Quality Service Comes at a Cost

By Larry Caretsky

I recently wrote an article titled “CRM: A Race to the Bottom” where I discussed the cut throat competitive nature of the customer relationship management software industry where vendors are doing almost anything to attract new customers. I am afraid that there will not be any winners in this race, but there will be a loser and that’s the customer. What makes me say this? A simple business analysis that has proven over and over again that the approach many of these CRM vendors are taking, that is offering a low cost product with free service, is simply not sustainable. There seems to be a mindset that these vendors need to win new business at any cost, but one by one they are leaving the business or simply pulling their product off the market.

Traffic Cones by David Castillo Dominici ID-10060181

Intuit, the manufacturer of QuickBooks, recently discontinued the sale of their cloud based CRM system leaving their customers scrambling to find an alternative. And Highrise a fairly popular low cost CRM software program has discontinued the sale of their CRM software as well. I suspect we will see more of this from low cost solution providers that are winning business, but losing money doing it.

The customer relationship management software business is resource intensive. Customers that select quality products with robust functionality may need assistance with implementation and training, guidance on how to realize the maximum value from the product, and help with customization or disparate system integration. These resources and the delivery of high quality service comes at a cost. Getting a good deal on a CRM software solution means very little if the software vendor cannot afford the resources to continue to support their product. Make sure you ask the vendor you are considering about their support options. Free e-mail is the standard answer. Don’t accept it.

About the author

Larry Caretsky is the president of Commence Corporation, a leading provider of CRM software and best business practices for improving sales, marketing and customer service. Caretsky is considered an expert in sales automation and has written numerous articles on the subject of CRM. These may be viewed on the company’s web site at www.commence.com.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Practice of Sales

By Dave Kahle

“Every profession expects the serious practitioner of that profession to continually seek out the best practices of that profession, and then to roll them into his/her routine with discipline.”

That statement comes out of my mouth in almost every seminar or key-note that I present. Sometimes I follow it up with the ironic observation that there is, apparently, one exception to that rule – and that is the profession of sales, where we don’t expect anyone to improve.

That is, of course, nonsense. The truth is that better sales people produce better results. The best sales people produce the best results. And better sales people continually imbed best practices into their habits. That’s how they become better. They practice.

I just got off the phone with one of my clients. We were discussing the miserable state of the market in his industry – down about 35 percent from two years ago. Yet, he observed that four of his 12 sales people where having record years.

“It’s easy to do well when the market is growing,” he observed. “Most sales people don’t know what they did to gain business when the market was growing, and they don’t know what to do when the market is shrinking. The good sales people, though, know how to sell. And that brings them results.”

Good sales people sell more than mediocre sales people. That is such a blatantly obvious truth, that I’m embarrassed to even mention it. And the way that sales people get to be good is just like every other professional becomes good – they practice!

Good doctors practice their craft and continually improve. Ditto for ministers, nurses, airline pilots, chefs and executives. The list goes on and on. No reasonably mature person thinks that after a year on the job they know it all. On the contrary, they expect to learn, grow and improve for the balance of their careers.

According to the Encarta Dictionary, the word practice means:

1. repetition in order to improve.

2. process of carrying out an idea.

3. work of a professional person.

4. usual pattern of action.

All of these accurately describe the behavior that separates the good sales person from the mediocre. Here’s how:

1. repetition in order to improve.

A good sales person studies the best practices of his profession, and repeats them in order to improve. This expresses itself in things like learning to ask a series of good questions. You work at it, repeat it and repeat it until it becomes a habit, and you have improved. Or, you practice a presentation for a key product or service. You repeat it and repeat it until you are confident and competent in it. That’s practice.

Golfer Practicing His Drive by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee ID-100212423

It’s just like golf, tennis or any area of human endeavor. If you are going to become good at it, you must practice.

2. process of carrying out an idea.

The good sales person is continually on the lookout for good ideas. He collects them, sorts through them, prioritizes them and then implements them. For example, he may come across the idea of prioritizing his accounts based on the potential for business in those accounts. That’s a different idea than the typical sorting by the amount of business they did in the past. The good sales person takes that idea, works it out, applies it to his territory, and then focuses on the high potential accounts. As a result, his production improves, and he becomes more effective. Then he looks for the next good idea. That’s practice.

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3. work of a professional person.

The best sales people view their work as a profession. They understand that sales is a challenging, demanding job that is critical for the success of every business. They also understand that it typically takes years to become adept at it, and that it is so sophisticated and challenging that they must learn and improve forever. They also understand that their work is crucial for the success of their employer and that at least four or five families are employed as a result of every sales person’s efforts. That’s a profession. And those who are a part of a profession practice it.

4. usual pattern of action.

Sales is an action-based profession. In other words, it is our actions that cause reactions in the customer. They don’t send us a purchase order, and then we go see them. We see them first, and it is what we do that causes them to react. If we act effectively, we gain the business. If we don’t act effectively, we don’t gain the business.

Our success is less about the product and service and company that we represent and more about the actions that we take. And a pattern of action is a sequence of actions that are repeated. That’s it. Good sales people understand, over time, the most effective actions they can take, they put them together into patterns and repeat them until they cause more effective customer reactions.

Back to my example of asking a series of good questions. When a sales person has turned that action into a pattern, and by repetition, turned the pattern into a habit, and then by discipline and thoughtfulness continually exercises that habit, that sales person has become an excellent sales person. It’s what you do that counts. And, good sales people practice doing the right things until they get it right. It’s the practice that does it.

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. 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 dave@davekahle.com.

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Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net