A sale is the act of selling a product or service in return for money or other compensation. Signalling completion of the prospective stage, it is the beginning of an engagement between customer and vendor or the extension of that engagement.
We have a dedicated Sales team at Exotel. In order for them to focus on actual Sales rather than filling forms, keeping track of data and updating it as a deal moves forward, we’ve implemented sales process automation. We use Pipedrive as our Sales CRM and thanks to their excellent APIs, you can entirely automate the entry and movement of a deal in the pipeline. On top of this, we have built a reporting mechanism that gives timely news about what’s happening with Sales. And finally we’ve also build a system to measure and compare the amount of time and effort that went into each deal.
Let’s go step by step.
1. Sign Up Process
The entry point is the sign up process where user fills in key info which is passed on to the system. Bring in a few lines of code and all this data is passed on to our CRM via the APIs and a new deal is ready with all data pre-filled. Along with this, we also assign a deal owner for each deal. This deal owner is responsible for taking the deal forward. A simple round robin algorithm does the task here. Now, based on this information, we evaluate the quality of the lead. Has the user filled website? Is the email address a company email or normal yahoo, gmail ID? Do we provide services in the state/circle where he wants to use us? How many people work in the company? Is the user owner/manager of the company or just a normal employee? These binary questions help the system to provide a score to every deal and follow ups are based on this score. Every sign up process also shoots an email to the Sales team giving them the data and link to the deal on Pipedrive.
2. Centralizing client data and communication with them
Now, the Sales team can do the more important task of following up with clients, exploring their interests and understanding the use-case. Ideally, they would make a call to introduce themselves and get all this info. Thanks to Ishwar’s hack, now all the calls (emails, messages, missed and failed calls for that matter) are also automatically added as an Activity on Pipedrive, helping us keep track of all the communication for a deal. Pipedrive also lets you add documents related to a deal. So when we ask users to upload company documents in their Exotel account, these also get automatically added here. A Sales guy can look them up and verify them within a few minutes and approve or ask for changes. (Oh, and no need to have a separate person digging into the database to go over these documents and delay the process to a couple of days. Savvy?) So over a period of time, based on the follow ups and quality of the deal, the Pipedrive page of a deal maybe a large pile of activities or a single page with no further updates since registration.
3. Follow up activities
As the deal progresses, the Sales team needs to follow up with the client, finding out how the trial is going, do they need assistance with integration, are they stuck with some feature, have they run out of balance while testing? To systematize this, we created another process which uses a simple algorithm to define the number of touches a deal should ideally have. Touches imply the number of times we contacted with the client, over phone, sms, email etc. Based on the number of days passed since registration, the script checks if there have been any communication between these predefined segments and then sends an email every morning to Sales team with a list of deals that they’re supposed to follow up for that day. This ensures that we are not over-communicating with one client while maintaining sufficient touches with every client.
Recent numbers for past few weeks show that Sales has been able to close (either convert them or mark them as unimportant for now) 70% of the deals using this process.
4. Scheduling process to keep data up-to date
Over the period of a couple of weeks, generally a deal either falls in place and is marked ‘won’ or else is ‘lost’ because the client wasn’t interested or a bunch of other reasons. These lost deals still contain a lot of data and might be useful for retargeting purposes at some later point. But someone has to follow up with them, understand the reason for misfit and appropriately classify it in the CRM. To automate this, I wrote another script that would automatically mark deals older than a month as ‘lost’ and shoot an email to Sales Team every morning, asking them to follow up with the client and classify the lost reason. And what’s more, the script keeps throwing these emails to Sales team everyday, until they reasonably specify the lost reason on Pipedrive. Sometimes I just love the rigidity and emotion-less-ness of code!
5. Tracking and measurement activities
The Sales cycle keeps going through these recurring steps and next comes measuring things over a period of time. How many calls did we make per deal or per day? Are we following up sufficiently with quality leads? Are we spending too much time on bogus leads? How much time are we taking up to respond to a client over email or intercom or when a support ticket is raised? How many activities does it take to convert a deal on an average? Do quality leads need less touches compared to bogus ones? To answer all these questions, and a lot more yet to come, we recently started another ambitious project of building a dashboard for Sales. It would be the holy grail for evaluating the performance of Sales processes and individual efforts. We would be able to find patterns, highlight best practices and improve upon the places where we are lagging behind. I have very recently finished the first version of Sales Dashboard and we’re eagerly looking forward to reaping the benefits from this and get many more learnings to share with you.