8 min read

Making Sense of COVID-19 with CRM Tracking

By Scott Britton on Apr 7, 2020 12:06:48 PM

Topics: Sales Ops Sales

"You can only manage what you measure” - Peter Drucker

Companies everywhere are trying to get a grasp on how—and how much— the coronavirus pandemic is impacting their business, so they can make short and long term adjustments.

And though this quote might feel a bit cliche, it has never been more true!

One of the amazing aspects of working at Troops is that we’re able to see how some of the top companies in the world are instrumenting and operationalizing their go-to-market (GTM) motions.

In this post, we’re going to cover various ways we’re seeing teams adjust their CRM to capture information related to COVID so they can remain agile, coordinated, and productive during this crisis.

But first…

Why Adjust Your CRM During COVID-19?

All too frequently, companies try to solve problems, by simply adding “yet another Salesforce field.” Adding a new field usually creates more issues than it solves, but we believe that at this juncture, it’s absolutely critical.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider adjusting your CRM to capture, measure, and distribute information related to COVID-19 impact:

1. Real-time adjustments

Whether we’re talking about managers seeing opportunities to coach or marketing understanding the performance of specific campaigns and GTM plays, awareness is the first step required before you can make adjustments.

Capturing COVID-19 impacts across your funnel and then surfacing them to the right people, empowers your team to respond quickly to the market.

2. Pattern matching

There are generally two ways to identify trends.

  • Analyze data over a long time horizon.
  • Monitor information as it happens until you start to see patterns emerge.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t have time for the former . . . and the latter is better suited for the rapid action required to respond effectively during a crisis. To look at both dimensions comprehensively, you need to capture leading indicators in your CRM.

3. Forward-looking planning

The sooner and more precisely leaders can understand COVID-19’s business impact, the more aggressively they can make adjustments. This can be the difference between your company surviving and dying.

4. Retroactive data

When you don’t hit your number, what story will you be telling to justify the miss to future investors and your board? Will you be able to clearly articulate the impact across all parts of the funnel?

I know everyone is very focused on the present, but companies should be thinking 6-12 months ahead as well and making sure now that they’ll be able to report on the impact.

5. Global visibility

This is an “all hands on deck” situation that requires a sense of urgency from GTM teams, as well as every supporting function within a company, including product, engineering, and executives.

Since internally-focused teams don’t spend much time in Salesforce and other GTM-focused software (Chorus, Salesloft, etc.), the most agile companies can democratize visibility into the impact COVID-19 is having on their revenue at a tangible level for all teams. This level of visibility allows teams to band together and remain coordinated in their updated, fast-moving execution efforts.Get Remote Work Pack

Okay, hopefully at this point you are convinced that you should be tracking this data in your CRM! Let’s now discuss different ways we’ve seen companies capture and action on COVID-related data in Salesforce for different parts of the funnel.

Updating Your CRM to Capture COVID Impact

You want to have a true picture of how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting your entire funnel, which is why we recommend companies instrument their CRM for each function.

Top of Funnel

The main questions companies are trying to answer at the top of the funnel are:

  • Are people still taking meetings?
  • Which companies and segments should we focus on?
  • When we do connect with prospects, why are they taking or not taking the meeting?
  • How are COVID-specific campaigns performing?

Fortunately, some of these questions can be answered without adding any additional Salesforce fields.

For example, on the inbound side, your marketing ops team should have appropriate forms for COVID-specific campaigns. COVID-specific campaign performance should be relatively easy to measure. How many responses, leads, and conversions are you getting from these targeted new campaigns? Are you targeting new segments and avoiding others (where prospects are more negatively affected by COVID)?

If your reps are setting meetings using your standard forms, not updated for COVID-19, make sure they are asking why the prospect took the meeting and have them record that information somewhere, like a lead source detail related to COVID-19. This provides helpful context for your AEs as well as attribution for later reporting.

To understand the impact meetings (and who’s still taking them), you should be measuring the conversion rates of your outbound teams over the past few weeks against historical data (ideally, you have this reporting in place already). We recommend looking at connect/response rates as an initial leading indicator, and then subsequently reviewing conversion rates.

“One thing we do daily is track our scheduled calls on our SDR and AE calendars. We measure:
  • Scheduled calls (total)
  • Calls that happened
  • Rescheduled calls
  • No shows
  • Cancellations
We are measuring this throughout the week to see what trends are happening with our conversations.”
- Robert Egan, Director of Sales at Energage

You should also analyze your connection conversion rates, and try to capture why someone is choosing to talk to you or not. If they are not willing to talk, ask when they anticipate things returning to normal, and record that in your CRM.

For sales development teams, we’ve noticed customers capturing this information by adding a call disposition option “answer COVID-19” for calls that did not convert, as well as a “re-engagement date” when reps are able to capture when budgets are expected to “unfreeze.”

Another option is to include these fields on the account level to support rep prioritization or qualification. At Troops, we have added both disqualified reasons and nurture reasons related to COVID-19 to Salesforce.

For positive calls, having a lead source detail or campaign option related to any type of COVID play will help your teams understand the effectiveness of the new strategies you are employing, and will be valuable for later reporting.

Existing Funnel

We’re seeing a lot more nuance in how our customer companies are trying to measure and operationalize COVID’s impact on their existing funnel.

We’re seeing this primarily done in five ways:

  1. Adding Closed-Lost reasons related to COVID
  2. Adding COVID status fields to both new business and renewal opportunities
  3. Pushing reps to type in COVID in call notes (task) or other free-form text fields such as next steps, mutual plans, and specific offer feedback fields that can be picked up in a “contains” report
  4. Fields to tag opportunities related to a specific offer or campaign to compare velocity
  5. Tracking mentions of a core topic and adjacent terms in call recorders

"Because our leadership platform and value proposition is so pertinent right now, we are launching a 'fast launch' Leadership Response Pack (basically more streamlined, timely and focused content). We are now identifying all these opportunities in Salesforce with a unique tag so we can track their velocity compared to other opportunities in our pipeline."
- Michael Loiacono, SVP of Sales & Marketing at Verb Inc.

At Troops, we have created a set of fields on the Opportunity that confirm impact along with sentiment. We also provide a separate field that allows reps to articulate COVID-19 impact with greater detail.

Once you have this in place, it is imperative that you share information in a regular and consistent cadence, both to pattern match and to make sure that frontline managers, executives, and adjacent teams are on the same page.

Renewals and Upsells

As spending has frozen for 66-80% of companies as cited by Vendr co-founder Ryan Neu on a recent webinar with Troops, shifting your focus to existing customers may be the most valuable use of your time.

Customer success and account management teams are proactively reaching out to accounts and should be gathering information related to coronavirus impact on your customers’ businesses so that your GTM teams can forecast and reallocate resources appropriately.

One way to do this is to create a field on the account, such as “Corona Discussion” or something similar, as in the example we cited above on new business opportunities.

A custom field not only allows you to understand where particular clients are and the associated risk/opportunity, and also allows you to track which accounts you have yet to contact.

Here’s an example of a Coronavirus Discussion field picklist option:

  • Not able to get conversation
  • See us as critical
  • Evaluating budgets
  • Re-evaluating budget commitment
  • Delayed rollout
  • Too busy to discuss

This data can be helpful as you consider shifting team members to accounts based overall health, and you can also use it to help redirect your marketing and sales development efforts to industries where customers appear to be thriving despite the crisis.

Bonus: Customer Marketing

One thing on every marketer’s mind is their company’s “why now” message. And there is no better way to deliver that message than via your customers.

At Troops, we’re asking all of our customers who are using us to enhance their coronavirus efforts for quotes on how Troops is positively impacting their business.

We’ve built a custom object in Salesforce called Customer Feedback and created fields to store quotes and designate whether the feedback was related to COVID. Our Customer Success team has been collecting these quotes and then adding them after customer meetings.

These quotes have become incredibly valuable resources for our sales development and content marketing efforts.

Where to Begin?

Hopefully at this point, you’re convinced that you should be measuring COVID-19 impact at a granular level. Again, it’s not just about the next month, but the following 6-12 months when you’ll want to be able to understand this information and learn from it.

We know that making changes in your CRM can be challenging, especially if you have a complex business. Don’t feel like you need to do everything at once: Pick a part of the funnel that you want to understand better and start there. You can always do more as things progress.Get Remote Work Pack

Scott Britton

Written by Scott Britton