Although it was well over 30 years ago, I remember the meeting like it was yesterday. Our president and de facto sales manager was conducting a session with our global sales team — my colleague and me. Beads of sweat appeared on my forehead as he hurled a barrage of questions at us: “What jobs did you close last month, which did you lose and why? What will you book in the next month, quarter, six months and year?” I remember thinking, “Are you kidding me? I don’t know what I am booking next week much less next year. The one thing I do know, is that I am not booking a penny of business while sitting here making up numbers for you!”
My experience illuminates the long-lived struggle between keeping feet on the street and still capturing data back at the office. You can fast forward to today with concepts like real time, metrics, sales funnels, opportunity management, CRM, dashboards, blah blah blah. But it all comes down to the same thing: managers want valuable sales info and sales want to close deals. The more a salesperson has to report, the less time he or she has to sell.
We all understand the value of good sales data, but what makes successful sales reps tick is not typing in numbers to populate graphs on someone’s iPhone. You can demand they do it — even threaten termination — but the data may come at a steep cost. Not only are some of your highest compensated people off the street, you risk demoralizing a group who needs to be constantly on their game. I’ve seen it — salesmen spending 5-15% of their time filling out sales data in a spreadsheet, or updating an underutilized corporate CRM (crude reporting methodology?) system just to create cool looking dashboards.
A growing issue in our industry is that increasingly popular CRM systems cannot typically be used to quote complex fluid handling products. The large CRM firms use their marketing muscle to secure contracts through IT and the board room. They paint visions of dashboards but often fail to fully illustrate how underlying data will need to be populated. Management scratches their head and can’t figure out why the sales force resists adopting the new system, overlooking that perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it DOESN’T ADD VALUE TO THE SALESMAN. Other disparate legacy tools are most likely being used to select, configure, price and quote your equipment, which means the sales staff may have to manually enter data into the CRM system, after quoting the job.
You can’t make this stuff up. Having lived through both sides of this saga, our team at Intelliquip knew there had to be a smarter way — better said, a more intelligent way. At Intelliquip, we have always strived to offer sales software uniquely valuable to our niche. Now after more than a decade in the field, our software is used by thousands of salesmen and applications engineers throughout the world every day to select, configure, price and quote pumps, compressors, blowers, valves, heat exchangers, gears and other complex equipment.
Our recently announced business intelligence module, Business IQ (BIQ), ensures management captures the information they want, in real time, with no double entry. What does the sales funnel look like? What jobs are we getting and losing? How are salesmen performing? What types and sizes of products are users selecting? Do we need to develop some new sizes to meet our customers’ requests? How are the sales tools being used? It is all great stuff. And sales expend NO additional effort to provide it.
Real time and real data that keeps sales on the street and management in a ringside seat; that’s real business intelligence.