Automating the sales process with a CRM solution is a wider area so we are going to break this up into four posts of which this is the first.
Automating the sales process is probably the primary reason for the development of a CRM and is the most popularly quoted reason by adopters for implementing a CRM. A great deal of development has been carried out on CRM sales automation probably as this is viewed as sales activities are the fuel for the business engine whereas accounting and customer service tend to be less well served in comparison.
Issues to consider include:
Lead generation is fraught with error, mispellings of names, addresses and other information together with missing information to begin with and for every good lead there may be a 100 useless ones which you simply do not want blocking up your CRM system.
A good solution to look for is one which seperates out leads from th erest of your CRM repository so that only qualified leads who can be more accurately identified as prospects are allowed into the CRM solution itself.
Account Planning and Management
Managing and planning activity with accounts is a key element for managing sales people and their activities and is often used as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) so you will want to keep a record of this information. You will also likely want to see trend data to match up rises and falls in sales results with sales activity as well as perform analysis to see what activities are producing the actual results and which are not.
Call List and Activity
Following from account management, a good sales person will proactively generate leads, or if they are provided turn them into prospects and eventually customers providing sales revenue.
Consider what tools are being offered by the CRM solution to compile and work their own calls lists and manage their call activity.