Vacation/holiday patterns in EMEA mean that Northern Europe is off in July with southern Europe disappearing in August. In North America business is similarly slow with people keen to leave at a reasonable time to enjoy the nice weather. Forecast calls lose attendance and projects slow down as decision makers are out of the office. It can be a real pain. However, this is also a great time for sales operations to be making the most of summer.
Here are some ideas for initiatives for the summer slow down. To me these are items that fall into quadrant 2 as per Stephen Covey’s model below.
1. Schedule some data quality projects
Cleaning data can be a pain. Especially as its important, but hardly ever urgent. Here are some ideas on how to keep your data ship shape! I think a large initiative once a year with regular activities throughout the year is the best way to stay on top of things.
Start with a data quality dashboard
If you don’t already have one of these built in your CRM, this is a great time to do it. These should be reports that return data anomalies. Examples include close date in the past, records missing key data fields, etc. Ideally this is something where there is a worldwide view, by region and even some reports or even a dashboard by individual.
Have a think about a data cleanup strategy. What items would be best to be cleaned up with a data loader and which need to be looked at one by one? What is the best use of time? I recommend dataloader.io which is a whole lot easier then an Apex data loader I’ve used in the past mostly as it can be used from the cloud with nothing to install. If you are going to be making mass changes, then try and see if you can make a few at the same time. Good practice is to save a ‘before’ and ‘after’ file so you can revert any large errors.
Divide and conquer
Some things can’t be fixed with files and really need a one by one look. If you manage a team, ensure your dashboard can be filtered to the region someone covers, and make each person on the team personally responsible for their region. In some cases, hiring a temp can be a hugely efficient way to do this. On the subject of temps, think forward to next summer – try and get a university intern. They can do lots of work for you for a very low price and summer is a good time to have time to spend coaching and mentoring an intern.
Cleaning old/bad data
This is something marketing operations should be doing on a regular basis and this is a great effort to align efforts. The average duration for a sales manager is 2-3 years, so have a think about the average duration of a person in your prospect profile. Have a think about what other data might be stale or out of date. Does your data set mention competitors that no longer exist? Are there duplicate emails in your records? Do you have any duplicate company names to merge? Are all your accounts in a proper hierarchy?
CRM field cleanup
This is a great time to do a cleanup of CRM fields and data. A great app for Salesforce available on the AppExchange for this is Field Trip by Qandor. It easily shows your what fields are being used (and not).
2. Supplement your data
On top of cleaning data, perhaps you want to add to your database. Have you captured and, more importantly, profiled all potential prospects in your CRM? Do you have contacts for all of your key accounts? I highly recommend looking into a tool such as InsideView and would be happy to setup a quick call to talk about some creative ideas of how I’ve used them in the past and make some introductions. I would suggest getting your sales ops team up and running immediately (they can get you going in under a week) then you can work to evaluate the tool for broader usage with time.
3. Build and validate a technology roadmap
Summer is a great time to step back and consider the long term plan. I would look at benchmarking where you are, learning more then validating your plan with as many peers and experts as you can.
Arrange some demos from some leading best of breed vendors
Demos will help you get an idea for what good looks like. There could be technology your business might not be ready for years, and there could be something that could help the largest issue your organisation is facing at the moment. By staying aware of what is out there you can ensure that you can put various initiatives at the right place in your roadmap. If you want some help on suggestions for who to have a look at, shoot me a quick email at [email protected] – happy to have a quick chat!
After you build a timeline and business cases (with ROI) for a 3-5 year enablement plan, you should get as many people as you can to review your draft plan. Share your plan with your CRM vendor, other application vendors, any thought leaders or consultants. Most people would be happy to share some thoughts and other things to consider and this will ensure your plan is even more bullet proof. Impress your Head of Sales upon their return from his/her beach cottage. Show him/her you have been making the most of summer with a professional and peer-validated plan.
4. Get a head start on planning for next year
If your organisation runs on a calendar year, the bulk of your planning for next year probably happens around September through November. Wouldn’t it be great to be making the most of summer and have your data clean and your model set leading into that? If you are following the ‘always be planning’ philosophy you will be always be working to ensure your data is clean. If asked ‘how many companies between £1-2m exist in market x’ that should be a question you can arrive at the answer relatively easily.
The first step of planning is getting your assumptions correct. One example is average deal size within a certain segment. To get this data you should use your historical data as a base line and tweak up or down based on goals. This means understanding how things are working currently. Instead of pulling some analysis once, make a dashboard with a series of reports. You can then put a filter on for won and lost deals as well as time periods to have a look. You can then use this for planning as well as throughout the year to measure against those assumptions This way its easy to see, well we are hitting our lead plan, why are we not making our numbers? Ah, because average deal value is down, etc.
This is a great time to put some work into your planning model. Does it have a top down and bottom up sizing? What about your commission plan? Have you modelled different achievement scenarios?
Want to get started?
It is never too late to be making the most of summer. If you would like a quick chat about putting together something for your org, please contact [email protected]