Stop The Madness!

Insane escapeI used to believe that small to mid-size business owners were pretty smart.  It’s not easy to start a business and it’s even more difficult to manage its growth and success. But when it comes to the selection of CRM software, well they are just dumb. There are probably a lot of reasons for this.

First, many business owners will not take the time to fully document their business requirements or engage in the CRM selection process.  Secondly, many seem to believe that all CRM software is the same, so they just instruct the selection team to purchase the cheapest one.  Industry analysts have documented that 73% of all CRM systems fail to get properly implemented or utilized.  This is because CRM software is not some appliance that you plug in the wall and it works.  It requires a commitment to implementing a structured approach to improving internal business processes. The right CRM solution can significantly impact and improve how your company markets, sells and provides support to your customers.

In order to add some sanity to the decision process, Commence Corporation has created a white paper called Don’t Make a CRM Buying Mistake7 Points to Consider before Selecting Your CRM solution. It’s a must read for businesses looking for CRM Online or cloud based CRM software.  See www.commence.com to review this free white paper.

Image “Insane escape” by Sebie Covaci on Flickr, under Creative Commons license

Stop Selling By the Seat of Your Pants

give a little GET A LOT - Befrinding poster Aug 2012Ever wonder why some sales people are extremely effective while others fail?  There are a bunch of reasons, but those that are not effective need to assume responsibility for their failure.  Selling is part game and part science and you need to understand that prospects are masters at attaining information from you, misleading you about their requirements and how the process will play out.   Sound familiar?  How many times has the person who claimed to be the decision maker turn out not to be the decision maker?  Sound familiar?

Having a structured approach to selling is your best defense against a crafty prospect.  Keep in mind that the prospect has a structured approach. They are trying to get as much information from you without making any commitment of any kind to the next steps in the process. Sales people have been trained to be subordinate to the prospect so that you don’t upset them.  So you play their game providing as much information as you can and often getting nothing in return.  This has to stop in order for you to be successful.

Many companies today are turning to online CRM software solutions to help implement a structured approach to selling.  It’s certainly not mandatory to have a CRM system, but it can and does help.  One of the ways CRM software can assist with this process is by guiding the sales staff through a process via a series of questions that need to be answered before wasting valuable time on a poorly qualified opportunity.  Those questions include such things as: is there a critical need for the product or service you are selling, are the decision makers known and engaged in the process, is there an approved budget for the acquisition and is there a definitive time frame for a decision?   In order for the sales process to be successful there must be a “Win –Win” relationship with the prospect. By this I mean that for every bit of information you provide you need to get something in return.   If you don’t you will continue to play to the hand of the prospect and find yourself frustrated that the prospect does not answer the phone, won’t return messages and has left you with no sale and no commission.  A CRM system can provide a good way to automate the sales process so that it’s the same for each and every new sales opportunity.

Image “give a little GET A LOT…” by silkeybeto on Flickr, available under Creative Commons license

On Line CRM Best Bet For Small to Mid-Size Enterprises

Foster Launches Seminars to Boost BusinessSmall to mid-size enterprises looking for a Customer Relationship Management solution may find that online CRM software best suits their business requirements.  The current economic environment has placed a great deal of financial pressure on the SME sector.  Many companies have found themselves with limited resources and working with a dated IT infrastructure that will cost a large amount of money to upgrade and maintain.  “It’s simply too hard to manage and maintain desktop software today” says Patrick Murphy, managing director at SiliconCloud, a provider of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) solutions.  “We switched to CRM Online, which has alleviated any additional investment in hardware or software and enabled us to focus one hundred percent of our time on growing our business.  Having our CRM system online has also provided us with access to our data anytime and from anywhere via an Internet browser. Prior to this we were tied to our desktop computer.”

“There is clearly a significantly higher interest in CRM online today” says Tom Gibson, sales manager at Commence Corporation a top rated provider of CRM software.  Customers want to be up and running quickly, without having to worry if they have the proper hardware in place. In addition, they now demand access to their data from mobile devices such as a tablet PC or smartphone.  Online CRM software provides this traditionally at no additional cost.  This is driving SME’s to consider online CRM vs. desktop solutions.”

Image “Foster Launches Seminars to Boost Business” by DUP Photos on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Sales Best Practice #1 – Has a strict code of ethics that governs his/her behavior on the job

A Best Practice for sales people by guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.

By Dave Kahle

Creating the high-trust organizationSituations in which you must deal with a lot of people always bring with them a great deal of temptation to take unethical short cuts.

Situations in which you deal with a lot of money always bring with them a great deal of temptation to take unethical short cuts.

And situations in which you spend most of your day unsupervised always bring with them a great deal of temptation to take unethical short cuts.

Put all three of those together and you have the daily working environment for a salesperson.  Every day, there is, in some way, an opportunity to take an ethical shortcut.  The list of possibilities is endless – everything from exaggerating a product’s features, promising impossible delivery, speaking badly about the competition or your colleagues, selling free samples, fudging your expenses,  running personal errands on company time, etc.

That’s why a strict code of ethics is such an important attribute of a professional salesperson.  Without it, the temptation to take unethical short cuts can become unbearable.  And, just one ethical short cut can ruin a relationship with a customer and derail a salesperson’s career.

A strict code of ethics is just what it says it is.  Strict, unimpeachable, non-negotiable, black and white decisions, made before the actual event, about what you will and will not do.

The best salespeople have a well-thought out system of right and wrong, and are secure in their commitment to it.  They take the time, in a calm, non-stressful time, to think deeply through their guidelines for their behavior.  They make decisions about what they will and will not do.  Some even commit that to paper.

Then, when they are in the midst of a sales call and are faced with the need to make an immediate decision, they have no qualms about it.  They have already made the decision.

Here’s an example.  Let’s say that one of the ethical guidelines you created for yourself is this:  I will never speak badly about the competition.

Now, you are having lunch with one of your customers, and he casually mentions one of your competitors, and remarks, “The guy is a real know-it-all.”  If you hadn’t thought it out and decided, well beforehand, that you were not going to speak badly about the competition, you may have said, “Yeah, he is a jerk.”

But, since you did make the decision, you keep quiet and don’t comment at all.  The conversation moves on.

Your code of ethics prevented an impulsive action that may have made you look bad.

A strict code of ethics makes decisions easier, reduces stress, and builds a reputation of trust from both the customers, as well as the salesperson’s management.

That’s why it is a best practice of the best salespeople.

To learn more about this best practice: Read Chapter 16 of How to Excel at Distributor Sales, Chapter 7 of Take Your Sales Performance Up-a- Notch, Chapter 3 of Insights & Answers, or Chapter 2 of Ten Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople

If you are a member of The Sales Resource Center™, consider Pod-34: Ethics for the Professional Salesperson, and Nuggets N-19: Ethics; N-96: Integrity; and N-215: Ethics for sales people.

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales educators. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and eight countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations.  Sign up for his free weekly Ezine.

Copyright MMXI by Dave Kahle
All Rights Reserved.

Image “Creating the high-trust organization” by opensourceway on Flickr, available under Creative Commons license.

CRM Software Can Help a Failing Sales Organization

10 questions that will change your businessSales organizations can be underachieving for a myriad of reasons, but it’s typically a lack of structure and process that divides highly successful sales organizations from poorly performing ones. The structure begins right at the introductory stage of the selling cycle and that’s lead qualification.

Successful sales professionals traditionally have a specific set of skills that enable them to quickly determine a qualified prospect from a tire kicker. This skill enables them to quickly focus their energy on the most qualified opportunities resulting in higher close ratios and higher revenues. Most sales organizations however are made up of a hand full of seasoned sales people coupled with less experienced staff who are still honing their skills. A good CRM system can be a valuable tool for automating the selling processes that you know work for your organization.

One of the companies that has taken a leadership position in this area is Commence Corporation, a provider of CRM software for small to mid-size enterprises. Commence CRM incorporates a series of automated processes that add structure to the lead generation and sales management of each new sales opportunity. The structure is really quite simple and defined by each company’s sales management. Starting with the lead generation process, management outlines a set of criteria for what they believe constitutes a highly qualified lead. The questions are then answered by the sales representative. Based on the response the CRM software will rate and color code each lead as highly qualified, not yet qualified or poorly qualified. It’s a simple process that delivers effective results.

Commence CRM also incorporates a structured sales process that enables a sales representative and sales management to manage each stage of the sales cycle from introduction to closure. By being proactive during the sales process, management can play an active and valuable role in helping to move an opportunity toward closure vs. conducting a post mortem on why they lost the business.

Any successful sales organization is driven by its sales staff and its management, but CRM software systems like Commence CRM can play a vital role in automating the processes that help sales people sell more and sell more easily.

Image “10 questions that will change your business” owned by Nod Young (cc)