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Brad Furie, iQuoteXpress

Light at the end of the funnel: managing remotely, managing by proposal

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The CRM is a sales manager’s “eyes upon the world.” Every lead your team is working, every opportunity in the pipeline, every task and activity can be seen, and acted upon. Whether they’re working remotely, as most every sales rep is doing in these trying times, or on-site.

New to managing remotely? Here’s where you start.

First, know that you’re not alone. COVID-19 has resulted in nearly 30% of the US workforce learning to work from home.

Where your reps could once rely on IT or admins for help with systems and processes — within and outside of Dynamics — they’re now becoming a shop of one. But they still need managing.

Luckily, sales organizations have long been on the “front lines” of working remotely, all the way back to the days of The Traveling Salesman. So sales managers often have experience in managing a remote workforce.

If you’re not sure where to start, or you’re pressed for time, perhaps the easiest means of managing remote sales teams is called “managing by proposal.” Because while there are myriad success metrics you can track, none has a greater impact on your bottom line than proposals in circulation.

Not only that, but at this moment in history, it’s likely easier to close what’s in your pipeline than fill the top of the funnel.

Why not just use what’s in CRM?

Absolutely use what’s in D365 CE/CRM! Managing by proposal does not replace day-to-day funnel management. It simply reduces a dozen sales tracking metrics to the most essential one: closing new business. 

It comes down to effective time management: if you’re a sales manager who has the time to manage each rep’s funnel from open leads to closed deals, then by all means do so!

But if you’re pressed for time, helping a team new to work remotely on other tasks as they become acclimated, managing by proposal can help you streamline management duties while keeping your eye on the bottom line.

Managing by proposal requires extending CRM

We believe there’s no better top-of-the-funnel system than D365 CRM (whether you’re using Sales, PSA, Field Service, etc.). All the tools you need for identifying and qualifying prospects are built into the Microsoft ecosystem. However… there’s a slight blind spot at the quoting and closing process.

Let’s start with creating a quote. In CRM, sales quotes are typically generated in Word or Excel, saved as a PDF, and sent along with an email. That’s ok, but it results in a quote that looks like it was created in Word or Excel.

And when it comes to the closing process, what you’ll often find in an “out of the box” CRM is quotes sent; opportunity won; opportunity lost. That’s a dearth of details. (Like if someone described Star Wars by saying, “There were some robots in the desert. And later the good guys won.”)

To create compelling, professional looking quotes quickly, and to be able to completely track every step of the journey during the signing process, you need to extend D365 with CPQ.

A CPQ system will empower your sales team — rookies and veterans alike — to quickly create professional sales quotes populated with your most compelling offers and optimal pricing in just minutes.

And the tracking tools embedded in CPQ allow you to track every step of every quote, empowering you to manage by proposal. The kinds of insights delivered by CPQ are often the most critical and pulled from what is most often CRM’s aforementioned slight blind spot — the quote singing process — hence delivering light at the end of the funnel.

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