It is important for management to track the various stages within the sales process, from a marketing campaign, to a contract being signed, to the delivery of the products or services. There should actually be a workflow that aligns the activities within the company with the sales process. When leads are generated by a marketing campaign, the leads need to be forwarded to a salesperson for follow-up. When a customer accepts a sales proposal, then legal must to be notified, so that a contract can be written and presented to the customer for signing. When a delivery date is agreed upon, the warehouse and shipping must be notified, so that they can delivery what’s promised. Even if you are a one-person company, the steps a sales process follows are basically the same as for a major corporation, and a “database” is a good way of keeping track of the information gathered and ensuring that the right steps are taken at the right time.
The Sales Stages
The various stages that a sale goes through could be broken down as follows:
- Prospecting – following up on leads and making cold calls to find prospective customers.
- Presentation – making a presentation to illicit interest and determine whats needed and wanted.
- Trial – a trial period for a customer to evaluate some of your products.
- Quotation – providing a written quote based on what the customer wants.
- Negotiation – negotiating the prices and terms in order to secure a contract and a sale.
- Closed – negotiations were successful and the contract signed.
Keeping Track of The Data
Tables should be created in the database to keep track of the following information:
- Campaigns – (type, start date, end date, actions taken)
- Leads – (contact information)
- Contacts – (contact and company information)
- Account – (company and financial information)
- Contract – (terms of the sale)
Tasks and Notifications
At various stages in the sales cycle tasks need to be completed and notifications sent to customers and employees. The database can be used to track the stage of the sale and trigger email notifications that can be sent automatically and logged in the database. Some examples of notifications would be emails sent to leads during the prospecting stage. The sales manager and legal team should be given a heads up when at the negotiation stage, so that they know that a contract is pending.
The whole purpose of tracking sales is to make your company more efficient and to help you to close the sale. Sometimes timing is everything, and if you are not on top of your game, a customer who initially shows some interest in your products might end up being closed by your competition. Databases are a tool that can help you to capture and track information, plus automate certain tasks. Maybe this is just what you need in order to get your company moving and ensure that its future is a bright and prosperous one.