Posts Tagged ‘CRM’

Sustainable Sales Success – Tip #19 – Open Mind

Do you believe you have an open mind?  If you truly desire sustainable sales success, then maybe it is time to open your mind to new ideas.

sales-successOne way to engage in keeping an  open mind is to read at least once sales book or a book about your industry, the marketplace or business in general.  If people buy from people they know and trust, your expertise and knowledge helps to build and reinforce that trust.

Another way is to stay open in  your thoughts is to read a variety of blogs, newsfeeds and engage in LinkedIn Pulse or LinkedIn discussion groups.  These interactive opportunities help to challenge the status quo you maybe currently experiencing even without your conscious knowledge.

Of course, not everything you read, see or hear is agreeable to your own beliefs and knowledge.  That is okay.  By being exposed to contrary views, you can improve how you state your position.

For example, some of my colleagues believe salespeople create value.  I don’t believe that to be true. During the last several years I have read several books, blogs and listen to this sales concept that salespeople create value.  This difference in belief has allowed me to better articulate why I believe this is a false belief.

My sense is salespeople confuse value creation with value connection or value clarity. People buy on value unique to them. (My third sales buying rule.) Sometimes salespeople must bring clarity to the sales lead about what is important to him or her.  Another advantage of an mind is it works with emotional intelligence instead of working against it.

Technology is probably one of the greatest impetus for having an open mind.  For salespeople seeking sales success, finding the best sales technology tools such as a CRM is essential.

One of the quotes I continually remember to continue sustainable success for me is this one by Henry Ford:

“If you think you can or you think you cannot, either way you are right.”


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Sales Prospecting in the 21st century – Part 3

If people buy from people they know and trust, then it seems reasonable all sales prospecting should build upon that fundamental buying rule.  Yet, salespeople in their hurry and up sales pitch behaviors send duplicate messages that fail to acknowledge any previous conversations.

sales-prospectingIn yesterday’s mail I received a direct mail piece from a realtor with whom I had an extended conversation. His latest direct mail marketing message which was a duplication of the first direct mail piece totally ignored that sales conversation. Now I am wondering if somewhere down the road I will receive a triplicate marketing message.

His marketing and selling behaviors are why customer relationship management programs exist.  Had he inputted our conversation into his CRM he would have realized that we had already communicated.

Now my initial somewhat favorable reaction to him has turned south because his sales prospecting behavior shows me he is disorganized and possibly even desperate for sales.  The good news is his mistake became another blog on sales and ultimately leadership.

How can I even consider buying into the solutions he had to offer when his sales behaviors are sloppy? He could have sent me the duplicate and add a handwritten P.S. to show he acknowledged our previous conversation.

Whether it is real estate agents to financial services providers to marketing firms, sales prospecting is a skill set that many in sales or SMBs that requires drastic improvement. For example, how many LinkedIn invitations (electronic direct mail) have been customized instead of the basic template?  I really love it when a marketing person sends me the template invitation.  This behavior does not build within me any knowledge or trust for that individual.

Sales prospecting is comprised of strategies and tactics.  Your behaviors are the tactics or execution of those strategies. When salespeople send duplicate marketing messages and fail to acknowledge past sales conversations with sales leads, this reveals both poor strategies and even worse execution of tactics.

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The Biggest Small Business Dilemma


small-business-dilemmaRight now possibly the biggest small business dilemma involves technology specific to the apps that will deliver the best results specific to sales productivity and management. In the last 24hours, I had 10 different app companies follow me on Twitter. These apps ranged from sales compensation to hiring to individual sales productivity (CRM).  A small business owner could literally spend hundreds of hours determining the best app or apps for his or her small business.

There are what I call two shadow problems to this small business dilemma.


Time and Learning Curve

Loading up even the basic information, “playing” with the app and then determining if the app is the right fit for the company must be considered with every app. Many software producers offer a free trial period.  Free involves the cost of the app only and does not include the time and learning curve costs that the small business owner must bear.  If the app doesn’t work, those dollars now become lost profits.

Quick Fix Mentality

small-business-dilemmaBy reading much of the marketing copy, one might be led to believe these apps will fix everything that ails a small business.  Additionally, there are small business owners and entrepreneurs who are desperate to fix critical issues and believe this or that app will be the magic cure.

Years ago there was a proverb that is still true today “A fool and his money are soon parted.”  Today this proverb might be re-framed for this small business dilemma:

In sales, only fools believe tools (apps) are the magic pill for what ails them.


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Is Now the Time to Redefine CRM in Today’s Small Business World?


Sometime years ago in a far, far place the business phrase “customer relationship management”  (CRM) was created. CRM referred to the process and the tools (electronic or paper) to manage the sales leads generated through the sales process as well as current customers or clients.

Today for those in small business (97.7% of all US businesses are under 20 employees) the ability to stay connected with clients, sales leads, centers of influence and strategic partners is even more critical than in past years. The focus is no longer on managing, but on connectivity.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with Mike Muhney, CEO of VIP Orbit and he shared this revised definition for CRM:

Critical Reputation Methodologies

During our conversation, he asked a simple question:

How can you manage relationships especially when you have an extensive network?

The small business world in the 21st century is really more about connected orbits or spheres where influence is generated at different speeds so that your business and personal relationships are front and center.

Social media has become a significant springboard respective to critical reputation.  How you stay connected with both your personal outreach and your business outreach sometimes becomes very blurred.

For those in small business, the CRM software systems designed for the much larger companies is perceived by some to be inefficient and ineffective.  Finding a more flexible process and tool is a challenge. For many small businesses, the existing tools such as Microsoft Outlook to Excel files become the default solution.

To stay ahead of the flow, to remain competitive does require individuals to continually think of where the flow might be going.  Mike did this when he redefined CRM and created a process and tool (VIP Orbit)  for the small business needing a way to stay connected.

As the expression goes, “when you change how you look at things, the things you look at will change.” (Wayne Dyer).

Maybe now is the time to re-examine your CRM or if you do not have one to consider finding one that will help you stay connected and maintain those critical relationships necessary for small business success?

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Small Business Mobility – Be There or Be Square

Mobile devices are the place to be for any mid-size to small business.  The impact of small business mobility can be seen by the recent shipping delay disaster by UPS and others during the 2013 holiday season.

small-business-mobilityResearch continues to pour in about how mobility in small business is catapulting sales. IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark revealed in the fourth quarter of 2013 that mobile traffic was up 40% over the previous year and accounted for almost one third of all online traffic.

Then there is that explosion of mobile applications for all those smart devices. Between iPhone store and Google, there are over 1,600,000. (Source: MobitThinking) Then looking at the downloads and the income generated, the economic impact ranges around $20-25 billion in 2013 just for the United States. (Source: MobitThinking)

Small business mobility is the new reality. This is not a trend, but will be the standard behavior for the majority of business operations. Couple small business mobility with the expansion of cloud storage and one can see why desktops are predicted to be almost obsolete in a few years.

Mid-size to small businesses need to budget funds to ensure the following:

  • Website is mobile friendly
  • Smart devices are aligned and connected with necessary programs (apps)
  • Policies in place for use of mobility
  • Functionality of smart devices to include CRM to secure payment acceptance
  • Designated personnel to quickly handle inbound mobile traffic from sales leads to customer service

Yes small business mobility is here to stay and its impact is best revealed in this old counterculture saying of the 1940s:

“Be there or be square!”


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Staying Ahead of the Sales Clock by Aaron Tolson

Most outside salespeople would tell you their most important priorities are finding qualified sales leads, getting in front of those prospects, closing the sale, and maintaining customer relationships. Yet every day they go to battle with the enemy, the clock!

sales-aaron-tolsonAlthough they would like to spend their time selling, their responsibilities require them to split their time among planning, customer service, order processing, and administration. Two of the biggest time gobblers are schedule planning and administration, such as making sure the CRM system is up to date.

Schedule Planning

Managing hundreds of customers across hundreds of miles is mentally taxing and physically exhausting. Staying efficient during a long day of driving while planning ahead for tomorrow is a tall order, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen. The result is a lot of backtracking or simply running out of time. Sales reps fall into the familiar when they start running out of time. They start visiting customers that are close or customers that tend to be available when they drop in. These aren’t necessarily the most important customers to visit, and the rep may give them more attention than they deserve. Lack of an organized schedule leads to fewer customer visits and lost opportunities.

Feeding data into the CRM system

Entering all of the information from the day’s meetings into a CRM system is the last thing a rep wants to do when they get home at night.  The system is cumbersome and the rep already has the information they need; why should they go through the busy work of putting it into the CRM system?  The reality is that CRM data is important to companies and they push sales reps hard to update it.  So reps are under constant pressure to spend time doing this when, as the rep sees it, it is taking away from valuable time that could be spent selling.

Fortunately, today with mobile technology, sales reps have some weapons they can use to win back their time:

What to look for when choosing the right tool?

  • Mobile CRM apps that integrate customer data and a calendar on a map: Look for mapping apps that display the user’s calendar and customers on a map while sorting those customers by importance. Giving reps a better visual understanding of their territories and a way to plan clusters of meetings ahead of time allows the rep to be more organized and sell more.
  • Tools that capture customer data in the field: Look for a mobile app that extends the CRM to the field so reps can enter appointment, opportunities, and key customer details on-the-fly so they don’t have to spend time doing it when they get home.

About the Guest Blogger Aaron Tolson

Aaron Tolson is the co-founder of Badger Maps, a sales mapping software company that helps sales reps and enterprises to boost sales and increase CRM adoption by combining CRM systems, maps, schedule, route optimization, and leads search.

Prior to Badger, Aaron was a venture capital and private equity investor at Summit Partners and American Securities where he invested in technology, manufacturing, and financial services companies. Aaron was instrumental in a roll-up within Cisco’s channel to create Presidio, Inc, the largest channel partner for Cisco. Aaron also participated in investments in Unison Site Management, Robertson Aviation, and Sun Trading. Prior to investing, Aaron was a tank officer in the United States Army, serving tours in Iraq, Bosnia, and Korea.

Aaron can be reached at 415-539-0344 (Pacific Time)


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