Sales Q&A #28 – How do we get more calls in when driving?

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

Woman Using Laptop And Mobile Phone by Witthaya Phonsawat ID-100216128Q. How do we get more calls in when driving time is so long?

A. I’m going to answer this on two levels. First, when you have a big geographical territory with lots of windshield time, you have to do a better job of routing your calls to maximize the time with the customer. Plan your basic itinerary at least a month in advance, and try to schedule your calls in a logical pattern so that you are not driving back and forth. Schedule the longest drives before your first appointment, during lunch, or after your last appointment so that you are using the 8:00 to 5:00 selling time to its maximum advantage.

Make “ish” appointments. In other words, instead of making the appointment for 10 AM, make it for “10-ish.” This gives you a window of about 15 minutes before the appointment to 15 minutes after when you can still be on time. It takes the pressure off of you and provides you a bit more flexibility.

Here’s another way to consider the problem. Instead of focusing on more calls (quantity), focus on better quality calls (quality). If you can only make four calls a day, for example, consider which are the highest quality, highest potential four calls you can make. Understand that you can’t get to everyone, so focus on the most important.

This article is available in an expanded version.
Visit www.davekahle.com/qa/driving-time.html to read it.

This issue of focusing more on quality than quantity is one of the best practices of the most successful sales people. If you’d like to dig in a bit more, I’d recommend picking up my book, 11 Secrets of Time Management for Sales People.

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Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every sales person at every level. You may contact Dave at Kahle Way® Sales Systems, 800-331-1287, or info@davekahle.com.

Copyright MMXIII by Dave Kahle

All rights reserved

Photo Credit: Witthaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Best Practice #50 – Regularly talks with customers about their needs

By Dave Kahle

“We need two cases of widgets.”

Here’s how the average salesperson responds to that request. “I have them in stock. It’ll be $300 each case.”

Ah, but the superstars have a different approach. “OK. Can I ask why you need those now?”

“Sure,” says the customer, “we got a new project from one of our customers, and these are going to be packaged with a couple of other things for the sample prototypes.”

“Oh, so your customer may decide to buy these on a regular basis?”

“Yep, if the prototypes work out.”

“And, you mentioned they were going to be packaged with a couple of other things. May I ask what those other things are?”

“Sure. We’re adding didgets and fidgets.”

“OK. Did you know that we also have didgets and fidgets available? And that we have a division that assembles custom packages for our customers. We could probably assemble those, and provide you the finished packages. That would save you assembly time, streamline your inventory, and simplify your ordering. Would you like a quote on what that would look like?”

Note the difference between the approach by the average salesperson, and the approach by the master. The average salesperson fielded a superficial question, provided superficial information, and thought he was doing a good job.

Consulting Dice by Stuart Miles ID-100213424

The superstar took the opportunity to dig deeper into the customer’s request, discovered a deeper opportunity, and then proposed a combination of products and services that met the customer’s deeper needs.

The average salesperson responded to a $600 opportunity. The superstar transformed that opportunity into a quote for considerably more money and that carried with it the advantage of becoming more important to the customer.

The average salesperson would have thought he was doing a good job by blissfully coasting right by a much deeper and larger opportunity. The superstar dug in and uncovered a bigger deal.

This kind of scenario happens every day, in every field of sales. The mass of salespeople are content with the superficial, while the masters use every opportunity to uncover deeper, more significant issues and then to make a bigger, more important proposal.

That’s one reason why they are masters.

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Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and nine countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. His most recent book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime, has been named one of the “five best business books,” by three international entities.

The Sales Resource Center® contains 455 audio and video training programs for sales people, sales managers, and Chief Sales Officers.

Photo Credit: Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Commence CRM Highlights Midmarket Product Positioning

Most CRM Software offerings are designed for a specific market segments and fall into one of three categories; Small Business CRM, Midsize CRM and Enterprise CRM.  This paper highlights several areas that differentiate the market segments and where Commence CRM fits in the industry.  The differences traditionally lie in the following areas.

Scope of Functionality

Enterprise CRM solutions offer a comprehensive suite of applications that automate sales, marketing and customer service functions. Small business solutions are typically designed to address account and contact management with some offering basic sales functionality.

Commence CRM fits squarely between the two and offers functionality that rivals many enterprise level solutions at an affordable cost.  In addition to offering applications for lead management, sales management and marketing, Commence CRM also provides a fully integrated project management and help desk or customer service application with a knowledgebase and FAQ section.

Scalability

Enterprise CRM systems are built on complex architectures that are designed to support several hundred to a few thousand users while Small Business solutions are best served for home based or small businesses of 2 to 20 people.  Commence CRM uses a robust Java based architecture that has been proven to provide outstanding performance to companies of 20 to 200 plus users.

Customization

Enterprise CRM solutions are highly customizable, but traditionally require professional engineers for major changes.  Commence CRM offers a high degree of end user customization allowing you to customize dashboards, and views, create saved searches, build drop down selection boxes, add custom fields and run custom reports.  Small Business CRM offers limited to no customization.

Cloud Hosting Service

One the key areas often overlooked by consumers, particularity smaller businesses, is the quality of the cloud data hosting services provided by the CRM vendor.   Enterprise CRM solution providers offer best in class cloud hosting services from organizations like Rackspace or the Amazon cloud.  Commence CRM has a strategic alliance with Rackspace for cloud hosting services.  Small Business CRM providers due to their low cost traditionally use second or third tier cloud hosting services.

Customer Support Services

CRM solutions require a serious investment in time and resources in order to improve how you market, sell and provide service to your customers and get a high return on your investment.  Companies that serve the enterprise market offer an array of services for implementation, training and customization of their products.  Commence CRM realizes that many smaller organizations may require assistance in several areas, and has created an “Onboarding program” to ensure that every customer gets the assistance they need to realize the maximum value from the solution.  Small Business CRM vendors traditionally offer only self-service and e-mail support.  This is because the limited functionality provided by these products require little more.

crm matrix compares cost vs functionality

The selection of CRM software does not have to be as difficult as it appears. If you require more than basic account and contact management functionality, desire some scalability to support future growth, have unique business requirements that require customization, want to have your data protected by a world class cloud hosting service and expect a level of service that ensures you realize a rapid return on your investment, you need Commence CRM.   Visit us at www.commence.com and talk with one of our experts or ask for a free trial.

One of the Emerging New Rules for Sales: The Value-Added Sales Call

“My customers seem to have less time available for me than before. They are harder to see, and when I do get in front of them, they often seem rushed or preoccupied. What can I do about this?”

Sound familiar? It’s a question that I am hearing more and more often. I’m sure you have run it through your mind a few times.

It may be that the problem is you. You may be irritating and abrasive, and over time your customers may have decided that they don’t want you around.

But it’s probably not you. It’s your customer.

Young Businessman Looking At His Wristwatch by Chaiwat ID-100183583

No matter what you sell, it is likely that your customer has more to do and less time in which to do it than ever before. Your customer’s lack of time is a relatively recent phenomenon. It wasn’t much of an issue a few years ago, but it has become universal and growing in intensity day by day. Your customer is overworked and pressed for time. As a result, there is just not enough time in the day to get everything done. Some things have to go. A long, leisurely conversation with a sales person is often one of those things that is going.

I believe we are at the beginning of a new trend – a trend with awesome implications for sales people. It used to be that being viewed as a “value-added” vendor was a desirable position to occupy in the customer’s mind. That meant that the product or service you represented brought your customer more value for the money than the offerings of your competitors. It was why they did business with you.

Notice the focus was on the product or service you represented. The process involved – the sales calls you made on the customer, and the discussions you had with him or her – were viewed as a means to an end. It was what both of you did in order to come to the exchange of money for your value-added offerings.

Those were the rules, and customers and sales people understood them. But the rules are changing. We are at the beginning of a new paradigm for the field sales person. The new paradigm is this: Today, not only must the product or service bring value to the customer, but the time you spend with the customer must also be of value to him or her.

In other words, the sales process itself must bring value to your customer. Your customer must gain something from every sales call. He/she must see a reason for spending time with you – a payback for his investment of time.

In today’s time-compressed and overwhelming world, your sales call must bring the customer some value. Here’s a way to visualize this emerging new rule. Suppose you were to make a routine sales call on a regular customer. At the end of the call you filled out an invoice, handed it to him and said, “OK, John, that will be $150.00 for my time.” In other words, you charge him for the value he received by talking with you. Would he pay your bill? Would he have derived enough value from the time he spent with you so that he would gladly pay you for it?

OK, the illustration may seem a bit over the edge. Most industries are not at the point, yet, where they will charge for sales calls. But in the information rich, too-many-things-to-do world in which you and your customers live, time is more precious than money.

When you ask for your customer’s time, you are asking for something very limited and very precious. If you take 30 minutes of his day, he has invested 6.25% of his workday in you. He has a thousand other things he could have done in that time. What did he get for that investment with you?

The point is this: If you are going to be successful in the Information Age economy, you must focus on bringing something of value to your customers every time you ask them to invest their time in you. You must view every sales call through the perspective of the value you can bring to your customers. A sales call is no longer just about the objectives that you want to achieve, it is also about the objectives your customer wants to achieve. It’s as if you present that $150.00 bill at the end of every sales call and expect to be paid.

So, how can you adjust to new situation? Here are some proven practices that will help you make the transition:

1. Understand your customer’s situation as thoroughly as possible before you take his time.

Your customer expects you to know something about his business, his customers, his processes and his problems before you visit. That means that you must spend more time before a sales call gathering information about that customer. Check to see if the customer has a website, and gather useful information from it. Call and ask the receptionist to send you a company brochure. Ask around your company to see what other colleagues might know about the account. If you don’t know that the customer is qualified and worth your time, you will be wasting his.

2. Think through the sales call from the customer’s perspective.

Put yourself in the shoes of that customer. What else does he/she have to do other than talk to you? What problems is he facing, what opportunities? How can you bring him or her something that will simplify his job, help him overcome his problems, or reduce the amount of time he spends on your project?

This is a simple little technique that can make a huge difference in your performance. Before every sales call, stop and think about this question: What will the customer gain from the time he/she spends with me? If you can’t articulate some gain for the customer, consider not making the sales call.

Read the expanded version of this article here:

http://www.davekahle.com/article/value.html

I realize that this is a change in thinking for a lot of sales reps. But it’s a change that is coming, whether you want to make it or not. Your choice is to be a leader and thus gain a significant edge over your competition, or to wait until the market forces you to change. The choice is yours.

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About the Author

copyright by Dave KahleDave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every sales person at every level.

You may contact Dave at The DaCo Corporation, PO Box 523, Comstock Park, MI 49321, or dave@davekahle.com

Copyright MMXIII by Dave Kahle

All Rights Reserved

Photo Credit: Chaiwat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Social CRM: Reaching Out to Customers through Social Media

Social customer relationship management, or Social CRM, is becoming a critical component for conducting business in today’s competitive environment. Today, customers are not afraid to tell the world about the experience they have had in conducting business with your company. Social sites like Twitter and Facebook along with other industry blogs can play a significant role in driving potential buyers to your site or away from it.

Here is an example: If you went out of your way to help someone by directing them to another seller when you didn’t the product or service they needed, they’re going to find your company’s Twitter handle, do you a favor and tweet about this favorable experience. At the same time if they couldn’t get through to you when they had a question about a transaction on their credit card, they’re also going tweet about it.

Criticism and praise can work in your favor however if you harness both with the power of social CRM.

Collection Of Plasticine Icons by khalus/photos.com

Social media is a powerful platform from which to launch a CRM campaign.

Create Dialogue

For business owners, social media has three main purposes: to attract new customers, to make announcements to existing customers, and to converse. The first two entail the conversation moving in one direction. You make a statement about a promotion or sale of your product and the customer can respond or chose not to.

In the last scenario, “conversing” the conversation moves in two directions. Your customers talk to you and you respond to them, or vice versa. This is the heart of social CRM, and if it’s not part of your company’s social marketing campaign, you’re not using your biggest and perhaps most effective weapon.

Notice Them

People love to be noticed on social media. They love to be re-tweeted and mentioned on Twitter or tagged on Facebook. When a customer mentions you or your company, respond right away even if they’re just venting. If they’re complimenting you it’s easy. If they’re not it’s because they probably felt like no one was listening to their concerns. As soon as you engage you’ll let them know you’re listening and that you want to hear what they have to say.

Stay Out in the Open

Resist the urge to direct or private message them. By keeping the conversation in the public forum, you’re letting the world know that you care about your customers and take their concerns seriously and never get into an argument with someone who’s being unreasonable. If you argue with someone on a social site the people watching won’t know who’s right and who’s wrong and you will be exposing yourself to additional criticism.

Follow Up

At the end of each week – or whatever schedule is good for you – collect a list of the people who mentioned you then mention them in a roundup. It could part of a newsletter or bulletin or could be completely independent. Thank the people who complimented you and thank the people who criticized you for helping you to improve. Not only will you play to their desire to be seen on social media by mentioning them publicly, but you’ll put your brand back in the forefront of their mind without trying to sell them anything.

Social Media And Networking Concept: Group Of Color Signs With Social Media Services Isolated On White Background by Oleksiy Mark/iStock/Photos.com

Social media is the dumping ground for most customer comments, criticisms, and complaints.

Social media is without question your most valuable weapon in online marketing. It is a direct link between you and your customers. Social media allows you to hear their praise and their criticism and respond quickly and professionally. This makes customers feel that they have had an impact on your business.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about small business, social media marketing, and protecting your online business reputation.

Photo Credit: khalus/iStock/Photos.com

Photo Credit: Oleksiy Mark/iStock/Photos.com