What Role Does Software Play In The Field Service Industry? Part 4: Sales, Leads & Proposals

This is the fourth article in a nine part series about the role that software plays in the field service industry. It’s focus is on sales, leads and proposal processes and how software can help you run a better service business by managing your sales operations. We’re passionate about software and the service industry, and we want to help you find the right software for your business, whether it’s our product or a competitor’s.You’ll receive the next white paper in the series next week, but if you can’t wait we encourage you to use the links at the bottom of the page to read the rest of the series now.

How Can Software Improve Sales Processes For The Service Industry?

Contact Management

Contact management and customer relationship management are closely related, but contact management is a more actionable area than CRM generally is.

The purpose of a contact management system is to optimize your points of contract with leads and customers. The following things need to be considered when choosing your points of contact:

  • When was the last time you contacted the person?
  • When was the last time someone else at your company contacted them?
  • What is your purpose in contacting them?
  • What is the contact’s current status or feeling?
  • What is the contact company’s current status?
  • Is this a cold call or a scheduled follow-up?

Good sales management software will be able to answer all of those questions. Without software it might be difficult to record that information, let alone make it readily available to your entire company. Making sales info transparent and available is one of the keys to good contact management. Without transparency it’s possible that multiple representatives will contact a lead without sharing information, which can have disastrous ramifications.

Video demo of good, automated sales processes

Customer Relationship Management

We reviewed the tenets of a good CRM system in the last article in this series of whitepapers, but let’s do a recap more oriented towards sales processes and how they relate to and depend on a good CRM system. Sales depends on the following CRM capabilities:

  • The sharing of detailed lead, contact, sales, and customer information through all company departments and employees.
  • Lead scoring to identify hot leads and focus marketing and sales efforts on contacts more likely to buy.
  • Sales note-taking capability
  • Document uploading and management

Order Management

Sales processes often cross department boundaries and end up affecting work orders, especially when a lead is converted into a customer and a proposal is approved and converted into a work order, which is then performed by your technician staff. Since it crosses over into the work order management realm, sales proposals must play nicely with your work orders in the following ways:

  • Automated methods to advance leads through the sales process and convert them to customers
  • Automation of proposal approval and proposal conversion into work orders
  • Proposals, bids and quotes management
  • Elimination of double entry by automatically pushing relevant CRM info from sales module to customer module to work order module.

Sales Forecasting
One of the most valuable functions of your sales department is the ability to provide a detailed history of sales and to use that information to predict future sales. Good sales forecasting allows managers to plan business processes and goals accordingly. Software can help facilitate sales forecasting by collecting and reporting data in the following ways:

  • How do buyers buy?
    • Customers that have used your services before supply data that helps you guide your future plans and predict how your sellers should sell. Software can help form reports to show you which of your services are most popular, where the most money comes from and much more.
  • Know your checkpoints
    • Sales processes don’t stop after a lead requests your services for the first time. Converting a lead to a customer is simply the first checkpoint in a customer timeline. Tracking other important checkpoints and additional services allow you to target specific customers and goals throughout the customer’s lifetime, and software helps manage that effectively.
  • Forecasting should be dynamic, flexible and current
    • A sales forecast should be constantly updated and always available. It’s not something that should be put together at the beginning of the year with static long range objectives. Software makes collecting and reporting on the most recent data an easy process, which makes your sales forecasting dynamic, flexible and current.

In Summary…

Sales processes need to be just as refined and intuitive as your CRM tools are. They are closely interrelated and any system that doesn’t interface smoothly between sales and CRM is going to be wasting time with double entry and re-filing information when leads are turned into customers. Additionally, your sales processes need to integrate with your work order tools, since proposals are frequently (hopefully always!) converted into work orders. If the interface between proposals and work orders is clunky then, you guessed it, you’re going to spend more time on double entry and entering the same information in different places. Sales, leads and proposals really cannot be a standalone system if you want to maximize productivity and minimize paper pushing.

 We hope our software fits your sales, leads and proposal needs since we’ve been designing software specifically for the service industry for over 25 years, but we’re quick to acknowledge when the fit isn’t right and we’d be glad to point you to one of our competitors who might suit your needs better. If you have any questions about sales systems and how they relate to your specific business processes please feel free to give us a call at 360-293-3000.

This article is the fourth in a nine part series of white papers designed to inform you about the role that software plays in the field service industry. You’ll receive the next article in the series next week, but if you can’t wait until then we encourage you to check out the entire series using the links below. Thanks for reading!

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