SuiteCRM Activity Management – Best Practices

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Many sales managers often implement Activity Management in SuiteCRM.  Can SuiteCRM do it?  Yes.  However, in my experience, this is not a good idea for a number of reasons.  I can also offer some alternatives to Activity Management that drive sales rather than activity.

Does Activity Drive Sales?

In my experience with over 20 years of selling and sales management, no it does not (and trust me I’ve learned this the hard way!).  I’m not immune from having pushed sales activity as a remedy to grow sales. I learned quickly activity alone does not drive sales.  The right kind of activity to the right people drives sales!  As soon as you start tracking activities like calls, meetings and emails, you’re going to find two things happen.

First, the low performing reps are going to love it. Every week when you ask them about their sales numbers they will happily tell you that they are 100% on track with calls, emails and meetings.  However, you’ll find their sales performance in terms of revenue has not improved.  They will stick around forever because they are happily meeting their activity targets.

Second, the high performing reps are going to be angry and never enter their data, but somehow are meeting or exceeding revenue targets.  Every week you’ll have a meeting with them asking about how many calls and emails they sent and they’ll tell you that they are on target for revenue.  The high performers won’t tolerate this much and shortly will leave if pressed to log calls solely to hit a call target.

The net result is you will be stuck with a bunch of low performing sales reps that meet all the activity targets and are happy about their success in doing so. While at the same time, revenue numbers are falling and no one is meeting target.  The typical solution is…. let’s increase the call quota!  Don’t fall into this trap.  Instead of measuring activity there are much better things you can measure with your CRM.

Instead of Measuring Calls, Measure Results

It’s easy to fall into the trap of measuring activities, especially when you need revenue and are unsure what else to do.  Here are some ideas of what to measure.

Measuring Leads

Measuring the number of leads is going to get you into the same trap as measuring calls.  Your low performers love data entry!  They will enter a thousand leads before trying to close a difficult deal.  You’ll end up with a database full of low quality leads that go nowhere, but your low performers are on target for lead generation!  So what’s the alternative?

Measure movement! 

Measure the following instead:

  • # of leads followed up (status changed from NEW to CONTACTED)
  • #of leads qualified (status changed from NEW, CONTACTED to QUALIFIED)
  • #of leads converted (status changed to CONVERTED)
  • Time from entry to conversion (measure speed of conversion, faster conversion = shorter sales cycle = more revenue, faster)
  • Have an exception report of NEW leads still “NEW” after 7 days, ask your rep why.
  • The conversion rate.  Measure the % of NEW leads that turn into CONVERTED leads.

Measuring Opportunities

Measuring the number of open opportunities is just going to end you up in a situation similar to measuring the number of leads.  You’ll get a whole bunch of low quality opportunities entered that never close.  You’ll find that the best performing reps have a limited number of opportunities entered, but close almost all of them.

Measure Movement!  

Measure the following instead:

  • Number of stage changes.  For example, how many opportunities changed from “qualification” to “proposal”?  How many in “proposal” stage went to “closed won”.
  • Measure Close ratio.  Closed Opportunities to Open Opportunities.
  • Measure the value of Opportunities in each stage.
  • Measure the number of Opportunities in each stage.
  • Measure the time from creation to “Closed Won” stage this will shorten your sales cycle.
  • Of particular importance is the number of opportunities in the “proposal” stage.  If you have an abundance of “stuck” opportunities in the proposal stage, this is another area that low performers like to pad.  Measure them and force them to either close them, or mark them as “closed lost”.  This is a key indicator of opportunities not being qualified properly, or an improper needs analysis before the proposal was generated.
  • Measure the total value or average value of Opportunities closed.

Why don’t more Sales Managers measure movement?

It’s easy to give a directive to “make more calls”.  However, when you start to measure actual sales performance as noted above, it leaves the sales manager with a few difficult alternatives.  Sales reps who are not meeting the performance goals (the ones that actually drive revenue) have to be dealt with.   As a sales manager you either have to invest time (lots of time) coaching them and teaching them how to recognize good leads and opportunities, how to properly analyse the needs of the clients and present solutions, and to be accountable for results, not activities.   This is a huge investment on the part of the sales manager in terms of coaching time.  Each low performing rep will have to be either dismissed or put into a coaching program if they are worth the investment.

What happens when you start measuring movement?

You quickly learn that your top performers are doing this stuff anyway!  You can stop spending time with the high performers lecturing them about entering call reports and just give them kudos as necessary.  You can concentrate your time coaching the low performers to be better sales reps.  You will also have to make some difficult decisions about whether or not a low performer is worth the investment of your time.

You’ll find high performers stay and low performers either leave, or improve through coaching.  This leaves you with just the high performers.  Your revenue numbers will skyrocket.

How iGo Sales and Marketing can Help?

We not only offer SuiteCRM consulting to help clients install and implement SuiteCRM, but we help them better define and measure their business workflow.  From their marketing funnels, to sales opportunity cycles, even their operational customer service workflow.  Contact us and ask us how, we’re happy to talk to you about your unique needs and how SuiteCRM can help.

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