Revenue management is arguably the most important job a company leader has. Without insight into the pipeline for future revenue, leaders cannot make projections and decisions. And without a technology solution for tracking and monitoring the pipeline, leaders are left, at best, with guesses for what their future revenue holds.
We've seen everything for pipeline tracking, and, let me tell you, it's frightening how some companies manage their pipelines. Everything from legal pads to index cards to whiteboards to spreadsheets to "in my head!" It leaves us shaking our heads at the potential revenue that business owners are willing to leave up to chance. How can leadership find any confidence in making investments if they have no idea what revenue will follow? How can salespeople be confident they are on top of whatever opportunities they have? It becomes impossible to accumulate intelligence on a prospect if you're not leveraging technology throughout both the prospecting and marketing cycle to collect information and build a prospective client profile.
No doubt, this lack of tracking and data collection is a contributing factor to low conversion and close ratios. If you don't have insight into your buyers' interests and needs, you're moving at a much slower pace. Conversely, the more clearly you understand the buyer, the better chance they become a client.
Leveraging technology across the organization
Using technology to manage client accounts has become a standard practice for business operations. Companies are highly motivated to track existing client data so the service team can follow up consistently and retain clients and, therefore, revenue.
We need to bring this same level of commitment to the pre-sale process to generate new revenue. Making confident decisions for your business requires data rather than relying on gut feelings. Technology can provide the means to gather data. Businesses that engage a company-wide system have access to more data, make decisions and moves faster and run more efficient operations.
What’s the motivation?
As enticing as the promise of tracking and making data-driven decisions is, committing to revenue management technology is a whole other discussion. Tracking sales activity is a strange love-hate relationship with as much psychology as practical application.
Leadership wants the data, the tracking and the accountability. Too often, they want it without doing the set-up and enforcement work to make it happen or even use it themselves. And they often don’t understand how much time and energy it’s going to take to create a successful structure for their team.
Salespeople often don’t want the technology and, more often, don’t want the tracking and accountability that goes with it. And they certainly don’t want the “hard work” of it. Sales team complaints are the No. 1 issue we see holding agencies back from committing to data tracking.
Companies find themselves at a crossroads with this disconnect between what the company wants and what the team wants. What do they do? Forgo the technology and allow salespeople to “track” their pipeline on a whiteboard, in emails or on their “mental checklist”?
See also: 3 Common Mistakes When Verifying COIs
Revenue management technology
Technology doesn’t need to be an extensive, overwhelming system that is difficult to learn.
- It can be as simple as using shared spreadsheets to track the pipeline and marketing activities.
- Or it could be tracking prospects within your client management system and marketing through an email platform.
- Or it could be a complete revenue management system, often referred to as a CRM (customer relationship manager), that integrates both the prospecting and marketing activities into a single platform.
Starting basic and building up your skills and processes is a great way to go. When you are ready to commit to a revenue management platform, you’ll have the habits and processes already established, and you’ll be able to create comprehensive nurturing campaigns for your prospects.
Time and accountability
Regardless of who wants what, before jumping in and committing to writing a check for a new system, be sure you are also willing to make the time investment to overcome the objections and make the technology an expectation in the company. The check is the easy part. The time and accountability commitment typically hangs companies up from having a successful roll-out and adoption of the technology.
You must first have a purpose for the new revenue management system, establish processes for how it gets used and then introduce the technology to help improve efficiency and automation.
If you start with technology, you’ll introduce confusion by trying to create a process while you’re learning the technology. The result is too often a sense of being overwhelmed, and people give up on both the process and technology.
How do you make the decision to commit?
We’ve worked with many companies to establish their sales and marketing platforms, and there is a one-to-one correlation between the leader’s commitment and the team’s use of the platform. If the leader is all-in and sets the example and sets the expectation that everyone else will use it, then the company uses it. If the leader isn’t committed, neither is the team.
It’s that simple.
The value of the data
Salespeople may not want to be open and share notes about their prospect interactions, but, as the business owner, you need to decide who owns these relationships. The salesperson or the company?
The data you have can make or break an opportunity, as we saw from a sales rep who had been working on a big opportunity for an extended time, and who went out on maternity leave before the deal closed. Another rep managed her book while she was out and the prospective client was ready to decide. Unfortunately, the new rep had no notes to reference and told the prospect they would need to go through the analysis again. The prospect wasn’t willing to re-do the exploration and took their business elsewhere. What a shame. Both the company and the rep lost out on this opportunity due to a lack of data.
A platform with accurately updated data can provide salespeople and business owners with much-needed insight into individual opportunities and company performance. If it’s a priority to have the data, you’ll make it a priority for your team to input the data.
See also: UBI Needs a Technology Leap
Making a commitment: paralysis or motivation?
The requirements to successfully install a revenue management system may stir up some fear of failure. But it shouldn’t stop leaders from choosing to move ahead. Instead, use it as motivation to find the gaps and friction in your process and bring everything within your sales and marketing team into alignment. It should inspire you to see the smooth-running future you want to have.
Is it going to take work? Absolutely. But is it worth it? You bet! After the initial learning curve, having your systems automated is significantly easier. You’ll find it doesn’t take long to get a return on the time or financial investment, assuming leadership holds the team to the new rules of the game.