Commence Debuts iCommence

Commence Corporation announced the launch of “iCommence” a web front end for the company’s popular desktop CRM software. Learn how you can access your Commence CRM database anytime and anywhere, using any device – a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android tablet or smartphone. Click here for further information.

Businessman Using Tablet by Naypong ID-100216086

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Sales Q&A – Entertaining

Q. Dave, I have read your comments about the value of entertaining, and I agree with you.  But, I have a problem.  I still find a percentage of customers who keep me at “arms length.”  How do I overcome this attitude from the select few of my customers?

A. What!  Not everyone thinks you are great?  Alas, it is the sales person’s lot in life to have some customers who just don’t want to get close to you.  Worse yet, some actively dislike you.

How do you handle this?

Try something radically different, in terms of entertaining, than what you have done in the past.  Create an opportunity for your customer to spend time with you and your spouse/significant other in an entertaining and non-threatening venue.

Here’s an example from my experience.  One of my highest potential accounts was presided over by a middle-aged lady who just did not like me.  I spent a fruitless two years trying to make some headway in that account, but was constantly rebuffed.

At that time, my company had six season tickets to the University of Michigan football games.  When it was my turn to use them, I invited that lady and her husband, as well as one other customer with whom I had a much better relationship and his wife.  My wife accompanied us, for a party of six.  I know my “cold customer” would not have come had it not been the one time in her life where she and her husband would be able to see a live U of M football game.

Group Of Happy Friends With Raised Arms by photostock ID-10038155

It was a glorious Fall afternoon and we did it right, with a tailgate meal preceding the game, and several rounds of drinks following the game.  Because my wife was with me, it took a little of the edge off the tension that existed between us.  As the afternoon moved on, the tension faded away.  At the end of the afternoon, we had become friends, with a mutual respect for one another.

Business began to grow from that day forward, until that account became one of my best accounts.

So, option one – try to get them into an out-of-the-office situation where you can come to know one another as people, not necessarily as sales person and customer.

If you can’t pull that off, then try plan B.  Find someone else in the account with whom you can work.  Build relationships with that person and leverage that relationship into greater visibility in the account.

Another example from my experience.  One of my accounts was overseen by a crusty, irritable older man who told me, the first time I called on him:  “We have too many vendors now, we don’t need another one.  And, while we don’t know much about your company, what we have heard we don’t like.”

The next few times that I called on him, he lied to me repeatedly.  I decided that I was not going to get anywhere with him, and found some other people within the account upon whom I could call.  I was successful with them, and gradually built the business until I was the largest vendor within that account.

The older man’s attitude slowly changed to the point that he and his wife accompanied my wife and me to a Tiger baseball game.  At the end of the evening, his wife took me aside, and with tears in her eyes, thanked me for the evening, saying that “No one has ever done this for him before.”

So, plan B.  Go around the person, building relationships with someone else.

Now, if those two strategies don’t work, then console yourself with Kahle’s rule number one of sales:  You don’t sell them all!  Wait around for something or someone to change.  Eventually, everything does.

Good luck!

About the author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written twelve 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. 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.

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The Trend for Small Businesses is Managed Services

Changes in the business climate over the past few years have placed significant challenges on smaller businesses. For some it’s been changes in regulatory requirements and for others a continued slowdown in the industry sector they do business in. In addition, technology advances such as cloud computing and social networking coupled with a shortage of IT resources have caused small businesses to look for an alternative to maintaining their IT infrastructure. That alternative is managed services.

Programmer In Data Center Room Working With Laptop by watcharakun ID-100220400

Managed services refers to the outsourcing of the computer hardware, software and IT resources to a third party provider so that you can focus your attention on growing your business.

“We have seen a consistent migration to our managed services program over the past two years” says Larry Caretsky, President of Commence Corporation, a provider of cloud based and desktop CRM software. Customers are frustrated with the time and expense associated with maintaining their IT infrastructure and are looking to place this burden on the back of companies like Commence who have the expertise to assist them. There are a lot of advantages to managed services” says Caretsky. “First, we find that many of these firms are working with outdated hardware and software which can be difficult and costly to replace. By moving to managed services they instead get to work with the latest hardware and software available and have their system managed 24/7 by professional engineers. Managed services also enables you to know exactly what your annual expense will be for the services; there are no hidden costs and no surprises. In addition, the annual expense can become an operational cost with tax advantages, and with no IT personnel expense the savings can be substantial.”

“Perhaps the most significant advantage of managed services is that it allows you to focus your energy on doing what you do best – market, sell and provide services to your customers. You did not go into business to manage computer hardware or software” says Caretsky. “These are simply tools to help you automate and streamline internal business processes. Managed services is a trend that will continue into the future and we expect that customers will continue to call on us for these services.”

Image courtesy of watcharakun at freedigitalphotos.net

Cloud Computing is Hot, but is it Right for Your Business

A flat economy, costly hardware upgrades and a reduction of IT resources is causing more and more businesses to migrate their computer operations from local servers to the cloud. What can cloud computing provide to your business and should you take the leap?

Business Man Jumping To Next Cliff With Risk Decision by khunaspix ID-100182353

To start, it will allow you to focus on what you do best versus devoting resources to the management and maintainability of your computer hardware and software. In addition, cloud computing offers mobile access to vital customer information anytime and anywhere enabling remote sales and support personnel to be more proactive and productive in selling to and servicing customers.

Cloud computing traditionally refers to the utilization of hardware and software resources that are housed remotely and traditionally at a large data center. Data is accessed via an Internet connection and is accessible 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Companies like Commence Corporation offer this capability as well as a hybrid cloud computing alternative whereby the software can be implemented on local computers while the server hardware, backup and recovery systems are managed by Commence engineers.

There are many advantages to cloud computing such as:

  • the ability to quickly and cost efficiently scale the hardware and software for accelerated growth,
  • paying a predictable flat fee for services,
  • eliminating costly upgrades,
  • and reducing the need for IT personnel to maintain the environment.

There are several disadvantages as well such as data migration, the potential for business disruption due to a new learning curve and concerns for data security and performance.

While the latter represent two of the more openly discussed reasons why businesses may not migrate to the cloud, there are some misconceptions here that should be pointed out. People often feel uncomfortable turning their confidential data over to a third party and believe that they are at a greater security risk, but the fact is you are better served putting your data in the hands of the people whose business it is to protect it. No data is completely secure, but the cloud services firms devote an enormous amount of money and resources to protect your data. They offer a secured environment that most businesses simply cannot afford and when it comes to performance, the cloud environment by design ensures that if there is a requirement for additional computing resources this can be addressed quickly and efficiently.

While you still may have some reservations for moving to cloud computing, the security of your data or concern for the performance of your system should no longer be one of them.

Image “Business Man Jumping To Next Cliff With Risk Decision” courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sales Best Practice: Skilled at dealing with adversity and failure

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

By Dave Kahle

3d Imagen Changing The Word Impossible To Possible by David Castillo Dominici ID-100221913

Every now and then, I run across an idea which makes a significant impact on me. One such was the idea (I wish I could remember who first said it) that the surest indicator of success was the ability to deal effectively with adversity.

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the power and truth in that idea. The world is full of talented and intelligent people who never really succeed. But the surest indicator of success is not latent talent, natural abilities or native intelligence. It is, instead, the ability to get knocked down by life, and get up and go at it again.

This is particularly true for sales people. We typically fail more times than we succeed. It’s the rare sales person, for example, who sells more than 50 percent of the prospects. So failure is a regular part of our jobs. As is rejection and adversity of all kinds. Every “No” is a rejection. Every voice mail message is an obstacle.

Our days, weeks, years and careers are spilling over with failure, rejection and adversity.

The lesser sales people become burdened and lethargic with the weight of it, while the stars shrug it off and rise to try again.

It’s not that the sales superstars have less failure and adversity to deal with (although they may), it is that they recognize they need to manage themselves in light of the inevitable failure with which they must contend. They recognize the issue, and deal with it head-on.

Hopeless Man Looking At Loss by digitalart ID-10039232In his great book, Learned Optimism, Dr. Martin Seligman describes the mechanics at work. When faced with adversity, some people give up and retreat into an attitude of “helplessness and hopelessness.” Others take control of their minds, and choose to think optimistic thoughts. As a result, they create more energy and more motivation. That energy and motivation channel themselves into more positive behavior, and that positive behavior brings better results.

Notice that this process starts with their thoughts. I have long thought that the ultimate playing field for the professional sales person (or any person, for that matter) resides within – inside the mind where one’s thoughts, emotions and beliefs are generated. Because it is those things that stimulate and influence behavior, and positive behavior produces positive results.

The best sales people have an understanding of this, recognize that their primary obstacles are internal, and develop disciplines and practices to overcome negative thoughts that emerge from adversity and replace them with positive thoughts.

Some of the techniques that superstars employ to help them overcome adversity include visualization, the use of positive affirmations, prayer, and learned optimism.

To learn more about this best practice,

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For Sales Managers…

Use this rating scale to assess the extent to which each of your sales people evidence this best practice.

davekahle-rating-tools-for-sales-managers

Comments: ____________________________________________________________

To help a sales person build this practice into a habit,

a. Share your assessment with them.

b. Talk about how that impacts their performance.

c. Refer them to one or more of the resources listed above.

d. Ask them to commit to a couple of specific changes.

e. Monitor their progress at a future, pre-determined date.

At a sales meeting, ask people to share one time in their lives when they overcame some adversity. It could be something small, like a bad experience at an account that they were able to turn around, or something much deeper, like overcoming a serious illness. If you ask them to prepare this beforehand, you’ll see much better responses. Use the stories as a means to build into people the concept of achieving success by overcoming adversity.

Copyright MMXIV by Dave Kahle
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Image “Changing The Word Impossible To Possible” courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “Hopeless Man Looking At Loss” courtesy of digitalart/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net