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The CRM Debate Goes On: Do We Really Need It?

Written by on . Posted in CRM, Sales & Technology

Over the years, we’ve worked with literally thousands of companies considering a CRM system. Big companies, small companies, in-between companies. Some bought ours, some bought someone else’s, and some did nothing. It is this last group that this paper addresses.

I recently polled an industry group of manufacturers who sold capital equipment and services to a narrow, B2B market segment. Their sales cycles are long, complex, and varied, the competition is stiff, and the repeat business substantial. A dream market for CRM. Over half of them have no CRM system, and no active plans to implement one.

One part of me says “great, more sales opportunities for me.” Another part says, “why not?”

The reasons I hear (and interpret):

  • “We don’t need it.”

This is usually accompanied by “Excel/ Outlook/ Quickbooks/ Other works just fine.” But you do need it. You think you don’t because business is going along as it always has, so why rock the boat? The answer is because your customers and competitors are already rocking the boat, and you’re gonna get swamped sooner or later.

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Process? We don’t need no stinkin’ process.

Written by on . Posted in Miscellaneous Productivity, Sales Methodology, Sales Process No Comments

Everything that humans do is process. Everything.

Process is “a systematic series of actions directed to some end.” That pretty much describes everything you do, from brushing your teeth to designing a jumbo jet. The only time we escape process is when we’re asleep.

So why do many sales people react with, “Process? We don’t need no stinkin’ process.” (Apologies to Humphrey Bogart and Gene Wilder.) But you do. And here is the most important process you need: choosing the sales opportunity you’re going to work on right now.

That’s more important than your process for closing the sale because if you’re working the wrong opportunity, winning doesn’t matter. Neither does losing, which you will do more often than your manager will like.

That’s more important than your process for prospecting a lead because when that lead becomes an opportunity, chances are you’ll screw it up if you don’t get it into its proper priority in your pipeline.

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Successful CRM Implementation #4: The Checklist

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Reading about CRM implementation is one thing, and actually doing it is another one altogether. To maybe help the transition from theory to practice, here is a checklist of all the things that you need to consider and do as described in the first three installations.

We have included the full paragraph of each checklist item for context, and then listed the steps you should be taking. Here it is.

  1. To preclude either of these outcomes, the existing state of the business has to be reviewed in detail to see how the new technology will fit. Bad procedures have to be cast aside and effort given to developing new ones that will work with your technology of choice.
    1. Review the existing state of the business.
    2. Identify and eliminate bad procedures.
    3. List the necessary new and replacement procedures.

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Deal Me In – Prioritizing in Cards & Sales

Written by on . Posted in Sales Methodology, Sales Process No Comments

One of the most significant daily challenges to a sales professional is deciding which opportunity to work on today. To do this, you have to get your prioritization right, and that requires each opportunity to be valued.

This is even more critical when you are working many opportunities at one time and when the opportunities are at different points in the sales cycle and have different levels of importance based on strategy, revenue, product, etc. This exercise requires a significant time investment, and getting it right is crucial to focusing your effort where it will have the best payoff.

Putting a value on an opportunity is tricky. Our OPM methodology helps by defining two distinct types of value. An intrinsic value depends only on the probability of winning the deal and the position you are in the sales cycle. External value refers to the factors we mentioned earlier such as potential revenue, strategic importance, product relevance and others.

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Probability and Priority – Do You Need An Umbrella?

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Recently I heard a piece on National Public Radio about probability in weather forecasting. The central question was, what does a 20% chance of rain really mean? To some it meant take an umbrella, while to others it meant pack up the kids for a picnic. To statisticians, it meant that when you look at the 1,000 days with the closest variables to the day you are in, it will rain on 200 of them.

In the first case, you’re risk averse and probably a little pessimistic. In the second, you’re a risk-taker and willing to play the odds. As the statistician, your value lies in being able to provide the basis for the decisions of the other two.

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The Other Side of the Selling Equation

Written by on . Posted in Sales Cycle, Sales Methodology No Comments

From Wikipedia: In mathematics, an equation is an equality containing one or more variables. Solving the equation consists of determining which values of the variables make the equality true.

Your sales equation might look like this: good price + right product + favorable terms + good relationship – competition = win. And like Wikipedia says, determining the values is what will result in that win.

On the opposite side of the opportunity, the buyer’s equation might look like this: need + budget + authority + product + trust – hype = buy. And the buyer has the same problem of establishing the values of his variables before he chooses.

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The Difficult Close

Written by on . Posted in Fundamentals, General Sales Topics No Comments

Most closing strategies assume that you developed the correct selling strategy for the opportunity and properly executed effective tactics. Closing then becomes the natural result of the strategy and tactics, and done right, it is seamless and predictable. Of course, it usually doesn’t work that way

Take a look at your won/lost ratio. It’s your professional batting average and what it tells you is the probably 75% of the time, give or take, you lose. So three times out of four when you arrive at the closing phase of the sales cycle, it’s, if not clear, then at least likely that you’re not going to win this one. So what do you do at that point?

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Setting Priorities: How Do You Spend Your Selling Day?

Written by on . Posted in Sales Productivity, Time Management No Comments

When I did my research for this article, trying to see what statistics are available about how sales professionals spend their time, I got some very useless information. Things like “24% of the salesperson’s time is spent on generating leads and researching accounts.” How is that useful information? First, is 24% of my time working at this too much? What is the right amount of time? And why do they bundle generating leads and researching accounts? These are very different activities with very different goals and skills.

There was a lot more of these statistics that seem, on a quick read, like valuable information. But when you stop and think about it, what benefit is it to you in your selling or sales management role? I did find some good advice, though.

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3 Ways To Shorten Your Sales Cycle

Written by on . Posted in Sales Cycle, Sales Methodology No Comments

Full disclosure: that title is deceptive. Intentionally so. It implies that I am going to show you some surefire ways to shorten your sales cycles and get to the win faster. Well, I am going to show you those surefire ways, but they won’t lead to a win. Shortening the sales cycle never does.

First, we need to understand what the sales cycle is, and what it isn’t. Here’s what it isn’t – yours. Here’s what it is – your reaction to the customer’s buying cycle.

That means your sales exists at the customer’s whim. It starts when he wants it, it ends when he’s ready, it changes as his situation does. The customer makes the rules and you need to obey them.

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Selling to Sales Pros

Written by on . Posted in Customer Interactions, Sales Productivity No Comments

Ed. – Fortunately we have enough interesting and compelling content here at The HUB that we can dig into our archive and still offer up something that you should find, well, interesting and compelling. Today we’re re-publishing John Darrin’s take on sales tactics and strategies for selling to sales pros.

I get a lot of calls from telemarketers – tele-sales people really, because they are instantly into the Close Phase of the sales cycle trying to get me to commit right now. The worst are (or used to be) investment managers – brokerages, counselors, etc. Some were sales pros – they ask first, sell second and know when to stop wasting their time and be polite about it.

The rest are why the sales profession gets a bad rap, and they should not be categorized as sales professionals. They are soldiers, thrown at the phone like so much cannon fodder, and are quickly killed off and replaced by the next wave of zombies with a script.

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