Customer Ranking Now Part of Commence CRM

Do you know who your most profitable customers are? Which ones require a high level of service or which ones have potential for up-selling or cross selling?  You would if you had Commence CRM.  Commence Corporation a leading provider of cloud based CRM software has released an enhanced version of their popular online CRM software that is taking customer relationship management to a new level.  The enhanced version now offers a built in customer ranking system that quickly identifies the value that each customer provides to your business.  This automated business process ranks and color codes each customer based on a set of pre-defined business criteria. Some examples include customer size, revenue, fulfillment cost, service level requirements, profitability, future growth potential and customer retention. Best of all, the criteria are completely customizable.

Ranking and segmenting customers according to their value to your business can play an important role in defining future service level agreements and marketing activity. You may for example choose to modify your service contracts for customers that consistently require a high level of customer care thereby increasing profitability.  In addition, by segmenting those customers with the highest potential for up-selling or cross selling, you can create specific marketing programs targeted at this customer segment. The color coding feature enables management and each end user to quickly identify the top rated or most profitable customers allowing you to pay special attention to them and provide the type of service that ensures customer retention.

Automated Customer Ranking Process

customer ranking and qualification questions (2)

Account Summary View

account summary

Commence Corporation continues to be an innovator in the field of customer management software providing advanced functionality not offered by industry competitors, Microsoft and Salesforce.com.   The company has been providing CRM business solutions to mid-size and small enterprises for more than two decades.  For more information about Commence’s  CRM software solutions, call 1-877-266-6362 or visit the company’s web site at www.commence.com.

Sales Practices: Question and Answer

This is a Question and Answer article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.

By Dave Kahle

Q. I struggle with knowing how much information I should leave when I’m making a cold call, or just beginning to warm someone up to one of my products. Are there any guidelines for this?

A.  Great question.  This is one of the more sophisticated issues that many sales people face.  I do have some thoughts.

The principle by which you should be guided is this: The amount of information you leave depends on where you are at in the sales process and your goals for the particular sales call in question.

For example, if it is the first call on a prospect, your goal is to get a second visit. It is not to sell the prospect anything, but merely to begin the process of developing a business relationship.  That means that you must get a second visit.  Otherwise you will have wasted your time on a dead end.

So, in that situation, you provide just enough information to prompt the prospect to grant you another visit. For example, you may be discussing a potential opportunity.  You have the solution in a brochure in your briefcase.  But, cognizant of the need to create an additional visit, you don’t immediately offer the solution.  Instead you say something like this:  “I have a solution that I’m sure will work for you.  Can we get together next week to let me show it to you?”

In this case, while you had the information, you chose to pursue the goal of an additional visit, rather than provide it now and risk that the customer would not want to see you again.

In a different place in the sales process, you may want to provide that information.  For example, if you have already dug into the customer’s situation and uncovered the details of his problem, and it is now time for you to present your solution, you would be well served to present the brochure and discuss the features and benefits of your solution.

You see that the different spot in the sales process, and the different objective for the call lead to a different decision.

There are no hard and fast rules for how much information to leave at each visit, but, if you will think carefully about where you are in the sales process with each visit, and what your specific objectives of this visit are, those two thoughts will lead you to a decision.

In other words, the answer to your question lies in the process you use to think about it.

One additional thought.  In today’s economic environment, we are all overwhelmed with too much information. As a general rule, sales people are guilty of adding to that mass.  Many sales people think that the more information they regurgitate to the customer, the more the customer is impressed with the sales person, and the more likely they are to buy.  Alas, that is just not true.  More sales are lost because the customer is confused and overwhelmed with information, than are lost because he doesn’t have enough.

In fact, I have observed a direct relationship between the depth of the relationship the customer has with you and the amount of information he requires.  In other words, the greater the relationship the customer has with you, the less information he requires to make the decision to buy.

I have often thought that the ideal presentation offers no information, and goes like this:  “We can do that.  Shall we go ahead?”

Think about it.

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales educators. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and seven countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations.  Sign up for his free weekly Ezine, and visit his blog.  For a limited time, receive $547 of free bonuses with the purchase of his latest book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.

Image Credit: by Ee source openclipart license Public Domain Free images from acobox.com

Sales Best Practice #45: Listens constructively

This article focuses on Best Practices for sales people from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.


By Dave Kahle

A study of the behavioral characteristics of the best sales people was published a few years ago.  One of the not-so-surprising conclusions was this:  The best sales people “listen more constructively” than their more average counterparts.

What does it mean to “listen constructively?”  My wife is a crises counselor, and she talks about listening “empathetically.”  That means that she listens to understand and relate to how people are feeling.  But the study didn’t say great sales people listen “empathetically,” it said they listen “constructively.”

There is a clue to its meaning in the word itself.  Think “constructively = construction = building.”  Listening constructively means to listen for things upon which to build.

Great sale people ask great questions, and then listen more constructively.  They focus intently on what the customer is saying, filter it through the perspective of things “upon which to build.”  So, they build their next question on the braces and beams of the customer’s answer.  As they dig deeper and listen intently, they gather a better picture of the customer’s issues, needs, situation, motivation and concerns.  They form a clearer mental “blue print” of the selling situation, and are able, therefore, to provide a more accurate and appealing solution.

This, of course, flies in the face of a piece of conventional wisdom that proclaims that good sales people are good talkers.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Good sales people are good listeners, not good talkers.

A study published by RainToday.com, found that 74% of 200 purchasers surveyed at companies nationwide said they would be “much more likely” to buy from a sales person if the seller would simply listen to the prospect.

Imagine that.  Almost three quarters of customers would be more likely to buy if the sales person would just listen!

Listening well — listening constructively — is not a natural skill.  It takes intentionality and dedication to work consistently at it and to become, over time, one of the best listeners.   As in every aspect of sales success, the best decide to become the best, and put in the time and effort it takes to gradually develop the skills that take them to the top.

There are few things more important than listening well.  The best do it better than the average.  That’s why they are the best.

To learn more about this skill, consider my training video, Improving Your Listening Proficiency”, or read Chapter 16 of my book, Question Your Way to Sales Success.

If you are a subscriber to The Sales Resource Center, consider taking course C-2: The Kahle Way® B2B Selling System.

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales educators. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and seven countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations.  Sign up for his free weekly Ezine, and visit his blog.  For a limited time, receive $547 of free bonuses with the purchase of his latest book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.

Photo Credit: source openclipart license Public Domain

Pre-Call Touch: A creative way to make prospecting appointments

This is the third post in a series of guest posts from Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. In this Lead Management article he discusses creative ways to get a prospect’s attention — before you make that first call. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.

By Dave Kahle

Here’s a situation.  You have created a list of 20 highly qualified prospects.  You’ve researched them, and you know that these 20 people hold your prosperity in their hands.  But they don’t know you, have never spoken to you, and aren’t inclined to drop everything and see you.

How do you get to see them?

You can do what everyone else does.  Send them an email.  Maybe leave a voice mail message.  Then be really frustrated that no one calls back.  Or, you can do something a bit different, and much more creative.

For those highly qualified prospects, think of using a “pre-call touch.”  A pre-call touch is something you deliver to the prospect that says something about you, catches his attention, and makes it more likely that he/she will see you when you call.

Here are two examples of “pre-call touches” from my most recent book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.

One of my clients was an advertising agency.  They had identified 100 “right people” – the key people in their market and location who held the future of the advertising agency in their hands.  They had accomplished the first step – identifying the right people – with excellence.

Now, the problem was to move those highly qualified prospects to interact with the agency.  The experienced team knew that those key people with whom they needed to interact were busy and difficult people to see.  They just wouldn’t respond to the normal channels.  So, they came up with this very creative way of engaging with their prospects.

They sent each of the 100 prospects a box, about the size of a watch box.  It was wrapped in brown paper and contained no return address.  The name and address of the prospect was hand-written in a female hand.  Inside the box was a sugar cube and a small piece of paper, like the size of a fortune cookie message, with the words, “Keep it sweet.”

That was it.  Nothing else.

One week later, those same prospects were sent another box, wrapped and addressed in exactly the same fashion.  This time, it contained a lemon with the message, “Don’t let it go sour.”

Again, nothing else in the box.

On the third week, yet another box, wrapped and packaged identically.  This time, the box contained tinsel foil, like that which you use to decorate a Christmas tree.  The message?  “Make it sparkle.”

Once again, nothing else.

Week four and yet one more box arrived, identical to the others.  This time there was only one thing inside – a business card from the advertising agency sales person, with a self-stick note stuck to it.  On the note was the hand-written message, “I’ll call you tomorrow for an appointment.”

Of the 100 people who received that series of deliveries, every single one of them took the call and made the appointment.  The advertising agency, when faced with the difficult task of engaging the prospect, had developed an effective and creative solution.  They gained their prospect’s attention, they captured their interest, and they prompted them to take action – they took the phone call and made the appointment.  In other words, they engaged the right people!

Here’s another example.  This time, I was on the receiving end of a well done “pre-call touch.”  I was busily typing away on my computer when the FedEx guy walked into my office, put a box down on my desk, and said, “sign here.”  I did.

You know what you do when you get a personally addressed FedEx delivery  — stop everything and open the box.  That’s what I did.  Inside was a  package of microwave popcorn.  Underneath that was a plastic bottle of Diet Pepsi.  Underneath that was a linen envelope with my name hand written in a female’s script.  I opened the envelope.  Inside was an invitation, personally written in the same script.  It said, “Dave, We have researched your company, and concluded that yours is the kind of company who gains the most from our service.  I’d like to invite you to take 30 minutes and watch a webinar as I introduce what we can do for you.  Enjoy the popcorn and soda, and let me do all the work.  I’ll call you this afternoon to confirm.”

I thought to myself, “Not bad.  This probably cost them $30.00 to $40.00.  They wouldn’t have invested that money and time in someone who was not a good prospect.  I probably am right for them.  I’ll take the call.”

This sales person could have sent me an email, and I would have deleted it unopened.  She could have left me a voice mail message, and I would not have returned it.  Instead, she chose to deliver something to me that got my attention and made it much more likely that I would accept her phone call.

Clearly, a “pre-call touch” isn’t for every situation, nor every prospect.  For those high potential, qualified prospects, however, it can be the event that opens the door.

I don’t know what you can use as a “pre-call touch.”  A little creative brainstorming on your part could develop just the right delivery.  Don’t give in to the temptation to send a company brochure (yawn), or just a letter.  Break out of the box and think about what you could deliver that would catch the prospect’s attention, say something about you, and make him more likely to take your call.

It can make all the difference.

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales educators. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and seven countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations.  Sign up for his free weekly Ezine, and visit his blog.  For a limited time, receive $547 of free bonuses with the purchase of his latest book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.

Photo Credit: by snowmanradio at en.wikipedia source Wikimedia license GFDL Free images from acobox.com