Sales Centric CRM

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Sales Centric CRM is familiar and comfortable for the salesperson to use and increases adoption. Winning sales methodology is baked into the app and provides a constant direction that the salesperson should follow for the best shot at winning. Sale centric CRM builds a platform of increased efficiency for salespeople to become much more effective. Double digit increases in sales are easily obtained and maintained through diligent use of the application.

Salespeople still have trouble adopting CRM. Surprising — because, way back in time, salespeople were first to adapt contact management apps to collect and store customer information to help them with the in the sales process. Sales opportunities were later added, and contact management morphed into sales automation. When other customer facing departments tapped into the customer databases to collaborate and share information, CRM came about.

At last, salespeople could check their service department’s activity before entering an account, avoiding messy situations they did not know about — thanks to CRM shared information. Leads gathered by Marketing became instantly available to sales, making it easier to provide faster response than competitors (unless competitors also had functioning CRM systems too.) CRM pushed transparency across the company, everyone knew what the other was doing.

CRM apps now store data that salespeople depend on to do their job (if information has been entered properly.) Account, customer, and opportunity data should be there in one place — there’s no need to go hunting for it in files scattered throughout the company. Importantly, customer interactions are recorded too, providing a historical record of completed sales which all the sales team can benefit from.

Information retrieval is one aspect of CRM that is appreciated by salespeople. This benefit is only possible though, if data on everyday customer interactions is diligently entered into the system. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. “Bad data is worse than no data” has a ring of truth about it. Salespeople themselves are a little suspicious of transparency and sometimes leery about sharing their knowledge around the company.

The shared customer knowledge store has had an instant positive impact on sales. This is pure CRM in action, sharing knowledge across many customer facing functions, but principally sales, marketing and service. Salespeople win because their efficiency goes up. They do more actual selling because they spend less time tracking and retrieving information needed for their strategies to win.

Sales Automation

But, salespeople need much more than solid knowledge surrounding the sale (the sales environment.) Selling, being competitive, depends on a strong sense of strategy and tactics that change and weave within the sales cycle — the time it takes to for the sale to evolve from start to finish. This falls outside the scope of pure CRM and is best described as sales automation. Yes, sales automation can be woven into the CRM application, but it can also exist outside it.

A company can operate a working sales automation app without using CRM. Don’t get me wrong, it’s better to have the sales app engrained or baked with in the CRM. CRM doesn’t help much with the strategic side of the sales process, but it is a great environment to house the sales automation app which does. Regular CRM provides efficiency and sales automation provides effectiveness. Sales centric CRM compounds the two e’s (efficiency and effectiveness), making it possible for real increases in sales. Both e’s depend on computer power and come under the general scope of computational selling. Let’s take a look at some capabilities of sales centric CRM.

T, A, S AND C, the four pillars of sales management

Salespeople benefit most from CRM if information is organized for easy retrieval and analysis in their daily routines. The TASC model of Territory, Account, Sales Opportunity and Contact Management concisely cover how sales related knowledge can be grouped into sensible silos that are easily understood and utilized by salespeople:

Territory Management

Mainly thought of in terms of geography, but not always. Territories define the accounts over which each salesperson has responsibility. Sales managers usually are more into Territory Management than the salespeople themselves. Dividing business into appropriate chunks for the sales team to handle is an ongoing and sometimes stressful chore.

Account management

Accounts are important. Sales activities are more efficient when driven at the account level. Customized marketing and sales projects target multiple contacts within an account. Good account management leads to very efficient selling.

Sales Opportunity Management

Sales opportunities are the life blood of the sales team. At any one time, even in a small company there usually hundreds of potential “deals” in motions. Some will be won and some lost. This is where sales automation really helps to improve the win/loss ratio in sales. A computer can keep track of multiple opportunities with varying sales cycles and carrying different degrees of risk.

A computer can be taught the vital timing and strategic direction of the sales cycle and the sales process. Until salespeople are opened up to computer automation that includes a model of the sale, they will be continually be held hostage by more agile competitors who have already adopted true computational selling.

Contact Management

This is where CRM has its foundations. In sales it’s impossible to know too much about the customer, and in CRM the contact management section is the place to go get it.  For an unambiguous description of a contact it’s easiest to settle on “a contact is a person.” Often accounts are referred to as customers, which doesn’t help the simple minded computer to be crystal clear. It’s another reason to have a hierarchy — contacts (people) reside in accounts, and accounts reside in territories. Sounds simple but good CRM apps are rigid about this and avoid the outcome of distorted, missing, or incorrect data.

So, sales centric CRM organizes and presents data in the way a salesperson likes to see it, and if salespeople like it, they use it.

Sales Opportunity Management

Opportunity management rises to the top of the TASC discussion because it is most important, by far, of the four organizational pillars. Grouping opportunities is important.  Looking closely at sorted lists of opportunities provides the salesperson and sales manager insights of time and resource allocation to get the best value — the most wins from the available business. This is sales centric CRM’s importance in creating efficiencies. The sales team wastes less time on following bad business deals.

Sales automation increases effectiveness. A principal indicator of effectiveness is priority — which opportunity to work on first. A list of opportunities sorted by priority will tell the salesperson to work one opportunity ahead of another. The thing is, the most attractive deal doesn’t always take precedence over one that looks less likely to win. This idea is not always evident to the busy salesperson. It runs counter to a natural instinct to go where you feel comfortable — a friendlier or more accommodating customer, or maybe a situation with a higher expectation of winning.

A sales automation app can provide excellent feedback on progress in the sales cycle if it knows a few things provided by the salesperson such as: the expected length of the sales cycle, which phase the sales cycle is in and a simple estimation of the probability of winning. Usually these parameters change to different degrees throughout the sales cycle and it’s important for the salesperson to stay on top of the changes. Winning strategies have to be continually reviewed and tweaked for the best results. Sales automation embedded and in CRM is in the face of the salesperson daily and ensures that nothing gets overlooked — moreover that precious selling time is maximized.

Sales Process Workflow

The sales process has attributes that are identifiable and repeatable — thats why it’s possible to teach a computer what to expect and predict in the progression of the sale. In this way intelligent advice can be passed on to the salesperson providing a winning edge over the competition.

David Allen is the best selling author of wildly popular books on personal time management concepts which he classifies under the general heading of “Getting Things Done.” In his book “Making It All Work” David postulates that the sales process could use the same ideas. He wrote, “. . one day someone woke up and realized that there was a characteristic, identifiable sales process. Some individuals understood it more intuitively and spontaneously than others, but it actually involved a particular set of procedures that could be taught, learned and implemented.” (Emphasis mine.)

It is this concept – a consistent and unified sales workflow – that we have identified as the basis for the getting things done in sales. And in sales, getting things done means opportunity management, and that is what we’ll be examining, the GTD of sales — Getting Sales Done.

In his book, Allen posits five stages of mastering workflow. Simply put, these are the five steps you take to get things under control so you can get them done. All of these have an analogue in sales, specifically in applying the principles of GTD in opportunity management, and we’ll go into greater depth examining them.

Our special insight into this is that, along with others, we realized many years ago that there is a definable sales process, and we took it a step further. If you can define a process, really define it with specific and consistent meaning and repeatable steps linked to distinct and explicit sets of circumstances, then you can automate that process. In short, you can teach it to a computer. All of our articles on Allen’s book and concepts bring this single, unique vision to the study of Allen’s work.

Computational Selling and Sales Centric CRM

In summary, if we bring technology to the parallel visions of CRM and SFA, we have achieved SALES-CENTRIC CRM – a tool to improve ways to move closer to the customer in synergy with making the sales team more effective at closing opportunities. We’ll have much more in future posts about this idea and how it works in practice.

What is Sales – A View From An Expert?

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I’m reading a good book called Zero to One, written by Peter Thiel, one the guys who founded PayPal. My life was changed by that app – my wife would agree.

Peter includes a chapter on sales which looks like it’s written for people in business who don’t understand sales – to the extent that in their business sales does not exist.

For instance:

“The most fundamental reason that even businesspeople underestimate the importance of sales is the systematic effort to hide it at every level of every field in a world secretly driven by it.”

Wow! A very elegant statement of a phenomenon that, after many years in sales, I continue to run into.

“The engineer’s grail is a product great enough that “it sells itself.” But anyone who would actually say this about a real product must be lying: either he’s delusional (lying to himself) or he’s selling something (and thereby contradicting himself).”

Engineering companies hate to admit they have salespeople. A consultant friend of mine in Germany has a large contract to help ease a large construction company into the idea that they should build a sales department. They realized this after too many competing companies taking business from them.

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The Difficult Close

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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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20 Reasons to Share Your Sales Process with Your ComputerReason No 1 – Because It’s Cool

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Well right off the bat, computers are cool. Every salesperson has one in some form or another. The choice is not limited to laptops or desktops—might as well include smartphones, tablets, phablets, ultrabooks, chromebooks and, of course, pads and pods. And now there’s wearable computing—soon salespeople will be looking through Google Glass, and reading their schedule on their iWatch, Gear 2, and so on (and on).

Technology has proven valuable for salespeople, assisting in a zillion different ways to do things better, faster, and overall, just making things easier. The effect is, or should be, more sales. But all of this is not that new— can it be cool? Cool easily becomes a passing fad.

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How to be Highly Effective in Sales Management

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This article is dedicated to sales managers. We have discussed a lot about methods and tools that assist salespeople in their work, but how can we help managers? What is the important information they need to work effectively with the team?

Contrary to the conventional wisdom found in many companies, when it comes to sales productivity indicators, less is more. That is, just a few indicators are sufficient to evaluate the team’s performance. To manage sales requires focus, alertness and speed in decision making. There is not much time for extensive analysis.

All of us who work in sales know that, at the end of the day, what matters is whether or not we achieve our sales goals. This is the main indicator of sales performance.

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Sales Effectiveness and Sales Efficiency: A Thought Experiment

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When I write about selling I wince every time I have to use one of the two E words — ­Efficiency and Effectiveness. These occur so much in sales language that we’ve become complacent about their impact and meaning. All salespeople want to sell more — and they can creating more opportunities (Efficiency) or by winning more opportunities (Effectiveness).

I go overboard with the E words in my book, Sales Automation Done Right, (hey, that was written ten years ago, so no apologies). Then I used the simple example of the compounding effect of the building efficiency over effectiveness (E squared, if you are at all scientific.) You can find that discussion in the free e-book in our library. (Scroll down to the five SADR Extractions.)  I finished up that discussion with the proposition that “Effectiveness on top of efficiency produces dramatic increases in sales. It’s the same as compound interest in the bank account.” But something tells me that that discussion is just a little too abstract.

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The Challenge of Selling to a Buying Center

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To effectively manage a sales cycle, the salesperson must understand and mirror the buying process. This process can be broken down into the three phases: recognition of need, evaluation of solutions, and negotiation. A well-managed sales cycle will follow these phases by uncovering customer’s needs (Probing), demonstrating superior solution (Proving), and removing barriers to getting the order (Closing).

But what does this mean to the sales person? Uncover who´s need to? Convince whom? Who actually is the customer –  the company, an individual or a group? What does this mean for the sales cycle?

Industrial buying decisions, in contrast to consumer purchases, are generally taken by several individuals, the so called buying center. The sales person is faced with two challenges: The composition of the buying center and the dynamics of the decision making process within it.

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Full-Service CRM: Completing the CRM Cycle

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While many companies still struggle with implementing even the most basic CRM solutions, others have moved a big step forward by including their service organization and letting it share customer information with marketing and sales. Service contributes to a company’s success in many ways, and understanding this contribution makes the performance impact of an integrated CRM solution obvious and significant.

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SEO: The Long-Term Investment That Keeps on Giving

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Businesses these days make sure that they are properly represented online. With use of the Internet a common and necessary part of doing business, just being online is no longer a special edge. In fact, this has become a requirement for the success of almost any business. With the intense global competition where we all now have to survive, just having an online presence is not going to help. Competition is high in all industries and in all markets. With all the advancement in the communication means, people get their needs fulfilled easily and quickly. Whoever is capable of handling their needs in the best manner is going to do business.

Just like in the ‘olden days’ when the company had to seek out the customers in the real world and present its offerings to them, in the virtual world this is true as well – one has to seek out the customer and ensure that they get to learn about the offering. The best way to do this is to invest in SEO, search engine optimization.

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Does Your Sales Forecast Help You?

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In America, it’s April 14th, (April 29th in Canada and Brazil, May 30 in Germany, and June 29 in Papua New Guinea) and your income taxes are due tomorrow. You don’t want to do them, but you have to. They will be wrong, but you don’t know how wrong. You will cheat and hope you don’t get caught. There are expensive professionals and cheap software that will do it for you and give you someone to blame. And the audit is only slightly preferable to prison.

Quick – tell me the difference between this and doing your sales forecast.

Hint – you only have to do your taxes once a year.

Yes, forecasting. The very word itself makes you cringe. Like marriage counseling or colonoscopy. But it won’t go away, no matter how much you wish.

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