Lower Our Price or Lose the Deal

When the competition gets too close.. STAND OUT to pull ahead.

By Larry Caretsky

“Boss, we need to lower the price to win this deal.”

How many times have you heard the desperate cry of your sales staff suggesting they can only win a new business opportunity by offering a lower price?  Inexperienced sales people often fall into this trap. They truly believe that they need to do this and may fight you if you suggest otherwise. Here are a few tips I have learned over the years that will not only enable them to win the business but gain valuable experience as well.

First, it’s important to respect the fact that your prospect may be an experienced and shrewd negotiator. You see, competition can be real or imaginary and an experienced buyer can make it seem very real, causing the sales representatives to panic that they are going to lose the deal if they don’t lower the price.  In reality the prospect may have already decided to buy your product or service but is just testing the water to see if they can in fact get a better price. In fact, it’s rare that a prospect does not float the idea of getting a discount if they buy from you. Why not ask? The worst that can happen is that you say no.  So, what can you do to win the business and retain your price points?

Well here are a few things you should not do.

Do not get belligerent and suggest that your company is the best in the industry which is why you may cost more than the competition. No one wants to hear this.

Do not bad mouth your competition. No one wants to hear this either.

There are certainly sales situations where the prospect may be torn between your product or service and that of a competitor.  This happens when the prospect does not see any additional value by going with you and may ask for a discount to differentiate you from the competition.  Do not allow yourself to get into this situation because the prospect may in fact select the lower cost option if they truly believe both are the same.

The winning approach is to reiterate why your product or service will do a better job of addressing the prospect’s initial business requirements. At this stage of the sales cycle the prospect is struggling to find that one differentiator or reason to select you over your competition.  Take them back to your value proposition so that they make their decision based on your ability to address their needs better than your competition.  To be successful you need to fully understand what you do better than your competition and support this via things like case studies, product reviews and customer references or testimonials.  The prospect is looking for that comfort factor that instills confidence that they are making the right decision by selecting your product and company.  If you provide this, you will win the business without lowering your price.

About the Author:

Larry Caretsky is the president of Commence Corporation a provider of CRM software and sales enablement consulting services.  Visit commence.com/sales-enablement to learn more or e-mail sales@commence.com.

Small Business Struggling to Adopt CRM Software

Still entering your sales notes on paper?

CRM even at its most basic level enables a business to capture, track, manage and share vital customer information with the people and departments that need it to efficiently do their jobs. This is critical to the successful operation of every business. CRM is also extremely helpful in managing new sales opportunities and in streamlining marketing programs that generate new business. Once again this is core to growth and sustainability. So why are small businesses struggling to adopt what is as important to their business as their accounting software? Why do I refer to struggling? Well it’s because industry experts claim that less than 33 percent of small businesses use a CRM system. I believe the reason is twofold.

No Time

First, many small business owners and executives firmly believe that a CRM system will rob their staff of valuable time causing them to spend a good portion of their day entering information into the system, but this simply is not true. In many cases, management is unaware that their staff is spending hours of time entering data into an Excel spreadsheet which is hard to share and virtually impossible to maintain. CRM software has proven that having a single consolidated database of customer information, that is accessible to all authorized employees 24/7, significantly improves productivity. Business owners and executives who have deployed CRM have realized this benefit.

Limited Resources

The second challenge impacting adoption is that small businesses are often resource constrained. CRM is not an appliance that you simply plug in the wall. It requires someone dedicated to managing and maintaining the quality of the data entered, and a commitment from management that the software will be used by the staff to improve business performance.

CRM software as discussed earlier is often used to automate and streamline marketing. In today’s competitive environment small businesses more than anyone need to take advantage of digital marketing programs, generate bulk e-mail mailers, and interact with social media sites to build brand recognition and generate more new business opportunities; but once again this requires having an experienced marketing professional on board. Most small businesses do not have this individual and cannot afford to hire them, making the adoption of CRM quite difficult.

The Winning Formula for Small Business CRM

So, what’s the answer here? How can small businesses become more successful in adopting CRM solutions? I recommend the following.

Step 1: Outline what you need the CRM system to do.

Step 2: Assign someone to manage the implementation of the software.

Step 3: Identify the resources and expertise you have on staff.

Step 4: Only evaluate CRM companies that have the professional sales, marketing and customer service expertise on board to fill any gaps you may have in these areas.

The successful deployment and utilization of CRM requires much more than simply selecting what you think is the best product for your business. CRM does not run your business, people do. If you do not have the expertise on board to realize the maximum value from the product, make sure you partner with a company that can provide this for you.

Time Management: An ounce of prevention

What would you do if your laptop is stolen? If a natural disaster strikes? If a hacker accesses your system?

By Dave Kahle

The essential challenge of effective time management is to spend more of our time doing those things which bring us the best results, and less of those things that don’t bring us results.

So we struggle, every day, with surmounting this challenge. We try to spend more time with customers, and less with paperwork. We try to delegate portions of our “to do” list that can better be done by someone else. We arrange our days to spend our time doing the most effective things.

And we understand that on occasion a relatively large one-time, up-front investment of time will save us a disproportionately greater amount of time down the road. So, we invest in a new computer system and all the time that it takes to massage it into operation because we expect it to save us time in the future. We spend some serious time creating annual goals and strategic plans because we expect those exercises to help us be more effective in the coming year.

It’s with that perspective in mind that I suggest an initiative that could potentially provide you a huge return on your time invested: Prepare a Disaster Plan.

“What’s that?” you are wondering. It’s your plan for continuing your business with minimal downtime in the event of a disruption due to forces completely out of your control. When we think of disasters, it’s easy to focus on the large events that consume the media. For example, we all know people who are hurting because of damage to their businesses by the series of hurricanes. And it is just as true for those suffering from the flooding in the North East, the tsunami in the South Pacific and the earthquakes in Pakistan.

But the disaster doesn’t need to be nearly so involved to threaten your business. It can be much more personal and intimate. My business, for example, has experienced two such events in the last two months. For the last 49 months, I have presented a monthly one-hour telephone seminar for sales people. Last month, the local phone lines went down right in the middle of my presentation. Several hundred sales people around the country were cut off in the middle of the presentation.

Not a major disaster, but certainly a bump in the road. My staff had to spend a lot of time adjusting registration fees, rescheduling attendees, etc. It fits the criterion: If we could have somehow prevented this, or reacted quickly, we would have saved dozens of man-hours devoted to unproductive tasks.

Here’s another “personal disaster.” During lunch at a seminar I was teaching at the Renaissance Hotel in Orlando, someone stole my laptop, projector and briefcase, which contained my cell phone, PDA, and other important information. I had to disband the seminar, and spend the afternoon making calls to protect the information on the computers. Not only that, but my staff had to spend days working with the participants to adjust their fees. The repercussions will take months to finally sort out. All of this is time spent in unproductive ways.

Neither of these events reaches the magnitude of a major environmental disaster. Yet each of them robbed me and my staff of valuable time as we attended to the after-effects of a personal setback.

What personal disasters can attack you? What would you do if the phone lines went down for an extended period of time? How about the electrical power? What if a virus took down your computer system? What if you had your laptop stolen? Or your wallet or purse? Or your entire workforce called in sick with the flu? Or the price of gas tripled?

Take some time to develop a contingency plan right now, while you have a clear head and the time to think it through. The time you spend doing that may very well become one of your best time management investments.

Originally published on DaveKahle.com

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written twelve books, presented in 47 states and eleven 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 book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime, has been recognized by three international entities as “one of the five best English language business books.” Check out his latest book, The Good Book on Business.

Ticket Automation Key to Quality Customer Service

Let’s face it in today’s competitive environment the difference between someone buying from you or your competition will often be their buying experience.  CRM systems with ticket integration enable sales, administrative and service personnel to view the entire buying and service history of the customer.  This is great because it enables your staff to react quickly and efficiently to customer inquiries. But interacting with customers during normal working hours is simply not good enough anymore. Customers have an expectation that they can get their questions resolved 24/7 and if you want to get a leg up on your competition you need to provide this level of support.

Commence Corporation, makers of Commence CRM, has introduced some advanced functionality that incorporates automated workflow processes into their customer support software.  Commence CRM offers a customer service portal that enables your customers to submit service tickets or inquiries during or after your normal business hours. An automated response system automatically acknowledges receipt of the ticket. Additionally, it can offer some suggestions on where the customer may find the information they need.  It may direct them to an FAQ section or a knowledge base that are both built into the Customer Support system, or simply inform them that a staff member will be in touch shortly.  The objective here is to enable you to provide a world class level of service to customers or potential customers before, during and after the sale.  This automation also can schedule follow-up communication to ensure that the customer has gotten their questions addressed and that they are completely satisfied. For additional information or for a product demonstration contact Commence Sales at 1-877-Commence.

Commence Corporation: Delivering Top-Notch Solutions to Businesses Around The Globe

The CRM software sector has become a mature market, and the presence of hundreds of the CRM solutions providers has made the market a commodity today.  The majority of companies offer products that are specifically targeted at improving internal productivity, such as the ability to capture, manage and share account and contact information, keep track of sales opportunities and deliver outstanding customer services through the automated ticket management.

Incepted in 1990, Commence Corporation has coupled a robust set of business applications with a set of best practices that ensure the proper implementation, training and utilization of the company’s products. An experienced team of sales, marketing and customer service professionals help customers define and implement a structured sales methodology, build brand recognition via social and drip marketing programs and implement a customer portal that enables the customers to offer web based self service programs to their customers. Very few companies that service the SMB sector can offer the scope of functionality and the value added services that Commence provides.

Based in New Jersey, USA, Commence has been in the CRM sector for more than two decades and targets the mid-sized businesses.

Calling the Shots at Commence

Larry Caretsky, CEO of Commence Corporation has more than 30 years of experience in the computer software industry and is responsible for the company’s global business operations. Larry began his professional journey with Shared Medical System, a division of Seimens Healthcare and has also held executive level positions in several enterprise software companies including McKesson HBOC, Cognos and Synon Corporation.

His sincere efforts and dedication to work has fruitfully resulted in Commence Corporation becoming one of the top rated software companies in the CRM sector. He is also considered an expert in the CRM industry and has written numerous articles about the proper use of CRM software to improve sales execution and customer service and authored an e-book. Larry is currently creating a series of CRM industry podcasts designed to help SMRs use CRM software to help automate and streamline their internal business processes.

CEO’s Expert Views on the Future of CRM Sector

Sharing his views on the future developments in the CRM sector, Larry asserts, “Over the coming years, I think we will see a significant shift towards solutions which are targeted at enabling customers to grow their business by being more proactive with prospects and customers. This will require a different type and level of automation such as artificial intelligence (AI) programs that analyze customer buying habits and trends, create automatic responses to customer inquiries and optimize the power of social networks via tighter integration. Future CRM solutions will enable companies to immediately engage with customers so that they can improve their buying or service experience.”

Source of Inspiration behind Commence

The company was established on the founders belief that small to mid-size businesses (SMB’s) wanted to take advantage of the same technology that big enterprises were utilizing to grow their business. However, the products available at the time were very expensive and difficult to operate. The management of Commence Corporation saw a wonderful opportunity to exploit the SMB space by creating an easy to use, affordable solution for capturing, tracking, managing and sharing customer information within an organization.

Challenges & Pitfalls During the Initial Days

The biggest challenge faced by the team was how to cost effectively introduce the products to the targeted market. The low cost of the product did not support a professional sales team. Furthermore, there was no internet at that time or social sites to build brand recognition. Traditional marketing channels such as public relations firms, trade shows and print ads were expensive too. Therefore, the decision makers of Commence decided to recruit consultants and third party resellers, and started exploiting their business experience and customer relationships as a distribution channel. The program was very successful and enabled Commence to attain a large customer base serving  30 industries in more than a dozen countries around the world.

Maintaining Client Relationships

Commence boasts one of the highest levels of customer retention in the CRM sector with numerous customers using the product for over a decade. The reason behind this customer loyalty is the level of engagement the company delivers with every installation, which ensures that the customers receive maximum value from the Commence’s solutions. This interaction also provides the product management with additional requirements for their future product releases based on the customer demands. Larry and his team share that their customers play a vital role in the success and growth of the company.

Innovative & Experienced Team Behind Commence

Commence has an experienced staff of  sales, marketing and customer service personnel, who have been working with the company for an average 16 years. They possess two qualities, a high degree of expertise in these disciplines as well as a high level of commitment to ensure that the customers will be successful with their softwares. Larry and his team employ only the experienced professionals with prior sales, marketing and customer service experience. Excellent testimonials from Commence’s customers support this position.

Staying Ahead of the Competition

Commence targets the companies that need more than just a basic one size CRM solution. The CRM solutions provider offers a comprehensive range of solutions with functionality that is only found in high end, expensive solutions. Moreover, Commence delivers feature rich solutions, supported by professional sales executives, marketing and service personnel, thereby rendering value added services to its customers. While the robust functionality often differentiates Commence, the professional services the team provides is the real differentiator.

Future Strategies & Mileposts for Commence

The SMB sector continues to be the fastest growing market for CRM software and Commence is very well positioned to enjoy the continued success for more than two decades. Larry asserts, “With regard to technological adoptions, it is critical that the team continues to launch new features and capabilities to its customers in order to maintain their competitive advantage.”  Since, the introduction of new technology often requires the need for additional services, the leading CRM solutions provider expects continued revenue growth, as numerous companies are likely to seek assistance with the implementation and utilization of new technology in the future.