople’s strengths and weaknesses are. You can then evaluate what each salesperson should focus on, and coach them to improve their individual outcomes and influence the company’s success.
After a while, you should find your ideal process, and know where and how to adapt it. You can now show your sales team and any new hires exactly what they need to do to close a deal, including specific activities.