Building quality customer relationships is critical to maximizing the lifetime value of your customers and with the right customer management software this doesn’t have to be a chore.
The key to building quality customer relationships is ensuring that all employees have immediate access to the data they need when a customer calls. Today’s customer management software solutions offer the ability to capture, manage and share vital customer information with the people who need it to provide world-class customer service. Using a single consolidated database of customer information allows both sales and service personnel to access a complete 360 degree profile of customer information including what they purchased, when they purchased it, and if they have had any service history associated with the purchase. More importantly the information is current and consistently updated by the people who are interacting with the customer.
While some businesses attempt to manage their relationships using Microsoft Outlook and an Excel spreadsheet, the problem is that the information cannot be shared or easily updated. Sure you can send over a copy of the spreadsheet to your staff, but it will be obsolete ten minutes after you send it and require each staff members to update it and forward it back to all employees. This is quite a task and completely inefficient.
Customer Management software solutions are available for small, mid-size and enterprise level organizations, and are not only affordable but easier to use then they were several years ago. A simple search of Customer Management Software or Contact Management software will provide you with a list of available companies and systems.
Image “Hi-tech robot vacuum cleaner” by Mark H. Evans on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
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:
- A set of objectives for the call.
- An agenda.
- A set of questions, prepared for the situation
- All the necessary material and collateral (literature, samples, etc.).
- A variety of “next steps” the customer can take as a result of the call.
- 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
CRM 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]