What is my pipeline? Who are my prospects? What are my potential opportunities? Who are my key accounts for each of my distributed sales reps? Etc., etc., etc.
Questions like these are all too familiar when working with a distributed sales force. Sales managers often find themselves scrambling at the end of the month to track down each of their reps to find out any and all information they can for sales pipeline management. If your distributed sales force sells multiple product lines, then it is even more challenging. At best, this information is partial and may be several weeks old. At worse, a rep has moved on to a competitor along with their precious customer information.
Distributed sales reps tend to hold information close and look at their personal customer information as their insurance card for why corporate needs them. So, how does management get insight into prospect/customer details such as: pipeline, sales trends, key customer details, etc. while still allowing the distributed sales team a sense of autonomy and information ownership?
There are a couple options that come to mind. On one hand, management could demand all client information from their reps and if they don’t comply then out the door they go. Of course, this would not sit well with a distributed sales force since many times they sell multiple competitor products and the competitor companies they work for do not have such hard-lined requirements leading to a lose-lose situation.
A better option is a simple “sample request portal” integrated with Dynamics CRM. Many reps require some kind of product samples for customers to evaluate. The request would specify what product and for which customer or potential customer. A sample request portal would provide an easy way for reps to requests product samples and allow management to see who the request was for. All this information would be tied back to the CRM account record for reporting, etc. The sample request portal would only be a starting point and certainly not an end-all when it comes to gathering customer information. The sample request portal would automate the capture of at least some relevant information around your customer base.
Sales reps tend to be competitive by nature, so future versions of the portal could include dashboards showing sales by region, or sales by rep, etc. The portal could even expose specific CRM information to portal users and allow them to interact and update that information. The overall goal of the portal would be a starting point for increasing the willingness of your distributed sales force to communicate more information from the field to management and enabling them with tools that will help them achieve their sales goals.
If you have an idea for a portal and want to see what the crm experts at PowerObjects can do – let us know.