There is always a danger in focusing on the tools used to get a job done. (We all know the cliché about the six-year old with a chain saw…) That said however, a robust CRM system just might be the most powerful tool a sales team can have.

A highly functional CRM system is not the only tool required by a modern sales team (or more precisely an effective, modern sales team), but it is certainly the most central. Without one, it’s not really possible to get the most out of the other core sales tools or the professionals using them. Thinking about your CRM as “The Weapon,” that is, the key supporting infrastructure for a sales team’s process, metrics, knowledge, skills and experience can have a dramatic impact on results produced – both short and long term.

Consider the accompanying diagram starting with reports “The Weapon” can produce using “Open Opportunity” data combined with year-to-date actual performance. (down & left from The Weapon in the diagram) With that information, a valid, supportable forecast can be developed. That forecast will tell me in a heartbeat if I do or do not have enough in my funnel to reach my targets.

If I don’t have enough to get there, the “A” items in my Prioritized Action Plan will be aimed at finding more opportunities. If I do have enough, those actions will be focused on advancing deals through the pipeline.

Concentrate on those 4 boxes at the top. (Do it!) Think through and follow your work flow. Seems like exactly what the mythically ideal sales rep/manager/executive should be doing every day doesn’t it? What the heck else could be more important? (…except, of course, actually executing the action plan!)

Well OK, that takes care of the tactical stuff, but what about the more strategic & long term issues? With other reports from “The Weapon,” a sales manager (or conscientious rep) can quickly and clearly identify skill deficiencies and use your Sales Knowledge Mine to help plug those gaps. (You do have a keyword-searchable Sales Knowledge Mine that stores all of the “tribal knowledge” accumulated by your sales pros over the years, right?)

Concentrate on those 3 boxes at the lower left. (Do it!) Seems like a no-nonsense, disciplined approach to self-improvement and sharing best practices, doesn’t it?

And of course your regularly conduct Opportunity, Territory, Win and Loss Reviews to beef up action plans and peg down what works and what doesn’t. Everything you learn from these reviews – the good, the bad and the ugly – gets translated into action and also stored in the Sales Knowledge Mine. The actions that “sound great, but don’t work” get avoided and the “counterintuitive gems” get implemented again and again. Concentrate on those 3 boxes around the lower right hand corner. (Do it!) Removes all the fluff from the concept of “coaching,” doesn’t it?

At the risk of going too “liberal artsy intellectual,” I’ll quote Oliver Wendell Holmes. “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” I think this flow chart qualifies as one that made it to “the other side of complexity.”

Think about it…

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