Commence CRM Scores Big with Account Rating System

Commence Corporation, a leading provider of on-premise and cloud based CRM software is winning new business by demonstrating that all CRM systems are not alike.   Designed specifically for mid-size companies and small enterprises Commence takes CRM software to a whole new level offering several unique features that have proven to offer exceptional value to Commence customers.

Account Rating

The first of these features is an account rating system that allows you to rate and color code each customer based on the value they provide to your business.  Customers coded in red represent your top rated customers, while yellow and blue coded customers may purchase less products or services, may be more costly to support and less profitable.

customer-scoring
Customer Scoring

The rating system is completely customizable and traditionally includes criteria such as: customer size, revenue generated, cost of providing service, profitability and growth potential.   This simple but unique feature is providing exceptional value to Commence customers by enabling management to better understand who their most valuable customers really are.

customer-ranking
Account Rating

Organization Chart

Another unique feature that is differentiating Commence from the pack is the products automated Organization Chart that identifies key people within your customer base and new prospects.  This feature helps sales and support personnel to understand the reporting structure of their customers and new prospects.

company-orgchart
Company Org Chart

Commence has been providing customer management software to mid size businesses for more than two decades and is no stranger to the CRM software sector.   Its cloud based CRM solution is competing very favorably with industry giants Microsoft CRM and Salesforce.com. For more information about Commence CRM visit the company’s web site at www.commence.com and sign up for a free test drive.

The Cloud is a Good Omen for Businesses

The folks at Commence CRM send a warm welcome to guest blogger James Kim of ChooseWhat.com as he discusses the pros and cons of cloud computing.

By James Kim

ChooseWhatWe are witnessing an increasing number of companies developing and implementing programs that work within “the cloud.” Because of this, services like word processors, data storage, online fax and CRM software are becoming hot online commodities. Below are some advantages and disadvantages of using cloud technology for business.

So, what is this illustrious cloud? You are already using cloud technology if you are utilizing web-based resources. Put simply, the cloud functions by means of a web browser. This is in contrast with client-server based computing, which requires users to download applications onto their individual computers.

The advantages of harnessing the cloud’s power are many and compelling:

-A greater number of clients are permitted to instantly use software and programs from diverse locations. This makes “increased equipment utilization” possible.

-Users are able to modify servers based on individual needs, cutting back on expensive energy features. This can happen because of the flexibility of the cloud.

-Also beneficial is the scalability of the cloud. As your business expands, you can increase server space with ease.

Cost advantages are one of the most compelling reasons for businesses to switch to cloud computing. A report by WSP Environment & Energy asserts that when companies switch to cloud computing, emissions per transaction are decreased by approximately 95%.

As the cloud gains notoriety among technologically savvy groups, it has received some negative feedback from critics. In spite of its numerous advantages, utilizing the cloud might have a few possible cons:

-A few people believe that the immediate costs supposedly eliminated by cloud computing do not simply disappear in every scenario. Using the cloud requires a staff to keep track of databases, respond to helpline inquiries, and oversee applications. It should be kept in mind, though, that these potential difficulties are dependent on the number of employees at your business and the extent that you implement cloud computing into your operations. If you decide to utilize the cloud, you should make sure to determine exactly how much time and manpower you would like to devote to your projects related to cloud technology.

-Occasionally, outages are unavoidable. A prime example of this is the well-known fall of Amazon Web Services. A proven strategy to reduce the risk of losing important information is to take advantage of the services offered by several cloud providers. You should also back up information by inserting redundancies into applications.

Although there are a few potential pitfalls when it comes to cloud computing, businesses should still embrace this technology and stay ahead of the curve. The cloud is an exceptional vehicle for companies to provide online services to clients, expand their online presence, and cut costs.

About the Author:

ChooseWhat.com guides you through every step of the startup process, saves you time & money, and gives you the tools needed for your small business to succeed. Visit their blog or follow them on twitter.

Sales Best Practice #51: Is consistently able to get customers to voice their concerns.

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

Encourage customers to voice their concerns

It’s the natural, predictable step along the way to a sale.  You have met with the right people, helped them achieve a degree of comfort with you, uncovered the opportunity, presented your solution and asked for their commitment.  But wait, they are hesitating!  Is something wrong?  Should you immediately transform into “pushy sales person” mode and try to bully your way to a sale?  Or, should you help them share their concerns with you?

It is rare that you have perfectly understood every aspect of what they want, and that you have presented the absolutely perfect solution that addresses every possible issue they have.  More frequently, you are a little off, and there are issues on their side of which you are not aware.  It’s only natural that the customer has some “concerns.”

“Concerns” are issues that make them hesitant to go along with your offer.  They are frequently internal issues that have nothing to do with you or your offer.  For example, you may have just proposed a new phone system, and they have concerns about what impact that will have on their receptionist, who is two years away from retiring.  Notice that the issue has nothing to do with you, but it is something they have to resolve in order to go ahead with the deal.

In this case, there may be little you can do other than empathize and offer some suggestions.  In many cases, however, once you know what their concerns are, you can do something about them.

“Resolving their concerns” then, becomes a higher-order sales skill – one of the best practices that separate the superstars from their average colleagues.  Before you can help them “resolve their concerns” however, you must learn what they are, and it is here that many sales people stumble.

The world is full of sales people who are hesitant to hear the customer’s concerns, afraid they will take the form of the more commonly used term – objections – and put a potential conflict into the relationship.  Afraid to hear anything negative, they don’t encourage any sharing of this critical information.

The best sales people, however, have a different mindset toward this issue.  They understand that, almost inevitably, the customer has some concerns that have yet to be expressed.  It’s the natural progression of things.  And, before the sales person can impact those concerns, he/she has to become aware of them.  So, they look forward to the customer expressing those concerns.  More than that, they pro-actively probe for them, and encourage the customer to share them.  A concern expressed is a concern that the sales person may be able to help resolve.

This often takes the form of asking good, open-ended, non-threatening questions.  However, prior to asking the customer to voice his concerns, the sales person must have helped the customer develop a level of trust and comfort with the sales person such that it makes answering the question a natural, easy, comfortable thing to do.

And that means that the superstar sales people have created a deep level of rapport with the customer and have shown themselves to be competent, confident and concerned.

In other words, before you can become excellent at this best practice, you must learn to excel at the other basics of good salesmanship.  This is a higher-order sales skill.  The best sales people do it well.  That’s why they are the best.

To learn more about this skill, read my book, Question Your Way to Sales Success. If you are a subscriber to The Sales Resource Center, consider 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.

Sales Best Practices: Creating Long Term Goals

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

By Dave Kahle

One of the habits often practiced by highly successful people is the habit of regular goal setting. There is a reason for that. Goals compel you to work with discipline and concentration rather than going about your job mindlessly and routinely. Goal setting is a discipline that helps you focus.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t do your job without goals. You can, and many salespeople do. But the discipline of goal setting forces you to think about what you do. It moves you out of the realm of being reactive — doing what other people want you to do — to being proactive — doing what you want to do.

Ours is a world that is more and more full of stuff to do; interesting things, multiple tasks and unlimited opportunities. Over the course of your career, you are going to be presented with thousands of opportunities and literally millions of decisions. If you’re going to maintain your sanity and have any kind of life, you need to focus on the most important of that chorus of possibilities crying out for your attention. That’s what long-term goals help you to do.

Here’s how to go about creating long-term goals.

1. Select an area in which to concentrate.

Since we are talking about long-term goals — say 10 or more years into the future — you should be working with fundamental aspects of your life.

I often suggest that people think first about these five areas of their lives:

Spiritual
Financial
Career
Relationships (social)
Physical

Pick one area, work on it, and then move on to another area until you have all five fundamental aspects of your life covered with long-term goals.

Day Dream Bench (color)
Daydream

2. Brainstorm (Daydream).

Next, daydream about what you’d like to achieve with respect to that part of your life or job. Kick back, relax, and begin to list on a piece of paper all the things you’d like to accomplish in the area on which you’re focusing. Create a list of your dreams. Don’t edit or judge what you’ve written, rather, just make a long list of your dreams. Keep the time frame in mind. We’re not talking about next month. These are long term, decades ahead, lifetime-ish sorts of dreams.
Nobody else can do this for you because no one really knows your situation and your aspirations better than you do.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that you are thinking about your career, and you’ve begun to daydream about what you’d like to accomplish in that area. You write these things down:

make a lot more money

become one of the top salespeople

advance into management

successfully go into business for myself

become a vice-president of sales somewhere

High Priority
Prioritize

3. Prioritize.

If you’ve done a good job daydreaming, you probably have a long list of things you’d like to accomplish. Unfortunately, you can’t do everything. You just don’t have enough time and energy to do everything you’d like to do. And, some of your possibilities, your daydreams, may be mutually exclusive. So, you must prioritize and select those things that are most important to you.

There’s no formula for this, other than to think carefully about each of your daydreams, compare them to your situation, and select those that you feel are the most important to you. Remember to apply a dose of realism to this process.

In our example, let’s say that you’ve decided to focus on two career goals:
a. to make a lot more money

b. to move into management

To Do List
To Do List

4. Specify.

This step requires you to turn your daydreams, which are often pretty vague at this point, into specific, achievable goals.
Let’s take the first of the two examples, “to make a lot more money.” What’s a lot more? After some reflection, you think along these lines: “I made $50,000 last year. But I think I’m potentially a lot better than that. Good salespeople make over six figures in today’s economy. I can be at that level.” Your goal then becomes much more specific when you say, “I will consistently earn an annual income in the range of the best salespeople in the country – at this point, that’s over $100,000 a year.”
Your earlier, vague goal of “making a lot more money” has now been turned into something very specific — “Consistently earning over $100,000 a year.”
This is a key step in the process because the specific detail of the goal is part of what gives it power. If your goals are vague and abstract, they have less power to shape and direct your behavior.
You should now have a piece of paper with your specific, prioritized goals written on it. When you’ve reached that point, you’re ready for the next step.

Focus
Focus

5. Refine.

Because the power of a goal is to direct your behavior, it’s very important that you write your goals exactly as you want them to be. You will direct a great deal of your time and effort toward achieving that goal. So, it behooves you to make sure the goal is right.
Once you have created written, specific goals, take a moment to apply some criteria to them. See if they measure up to the following questions. If so, good. If not, rewrite them to meet the criteria.

a.   Are they specific? Does each goal specify, in detail, exactly what you want to accomplish? Can you make it more specific than what it already is?
b.   Are they realistic? Deciding to be elected President of the United States may be a worthwhile goal, but it may not be realistic for you. This is where your daydreams meet reality. Your goals should be a stretch and require you to work hard to accomplish them, but they shouldn’t be so optimistic that you have no realistic chance of achieving them.
c.   Are they measurable? Can somebody else tell whether or not you have achieved your goal? Have you stated it in measurable terms? Back to the example. To make a lot more money may be realistic, but it’s not measurable. What’s “a lot more?” By turning that phrase into a measurable unit, “$100,000,” you have made your goal measurable.
d.   Do they have a specific time frame? Every goal should have a deadline for completion. That helps put power into it. A goal with no deadline has little motivational power. For each goal, specify the date by which the goal will be attained.
e.   Are they worthwhile? You can spend years of your life working to achieve goals that, upon reflection, were not worth it. Don’t let that happen to you. Rather, consider before you commit to it whether or not this goal is worthwhile. Is it a good thing? Will you be proud of accomplishing it after the fact? If so, good. You are now ready to commit to your goal.

At this point, you will have created a set of long-term goals for each of the five fundamental aspects of your life. Good work. You’ll find them to be a major force in helping you focus your life and your energies. Now, place them someplace where you can review them every few months and keep track of your progress.

If you are a subscriber to The Sales Resource Center, check out Pod-53, How to set goals for every area of your life, including sales goals.

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.

All Images available on Flickr under Creative Commons license