One of my first outside sales jobs was for Nextel. It was the late 90s and they had just launched their service in Nashville. I was a typical young sales rep: working during the day and enjoying life without much responsibility. Once I accepted the job I got an apartment near the office. The convenience of working close to home was great however my unit was located right next to the pool.
It was not very long before that pool became my office. When I wasn’t out visiting with clients I was at the pool making calls and getting a great tan. Was I effective? Absolutely! I loved my job. Moreover, I loved the freedom.
Of course, I was keen to the fact that freedom came with expectations. My manager expected me to put up numbers and make him look good. That is exactly what I did all summer. I wasn’t micromanaged and was never once asked where I had been all day. Every sales person knows that with great numbers comes even greater freedom.
So…Do I Need to Track My Salesperson?
I was lucky and so was my manager. He didn’t have to worry about where I was because I was lining his pockets. Other people typically don’t have it that good. I’ve heard stories of salespeople working other jobs while getting a full-time salary with benefits from the company they are supposed to be working for. Any sales manager that doesn’t employ some sort of accountability system will inevitably experience this some day.
Fast-forward to today and there are many options available in regards to tracking. There is GPS in every phone. There are apps (like Yesware) used to track email. The most widely used tracking solution in today’s sales forces is the dreaded CRM. Don’t get me wrong, as a business owner, I LOVE CRM. It gives me the ability to get a snapshot of my business. Conversely, my salespeople despise it. Every time I bring on a new hire I can see the thought in their head when we show them the CRM.
“You really want me to enter every single activity into a database?”
Many companies have strict rules about CRM usage. They withhold compensation or even go as far as termination for lack of CRM follow-through. These types of ultimatums occur because the company has spent a great deal of time, money, and energy to deploy the hated CRM. Top performers are often given a pass to not input any data. Underperforming reps put in fake data so they appear to be doing their jobs. Between time spent nagging employees to actually use the CRM and then managing the data that is actually entered sales managers are left with very little time to coach and train.
The Calling I Had as a Salesman
A few years ago I decided to cure the problem rather than treat the symptoms. We designed CallProof to make CRM activity automatic. Gone are the days of spending hours each day entering every single call detail and every single meeting note into SalesForce or Microsoft Dynamics.
The CallProof mobile app automatically enters calls to clients and prospects into the database when initiated from a user’s phone. It also gives users an easy way to “check-in” to appointments similar to what many social networks offer.
All of this information is then aggregated to the secure CallProof web portal giving sales managers a concise stream of real-time activity. We even integrated CallProof with Google Places to allow users to easily input company names, addresses, and phone numbers without having to type a thing. I’ve always believed that the less non-selling activity you require from a salesperson the more sales they will get.
I still haven’t answered my question. Do I need to track my salesperson?
Of course, I do! Do I need to track their every movement? Probably not. I need to track their activity. The average organization will allow an underperforming salesperson to hang around for 10 months before moving them to a performance plan.
Many companies define underperforming as “low revenue.” That is a broken way of thinking.
Times have changed. Money is tight. Many companies have seen their sales cycles extend as a result of customers making more informed buying decisions. I created CallProof to solve my own problem. I’m hoping you will read this and realize that it can solve yours too.