First we need to uncover whether or not you (and your team) are implementing the basics:
- Keep track of ALL of your business contacts? These include prospects, customers, former customers, vendors, partners, and referrers?
- What is the system you have for when new contact information comes to you?
- How do you handle pre-prospects? These are the names from marketing who are potential prospects or people you find on an industry list. Is there a system in place for them?
- For any of these contacts, can you see their social graph? In other words, does your contact management tool bring in the social profile and activity on social for each of your contacts?
- Do you have a current sales pipeline, funnel, or waterfall that shows active sales opportunities you are working? Does it show what stage each of your sales opportunities (or your buyers’ buying opportunities) is in?
These items above are a basic minimum in 2013 (heading into 2014) for a seller. Many systems now connect to proposal tools, email systems, web landing pages, customer service logs, and just about anything that would matter to customer-facing reps. If you don’t have at least the basics we just mentioned above, you are like an unarmed person going into a battle.
Ultimately You Sell to People, not Contacts
It is agreed that contact tracking and updating is one aspect of a proactive buyer-seller relationship. People sell to people, yet those who track some basic information and insight have the advantage when your buyer is down to selecting you or one or two other choices.
Harvey MacKay Was Right
In 1983, Harvey Mackay of the Mackay Envelope Company knew a thing or two about selling. He created the now infamous Mackay 66 – a fill-in-the-blank questionnaire for his salespeople to complete about each of their customers. This was years before LinkedIn and yet in its simplicity (and a big file cabinet), he could quickly look up anything about his customers preferences and background.
Today we have LinkedIn and many other sophisticated tools – but we tend to have less insight about our prospects and customers. How did that happen?
Get your basic tools together so that you have the buyer insight to work with potential new clients, and you have the customer insight to keep and grow existing customer revenues.
Can We Fix Anything with a Magic Wand?
Townsend Wardlaw, a colleague who has spent years focusing in the CRM space simply says:
It’s not a tool problem...never has been and never will be... It is a process and workflow problem.
Most people simply have a poor process (or no process) and little discipline around managing their time, contacts and opportunities.
Don Perkins, another sales thinker who is in a sales role now offers practical insight:
Probably the biggest thing I would love to see would be more of a sales enablement focus. In other words, rather than exhaustive comprehensive big (cumbersome) data for managerial decision-making, a tool that is more geared toward helping the rep keep on task with the things that matter, while still keeping all of the spinning plates in the air. I'm betting that in their saner moments, managers would rather have a tool that helps reps sell more, than a tool that gives great details on how bad they are doing.
I've seen a few attempts at this as well, but they are usually based on some data assumptions and automation that somehow make them clunky and less than effective. I guess from my perspective, I would like to not only schedule my tasks, but score them in order of importance and/or priority dynamically, and in real-time and have a way to look back at how I've achieved my goals as a result of those efforts so that I can gain insight into what's working and what's not and improve on my process every day.
For example: I'm about to step into an appointment and my phone rings. It's a referral from a customer, mentioning some other friend who is interested in talking to me. It would be great if I had a way to quickly input that contact info via my phone, directly into a "to-do" list, scheduled to remind me to call them during my set calling time the next day. Why? Because stuff like this tends to get lost.
What is your magic wand issue to better help you see and grow sales opportunities?
Who is doing the best job at helping reps actually use CRM systems?
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2013" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.
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