Which Functional Area should own CRM?

This discussion about which functional area should own CRM has been debated by hundreds people in Internet based discussion forums over the past year, but I am not sure why. CRM is a philosophy adopted by the management of well-run companies.  It is not about ownership by a specific department.  Yet based on the results of the survey below completed in 2011, it is clear that people disagree with my position and believe that CRM should be owned by a functional department, or be co-owned.

crm-ownership

In smaller businesses, the use of CRM software is typically driven by the sales organization for managing the sales cycle and used by other departments for contact management.  In larger organizations it is typically used throughout the organization.

Regardless of the company’s size, the objective of CRM software is the same and that is to ensure a better buying experience for the customer.

There is no ownership issue here.  Creating a better buying experience for the customer occurs before, during and after the sale.  As such, CRM software often plays a vital role not only in the management of the sales process, but also in the efficient management of projects, and providing high quality customer service.   It’s a corporate initiative driven by senior management with the goal of maximizing the lifetime value of every customer relationship and it should be shared by all.

Sales Best Practice #6 – Plans every sales call

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Planning every Sales Call is a Best Practice

A best practice for sales people by guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.

By Dave Kahle

It continues to amaze me that so many sales people shuffle into most of their sales calls with very little, if any, prior planning. I suppose that is why this is one of the practices of the best.

Most surveys of how field sales people really spend their time conclude that the typical sales person spends somewhere between 20 to 30 percent of the work week actually talking with customers. Just think about it – that time spent with customers is the heart of your job.  Of all the things that you do in a typical work week, of all the tasks that you perform, nothing is more important than that!

Without time spent with your customers, your company would not need to employ you. Everything else that you do is either a result of, or in preparation for, your person-to-person sales times.

Combine that with the growing pressure on your customers to make good use of their time, and you have tremendous pressure on sales people to manage an effective, purposeful and valuable sales call.

How can you possibly do that without spending time preparing for it?  The answer is, of course, that you can’t.

That’s why the best sales people meticulously plan every sales call.  That planning process brings greater value to the customer, and greater return to the sales person.

Sales Cold Calling Tips

What’s involved in planning a sales call?  Typically, a well planned sales call has these components:

  1. A set of objectives for the call.
  2. An agenda.
  3. A set of questions, prepared for the situation
  4. All the necessary material and collateral (literature, samples, etc.).
  5. A variety of “next steps” the customer can take as a result of the call.
  6. Time spent reviewing the account profile and/or personal profile previously compiled on this customer.

Sounds a bit arduous doesn’t it?  Clearly this takes some time.

In my first full time sales position, my manager shared some advice with me that has stuck with me ever since.  “Spend 20 percent of your time preparing for the other 80 percent.”

I’ve followed that rule ever since.  It means that you discipline yourself to invest the necessary planning time for every sales call.  Then, the time you spend in conversation with your prospects and customers will be valuable to them, and valuable to you.

To shrug it off and make a sales call that is unplanned, unfocused and unorganized is to waste your time and your customers’.

That’s why the discipline of thoroughly planning every sales call is a best practice.  Those sales people who don’t strive for mastery of their jobs inevitably slide away from the discipline to do it the way the best do it.  Consistent, disciplined behavior – that’s what separates the best from the rest.

To learn more about this, visit the Articles section of the website (www.davekahle.com) and read this free article:  “One of the Emerging New Rules of Sales – The Value-added Sales Call.” If you are a member of The Sales Resource Center®, check out Pod-1:  Target Laser-Sharp Sales Calls; Pod-28: Strategic Planning for Sales People; and Pod-38: Mastering the Creative Cold Call.

Copyright MMXII by Dave Kahle
All Rights Reserved

Sales Insight Means Better Outcomes

With the plethora of affordable sales tools and CRM software available today there is simply no reason why sales managers continue to have difficulty accurately forecasting monthly and quarterly revenues.  For years sales management relied primarily on the skills of the sales representative to forecast monthly revenue.  This process was flawed right out of the gate because management had to rely solely on the experience level of their sales team.

CRM Sales Reports and Analytics

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Today, CRM software programs that focus on automating the sales cycle can provide the insight management needs to produce better outcomes.  Here are just a few of the ways CRM software can help.

  • Automating the criteria for what determines a qualified lead.  This ensures that your sales team is laser focused on the most qualified opportunities thereby improving close ratios.
  • Monitoring sales activity, such as how many calls or appointments the sales team has concluded and comparing the results of one representative verses another.
  • Keeping track and reporting on where each new sales opportunity is in the sales cycle. This allows sales management to take a proactive approach during the sales process to help move the prospect toward closure.
  • Produce graphical representations of the sales cycle by product, by region or by industry.  This enables management to determine the length of the sales cycle by product and to see if a specific product is selling better in one industry verses another.

These are just a few simple benefits that provide sales management with the insight they need to drive improved performance.

There are several excellent online CRM programs available for small to mid-size businesses and there is no reason why you should not be adopting CRM technology to more effectively manage and report on the performance of your sales organization.

Thinking About Sales: Is Integrity a Sales Strategy?

This is a Customer Relationship Management article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.


Trust Filter
Image “Trust Filter” by Mark Simciklas on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Article By Dave Kahle

I was speaking to a group of professional sales people in Johannesburg, South Africa, on the subject of integrity in business.  At dinner later in the evening, my host, who had been sitting in the audience, sheepishly shared with me that several of the people seated near her snickered at the idea.  Evidently, to them, sales was just a series of transactions, and the sales person’s job was to wring as much money out of each transaction as possible, under whatever means were necessary.

Their position was, I believe, both sad as well as unwise.  I believe that there are certainly practices in the business world where morality perfectly coincides with wise business.  Integrity is one such practice.  It is both good business as well as good morals.

I believe it is such good business that sales people should adhere to a no-exceptions policy of maintaining absolute integrity.  I’m not going to make the case for absolute honesty as a moral policy.  That’s better left to our churches to do.  There is, however, a powerful case to be made for honesty from a practical point of view.

Effective Time Management

Honesty is a powerful sales strategy that is probably more important today than ever before.

It works like this.  If you have integrity, you save your customer time.  In today’s frenzied world, time is more precious than money for a lot of people.  If your customers cannot believe you, then they must spend hours, days or weeks of precious time confirming the representations you have made.  If, however, they can believe you, then they don’t feel the need to check for the veracity of every fact or statement.

Here’s an illustration. A few years ago, we attempted to purchase a condominium.  The condo was in a resort location, and had been used as a rental unit.  So it came fully furnished, down to the silverware and cooking utensils.  We thought it was a good value, a wise investment, and offered the owner exactly his asking price.  Shortly thereafter, word came from the real estate agent that the owner, on receiving our full price offer, had increased his price.

The owner may have been looking at his action as a slick negotiating ploy.  We saw it as a lack of integrity.  If we couldn’t believe his stated price, then we couldn’t believe any of the representations he had made.  We would be reduced to counting the number of knives and forks instead of believing the inventory sheet provided for us.  We didn’t want to waste the time checking out every aspect of the deal.  If we couldn’t trust some of the representations by the owner, then we couldn’t trust any.  And, if we couldn’t trust any, it wasn’t worth it to us to take the risk in dealing with him.  We walked away from the deal.

We saw the owner’s lack of integrity as causing us to invest a great deal of time to assure ourselves that the risk was worth the money.

In this case, we were the buyers who saw the seller’s lack of integrity as causing us to spend more time on the project.  We chose not to do that.

The same is true of your customers.

The more your customer trusts you, the less risk your customer feels in dealing with you, and the less time necessary to invest in understanding the product, service or program you are offering.

From the customer’s perspective, it’s easier and less risky to deal with someone you trust than with someone you don’t trust.

And that can translate directly into dollars.  I’m always willing to pay more for something if I can buy it with less risk.  In other words, if I can buy it from a company or person I can trust.  On the other hand, I’d rather not buy something at all if I have suspicious feelings about the vendor.

Ethical Sales Practices

Here’s another example.  A few years ago I grew jealous of my neighbor’s lawn.  His was far greener, thicker and fuller than my lawn.  It was because he had a lawn care service fertilize his lawn several times each year.  I determined to do the same thing.  So I obtained the name and phone number of the company he used, formed an idea of what the service would cost me, and decided to do business with that company.

I called the company, ready to buy the service.  When I inquired about the types of service available, the sales person indicated that there were several options available.  Now, I’m a visually oriented person, and I like to make decisions based on what I read, not on what I hear.  So, I said, “OK, why not come out and do the first application, and leave me a brochure so that I can review my options, and then I’ll make a decision.”  The sales person agreed.

We then reviewed the details of my location, and the approximate date for the first fertilizer application.  It was a deal.  The sales person then repeated our agreement, saying, “OK, we’ll be out to do the first application and we’ll leave a brochure, and then you can cancel at any time with 30 days notice.”

“What?” I said.

He repeated his comment.  “Wait a minute,” I said.  “I only agreed to one application.  I’m not committing to any ongoing contract until I check out all the options.”

“But that’s not how we do it,” the sales person stammered.

“No,” I said.

“But, But…” more stammers.

“NO.”  I said again.  “Forget it.  Cancel me.”

What happened?  Here I was, as good a prospect as there ever was.  I was ready to purchase, having decided to use this company, even calling them to make the purchase.  Yet something in what the sales person said raised a red flag in my mind, and made me doubt the integrity of the person, and by inference, the company.  He had originally said that I would be billed for only one application, and then implied that I was committing to an ongoing program.

I viewed that as being deceitful, or at best manipulative.  If I can’t trust them on that, on what can I trust them?  There are lots of other lawn care companies, and the next one in the yellow pages got my business.

Customer Loyalty

Life’s too short, and business is too busy to deal with people you can’t trust.  The question, then, for you as a sales person is this: Do your customers see you as trustworthy?

That’s a difficult question to answer.  You can’t just ask them, because you know you are unlikely to hear a candid response.  But you can gain a sense of their perception of you by looking for some of the symptoms of trust or a lack of it.

For example, if you find your customers sometimes buying from a higher priced source, or buying a product or service you consider to be inferior, it may be that your customer doesn’t trust you!

On the other hand, if you find your customers accepting your word, and choosing to deal with you, even when you are offering an identical product at a higher price, then chances are they do trust you.  Your reputation for honesty and integrity has been a smart business strategy, resulting in measurable benefits to you.

Unfortunately, a reputation for trustworthiness and honesty is not a result of one event or a single transaction.  It doesn’t develop out of some clever phrases you memorize and repeat.  Rather, it develops over time as you adhere to a set of ethical standards in small as well as big things.  It’s not a technique you use, but rather it’s the person you chose to become.  As you strive to adhere to the standard of absolute honesty and integrity in all that you do, you’ll develop a character trait that will become evident to everyone around you, including your customers. And that is good business as well as good morals.

To review my suggested set of ethical guidelines for sales people, download “Ten Commandments for the Ethical Salesperson.

Then, commit yourself to implementing a powerful and effective sales strategy – integrity.

By the way, you’ll find this kind of insight into dozens of sales issues in our Sales Resource Center. It houses 435 training programs to help every one live more successfully and sell better.  All delivered over the internet, 24/7, for one low monthly fee.

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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. A great source of specific tools to help you with this issue is Dave’s book, Question Your Way to Sales SuccessCheck it out here.

Copyright MMXII by Dave Kahle
All Rights Reserved.