Thursday, November 29, 2007
It's a competitive market, no matter what your product or service, and good business is all about providing excellent customer service. Especially since it costs 5 times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to keep an old one. CRM software is a valuable tool in providing exceptional service. How can you make your product/service special?
Think about your offerings. Review your CRM activities. Make a list of what other organizations in your industry offer. If you were on the outside looking in, who would you chose. Generate a list of ideas that you feel would differentiate or set you apart from other sellers. Keep in mind that offering the lowest price is not necessarily the answer to providing stellar customer service. Listening to client concerns and responding appropriately is.
Take a good look at your ideas. Which ideas are doable? If it isn't an idea that can be done all the time then it isn't worth implementing. Ensure that your ideas are realistic and will create results.
Implement an idea and stick to it. Educate your clients and prospects so they know that you are doing it. Record all contacts and activities in your CRM software. All your literature and advertisements should reflect that you are providing something as part of your campaign. Brand it, so people know what to expect when they make the decision to work with your organization.
Providing stellar customer service and using CRM software should be a part of your business, everyday. By successfully taking care of others, you will find you will quickly have a business that continues to grow without considerable effort. Keep in mind there is truth to the statement that "the customer is always right", so don't forget it in your daily interactions and you'll reap the rewards!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Typically, when you mention the word 'prospecting' to a sales rep, they cringe. People easily admit that it is their least favorite activity, however successful reps have found it is critical to their success. Using CRM software, putting together a prospecting plan and executing it every day will keep your business constantly coming in the door.
The biggest mistake that sales staff make is doing the same thing every time they prospect. Put yourself in the prospect's shoes, if you have twenty things vying for your attention, someone who calls you unsolicited to sell a product or service is simply not going to be a priority on your list.
Sales staff needs to give prospects a reason to talk with them. This can be done in a number of different ways. Use your creativity along with your CRM tool. Think about the context of the person you are trying to get the attention of. Send a menu for their favorite restaurant and ask if you could have 1/2 hour of their time and you'll bring lunch. Send a stopwatch to them in a bulky envelope and tell them that you know their time is precious, but if you could have a minute you'd really appreciate it. Log all of these activities in CRM for future reference. Then follow up with a phone call to schedule a time to get together. The message is to set yourself apart.
Block time everyday for this prospecting and measure the results. Don't allow it to become low priority because you dislike it. Take on this time as a challenge.
Keep your energy level high. If you are making prospecting calls, get up after every 1/2 hour and take a walk or clap your hands a few times. This change in physiology has been proven time and time again to product better results then if you just sit and make calls without a break.
Refer back to your CRM activities before following up after a good phone conversation or appointment. Send a note to confirm your appointment prior to, as well as after, to thank them for their time. This alone will set you apart from your competition.
Remember, there are other people who need their time and competitors may have had a conversation with them the same day.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Some managers lament that they 'can't find the time' to coach, while others make the time, but find their coaching efforts are awkward and poorly received. Want to make coaching work with CRM in your organization?
- Begin with average performers or those new to sales. Average performers don't present the same challenges as either under-performers or high achievers, so they offer a good opportunity to practice coaching skills with CRM.
- Ask salespeople to assess their own performance. When it comes to coaching, questions are essential. Most salespeople know what their strong and weak points are; let them tell you. This process ensures critical buy-in and allows you to build on their self-appraisal.
- Don't pile on many areas for improvement. Resist the temptation to recite a litany of ills and ineffective behaviors. Pick a single need with the greatest potential for payoff, the other smaller challenges can be addressed later.
- End sessions with an action plan, including provisions for follow up and CRM. Without this step, behavior change will be temporary at best. If you are serious about helping people develop their skills and use CRM, coaching needs to be a continuous loop, not a series of random, unconnected events.
Put these practices into action ad watch your sales coaching effectiveness with CRM - and your sales - take off!
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Having a good lead generation system in any sales organization today is critical. Prospects can be found in a multitude of ways; however how your organization chooses to plan with those leads is another. Your pipeline and targets require that you keep a close eye on how those leads are managed. Below are some helpful suggestions to improve the quality and quantity of leads.
- Ensure that all staff understand what a good lead is. Studies indicate that 90 percent of leads sent to salespeople are never followed up on. This often occurs because the lead is sent to the wrong person or the prospect is not ready to meet with a salesperson yet. The company should have a well defined definition of what a good lead is before the leads are sent to the sale area of an organization.
- Use a CRM tool. Customer relationship management will help organize salespeoples' conversations and will help with better followup.
- Find out the source. Where did the organization hear about your services or product offerings? In order to know what is working from a marketing perspective, you have to know where the business is being driven from.
- Share leads within 48 hours via CRM. By doing this, you are showing you care and setting yourself apart from your competitors. It will also increase your closing ratios.
- Take care of your leads. They may not be ready to buy now but at some point they will be and you want them to think of you when they reach that stage. Prospects need multiple contacts with an organization before they are confident and willing to consider buying from you.
- Learn from the process. Save interesting information about customers and prospects within CRM software. Put the names of your competitors that might win deals from you, why they won, will the account serve as a referral or not, what products do they own, etc. This information can be saved in a CRM system and can prove very valuable for future interactions with other clients and prospects.
- Motivate your sales staff. Ask great questions and really find out how you can solve the client's needs. Whomever in your organization is generating lead should gather as much information as possible both before and after the interaction. Ensure that they are talking with the decision maker in each organization.
- Treat your prospects like clients. By gathering as much information as possible and storing within a CRM tool, virtually anyone in the organization should be able to handle a call. Treating them like a client before they are one, will want your prospects to proceed further with you in the sales process.
- Gauge your results. First ask yourself, "what am I going to measure and why?" This will enable you to gather the correct information.
- Hold regular company meetings with anyone who impacts the sales process . You should review quality of leads, deals won and lost and utilize your CRM system so you can continue to be successful in sales.
Finally, ensure that you have the right prospects in your database. Many organizations feel like they are knowledgeable on who their customers are, however they are surprised when they take a closer look at their customer base within their CRM software. Ensure that all staff have a good understanding of what your ideal customer looks like. These attributes can include geography, size of organization, products, territory, etc. Once you've defined this, you can use this as a guide to find new prospects.
Friday, November 02, 2007
In today's competitive sales market, preparation is everything. Often it'll mean the difference between getting the opportunity to meet with the decision maker and being able to have a productive meeting with a prospect. You need to be able to understand what the prospect wants and have the ability to embrace their objections. This is where CRM Software can help.
Preparation involves doing your homework on the company, planning and using good critical thinking and recording all information in your CRM application. Start by learning as much as possible about the prospect's company. Ask yourself basic questions that will assist you in helping them. For example, what are their organizational objectives, how do they see their company experiencing growth, and what are their current challenges, who are their competitors. These questions will allow you to determine whether they would be a good fit for you as a client. Remember to record this information in your CRM software.
The most essential piece is getting all the information and utilizing your CRM software so that you can later explain why it makes sense for the prospect to meet with you. Doing this shows the client that you are genuinely interested in their needs, not just wanting to sell your product/service. If you play your cards right, it should expedite the sales cycle. It is also valuable to gather any information regarding their current challenges prior to your meeting since this give you the ability to offer solutions when you get together. Refer to your CRM notes.
Planning and critical thinking as well as reviewing your CRM software notes before a phone call or meeting helps set objectives and the means to achieve them.
In addition, prior to a meeting it is essential that the role of manager and sales person is defined. Answer the question, who is going to handle the meeting? The manager needs to base those decisions on the sales person and their personality attributes. In order to comfortably prepare, the manager may want to role play some different scenarios with the representative prior to the meeting.