I like this quote (author unknown) because it is an action statement and a challenge.
All successful businesses depend on sales… ideally in a steady, timely fashion and hopefully increasing numbers. Unfortunately, something also happens when someone does not sell something. We only need to look at the unemployment rate for the last few years to realize the number of companies that have struggled selling something… or not selling enough somethings. Too little sales have cost a lot of people their jobs. In some cases insufficient sales has ended the life of the entire organization.
To me, it implies that something positive is waiting to happen when something is sold. Admittedly, due to the current economic conditions selling is tough right now. The more successful organizations still standing have learned an important secret… the implementation of Sales Force Automation (SFA) is the best way to leverage sales efforts to achieve more consistent and timely sales. Today SFA is part of the functionality of most CRM software, although, some are better at it than others.
According to Gartner in their release of their “Magic Quadrant for Sales Force Automation”, July 18, 2012, “Sales force automation (SFA) applications support the automation of sales activities, processes and administrative responsibilities for B2B organizations’ sales professionals. Core functionalities include account, contact and opportunity management. Additional add-on capabilities focus on improving the sales effectiveness of salespeople, such as sales configuration, guided selling, proposal generation and content management, and sales performance management support, including incentive compensation, quota, sales coaching and territory management.”
As a sales manager the challenge is to make that something happen. Selling is something that is under our control. Based on past experience, here is a plan that has worked for me in the past and has worked for many of my clients. Please feel free to copy and adapt this to your business.
- First purchase and implement a CRM system! I strongly recommend Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011. The latest release of Dynamics CRM 2011 is awesome! Dynamics CRM offers strong SFA, marketing, business intelligence, and customer data management capabilities. Dynamics CRM is available in two versions, online and on-premise. Both give you access to the program and data via an internet browser. By the end of the year Dynamics CRM will work with most tables, smart phones and all major internet browsers giving you the widest access to your CRM Software and data possible.
- I work in a business that sells B2B and I already have a good idea of who is my ideal customer for the product and services I sell. The problem is, as I look out my window, I don’t know who they are and how to find them. That is an easy fix. There are a number of sources such as D&B, Hoovers, and InfoUSA whose business is to maintain lists of companies and contacts. I’ve defined my ideal customer by geography, by specific industries, company size by revenue and number of employees. I then work with one of these sources to acquire the list of companies that meets my vision of the ideal customer. You will need to develop a profile of your ideal customer and work with a source to acquire your list.
- The next step is to import the newly acquired list into your CRM Software.
- After the import, review and analyze the data. As an example, I might acquire a list of about 3,000 companies. That size list is manageable, so I will review each company and assign an “A”, “B”, “C” or “D” to the company rating field that I created in my CRM during implementation. As I start my sales efforts, I will start with the “A” and work down the list. I use “D” to indicate “Dead”, where “D” indicates a company I do not feel is a likely candidate or after contacting them I determine we are not a good fit for each other.
- The advantage of using a CRM system is that you can look to see if you already have a relationship with any of the businesses on the list you just purchased. The company could be an existing customer or perhaps related to another business which is a customer and has a relationship with them. If that is the case, you can use that relationship to help gain entry to the key contact to help you sell your products and services. That’s the value of CRM! Recording and using the relationships you build over time.
- After rating each company record, run the list of the “A – C” records against the list source and request the key contacts for those companies. Depending on what you are selling, the key contact will be people in different positions within the target company, for example the company President and Vice President or maybe the purchasing manager. You can also purchase the email address for the key contacts that you hope to reach.
- Then, develop a telemarketing script and have a telemarketing group call everyone on the “A – C” list. The goal here is to discover, do they have a need for my product? If yes, the company is flagged in the CRM software for follow up. On the “A” list, I might even make the telemarketing call myself.
- Depending on the type of response, a salesperson with your company will make a direct call to the key contact with the goal of setting up a meeting to discuss the products and services you sell. You now have a prospect. You want to create an opportunity.
- In some cases, we mail or email an invitation to key contacts inviting them to attend a free seminar in their geographic area. Mail is getting too expensive, so it’s usually email. But here is another tip, use an email service like CoreMotives. CoreMotives is focused on Email Marketing and is embedded within Dynamics CRM. It can help you track how effective your emails are by tracking clicks, open, bounce, unsubscribes and web visits.
- The same technique can be used for webinars, but we have found that people are getting webinar overload. If you do webinars, make sure the topic is timely, targeted, and the overall presentation is very well done. One advantage to a webinar is that you can record it and put a link to it out on your website.
This sales plan is methodical. Do you win every sale? No. But if you are going to spend the time and effort, make sure you are delivering your sales pitch to the prospects most likely to buy your products or services. The value of the CRM software and its data grows increasingly more important over time.
It’s not unheard of to go through the same sales process more than one time with the same customer, because their decision is often a decision to do nothing at the time. I recall one customer that we spoke to for 5 years in a row about purchasing a new system before they finally made the decision to buy from us. Track the sales effort in your CRM software and do the follow up. 50% of sales is just showing up, making the calls, doing the follow up, because your competition is not doing the same. That is why you have to be persistent and methodical.
If you want to grow your business you have to sell more. If you are having financial problems, cutting costs is ok, but you still have to sell more. There are times you have to spend money to make money. Investing in CRM software is your best option to leverage the investment you are making in your people’s blood, sweat and tears. Make that effort count!
The best remedy to fix our economy is for enough salespeople to sale something. Ok, a lot of somethings. Go out and save the economy. Sell something! It’s your opportunity to make something good happen!
At McGladrey, we are specialist in helping company’s like yours develop the right strategy to increase sales and automate the sales process so you can make something happen! If you are looking for a CRM partner, have a new CRM project or need help with an existing CRM project, request a Rapid Assessment SM with our CRM professionals to evaluate your CRM options and identify a road map for your success.
By: Mark Soltis – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner Kansas City