At 41 (soon to be 42) I have now been a professional sales person or sales leader for over ½ of my life. I have sold folding cartons, computer systems, implementation consulting services, enterprise software, group insurance and prepaid cards. My philosophy in approaching any marketplace is simple and straightforward:
– Create and track intricate, personalized marketing campaigns that speak to the value your company’s solutions create.
– Prospect with accuracy and confidence.
– Sell in a collaborative environment that allows all company constituents (executives, manufacturing, engineering, etc.) to actively participate in the selling process.
- Extend & Protect:
– Indentify cross-sell opportunities.
– Deliver unparalleled client service to ensure long term, mutually beneficial business partnerships….and repeat business.
– Create institutional memory that guarantees the historical accuracy of client and prospect interactions.
Selling complex business solutions to multiple constituents inside a prospect/customer organization is time consuming, resource intensive and ultimately fraught with risk. The danger associated with most engagements centers around opportunity cost; if I (the salesperson) spend the extraordinary effort to engage with a company, am I potentially losing out on another opportunity of similar or higher value?
Customer Relationship Management software (Salesforce.com, Pivotal, MSCRM, Oracle, SAP, etc.) allows an organization (specifically the front office) to efficiently manage the flow and constant interactions associated with an intricate sales cycle.
– Integrated marketing and sales application with automated lead conversion
– Real-time analytics to measure and optimize campaigns for best results
– Multichannel campaign management (email, direct mail, trade shows etc.) and analysis for a complete marketing solution.
– Client profiling and lifecycle management.
– Account Management
– Contact Management
– Opportunity Management
– Activity Management
– HTML email management (creation, reporting)
– Territory Tracking/Permissions
– Imbedded Action Plans for Best Practices
– Individual Forecasting
– Proposal Generation (integrated MS Office)
– Order Management
– Commission tracking
– Collaboration: Team productivity/automating workflow
– Report on sales activities and effectiveness
– Integrated Outlook
- Client Service
– Issue tracking and resolution tools needed to quickly resolve customer questions, issues, and requests and deliver a high-quality customer experience
– Scalable solutions rapidly integrate with existing applications and hardware investments
– Immediate report on sales activities and effectiveness
– Immediate overview of pipeline (group and individual)
– Immediate forecast of company revenue
– Creation of corporate best practices to be institutionalized
– Create a collaborative environment for managing opportunities and service requests
– Enable employees, partners, and customers to engage in discussions, share files, and manage tasks
A Customer Relationship Management package will NOT, on its own, create demand for or sell a company’s product/solution. However, A CRM tool will allow a corporation’s talented front office team to maximize their time spent selling the right prospect
As a sales person who sold CRM, implemented CRM and uses CRM on a daily basis, my advice to buyers would be to decide early on if your company really wants to support the application, or should a Software as a Service model be considered? Managing a CRM system is extraordinarily resource intensive; if you take the application in house, dedicate the appropriate talent. While researching, do NOT rely on the opinions of industry analysts – they are a shill for any ISV that offers them cash. Instead, evaluate a subsection of Best of Breed providers, and INVESTIGATE their deployments (both good and bad). Get a realistic representation of what can be accomplished in a defined time period…..current clients will talk.
If you can justify the investment, have a sales operations person assigned to owning/managing the deployment. This individual should not only understand the marketplace, but they need to clearly comprehend your company’s specific business. Once committed, create defined business objectives with an educated resource; this person needs to truly understand CRM, and how your marketing/sales/service processes work.
Prior to beginning the implementation, set realistic goals and defined milestones with your partners. Pay the hired partner a retainer up front, and then only compensate them when they achieve agreed-to performance goals. If the hired company says they can do something pre-sale, hold them accountable post-sale.
Finally, be selective and demanding when assessing the different vendors in the CRM marketplace. Once you choose a company, truly partner with the ISV/ implementation provider in order to gain the most return from your CRM investment.