Episode 219: Liz Heiman – Revolutionizing Sales CRM: Aligning Process, Data, and Engagement for Success
Liz Heiman joins us on this episode to share valuable insights on how sales leaders can enhance their CRM to support their sales team in achieving their goals. Liz explains how aligning CRM features with the sales process can liberate your reps from noise and boost engagement. She also highlights the significance of creating a CRM that empowers the team and transforms busy work into productivity. Liz stresses the importance of defining clear stages, prioritizing activities over proposals, and integrating rules that guide progress. Tune in to this episode and discover how to revolutionize your sales CRM for ultimate success.
Liz Heiman is the Sales Operating System Architect and the Founder of Regarding Sales. Her team is dedicated to helping founders and CEOs scale their businesses by streamlining their processes and creating sustainable growth strategies that boost revenue. Liz is renowned in the sales industry for her expertise in both the sales process and seamlessly integrating it into CRM.
Liz Heiman 00:02
Showing up where your prospects and referrers are in a way that brings value and it’s interesting and maybe even fun.You’re where they are, you’re hanging out and you’re building relationships. That’s how we saw it.
Welcome to the Making Sales Social Podcast featuring the Top Voices in Sales, Marketing, and Business. Join Brynne Tillman and me, Bob Woods, as we each bring you the best tips and strategies our guests are teaching their clients so you can leverage them for your own virtual and social selling. Enjoy the show!
Brynne Tillman 00:39
Welcome back to Making Sales Social. My guest today is not only one of my favorite human beings professionally, but I consider her one of my dear, dear friends. Liz Heiman is joining us. She is the sales operating system architect and the founder of Regarding Sales, which by the way, has the coolest logo. I love it.
Liz guys are ready to scale founders and CEOs to take the chaos out of the sails and create a more sustainable growth strategy that strengthens the pipeline and streamlines their process to increase revenue predictive ability. Liz, my friend, and you really not only hang out when we go places, even together, we travel. There’s very few folks in my world that I can talk to on a consistent basis. And you are one of them, because I just absolutely love you. And enjoy every minute we have together. And now I’m excited to share you with my audience.
Liz Heiman 01:49
I’m excited too! And Brynne… it’s completely mutual! In fact, I can’t wait till we get together in Phoenix. Yep. Our next adventure, So.
Brynne Tillman 01:59
I’m so excited. So there are so many things I want to ask you. But we start by asking every single guest. What does Making Sales Social mean to you?
Liz Heiman 02:10
Well, can I start with what it doesn’t mean?
Brynne Tillman 02:13
Liz Heiman 02:14
It does not mean sending me an email that says, “I saw your LinkedIn. And you’re so impressive. And what you’re doing is so incredible, and I’d love to connect,” And then you connect and they say “I sell this. Do you want to buy it?” Like that’s not selling social? That is like the most annoying thing in the world.
Brynne Tillman 02:32
Yes, I agree.
Liz Heiman 02:35
But that’s not, but what it is, what does it mean? And I think it is, maybe you don’t. I share a definition here. But to me, it’s showing up where your prospects and referrers are in a way that brings value. And it’s interesting, and maybe even fun, you’re where they are, you’re hanging out and you’re building relationships. That’s how we saw.
Brynne Tillman 02:55
So I love that. And, often we talk a lot about treating the person on the other side of the message the same way we would if they were on the other side of the table. And that’s it right if this were an in-person networking meeting, we would be having fun, we’d be giggling a little bit. I’ve learned more about you, you learn more about me. And so I love that definition.
So I’m going to ask you a question because you know, you are most known in the sales industry for two major things. One is the sales process. And the other is getting that sales process seamlessly integrated to CRM. Now CRM when I hear this, I go anti-social. Like every client I work with, they’re like, we could get our reps to use the CRM. So I’m gonna start with why are they not using it?
Liz Heiman 03:49
So let’s start there. Because I will tell you a very simple answer, because you have made it so that it is not useful. So when people design your CRM, they design it with accountings concerns and production concerns and Customer Success concerns. And sales have to struggle through the noise. And it’s not useful. It’s not helpful. It’s just noisy.
It’s just busy work. And it isn’t helping them accomplish what they want to accomplish. So if you want your sales team to use a CRM, have your sales team help you design the CRM that will do the work that they need to do. A lot of times they feel like all it’s about is reporting all you care about as reporting. And so you’re making it really hard for me to do my job, and so they don’t use it.
Brynne Tillman 04:37
So what does that look like when you go into a client and say, “Okay, we’re gonna read your CRM and have the sales reps participate in that.” How do you do that?
Liz Heiman 04:50
Well, the first thing is to sit with the sales reps and go through what the sales process really is like, what does your sales process work look like? What do you do when the rules are to move? But from prospecting, like, what first what are the stages? I use simple stages, Right? I use prospect qualification, I use cultivate, but you could use solve and close, Right? Those are your three stages. And there are four stages and they’re all right. I’m prospecting. I’m qualifying, I’m solving or cultivating.
And I’m closing, they are activities happening within a stage, they are not proposals sent. Proposal sent is not a stage, I’m solving the problem of the gate to get from solving to closing, as I’ve said, I’ve gotten a verbal agreement. And We have sent the proposal contract for signature, Right? So those activities are the gates. They’re the rules that move you from one stage to the next. But the stages are activities, there are series of activities that are happening within a stage.
So the first thing is, let’s be really clear about what the stages are, or what they need, what the rules are, and move them from stage to stage and what helps a salesperson know where they are in the sales process. So that’s the first thing. So now this is about how we support them to keep track of their sales because it really was built to manage opportunities. And if you know, do you know John Farrar?
Brynne Tillman 06:17
Well, I love New Oh, right.
Liz Heiman 06:20
So what you may not know about John is and what your guests may not know about me is that my dad is Steve Heiman. And Steve Heiman created strategic selling, which has the stages of the sales process, the very early stages of the sales process Ironman. So John Farrar read strategic selling, and created a goldmine.
Brynne Tillman 06:42
We were here, have I ever used it?
Liz Heiman 06:45
It was the first standalone CRM. And so here’s what’s really interesting, it was built to track opportunities and a place to keep information about your clients. That’s why CRMs were built, Right? So if you start from that premise, and the main point of the CRM is to track the opportunity, I know where I am and what I need to do next. Right. So that’s the first thing, build it. So it helps your salespeople do that.
Brynne Tillman 07:11
I just want to say I love what you said, here are your stages. And here are the activities for each stage, when I’m at Prospect, what proposal is sent, because that is one of my stages. And now it’s going to change, Right? So when I map a proposal, that’s an activity that should go under cultivating or solving, Right? So what I love is then there would be another activity, Right? If I don’t get a backside, right? It’s not like these ridiculous little stages. It’s here’s the four major stages and the activities. And now as a salesperson, I can know what activity I need to do next. And I love that.
Liz Heiman 07:54
Yeah. And so here, I’ll tell you another really funny story, which is, when I go in, and I look at people’s CRMs, you’re supposed to have a funnel, you’re it’s not a pipeline, although we call it a pipeline, he’s actually a funnel, Right? So you start with 10 things in the top for each thing that comes out the bottom, that’s funnel. But when I look at everybody, CRM, and they have a proposal sent as a stage, guess what shape it is, it’s like a vase.
It’s skinny at the top and has a big ol bulge at the bottom. And a lot of that stuff is already too close. Because just because I sent them a proposal does that mean that’s where they are in the buying process. So when I get those stages wrong, I am now misrepresenting where the customer is in the buying process, I have a whole bunch of stuff sitting with either proposal sent or with client, right. So it’s all sitting there.
But like one of my clients, even if it was a budgetary proposal that they were going to use to go get funding, it still was sitting in that bottom, because I sent a proposal. But just because I sent a proposal does not mean that’s where they are in the buying process. In fact, they’re not even qualified when we set that first budgetary proposal.
Brynne Tillman 09:04
Wow. And is that because we didn’t do all the right steps at the other stages? We sent it too soon?
Liz Heiman 09:10
Sometimes it’s because a client needs that before they can do anything else. I can’t buy anything from you till I get funding. So could you give me a round budgetary proposal so I can go get funding, and then I can come back and buy something from you. Or maybe it’s the first person in the sales process that is going to buy right or that is asking for the proposal. So I sent my team out, go get us a CRM, don’t buy us this or that. And I send them out with some with some broad instructions for which they make criteria.
Then they go out to the vendors, which they see as vendors at this point and they say can you give me a proposal based on this criteria, and then you send it back that is not ready for signature that the person who asked for that data is a gatekeeper. There’s somebody who has been sent out to gather for ration, they’re not really an important part of the buying process.
Because once you get past them, there’s a whole bunch of other people that have to say, “Yes, this works for me or No, it doesn’t.” And we think that that person has buying power when they don’t. So now it’s just sitting there as if it’s ready to close, when in fact, there’s a whole bunch of activity. So it really still may be a qualifying because we don’t even know if the rest of the buyers if this solves their problem the way it should, or if they meet the right criteria for us, we just know that we met a certain set of criteria for that.
Brynne Tillman 10:30
So that’s brilliant. It really is. And that’s why that can’t be a stage because that could be anywhere in the cycle.
Liz Heiman 10:37
So just because we think it’s the end of the sales process doesn’t mean it’s the end of the buying process, which means our buying process and our sales process are misaligned.
Brynne Tillman 10:45
Yeah, brilliant, really, really, really brilliant. I love that. Now we have the CRM, we’ve talked to the reps, we’re using this more effectively, what can we do? First, to create an environment where the sales reps want to use the CRM, there’s benefit to them? And then, how can the CRM actually help? In the cultivating side of things?
Liz Heiman 11:18
Okay, so here’s the first thing, a CRM is not helpful if it’s not up to date. So as a sales rep, as soon as it gets out of date, I stop looking at it. And I personally am guilty, I have all these activities in there, I haven’t kept it up to date. And I don’t want to look at it because it’s out of date. So what are the first things that we can do? One is, if you’re very busy sales reps, I’m going to suggest something that is like most sales leaders will cringe at getting their support.
Get them a team that will help them keep their CRM up to date, she has a really cheap solution. So that’s one thing, the other is holding them accountable. So until you get into the habit of working in your CRM, it’s always going to be out of date. And then you’re going to have this job to do at the end of every week to update your CRM, which is time consuming and not fun, and nobody likes to do it.
And the reason your CRM is out of date, it’s because you’re not working in it. Now, it’s hard to work in your CRM when you’re traveling. But we do have a handheld version. And we can, you know, type in someday somebody brilliant is going to make it so I can speak in what I want to have happen after meeting. Here’s the notes, here’s the state changes at stage and so forth, which we can’t do yet. AI hasn’t gotten us there.
Brynne Tillman 12:29
But what you can do, I do this is I will voice to text, an email it and the email will attach to the contact. Right? So it’s not perfect.
Liz Heiman 12:43
But there are things that you can do so the idea is that you work in your CRM as much as possible. That’s the first thing. And the second thing is as sales managers and sales leaders, we hold our team accountable to keep that CRM up to date. Once I get in the habit of doing it, they’ll continue to do it. Once they get out of the habit of doing it, they’ll stop doing it because it’s out of date. And it’s not useful. Every week, you have a mini 15 minute, mini federal review.
Once a month, you have a full on funnel review that helps them keep their CRM up to date, and helps you make sure that you understand what’s really going on as a leader so you can make appropriate decisions about resources. So that’s one thing is that we nudge them to keep it up to date, so that it’s accurate and we make sure that whoever’s putting data in, is doing it accurately.
So if you have a customer experience team, or you have an accounting team or whatever, they’re not undermining sales work by putting in a lot of junk into us. So I have a team that sends these fictitious contacts that are just a number because they purchase something. And that’s in there under my list of contacts. So what am I supposed to do with that? So every time somebody else sends junk into the CRM, it undermines the ability to use it.
Brynne Tillman 14:00
No company name.com is now like a CRM.
Liz Heiman 14:05
Right. So, ST1355 is not a person I can call, Right? So the other thing is providing a tool that helps keep the CRM up to date. So there are lots of tools that will provide the most current information about who’s in what position in a company. So if I’m selling enterprise, and I’ve got a bunch I got 100 leads in the funnel over the course of two years.
Somebody’s gotta help me keep that up to date. That’s crazy. I can’t do it. People change positions so often they provide me a tool that helps me do it, maybe use LinkedIn to do it, giving me things that make it easy for me to keep the data up to date. And I forgot what the question was now but we were getting somewhere.
Brynne Tillman 14:44
I think it was around how do you get them to use it. You know, we now have it set up based on their criteria and what they need, but still adoption is difficult. So what are some things that we can do other than account On the ability that gets them a little excited to use it or interested in using it?
Liz Heiman 15:05
Well, accountability is one of the biggest things. The other thing is you hope you know their KPIs. So right now sales are met. Most salespeople are measured on one or two things, or a combination of one is how many calls did you make? How many meetings did you have? Okay, really, I’m a senior sales rep, and you’re gonna count how many meetings I had. Seriously, that’s how you treat me as a sales rep. Like, “Okay, I understand you have an SDR, they have to make 90 calls a day because that’s their job.” But don’t treat me that way.
Brynne, I think you were on a call with me one time where the woman said, “I make more money than anybody else. I sell more than anybody else in the company. I get all of my leads through referrals. And I’m in trouble every single week because I didn’t make calls.” How was that helpful? So now if as a company leader, we tie KPIs to funnel activity? Now we have something to measure? That’s helpful.
Did you keep your funnel up to date when we did the funnel review? Was it up to date? Or was everything out of date all the due dates overdue? wrong numbers wrong? Stage, Right? That’s a KPI. Because I can’t do my job. If you don’t do that. First of all, too, I can’t help you. If I don’t understand what’s going on in your funnel. How do I make sure you have the leads that you need or the support that you need, or the coaching that you need? If what’s in the funnel isn’t inaccurate.
So that’s one KPI, second KPI, is there nothing at the top of the funnel to get you what you need at the bottom of the funnel. I should know those numbers. If it’s one to 10, and your sales cycle is six months, we can do the math and figure out what you need to have in the top of your funnel and move through your funnel. So what’s at the top of the funnel? What are the ratios from stage to stage, what’s the velocity are things just sitting there for months on end that nothing’s happening.
Now, your KPIs are tied to these things, something real, that’s something fake, right? Something real that matters. Because if your ratios are right, and your funnel isn’t full, you’re not going to hit your numbers, regardless of how many phone calls you make. Correct. Right. Now, I mentioned something that has an impact. And then the next thing that I do is every single open opportunity or deal should have a next action, whether you put it in as a field in the CRM, or you put an activity, every single one should have one.
So I know what I’m doing next. And it should be written when I hang up the phone or leave the meeting or whatever, send the proposal. So and then you have the salespeople view it from everything that’s overdue, and this week, so now it’s easy to focus, and I can see Hey, dude, why do you have 75 Things overdue? Are you not doing work? Or are you getting distracted? Or, you know, look at what’s happening. So now we can have real conversations about things that I can help you with to hit your numbers.
Brynne Tillman 17:45
That’s amazing. I love this. So now we’ve got the reps, what are some data we want to be collecting on beyond the obvious discovery question and answers?
Liz Heiman 17:58
Well, it depends on who’s collecting it. And this is the other thing, Right? am I collecting it for marketing. So marketing needs to know what industry people are in, they might need to knew what know what technology they use, because now I’m going to support the sales team by sending out the right and right content to the right people, like that’s powerful. So put what industry they’re in what technology they use. Another thing is, how many new opportunities have been put in the top of the funnel, you can track that you can have a separate standalone dataset.
So I know, okay, my entire team hasn’t put enough in, but this person has put way more in and this hasn’t put any, and you can also have a track velocity. But I think the biggest thing is, you know, there’s this other thing about understanding what you’re looking for, and how to look at it. And I could do a whole discussion on using the right graphic representation for the right data piece data point, like people use funnels for really bizarre things.
And like, no, a funnel represents momentum, and if not you don’t put the people’s names in the different stages. And this should be a circle graph. And this should be a bar graph. And you can measure these things at the same time. So it’s really about not just what you’re measuring, but how are you looking at it to get meaning from it. And so a lot of sales leaders don’t know, you know, how to look at the data they have, because it’s put it in such a way that they can’t, they can’t track it.
Brynne Tillman 19:24
So many brilliant things. I love this and our time goes so fast. I thank you. I thank you. There were amazing insights here for sales leaders. So if we’ve got a sales leader listening and saying, You know what, we’re having adoption issues with our CRM, how do they get in touch with you?
Liz Heiman 19:44
Easiest way is you can either go to my website, which is regarding sales.com and schedule an appointment, I will do a 30 minute, no obligation strategy call with you. The other is to go to my LinkedIn. So I’m Liz Heiman And I think I’m the only one.
Brynne Tillman 20:04
I just love talking with you. I learned something every single time. Thank you, my friend, for joining us. And for our listeners when you’re out and about don’t forget to make your sales social.
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