This year I pledged to get my sales team away from Excel spreadsheets and onto a unified platform that is easier and more extensible. Over the last two years my sales team has kept track of the deals they are doing using Excel and first and then Google Apps. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Excel, and I still love Google Apps, however at a certain point they can become less than ideal, especially when you are working on multiple deals with daily updates. Now, after a few weeks of initial testing I have a good workflow going in Salesforce.com and am looking forward to rolling this out to the troops.
If you don’t know what Salesforce.com is let me stop for twenty seconds and give a quick high-level overview. Salesforce.com is the most widely used CRM that allows for salespeople to manage and track contacts and leads at every step of the sales cycle. It is highly customizable which is what I think makes it such a great tool for managing domain sales, especially if you have a team that actively works with potential buyers.
Since I love case studies, I thought I’d walk you through the sales process that I’m training the team on right now. It all starts with Leads:
The first step is for the salesperson to enter the name, company, title, email and phone number. This basic contact information is critical to have and I always make sure that my salespeople are dealing with a decision-maker so title is important. You can spend all day convincing a middle-manager within a company that a domain is a great fit for them but it’s their boss’s, boss’s boss who makes the decision. I also have them start all leads with a rating of “Cold” since initially you don’t necessarily know how badly someone wants a particular name.
Data like number of employees and annual revenue is also important and in many cases this is available on either Crunchbase or Wikipedia, or even on the company’s own website. Description is nice to have so that any notes can be included on the front-end, was this someone that emailed us from the WHOIS info? Did the lead come directly from the site’s contact form? Did the buyer already throw out a price?
Once the lead has been created it is easy to keep track of phone calls and emails:
Some sales are closed in a couple of emails, others take multiple emails and phone calls. The problem with Excel and Google Apps is that managing these interactions within a spreadsheet can get ugly. Since I might not be involved in any part of the sales process this also makes it easy for me to quickly see how a sales is progressing.
A nifty feature called “Chatter” also makes it easy to broadcast messages in a Twitter-like fashion but only to employees. This can be a lot more effective than sending emails back and forth, it’s all these little things working seamlessly in one platforms that makes Salesforce.com a time-saver and a much more effective way for keeping track of sales data.
The cost is only $25/user which means for $100/month I can have a fully customizable platform with a lot of horsepower and room for growth. If I go from 3 to 30 salespeople I don’t have to worry about changing platforms, Salesforce makes scaling easy.
Oh, last but not least, I am not being paid by Salesforce.com in any way nor are there any affiliate links in this post. If you sign-up and start using it, good for you but there’s nothing in it for me, I’m already getting what I want 🙂 Whether you are managing your domain sales yourself, or if you have a team doing it for you Salesforce.com can definitely help you get a lot more organized and when it comes to sales organized is an absolute must because timing is everything. Let me say that again, timing is everything. Opportunities can be missed if you take two days to respond to an interested buyer, in fact most leads are considered “Hot” for less than 15 minutes.