Custom Category: Category 2

Sales: The Antibodies to Successful CRM

The last frontiers to be automated in many organisations are the sales and marketing functions. But the risk of rejection and failure is high.

Management see these as tools that will give them more control of an overhead that they find hard to probe and manage. Sales people can perceive these as a threat or hindrance rather than a help.

What are the underlying win-win benefits of an effective sales automation or CRM system?  What are the potential causes of rejection and how can you overcome them and drive up adoption?

The problem with sales and marketing people
In most organisations there is cocktail of beliefs, behaviours and attitudes that will undermine the adoption of sales and marketing automation systems .

‘Sales people are a breed apart.’ ‘They want to be recognized for the value they bring to the company without taking blame for any of the customer failures’. ‘They only do what’s necessary to hit quota’. ‘Information is power and sales people don’t like to volunteer shared information. ‘Marketeers are creative and don’t like rigorous processes’ ‘Sales and marketing often don’t work well together’

Many managers see sales people as a necessary overhead that they find hard to manage. Many leaders just don’t know whether to trust their sales people.

What happens if these issues are not recognised and dealt with when the company invests in a system to improve sales and marketing productivity?

Typically managers, directors, executives have been sold on the benefits of an easy-to-digest view of key measures and what’s going on. The users who do most of the heavy data entry don’t necessarily see as much value, and so they’re not as eager to participate.

The really good sales people are probably generating their own leads, know who they need to talk to, where they are in the sales process why and when the prospect is going to buy.

The not so good sales people don’t want you to know that they’re not so good and they don’t want you to know they don’t know what they’re doing. The really good sales people will enter the minimum data required and the not so good sales people will litter the system with erroneous, missing or just too much data. The outcome is that the information that was so vital becomes misleading, useless and eventually discredited.

How can this situation be prevented?

Sell the initiative
People resist new ways of working because they can’t see ‘What’s in it for me?’

This is often a bigger problem with convincing dyed-in-the-wool sales people who are cynical of anything that is designed to ‘soften the blows’. There are two essential components to getting sales to buy into the initiative.
It has to be ‘sold’ by the business leaders who ultimately hold the power of reward and punishment

Getting a good, well respected sales person, a ‘firelighter’ to adopt and evangelise the benefits of the system.
When selling to sales people, you need to play to their needs of recognition, independence, effectiveness, reward, and security.

Make sure the purpose of the initiative is to make it easier for the sales to be more successful and help them improve their professionalism. Remind them that sales effectiveness is the key to becoming a leader in your market. Ensure the leaders keep saying so.

Explain the leaders will use the system as a management tool to better interact with the sales people and avoid compromising their relationships with customers for lack of knowledge of what’s really going on. That they will use the information to help them ensure more resources are focussed on their success.

Commit to continuous improvement of the system and ways of working that meet the needs of sales.

Promise to spend less of their time second-guessing or endless probing of what they are up to and putting them on the spot by asking “What will you close this month?”

Explain that the system will enable management to make sure that everyone else is doing what they ought to be doing to help sales win the order.

Sales only value they way spend their time if it helps them achieve quota or earns them money. (Not always the same thing!).

Explain that you will ensure the data they have to update and use is minimised but you will require them to keep good data. The benefit will be that they will increase the ratio of selling time to admin time because the system can:

  • Reduce the time to  prepare for a sales call
  • Reduce  the time and effort to find out who said what to whom
  • Automate approach letters, emails, quotations, forecasts
  • Reduce time to produce and distribute reports
  • Reduce time spent in learning seminars
  • Fast search for the right information to support a sale
  • Automate and accelerate the approval of a deal
  • Reduce the time to mobilise team selling

Sales effectiveness is determined by the sales process, the competency and behaviour exhibited in each activity.

Point out that the system will suggest what the right process for the sale is, it will help them prioritise what they should do next, and it will show them their key sales activity ratios that they need to adjust in order to be most likely to beat targets. It will help management help to spot which sales people need help to develop their skills and competencies.

Most of all, the solution will help them manage the increasing complexity of the sale as more routine sales are increasing handled by sales administrators and the web.

Introduce reward structures that pay out for the way people work, not just the results. The system will provide the information you need that will predict probable outcomes and when management needs to intervene. The forecast is the most tangible thing to tie to reward payments. Drill downs from the forecast will reveal the accuracy of the data entered by sales.  If sales know that management will drive the business by the system forecast, then let them know they only get paid if they have updated and created an adequate forecast.

(Ok Fear).  Sales are increasingly vulnerable to the web. Their future hire-ability will be determined by their ability to embrace the business benefits of an effective sales and marketing automation system.

Changing mindsets:
There is no one way to create the right culture and mindsets that where these selling messages will lead to fast adoption of a new system.
We suggest that once the purpose of the system has been defined in terms that will benefit users, you should run facilitated workshops to:

  • Get leaders to think and agree how and what they will be doing differently
  • Get non management sales, marketing, customer service people to shape the processes and practices that the system must support
  • Target credible senior ‘firelighters’ to agree and pilot the future ways of working. Use them to evangelise the solution
  • Find a cynic and involve them in the early stages of the project. You will find all the reasons it won’t work and if you turn him/ her around they will be your best advocate.
  • Discuss and share success stories.

There are enormous benefits in getting sales teams to adopt a well designed CRM solution. The programme must be designed to help sales succeed and will have to work hard to open closed minds, avoid rejection and drive adoption

Do you really need a CRM system?

We talk to a lot of companies who are considering the implementation of CRM solutions, and many of them are uncertain on what CRM is, why they need it and what results it can deliver.

Whether your company needs a CRM system or needs to replace the current ‘CRM’ system really depends on how you interact with your customers, on your business model, on your service and financial targets and your competitors. One thing is certain: just putting a CRM system in place will not make you a more successful company. What will make your company stand out and make profit is to treat every single customer as if they are the ONLY customer you have. A CRM system will help you do that.

Every business, how small or big it is needs to instill the basics of a CRM mindset. The tools you use could be different, all the way from an efficient filing system to a state-of-the-art computer application. The keyword here is the mindset and the tools to support providing your customers with the best possible service or product.

Whatever you do, have one objective in mind: make processes simpler and more transparent to your customers and to your staff.

No company too small

A taxi company that we worked with in Kingston-upon-Thames is now asking the customers, along with the usual information like name, address and phone number, their e-mail addresses and birthdays. Recording the details of bookings they are now able to see the patterns for each customer, offer them prioritized service during peak times like holiday seasons, drive customer loyalty via complementary rides after every X bookings or on your birthday and more. You can also sign up for their mobile text and e-mail services to get the latest news about unexpected road conditions around Kingston and London and situation at major London airports.
The result: Over 200% increase in repeat business, dozens of new customers who have been recommended to use this taxi company by their friends and a fantastic reputation that will ensure a long term success.

Imagine the familiar scene: You are off to the airport on your business trip. The driver who picked you up a few times in the last couple of months turns up on time. He only knows your surname. After an exchange of ‘good morning’s it’s pretty much a silent trip to airport. He drops you off at the departure terminal. You pay him and off you go. What’s wrong here? In theory, nothing. He was on time, courteous and you caught your plane without any stress.

However, it could have looked like this: On the way to the airport the driver says “Do you want me to book your return taxi sir?” You say yes and he books it in his PDA for coming Thursday. He then says “I see it’s your birthday next week Mr Smith. We’d be delighted to offer a complimentary service, for up to 4 people, to a place within 10 miles of your home. Just give us a call whenever you want”. Sounds too good to be true? Not for loyal customers of Mike’s Cars in Kingston-upon-Thames.

How they did it?
Mike’s Cars saw 200% increase in business (taxi companies conveniently call them ‘jobs’) in the last 6 months. To complement their reliable and friendly service, Mike’s Cars worked with one of the Xenogenix team on a new, for a better word, Customer Relationship Management system.

Firstly, all 12 drivers had ‘passenger-on-board’ sessions to collate every piece of customer data they had in one spreadsheet. Everything in separate notebooks, pieces of paper and the dispatch system was consolidated

Second, customers were grouped based on their past ‘jobs’.

Third, a simple of form was designed to hand out to the passengers to ask for an update on their details and also opt-in for e-mail, text or phone correspondence.

Lastly, an off-the-shelf CRM package was implemented. Main criteria for selection were ease of use, ease of adding/changing data fields, reporting and data loading and extraction capabilities. This was necessary for the system to talk to the Despatch system.

Are we there yet?
These questions can determine your CRM needs:

  • Do you communicate with your customers using different means, e.g telephone, e-mail, web site etc?
  • Does everyone who communicates with a customer know what their coworkers said to them or did for them?
  • Is all customer information kept in one area or program for easy customer service reference?
  • Can you analyse the information by customer and offer them personalized service based on their buying patterns?
  • Do you know how many customer service issues each customer had and why?
  • What are your win, loss and no-decision rates?
  • What’s your lead turnaround time?
  • How many sales calls are completed per rep?
  • What’s the average amount of time required to complete each selling step?
  • How many calls are required to close an opportunity?
  • How much business do you have in your sales pipeline?
  • How do you rate your marketing or lead generation program effectiveness?

Act Now
Answer those questions, being brutally honest. Then start with the simplest changes you can make. Even if you don’t do anything, do the following 3 things:
1. Keep an electronic file for each customer and ask everyone in your company to record any related information in a chronological order in that file.
2. Consolidate all customer information in a central location, most likely an electronic spreadsheet or database.
3. Clean up your customer information and keep it clean all the time. Company Names, addresses, phone numbers, contacts, tax numbers, and whatever is important for you to do business with your customers.

CRM philosophy is simple: put the customer first. When your business looks at every transaction through the eyes of the customer, you can’t help but deliver a better experience to your customers—which in turn increases loyalty to your company. And, through customer-focused business practices, you often find new ways to streamline old methods and get rid of administrative overhead that no longer benefits you or your customers.