How to handle an account in the hands of a competitor

Posted by Dave Kahle on November 25, 2014 under Sales Training | Be the First to Comment

Question and Answer for Sales People

By Dave Kahle

Q. I have been receiving your monthly e mail and have read several of your books. I work as an account manager for a large industrial supplier. I love your strategies and ideas but I haven’t found a specific way to overcome my most recent obstacle. I have been moved around from several successful territories, and now find myself trying to sell to companies that are lead by close friends of my main competitor. This competitor is a former employee of our company and is bound and bent to destroy us. How can I get between him and these contacts that are, in some cases, close friends with him for 20+ years? You guys are in my opinion THE best in the business! You must have an answer to this.

A. You certainly have a difficult challenge, but not one that is insurmountable.

The fact that your competitor is bent on destroying you probably works in your favor. It means that he is likely to make decisions based on emotions, instead of based on good business principles. Sooner or later this will catch up with him, and the customers will recognize his motivation. Stay above all of that.

Let me start first with what NOT to do.

1. Don’t bad mouth your competitor, don’t criticize him or even talk about him. The focus of your communication should be on the customer’s issues and your company’s ability to help them. Your attitude should be, particularly in this situation, that the competition is irrelevant. Now, we both know that not to be the case. However, the point is that you don’t want to initiate a conversation with the customer about your competitor.

2. Don’t threaten the existing relationships by trying to take business away from the competitor. At this point, you will lose all of those attempts to gain business at the competitor’s expense. You’ll make everyone defensive and uncomfortable. Remember, he’s had long-standing relationships in these accounts, and is far stronger than you are.

Having established that, what should you do?

Stone sculptor chipping away

1. Start with a long-term perspective. You are not going to change anything overnight. So, you must view this challenge as something that may take years to turn around.

2. Remember that everything changes, and things change more rapidly today than ever before. Be particularly on the lookout for changes in personnel. If a new department manager or purchasing agent is hired, it is possible that person does not have an existing relationship with your competitor. Give those people priority, and try to establish positive relationships with those new people.

3. Don’t compete. What I mean by that is to find a product that is purchased in small volumes and is beneath everybody’s radar screen. It’s so inconspicuous that no one much cares from who they buy it. Actually, the more inconspicuous the product is, the better off you are. Pick off that product in any way that you can. Use it to become a legitimate vendor in that account.

That now gives you a story to tell to others in the account, a legitimate status in that account, and a history of transactions. Do it again. Find another small and inconspicuous product to pick off. Build a small base of business by searching out and becoming the supplier for those products in which no other vendor is too interested. As you build a base business, use the relationships developed in that process to leverage and expand your relationships. At some point, you’ll be thought of as a substantial vendor.

At that point, given your history in this account, and the change in personnel that is inevitable, you’ll be in a position to compete face-to-face for the business in a much more advantaged position than you have now.

 This article is available in an expanded version. Click here to read it.

This will get you started. If you’d like to dig into this issue some more, here are some additional resources:

* An article: The Impenetrable Account at

* Pod-11, “Managing the Impenetrable Account” in the Sales Resource Center.

Good luck.

Copyright MMXIV by Dave Kahle

All Rights Reserved

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 800-331-1287, or

Photo credit: dan/

Sales Tip – The Impenetrable Account

Posted by Dave Kahle on June 9, 2014 under Sales Training | Be the First to Comment

By Dave Kahle

How do I sell to an account that is firmly in the hands of a competitor?

In one form or another, I hear that question at almost every sales seminar I teach. It’s a great question, reflecting one of the most perplexing and frustrating situations every sales person faces. If you haven’t yet been faced with this problem, be patient, you will be soon.

Here’s how this usually develops: You’ve called on a large, high-potential account a number of times, but can’t seem to get anywhere. The more time you spend in the account, the more apparent it is that one or more of your competitors is deeply ingrained in that account. You may even have had someone say to you, “We do all our business with XYZ competitor.”

And that leaves you on the outside looking in. If the account has some real potential, you want to be seriously considered as a supplier. But it looks like this account is not really interested in you – not because of you or your company, but because of a previously established strong relationship with a competitor.

So, how do you manage this account? What should you do?

Let’s start with what not to do.

Man holding axe to break the door

Don’t vent your frustration by speaking poorly about the competition. And don’t attack the competitor’s products, company, practices or sales people. Someone who works for this customer – or more likely, several people who work there – chose to do business with that competitor. They have chosen to buy the competitor’s products, have developed a close working relationship, and may be good friends outside of work. When you speak badly about the competition, you insult all those decisions made by the customer to work with that particular competitor. Trying to penetrate an account by insulting your customer’s judgment is a bad idea.

Realize, also, that you have only a tiny glimpse of what your competitor is really like. You may have found some evidence in another account of their ineptness, or what you perceive as unethical behavior. And on the basis of this tiny experience, you’re ready to launch a holy crusade to reveal their deep flaws and expose the risks of doing business with them.

That is almost never the truth. Almost always, your competitor is a company with products, ethics, business systems, people and goals that are very similar to yours. Very few companies survive in this highly competitive market place if they have shoddy products, lax business morals, incompetent people, and poor operating systems. When you criticize these things in your competitor, you show yourself to be ignorant and inexperienced.

But what should you do?

Leadership brings ladder

Here are two proven techniques to penetrate these kinds of accounts.

1. Go around the competition, not through them.

This customer is probably not buying everything from your primary competitor. There likely is a handful of other suppliers selling items that you could supply. Focus on those. Find items that are being purchased from someone other than the main vendor, and present your company’s options on those. Often these could be small quantities of relatively inconspicuous items that don’t appear on the radar screen of your competitor.

When you put together attractive programs and proposals for those kinds of items, you don’t threaten your customer’s relationship with your competitor, and you begin to show them the value of a relationship with you.

Be careful to keep a relatively low profile in the account. You don’t want to draw your competitor’s attention. At first, as you try to pick off some of these miscellaneous items, you are very vulnerable to your primary competitor finding and squashing you. As time goes by and you’re successful at becoming the supplier of a number of miscellaneous items, you’ll gain power and position within the account, and in so doing, build some defenses against the ire of your competitor. You’re always safer if your competitor underestimates your activity and success within an account. So, at least until you’re well established, be as discreet and inconspicuous as possible.

Here’s a number of ways to implement this strategy of “going around the competition.”

A. Find some area within the customer’s business where the competition is very weak. For example, when I was selling hospital supplies, I discovered that one of my major competitors was very strong in the operating room. The competitor had a wide range of products, well-respected lines, a history of being active and interested in that area of the hospital, and significant expertise in operating room procedures and problems. So, I didn’t bother with the operating room, and spent my time in respiratory therapy and ICU. The competition never bothered to visit those departments. I went around my competition by finding a department on which to focus where the competition was weak.

This article is available in an expanded version. Click here to read it.

B. Find someone who doesn’t like dealing with your competitor. This may take longer. In a large organization, there are often dozens of decision-makers and influencers. It’s likely that one or more of them may not like dealing with your competitor. Maybe personalities clashed sometime in the past, or someone felt slighted or treated rudely. Regardless, someone inside that organization may not be your competitor’s biggest fan. Find that person(s).

Here’s the second major strategy for penetrating the impenetrable account.

2. Make a persistent, strong appeal to be the secondary supplier for that account.

Here’s one important thing you know about this customer: They are loyal to their key supplier. That indicates a philosophical position this customer holds – these are people who believe in loyalty to suppliers who do a good job in their account. That’s why they continue to buy from your competitor.

I was faced with this exact situation on more than one occasion. As I was venting my frustration over a particularly difficult account, my manager counseled me like this:

“The only thing you can count on,” he said, “is that things will change. We don’t know how, and we don’t know when, but we do know that things will change. Your job is to stay in front of the customer and position yourself to be the customer’s easiest, lowest risk choice when things finally do change with the competition.”

What great advice that turned out to be.

Almost always, those accounts that protect a relationship with your competitor will just as fervently protect the relationship with you when you become their primary supplier. The payoff is well worth the investment.

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 audio and sales training programs for every sales person at every level. You may contact Dave at Kahle Way® Sales Systems, 800-331-1287, or

All rights reserved

Image “Man Holding Axe to Break the Door” courtesy of Stoonn/

Image “Leadership Bring Ladder” courtesy of jesadaphorn/

Fundamentals of Key Account Selling

Posted by Dave Kahle on March 6, 2013 under Sales Training | Be the First to Comment

This is a Customer Relationship Management article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle

By Dave Kahle

Almost every professional B2B sales person comes to grips with one of the challenges of penetrating key accounts.  Key accounts are different than the ordinary, and require some more sophisticated skills and strategies.  Here are four fundamentals for effectively penetrating key accounts.

1.  Recognize that key accounts are different.

            First of all, they are larger, but that’s only the beginning.  Their decision-making processes will be much more complex, and in some cases, highly structured.  A product that may, in a smaller account, only need one person’s approval to purchase can require dozens of people to sign off on it in a key account.

The people have widely different specialty skill sets, perspectives, and motivations.  In smaller accounts, you may only have to deal effectively with an owner or executive.  In key accounts, the same product may require skillful communications with an engineer, a purchasing agent, a project manager and a foreman.  Each of these specialties is likely to have a different personality type, challenging the sales person to adapt.

Because of the size and complexity, there are a variety of motivations and agendas inside a key account.  A naive sales person can be constantly frustrated because they all don’t think the way he/she thinks.

I can go on for pages on ways in which key accounts are different, but this is sufficient to make the point. If you don’t adjust your strategies and tactics to the unique dynamics of a key account, you will be wasting your time.

2.  Approach the organization of your time within a key account like you would your entire territory.

            When you look at your territory, you see lots of independent units we call accounts.  You understand that each has a unique set of needs, budgets and personal dynamics, and that each offers its own set of opportunities.

When you approach a key account, think of it as a territory on its own, with lots of units that act like accounts.  These units can be departments, or branches, or plants, or whatever organization exists within that account.  Each one of them may conceivably have the ability to purchase or move forward the purchase of your products and services.  Each unit, whatever it may be, has its own unique set of needs, budgets and personal dynamics.  And, in many cases, the purchasing power of one of those units can far outstrip the purchasing power of one of your smaller accounts.

Just as you would begin your work in your sales territory by first identifying all the potential accounts, so too, you begin your work in a key account by identifying all the individual units, and then understanding the relationships among them.

Just as you would take six months or a year to come to know the accounts in your territory, so too, expect that it will take a like period of time to identify and come to know all of the units within your key accounts.

Just as you would attempt to ascertain what opportunities there were in each of your other accounts, so too, you should attempt to uncover the opportunities in each of the key account units.

While key accounts are more complex and require some more sophisticated strategies and skills on your part, the perspective that you take to managing your time in a key account should mimic the perspective you take in coming to know the accounts in your territory.

3.  Understand that you gain traction in key accounts through relationships, leverage, and organization.

            If you are going to have influence in a key account, you must have relationships with the influential people.  Because of the size of a key account, and the natural movement of people within it, that means that coming to know the influential people is not an event which has an ending, but is rather a constant process that never ends.  Make a list of the people who should know you, and update it after every sales call.

Who are the department heads in each of those units?  Who are influencers?  The decision makers?  Who could be a champion for you?

Not only do you need to proactively expand your relationships deep into the organization, but you also need to focus upward, and come to know those people who oversee combinations of units, and the C-level people in the corner suites.

There is a fundamental equation in B2B sales, and it operates just as reliably in key accounts as it does elsewhere:

  • Relationships lead to opportunities.
  • Opportunities lead to projects
  • Projects lead to sales.

So, if you want to increase your sales, begin with relationships. And, the primary way you do that is to leverage every question, every positive relationship, every conversation, and every opportunity to more of the same. Leverage, in this case, means using something to create something additional.  In other words, you use every conversation as an opportunity to open the door to more. Assume the attitude that there is always more.  There are more people to meet, more opportunities to uncover, more problems to solve, and more needs to fill.

In every single sales call, you ought to ask, “Who else should I be talking to?”  Or, “Who should I know in xxxx department? “ If you successfully sell something, that experience should be leveraged to uncover the next opportunity.  If you meet someone, that relationship should be leveraged to create more.  And so it goes, unending.

4.  Finally, key accounts are no place for the unorganized sales person. 

            Successfully selling in a key account requires organizational tools and disciplines that are a stretch for the average sales person. Imagine all the people who you need to know, multiply them by the relationships and agendas among them, overlay that with the account’s strategies, needs and budgets, factor in all the opportunities and the steps in each process necessary to bring it to fruition, and you’ll begin to get an idea of the degree to which you’ll need to collect information, store it, and continually use it.  A sophisticated CRM system is a must, as is the discipline to use it religiously.

While these few ideas are not the whole story, they will get you started in your efforts to successfully sell to key accounts.  Recognize the difference, plan your time as if each were a sales territory on its own, and apply the weapons of relationship, leverage and organization to the task.  You’ll be well on your way.

Copyright MMXIII by Dave Kahle
All Rights Reserved.

Sales Question and Answer #15 – Betrayed

Posted by Commence on September 28, 2012 under Sales Training | Be the First to Comment

This is a Customer Management article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.  Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.

Do not fear risk Q.  I worked on a large bid for a company with which I had relationships in the past. I knew that we could do a great job for them but I also knew the buyer in charge of the project worked from fear and comfort and it would be a big change for him to turn over about 600K of business to us. I asked up front if we were to put something “special” together for him would we be given an opportunity or just used as a negotiating piece for the current vendor (my old company). I did not get a straight answer, and proceeded to put together an A+ presentation. We found out our program showed an immediate 15-18% reduction in cost. All of our information was given back to the current vendor and they eventually matched our proposal.

My question is: I am considering going over the local and national buyers head laying out the facts to a VP or CEO, not in spite, but to say if we did this on this opportunity what else could we uncover that may be being missed. Also should I have refused to move forward with the bid unless I received some kind of commitment guaranteeing me the business if I were to meet some specified requirement?

A.   This is one of the most difficult issues a B2B sales person faces.   It represents one of the true “lows” of field sales.  We often talk about the “highs” of gaining a big deal, but rarely the “lows” that come with being used and abused.  Unfortunately, almost every sales person has one of these kinds of stories to tell. I can still remember a very similar situation in my experience.  It was a several million dollar piece of business, involving a buying group, and I was left in the same situation you are in – a lot of work done to create a great proposal, and someone else, who had invested nothing, got the business on the basis of broken promises and a few cents difference.  I was used and abused, and to this day, I have bad feelings about it.

Just as an aside, if you were the competitive sales person, you would be bragging about your relationship, and how you got the “last look” and the ability to meet some competitor’s best efforts.  I’ve always had a bit of distaste for that approach, even though a number of sales people consider it desirable.

I’m not sure I have the 100% fool-proof solution to this, but I do have some thoughts to share.

First, let me respond to your specific question:  Should you go over the buyer’s head to a VP or CEO?

I don’t think so.  No matter how careful you are, you are going to look like you are bitter and tattling on the buyer.  You won’t look good, and that will come back to bite you some time in the future.

Now, let’s try to learn from this.  I see two questions:

a.  What to do in this account?

b.  How to prevent this from happening again?

1.  What to do in this account?

If you can pull it off, you may want to find a way to share your view of things with the buyer.  Does he even know that he did something that most people consider is immoral?  He may think nothing of it.  If you can have that conversation with him, it may make him feel a bit obligated to you in the future.

Chances are, though, that is not a conversation you will be able to have with this buyer.  I honestly think, if it were me, I’d pull back and wait for a change in buyers before I put any significant investment of time or energy into the account.

Those of you who have been through my system of rating accounts by potential will recognize that this account is low in “partnerability.”  Hopefully, there are more responsive fish to fry elsewhere.

2.  How to prevent this from happening again?

I’m going to share some thinking with you that you will probably have never heard before.  You don’t want to have this happen to you again.  To prevent this in the future, think about “risk.”

“Risk,” in this particular case, is the fear in the mind of the customer of what might happen to him if he makes a mistake in awarding the business to someone he doesn’t know well.

One of the core reasons why you didn’t get the business is that, in the customer’s point of view, you represented a greater risk than their current vendor.  (By the way, “risk” is one of the biggest issues in the buying/selling interaction.  Check out my article on it, and consider one of my one hour seminars on it.)

This deal sounds like a big one, relatively speaking.  The mistake that you may have made is to pursue a “big deal” in an account where you were viewed as the higher risk choice.  This rarely ends up well, and more times than not, produces a result similar to the one you experienced.  The other company, because of their past relationship, is always seen as lower risk than you.  Since the customer is fearful of the risk, he’s going to find a way to do business with the lower risk choice.

Strategically, the way you make your option look like less risk is to do small pieces of business first, so that you establish some history of performance.  Then, when the big deal comes up, you are operating from a “less risk” perspective.  Alternatively, if you could have broken the $600K deal up into four or five smaller pieces, that could be executed and implemented sequentially, one-at-a-time, you would have had a better chance.  Smaller deals are less risk.

I would generally NOT put much time and effort into pursuing “big deals” with accounts that had little previous experience with my company.  I know they are tempting, but they almost always turn out like your experience — a waste of your time and energy.  You get used and abused.

So, pick your battles carefully.  Don’t put a lot of time and effort into “big deals” unless you have a history with the account, and are seen as a “low risk” provider.  Your time and effort are valuable commodities.  Don’t waste them on opportunities and customers that aren’t worth it.

Hope this helps.

Copyright MMX by Dave Kahle
All Rights Reserved.

Image “Do not fear risk” by Leland Francisco on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Google Maps Now Added to Commence CRM

Posted by Commence on August 15, 2012 under Commence News | Be the First to Comment

Customers using Commence CRM Software will soon have Google maps integration built right into their CRM system. This feature is an addition to the account and contact management application and allows users to quickly map and get directions to their customer addresses saved in the system.

The Google Map icon is conveniently located on the Account, Lead, and Contact detail screens next to the Postal Code or Zip Code field. Clicking the icon connects to Google maps and displays the location of the customer.

Google Maps Integration in Commence CRM Software

Commence CRM now links to Google Maps. Get point to point directions and map your customer addresses

This new feature enables sales and customer service personnel to map the location of an account and plan their travel arrangements accordingly. They may also wish to visit other accounts in the area. For additional information about Commence CRM software, visit the company’s website at

Has CRM Software Become a Commodity?

Posted by Commence on July 17, 2012 under CEO Corner | Be the First to Comment

The CRM software sector had been and continues to be one of the fastest growing segments of the computer software industry.  Analysts’ predictions of explosive growth served as the catalyst for those companies looking to grab a slice of this booming market. It wasn’t long before a myriad of CRM offerings became available.

Some were low cost programs for contact and account management while others offered more robust offerings for marketing, sales and customer service. Today there are literally several hundred companies competing in this space, but can they all survive?  It’s unlikely in light of the fact that the CRM sector is perceived by many to be a commodity.

Affordable CRM

One of the first indications that a sector has become a commodity is price erosion.  Price erosion occurs when the market becomes flooded with options and the buying community perceives that the available offerings are all pretty much the same. These consumers no longer pay close attention to features and functions, but instead view price as the main differentiator. This is not new to the technology sector, but it is uncomfortable for CRM manufacturers who are struggling to differentiate themselves in this highly competitive market.

CRM Features Comparison

For years, technology and software manufacturers have fought the commoditization of products by trying to outmatch their competition.   They would scramble to add a feature or two that the other guy doesn’t have and were convinced that this would not only help to differentiate their offering, but give them the right to charge a high price. worked this angle rather well for a while, that is until the other guys caught up. Like most technology companies, I think learned that trying to “out-feature” the competition is not a solid long-term business strategy.

CRM Competition

So what does the future hold for CRM manufacturers?  I am not sure they know but what is apparent is that, Microsoft, SugarCRM and Commence CRM, all considered mainstream CRM solutions, have on several occasions been forced to re-package and lower their price.  This is a clear indication that the commoditization of the CRM sector has already begun.

I do not think these companies are blind to this. for example has been acquiring other products and services perhaps to offset the reduced growth and lower price points associated with CRM while Commence has been adding an array of professional services and sales training programs around their offering.

The commoditization of the CRM industry however is not a bad thing.  It’s good for the consumer.  Competition traditionally breeds better products and lower price points.  While competing in a commodity market can be frustrating to the CRM manufacturers, the companies mentioned above have already navigated through choppy waters and will continue to offer quality products and services well into the future.

Sales: Question and Answer #10

Posted by Commence on April 24, 2012 under Sales Training | Be the First to Comment

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.

By Dave Kahle

Q. In regards to personality conflicts with an account, at what point do you walk away and let someone else in your organization try?

A.  Great question.  Let me answer in two ways.
What is your number to walk away
First, from a purely theoretical perspective, a professional sales person should be able to build relationships with anyone, regardless of the personalities involved.  So, from a theoretical point of view the answer would be “never.”  It is the responsibility of the sales person to figure out how to sell to every account, and every person within the account.

There are some selling situations where this “theoretical” position becomes part of the practical expectations for a sales person.  Large geographical territories, for example, don’t allow for the option of letting someone else try.

Having said that, let’s recognize that there are very few sales people in the world who are analytical enough, creative enough, motivated enough and flexible enough to figure out how to sell to every account.

So, we’re back to your question.  I don’t think there has ever been any research on this, so my answer comes from my personal experience.

A large part of the answer depends on the company’s position in the marketplace, their strategies, and the availability of a capable “someone else.”  For example, if you have a hot new product with a limited window of opportunity, that would shorten the amount of time that a company could wait for a sales person to successfully penetrate an account.

In a mature market, where competitors were jostling for business from one another, that could lengthen the time a company could wait.

The same is true for a capable option.  If you have no capable person prepared to take over the account, the time frame expands.  If you have a good person chomping at the bit, that influences your calculations in the opposite direction.

With all that said, my gut feeling is a year or two.  It’s going to take at least a good year to exhaust all the possible strategies for penetrating the account.  And there is no use changing the account until the current sales person has given it his/her best shot.  So, at least a year, maybe two.  If there is no progress at that point, nor any sign of imminent changes, it’s time to make a change.


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.

Image “What is your number to walk away” by Satya Murthy on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leadng 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, and visit his blog.  For a limited time, receive $547 of free bonuses with the purchase of his latest book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.

Copyright MMXII by Dave Kahle

All Rights Reserved.

Sales Best Practices: Think a Lot

Posted by Commence on February 10, 2012 under Sales Training | Read the First Comment

Thinking about Sales…

By Dave Kahle
Best Sales People ThinkIt’s a difficult year for a lot of sales people.  The world is changing rapidly, and every new headline contains information that seems to impact business in a significant way.  The competition is more active, customers are more discriminating, and nobody has enough time.

There was a time, just a few years ago, when it was easier.  You could work hard for awhile, and then you could relax and enjoy the fruits of your labors.  You would reach a point where life became easy, your customers were buying from you consistently, and you had your job figured out.

That’s no longer the case.  Pressures are growing on your company to reduce their costs and become more productive.  The bottom line is this: You, personally, must become far more productive than you’ve ever been expected to be in the past.  Today’s performance, no matter how good, will not be sufficient tomorrow.

Easier said than done.  How do you go about dramatically increasing your results?  My suggestion:  THINK A LOT.

I’m not suggesting that you spend your time daydreaming.  Nor am I encouraging you to ponder the meaning of the universe, do a crossword puzzle or memorize the birth dates of all your relatives.  All of those exercises would represent ways to think a lot, but they are not the kind of thinking I’m advocating.

Rather, I’m encouraging you to invest your greatest single resource, your mind, in focusing your mental energy on specific portions of your job.  That means thinking about certain things, thinking in certain ways, and doing a lot of it.

It’s easy to do your job by mindlessly going through the motions.  You see the customers with whom you are comfortable, quote the products they ask you about, grumble about the paperwork, and complain about price competition.

That’s easy.  Unfortunately, it’s also a prescription for eventual failure.  The world is changing too rapidly today to do your job “mindlessly.”  Your customers are changing, products and vendors are changing and adapting, and new competitors and technologies are springing up.  If you go through your job mindlessly, you’ll soon be outdated and ineffectual.

So on one hand, you have the need to improve your productivity to keep up with the pressures on your company, and on the other hand, you have the temptation to get into a rut, and go about your job “mindlessly.”

The most effective strategy to battle these double temptations is to “Think A Lot”.  What should you think about?  Here are three of the most important things.

1.  Think about your customers.

Ask yourself a series of questions about your customers.  As you develop the answers, write them down in your account folders, and repeat the process a few months later.  Here are some questions to get you thinking:

*  What’s changing for this customer?

*  What do they want to accomplish this year?

*  What can I do to help them meet their goals?

*  What is the competition doing in this account?

*  What progress have I made this past few months?

*  What can I do now to increase my sales in this account?

Thinking about these questions keeps you constantly close to the changing conditions in your accounts, keeps you insulated from the tendency to get “mindless,” and provides you with a method to uncover lucrative sales opportunities within each account.

2.  Think about each sales call.

Your face-to-face contact with your customer is the one part of your job that sets you apart from everyone else in your company.  It is that aspect of what you do by which you bring value to your company.

If you honestly think about it, you’ll probably observe that everything else you do can be done by other people in your company.  Someone else can accept orders, train end users, check on back-orders, etc.  The only thing you do that no one else in your company does is call on your customers face-to-face.  So, your eyeball-to-eyeball interactions with your customers are probably the most important part of your job.

Yet, most observers estimate that the average sales person spends only about 25% of his time face-to-face with his customers.

Put those two facts together, and you have the sobering conclusion that you spend very little of your time doing the thing that is the most important aspect of your job.

That being the case, doesn’t it stand to reason that you ought to invest some time and energy planning for those rare moments when you’re face-to-face with your customers?  Ask yourself these questions, and think about the answers, before every sales call:

*  What do I want to accomplish?

*  What forces are working on my customer that may influence his behavior today?

*  What value am I bringing him today?

*  Exactly what am I going to ask, say, or communicate?

*  What can I do to understand him better?

*  What can I do to deepen the relationship?

Going through this disciplined approach to “thinking about your sales calls” will be the single most effective thing you can do to improve your productivity.

3.  Think about continuously improving yourself.

First, commit yourself to the challenge of continuous improvement.  Be discontent with the level of proficiency you have obtained.  Be discontent with your results.  Think about everything you do and examine ways to improve and wring more value out of it.

Challenge and question everything you do.  Is this the best way to write up a quote?  Should you be visiting this account, or would the other one hold more potential?  Should you really be spending your time promoting this product, or is another one more important?  Should you really be lunching with this customer or should you invest that time in another?  Is this the best way to file your old quotes, keep track of customer contacts, and file product literature?

Got the idea?  Never rest.  Be discontent with every aspect of your job in order to provide the stimulation to improve on it.  Question everything. Think a lot.

It will be your key to continuous, life-long improvement.

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.


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 close is Dave’s book, Question Your Way to Sales Success. Check it out here.

Copyright MMXII by Dave Kahle

All Rights Reserved.

Commence Takes Contact Management Software to the Next Level – Attracts Users of Act, Maximizer & Goldmine

Posted by Commence on January 20, 2012 under CEO Corner | 2 Comments to Read

Inverted Cheerleader PyramidCRM software provider Commence Corporation has added new functionality to their cloud based CRM software that is attracting users of traditional contact management products.  What is unique about Commence is the ability to manage information at the account level or the contact level with the click of a button.   Traditional contact management software products require the end user to enter contact data followed by the account they are related to.  Commence enables you to add an account then add all the related contacts in one area. This allows you to select an account and view all of the related contacts on one screen.  It’s a much more efficient way to manage customer information.  In addition, under the account view you can capture multiple addresses, notes, e-mail history, sales opportunities, pending and completed activities, documents, and project information all on the same screen.  An added feature is an automated organization chart that graphically displays all contacts, who they report to along with their title and e-mail.

Companies that are still using desktop contact management software are looking for the next generation of software that provides additional functionality, better reporting, and anytime anywhere access to data via mobile devices.  Commence CRM’s robust functionality coupled with its ease of use and affordability has proven to be a nice step up for companies still using desktop contact management programs.

[Image "Inverted Cheerleader Pyramid" by Steve Jurvetson on Flickr under Creative Commons license]

CRM Product Review – Commence Making Impact in CRM Software Market

Posted by Commence on December 23, 2011 under CEO Corner | Be the First to Comment

The CRM software industry has been dominated by the marketing presence of companies like Microsoft and, but a new lesser known player has emerged and is in fact challenging these industry giants in the mid-market and small enterprise sector with a comprehensive cloud based CRM solution that offers some unique CRM functionality is easy to use and affordable.

Commence CRM is a robust offering for managing accounts and contacts, leads, sales, marketing, customer service and projects.  It even offers a built in e-mail client that seamlessly integrates Microsoft Outlook, Gmail and other e-mail clients so that you can actually read and compose your e-mail right within the CRM system itself.  In addition to the e-mail feature Commence also incorporates several unique features that are simply not available in competitive offerings costing twice as much.

One of these features is an account rating and scoring system that enables you to rate and color code your customers based on their value to your business.  This provides a quick and efficient way of identifying your most valuable customers, ensuring that you pay special attention to them.  This same capability known as an Automated Business Process can be found in the product’s lead module. This feature allows sales management to create a series of questions or identifiers to ensure that every sales representative is qualifying new sales opportunities the same way.  The feature enables the sales team to become laser focused on the most qualified opportunities and has proven to reduce sales cycles and improve close ratios.

Other CRM features that differentiate Commence CRM from competitive offerings include an automated organization chart built into the contact management and sales applications, an integrated project management system and the ability to create hierarchical or parent child relationships for accounts with multiple divisions or subsidiary organizations.   In addition, the product’s user interface is highly regarded for its easy navigation and use.   Because Commence is a cloud based CRM solution it can be accessed via a PC, Mac or any mobile device with Internet access.

Commence is a top rated CRM solution that offers unique functionality, ease of use and a low cost of ownership.  If you are a mid-market company or small enterprise Commence CRM should be on your radar screen.    For more information visit the company’s web site at