Sales Playbook and CRM Problems - What the Data Tells Us

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 06, 2018 @ 08:06 AM

pollen

I can't remember a spring where the pollen was worse than in 2018.  You go to the car wash and an hour later your beautiful car is covered in yellow crud and you're out $20.  A waste.

Perhaps you have an irrigation system with a rain sensor that tells the controller that your lawn and flower beds don't need to be watered today because it is pouring outside.  Yet, when you look out the window you see that the sprinklers are running despite the existence of a rain sensor.  A waste.

Did you ever spend hours assembling a child's toy only to watch it sit unused until the kid outgrew it and you gave it away?  Waste.

For years I noticed that most people never touched the manuals, handouts, CD's, card decks, and books that were distributed to them for the training programs in which they participated.  How many books, studies, manuals and reports have you received that sat and collected dust, reside on your hard drive or in the cloud and remain unopened to this day?  In my office, I have 6 shelves full of books that I never read and probably won't read half of the books on my Kindle either!  Waste.

That leads me to the growing demand for Sales Playbooks.  Companies want them, get excited about them, believe they are important, pay tens of thousands of dollars for them, and invest many hours collaborating for a successful final document.  You won't believe the wasteful things that happen next!

Over the past several years, I have witnessed two Sales Playbook creation scenarios repeatedly play out.

  • The executives who are most adamant about wanting to collaborate engage early but then fail to invest the time and effort necessary to provide the data, sample reports, knowledge, expectations, metrics and other information required to create a powerful and useful playbook.  They lose interest and without the necessary company-specific information, they end up with a playbook that is more generic so they don't bother to distribute the book to their salespeople.
  • Collaboration takes place as expected, a great playbook is created, and after distributing it to their salespeople, the books are never again opened or referenced.

In my experience, there is a sense that as long as the company issues a check to pay for the creation of the playbook, they can check the box and move on to their next project.  Check for a check.  They believe that getting the project started is more important than getting the project finished, seeing it through and assuring that the book is utilized according to expectations.  Waste.

I am a big fan of Membrain, the sales enablement application that manages pipeline with a focus on sales process and opportunities with integrated CRM.  Not only do they have a version with Baseline Selling built in, their interface is designed specifically for the creation of playbooks within the sales process.  Each milestone can be a separate playbook, with drop-downs, calculations, conditions, if-thens, cause and effect, instructions, examples and more.

Why invest in a stand alone playbook that either won't be completed or won't be used when there is such a terrific sales enablement application that allows you to integrate all of the desired components in one place?

I will no longer invest time to collaborate with senior executives to compile playbooks when Membrain is a significantly better alternative.  I am happy to help companies integrate playbook and sales process within an application like Membrain. Salespeople that live in Membrain are more able to drive their opportunities forward and manage their pipelines.

The biggest challenge with CRM/Opportunity/Pipeline Management applications is that most salespeople hate them and resist using them.  Want proof?  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of them is CRM Savvy. Look at the data below from a subset totaling 450,000 salespeople that were evaluated in the past 5 years.  

crm-usage

The data, showing 3 attributes of the CRM Savvy competency, clearly shows that while the majority of salespeople use CRM, stronger salespeople are 56% more likely to use it than weaker salespeople.  Fewer than 40% of salespeople embrace CRM and fewer than 10% actually live in their CRM application. Living in CRM is a best practice so what does that tell you?  It means that if your salespeople aren't choosing to live in your CRM application, you chose the wrong freaking CRM application! 

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, crm, sales playbook, sales data

The Perfect Day for a Salesperson - 10 Ways to be More Efficient and Effective in 2018

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Dec 08, 2017 @ 09:12 AM

perfect-day.jpg

Introduction

You can be more effective and more efficient selling in 2018, do every single thing I wrote about in this article, exactly as I wrote it, and without any difficulty, by making a conscious decision to follow this blueprint.  It's not hard. It's not scary.  It's not unusual.  It's not even thought-provoking.  It's simply a list of best practices that great salespeople (top 5%) do and that crappy (46%) salespeople either don't do consistently or don't do it at all.

Pre-Planning

The ideal sales day begins the previous evening.  Looking ahead to tomorrow, how many meetings do I have, which of those are sales related, how many items on the to-do list must be completed, how many proposals are due, and how many emails must I respond to before the day begins?  Based on all of that, how early do I need to set the alarm?  For me, most mornings it's for 5:30 AM.

CRM

Upon awakening, I like to begin the day inside CRM (we love Membrain) so that I can see all of my opportunities, the stage of the pipeline they are in, identify those I must move along, and who is waiting on me for something.

Calendar

Next, I need to identify my prospecting time for the day.  That's when I'll do the required work on those opportunities that need attention and schedule new meetings.  On most days, I have less than an hour of time for this so I need to be prepared to be ultra productive.  I can't afford to spend an hour attempting to reach potential new clients since even for me it will take 10-15 attempts to reach a CEO or Sales VP so it's crucial to actually connect with prospects during this time.  I begin with introductions, move to referrals, then to inbound leads from appropriately titled decision makers, and back-fill with LinkedIn connections and other inbound leads.  I only want to schedule future calls - not spend time talking with them today.  If you aren't fortunate enough to have a steady supply of introductions, referrals and inbound leads to call, you need a way to be more efficient than cold calling and I recommend that you use ConnectAndSell.  In an hour of calling they'll help you connect to an average of 7 prospects whereas attempting to reach prospects on your own might not yield 7 connections in an entire day.

Email

It's still early so this is the ideal time to respond to emails that I didn't get to yesterday, those that came in over night, and those where I need to be proactive.

Preparation

Finally, there are the scheduled sales calls.  For brand new opportunities, what do I need to know about them, their company, their industry and our common connections before we speak?  What is the desired outcome for each call?   What is the game plan to get there?

Sales Calls or Meetings

These days almost everything I do is by phone or video conference and that holds true for sales calls as well. If I want to achieve a predictable outcome then all I have to do is have a great conversation that faithfully follows our sales process, reaching the required milestones along the way.  One of the things that I love about Membrain is that the sales process, milestones, scorecards and playbooks for each milestone are on the screen during the call.  Companies that are in sales training, learning sales process and/or methodology, introducing playbooks, on boarding new salespeople, incorporating integrated CRM, or getting veteran salespeople to change the way they do things gain an additional benefit or 3 from these features.

What Can Go Wrong?

There is very little that can go wrong when you prepare like this.  Surely, some calls will cancel or reschedule, some prospects will be unqualified, some opportunities may be poor fits, and some prospects won't want to share answers to your questions.  You can't control any of that stuff but you can prepare for it.  Read this article to better understand how to use your unexpected free time.

Contrast

I receive a few incoming cold calls and schedule a few sales calls or meetings with salespeople calling on my companies each week and here's what I can tell you about them.  They.  All.  Suck.  No exceptions.  Here's why:

When salespeople are scheduled to have an actual sales call with me all they want to do is pitch, present and demo.  Does anyone, other than those salespeople that we train, actually use a consultative approach to sell?

Summary

Armed with an effective approach, appropriate planning, effective sales process and methodology, supportive sales tools and good scores in all 21 Sales Core Competencies, you will succeed.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, crm, sales best practices, membrain, time management, connectandsell

Selling Value - Everything You Always Wanted to Know

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 03, 2014 @ 23:12 PM

value

Copyright: kchung / 123RF Stock Photo

Some news stories just don't go away.  Today those stories include Ferguson, Bill Cosby, ISIS and The NFL's Domestic Abuse Problem.  There is also Obamacare, Immigration and Ebola.  They remain in the news more because the media continues to milk these stories then readers demand to know more.

When we look at the sales stories of the recent past, the topics that sales experts continue writing about are Social Selling, Inbound Marketing, LinkedIn, Twitter, CRM and Lead Nurturing.  They remain in the news more because the writers are attempting to sell their own services that happen to support those topics more than readers demanding to read more about it.  There's nothing wrong with these topics of course, but sales experts should be addressing topics more closely aligned with helping sellers sell, instead of so much space being devoted to what takes place at the top and above the top of the sales funnel.

So if not those topics, then what should we all be writing about - all the time - that would be a real difference maker for salespeople?

I believe that it's the importance of and ability to sell value.  Why, you ask? 

Selling value is the one thing that all salespeople, operating without benefit of the lowest price, absolutely, positively, must be able to do well in order to consistently earn the business.  

Despite the need to effectively sell value, it happens to be one of things that salespeople do very poorly. The importance of selling value isn't going away, but sales experts are not spending enough time talking about it, writing about it, explaining it, or providing training on it.  The most critical aspect of this topic is understanding the many factors that support a salesperson's ability to sell value.  Selling value isn't a specific thing that one says or does, as much as it's an outcome of several other things.  According to Objective Management Group's (OMG) statistics (close to one million salespeople assessed), of the 6 most important factors required to sell value, most salespeople have, on average, only 2 of them as strengths or skills.

This is such an important topic that last week I hosted a broadcast on Selling Value in Modern Times.  If you would like to watch it, run time is 46 minutes.

According to a Google search on my blog, I've written about or mentioned selling value, in some way, shape or form, 766 times in the past 10 years.  Here are 10 of my favorite articles on selling value and when you extract the major points from each, it provides a very nice collection of guidelines for selling value:

Closing and Negotiating Challenges - Symptoms of Another Selling Problem

This Simple Strategy Will Sell Your ROI and Value Proposition Every Time

Why This is Still a Great Selling Sales Book After 10 Years

Price Quotes and the Inability of Salespeople to Sell Value

The One Thing Most Salespeople Are Unable to Do

Why There is No Value When You Provide Value Via Special Pricing

Top 10 Outcomes When Salespeople Screw Up Selling "Value Added"

Top 5 Sales Issues Leaders Should Not Focus On

This is the One Thing Missing from the New Way of Selling

Do You/Should You Have a Complex Sale?

Top 10 Reasons Why Salespeople Let Price Drive the Sale

How to Add Value to Your Sales Offering

New Metrics for the Sales Force - Unusual Thoughts for Unusual Times

Boston Ballet and Money Tolerance - What it Means to Your Sales Force

As I mentioned above, selling value does not stand on its own.  You should now understand that from the value selling broadcast and the articles above,  there are several other factors that contribute to selling value.  Unless salespeople are able to effectively integrate all of the necessary factors (Sales DNA, sales process, strategy and tactics), then the end result will always be salespeople that are only able to talk about value, instead of actually becoming the value.

I'll be hosting a webinar on December 10 at 11 AM Eastern Time.  We'll be discussing the 5 Hidden Factors that Determine the Fate of Every Sales Force.  Selling Value is certainly one of those factors!  It will run for about 45 minutes.  If you would like to attend you can register here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, crm, twitter, Pipeline, linkedin, social selling, selling value, Lead Nurturing, top of the funnel, Bill Cosby, Value Proposition

Top 10 Reasons For Inaccurate Forecasts

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 @ 07:02 AM

sales pipelineFor double article Friday, in addition to my Sales Pipeline Nazi article, I have the following bonuses for you:

For those of you who wanted to attend the Webinar on the Sales Candidate Analyzer, here is a link to the recording.

WittyParrot has just released the Top 50 Sales Productivity Tips ebook with 50 Experts, including me, offering their advice.  Download it here.

And the March Issue of Top Sales Magazine is available!  It includes an article from me and several other noteworthy sales writers.  You can download your copy here.

**********

The Sales Pipeline Nazi

When I wrote this article, the Northeast corner of the US was being walloped by yet another snowstorm, which in this case, was very accurately forecasted.  At the same time, the first email I saw today had a link to a very funny video – a spoof of a Pipeline Review being run by Hitler.  Here is a link to that video on You Tube.

So the storm and the video led me to the following thoughts.

We joke a lot about sales forecasts being no more accurate than weather forecasts, but everything is relative.  An inaccurate forecast of cloudy won’t have much of an impact on anyone, but an inaccurate forecast of sunny and warm might.  An inaccurate forecast of flurries might not cause a problem if they don’t materialize, but an inaccurate forecast of a foot of snow – in either direction – has serious consequences.

Inaccurate sales forecasts are legendary.  Here are the 10 most common reasons why salespeople, sales managers, Sales Directors and CEO’s suffer from this: 

  • They lack a formal, staged, criteria-based pipeline.
  • They lack a functional, sales-specific CRM or Pipeline Management application.
  • Their sales process is not integrated into the CRM/Pipeline Management application.
  • Salespeople have the power to suggest the likelihood of closing.
  • Salespeople have the power to override the application’s weighting of an opportunity.
  • Salespeople fail to LIVE in the CRM application, providing infrequent updates, causing most report and dashboard data to be outdated.
  • There is a lack of accountability for keeping the application up-to-date - not weekly, not daily, but in real-time!
  • The data being entered is not being inspected by management.
  • Nobody cares about getting it right.
  • The concept of pipeline management has not been integrated into the culture.

As for the weather, we learn to live with those inaccurate forecasts by preparing for the worst.  We also learn to check back often, get an updated forecast the night before, the morning of and right before that outdoor event, trip to the airport, or 6-hour drive.  What if our salespeople did that?  What if sales managers did that?

If sales forecasts are truly like weather forecasts and we have learned to make the best of the weather, why can’t we simply employ the same strategies and tactics to sales forecasts?  Why can’t we get updates, check-in, check back, verify and re-verify?  Why can’t we get it right?  Why don’t we get it right?

In my opinion, there are a combination of factors at play that discourage salespeople from taking the steps that I just mentioned:

  • Laziness – “It’s too much work!”
  • Fear of Rejection – "When I check back, what if they changed their mind?”
  • Need for Approval (Need to be Liked)  - “They might not like me anymore.”
  • Fear of being wrong – “How could I live with myself?”
  • Pressure to find new opportunities – The only time hunting takes precedence over anything!
  • Consequences of removing an opportunity and its related value from the forecast and/or pipeline – “It’s much better to slide the opportunity to next month than the alternative.”

We must get sales forecasting right.  And we can.  If one company can do it, all companies can do it.  But it takes a commitment, from the top down, to make it work.  It takes work after the commitment has been made.  If the first 9 reasons, from my list at the beginning of the article, are properly addressed and the appropriate commitment has been made, then any company wishing to have an accurate sales forecast can have one. 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, crm, Pipeline, membrain, salesforce.com, sales forecasts

The Future of Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 @ 08:12 AM

holograhpicMy vision, of how the future of selling is shaping up, appears in today's (the December 18, 2013) issue of Top Sales Magazine.

After you have read the article, please contribute your comments, suggestions, visions, rebuttals and opinions which are all welcome right here.

This issue also features the 2013 Award Winners of the Top Sales & Marketing Awards in 18 Categories.

We did pretty well this year!

Objective Management Group (OMG) took home the Gold for the 3rd straight year for Top Sales Assessment Tool.

At Kurlan & Associates, Frank Belzer won the Silver for Top New Sales & Marketing Book, Sales Shift.  By the way, if you haven't read Frank's Blog, it's also deserving of recognition.

I won the Bronze for Top Sales & Marketing Blog - my 3rd consecutive win for Understanding the Sales Force.

I also won the Gold for Top Sales & Marketing Article - Sales Management Best Practices - Are Your Salespeople Challengers?

Our Partner, Membrain, won the Gold for Top CRM Tool.

And many of our friends and colleagues were honored too.  I congratulate all of them!!

As you contemplate the Future of Selling, think about how these changes might affect your company this month, this year, next year, and the years ahead.

Is your Sales Infrastructure able to support the sales team of the future?

Is your Sales Architecture optimized to support sales managers spending 50% of their time coaching?

Is Sales Management up to the task of providing effective coaching?

Has Sales Enablement provided everything needed so that your salespeople can go to market with the right strategy, execute and have the required conversations?

Is Sales Talent Management providing the sales talent you will need to grow revenue?

Does your Human Capital have the sales DNA and the skills required for success?

During January, I'll be writing more about these 6 keys to the ideal sales organization.

Tomorrow, I'll present my Top 10 Articles of 2013 so that you can vote on your favorite.  I'll publish the winning article before we break for the holiday.

Finally, Gazelles Growth Institute has added my Baseline Selling video broadcast to its lineup of top-notch, world-class speakers and on-demand courses.  It came out great and I'm really delighted with the work they did.  If you haven't been able to work with us directly and want an inexpensive taste of how the Baseline Selling sales process and methodology work, you should check out this and the other video courses at Gazelles Growth Institute.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to read my article, The Future of Selling, and enter your comments right here

Image credit: sellingpix / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, crm, move to inside sales, membrain, top sales magazine, sales predictions, 2014, technology in sales, connectleader, cisco, holographic meetings

Science and the Length of Your Sales Cycle

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 09, 2013 @ 07:10 AM

When Objective Management Group (OMG) evaluates a sales force, 1 of the 26 questions we answer for clients is, Can You Shorten Your Sales Cycle?" 

We have some science behind that and as part of the analysis we conduct on a sales force, we can determine whether they have the skills and sales DNA for that to become a reality.

There are 11 factors that contribute to determining whether a salesperson or sales force can shorten their sale cycle, not including the factors that determine whether or not a salesperson is trainable and/or coachable.

In the screen shot below, this real sales force (names have been changed) has, on average, only 3 of the factors.

Shorten Sales Cycle Factors

One of the 11 factors, that has a great deal to do with the length of the sales cycle, is whether or not the sales force and/or the salespeople have an effective sales process.  As you can see from the image above, nobody was following an effective sales process.  Another really important factor is exactly what salespeople actually believe - what they think - relative to the sales cycle.  In the next screen shot, you might be able to read some of the beliefs that this sales force had around the sales cycle:

SLBeliefsThose two factors alone are enough to double the length of a sales cycle!  There are still 9 more factors that have an impact; however, just from what we've discussed and reviewed so far, it's obvious that this company's sales cycle is M-U-C-H longer than it needs to be.

That gives you a sense for how we go about answering questions for companies.  But there is an additional way!

At my sales consulting company, Kurlan & Associates, we use, love and strongly recommend Membrain as a sales pipeline tool.  They have awesome pipeline analytics that are available right out of the box.  Check out the next 2 screen shots that have to do with - you guessed it - sales cycle length!

Sales Cycle Age

This screen shot basically shows that this company has almost no chance of closing an opportunity beyond 51 days.

Sales Cycle Time in Phase

This screen shot shows that opportunities, that spend more than 10 days in any stage, rarely close.

Sales Science:  When you combine the contributing factors to a long sales cycle and then provide salespeople with actual statistics that show what happens when they allow the sales cycle to extend, we can change behaviors.  When we provide an effective sales process, milestones, qualifiers and effective sales strategies and tactics, we can change results.

Are you using all of the science that you can get your hands on to radically change the way your sales force performs?

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, crm, Sales DNA, pipeline management, sales science

Are Your Strategic Partnerships Your Passive Sales Force?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 @ 08:01 AM

partnerToday, more than ever before, strategic partnerships, both formal and informal, are an important element of conducting business.  They exist at all levels, including these 10:

  1. Insurance agencies electing to provide a particular insurance carrier's policies,
  2. Marketing firms and their choice of printers, photographers and trade show booth fabricators,
  3. VAR's determining which hardware and software to integrate for their customers,
  4. A CEO's inner circle of advisors and resources,
  5. The directors of a company's board and their commitment to making introductions,
  6. The business networking group to which a salesperson belongs,
  7. A payroll company's partnership with a benefits provider,
  8. The attorneys, accountants, and insurance agents who work together to help clients,
  9. The distributors that resell a manufacturer's products and
  10. The referrals and introductions which happy customers make for their sales reps.

There are so many more examples.

Who are your formal and informal strategic partners? 
Whom do you recommend?
Who recommends you?
 
While many of you are using LinkedIn to accomplish some of the above, it just isn't the same as having real-life, real-world business relationships!  Get off the computer, on the phone and make this happen!
One of the most challenging areas of generating revenue is finding new business.  Shouldn't one of your priorities be to establish alliances who can lead to fufilling, profitable two-way partnerships with as many people and companies as possible?
 
At both Objective Management Group and Kurlan & Associates, one of my roles is to identify strategic partners.  Not necessarily the biggest.  Not necessarily the most well-known.  Not necessarily the one with whom everyone else wants to partner.
 
Instead, we want to make sure that a strategic partner is a company who:
  • Has people we know and trust,
  • Cares as much as we do about our clients and their challenges and
  • Can provide the ideal, complimentary solution in a related area - one that extends beyond our core competency of sales force development.
Let me introduce you to a few of the companies with whom we are proud to partner:
  • Everyone needs powerful, but easy-to-use pipeline management which emphasizes sales process, requires a minimal number of clicks and data entry, and has powerful out-of-the-box reporting and dashboards.  Our strategic CRM Partner understands this and has designed the best application that I have ever customized and used.  Please meet the Project Manager at Membrain, Henrik Oquist.  Contact Henrik .
  • Everyone needs marketing and lead generation help.  Whether the exposure and leads come from inbound, internal, outbound, print, internet, email, social sites, events, PR, collateral, or advertising, one thing remains constant.  There must be alignment between sales and marketing, a gap which increases in size in accordance with the size of most companies.  Our strategic Marketing Partner understands the importance of marketing and sales being aligned, and the role which they work to creatively support to drive sales and revenue.  Please meet the Founder and CEO of PENTA Communications, Inc.Deborah Penta.  Contact Deborah.
  • And everyone needs to make the most of their prospecting time.  Few salespeople, especially selling executives, have the time to get on the phone and dial the names on their lists.  That's where our strategic calling partner comes in.  They handle the dialing and you and/or your salespeople simply complete the conversations - a week's worth in an hour!  Please meet the Founder and CEO of ConnectLeader, Senraj Soundar.  Contact Senraj.
Over the coming weeks and months I'll introduce you to some more people whom you should know.  What will you do to strengthen the mutual quality of your formal and informal strategic partnerships?  Can they be your passive sales force?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Force, crm, strategic alliances, strategic partners, pipeline management tool, sales & marketing alignment

Top 16 Problems with CRM

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 @ 05:10 AM

Yesterday, I wrote about solving the sales performance problem.  Today, I'll write about solving the CRM problem.  CRM is very problematic, not because there aren't choices, but more because companies make bad decisions.  Just a few of the problems with CRM are listed here:

        • Company has no CRM.
        • Company has archaic CRM.
        • Salespeople won't use the existing CRM.
        • CRM doesn't provide management with an accurate forecast.
        • Management doesn't hold salespeople accountable for using/maintaining CRM.
        • CRM requires too much information input.
        • CRM is too slow to respond.
        • CRM is focused on data and accounts rather than opportunities.
        • CRM is not consistent with sales process.
        • CRM is viewed as busy work rather than a tool.
        • CRM is too expensive.
        • CRM can't be accessed via mobile devices.
        • Company wants too much unnecessary information about opportunities.
        • CRM allows salespeople to place prospects in the wrong pipeline stage.
        • CRM is too difficult to customize.
OK, so that wasn't just a few, but you get the idea.  Yesterday, I spent 90 minutes on a conference call with a client (the president, IT guy and 2 sales leaders) and their CRM provider (salesperson, regional sales manager and technical specialist) as they attempted to customize the application, so that it would follow the sales process which I developed for them, and provide an accurate forecast.  That shouldn't be necessary.
Last week, I spent 90 minutes with another client (8 people from operations, sales, customer service and marketing) showing them how CRM could be the answer to their inaccurate forecasts and pipeline reports.  All had different ideas of how much the CRM application should be required to do versus how simple it could really be.
CRM doesn't have to be complicated, expensive, difficult to customize or slow.  It doesn't need to require much data, give salespeople too much leeway or provide inaccurate forecasts.  Simply put, CRM can be everything your company needs it to be and more.  You just have to make a few good decisions:
        • You must already have a customized, formal, structured and optimized sales process in place and, if you don't, have a sales consultant create that for you.
        • You must choose the right CRM application (fast, salesperson-friendly, opportunity-focused using your new or existing sales process; excellent pipeline and forecasting tools, easy to set up, customize and use, etc.) as opposed to choosing a CRM application simply because you recognize the name.
        • Salespeople must understand what's in it for them and why they should embrace it.
        • Hold salespeople accountable for providing real-time updates.
I've reviewed 15 CRM applications (Landslide, Sugar, Oracle, Sales Logix, Microsoft Dynamics, Membrain, Fortuit, FunnelSource, Podio, OppTuna, Pipedrive, PipelineDeals, Act, Goldmine and Zoho) which aren't named Salesforce.com and because clients have had some of these applications installed, they've had to use many of them.  My feeling is that clients need to cut their losses and switch to a productive application, rather than sticking with a failed initiative, just because the money has been invested.  The Boston Red Sox dumped approximately $140 million in contracts this summer so that they could start from scratch in building a winning roster.  You should do the same thing with CRM!
Some things that CRM should be are:
        • An extension of the sales conversation, 
        • Salespeople should live inside the application rather than on email,
        • Salespeople should love it for the visual references which it provides,
        • Management should love it for the pipeline and forecast,
        • The best coaching tool on the planet,
        • Reports should be easy to coax from it and
        • Customizable without extra costs or fees.
So, you now have my 3 lists of bullets.  But what about the explanations and details?  What about examples?  For that I invite you to attend a 45-Minute Webinar on: 
How to Solve the CRM Problem
November 13
10 AM ET
Henrik Öquist, of Membrain, and
We will present the details, explanations and examples to help you implement CRM in a simple way where everyone - salespeople and management - get exactly what they need from CRM.  Please join us! CRM doesn't have to be complicated, difficult or undesirable; CRM can be the single most exciting tool in the sales organization.  You simply have to make the right decisions!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales management, Sales Coaching, Salesforce, Sales Force, crm, membrain

Is Technology Ruining or Driving Your Sales Efforts?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 20, 2012 @ 10:08 AM

I don't usually write about technology and I'm not a technology writer, but I can't stand how ineffective and indecisive so many sales executives have become with technology!

There are many applications which can help us find opportunities, connect with people, manage the sales process and pipeline, manage relationships, share information, and keep us organized.

In addition to the applications, technology also comes in the form of smartphones, tablets, laptops, netbooks and desktop computers.

There are plenty of good choices, both with the devices and the applications, so how do you choose?

I've always been an early adapter and I've used much of what is out there, from free to paid, from simple to complicated, from useful to useless, and from integrated to stand-alone.  In the end, the most valuable feature for me, is the ability to sync across every device.   IN MY OPINION, THAT IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURE/FUNCTION FOR STAYING ORGANIZED, EFFICIENT AND LEAN, WHILE MAKING THE FEWEST MISTAKES, FROM ANYWHERE AT ANYTIME.

I'll share what I've settled on, based on the app's ability to be accessed from whichever device that I happen to be using: 

Browser - Google Chrome - Every Bookmark and saved AutoFill entry is saved so that you can access quickly all of your mission-critical sites regardless of the computer on which you are using Chrome.

Passwords - LastPass -A Chrome plug-in that remembers and completes your passwords and automatically logs you into your mission-critical sites from all of your devices.

Calendar - Google Calendar - It's on my desktop and laptop, it syncs seamlessly with my Android phone, and there is a terrific, 3rd-party app called Calendars for use on iPhone and iPad.

Tasks and To Do's - Wunderlist - Like Google Calendar, it's a Cloud application, so it appears as a Tab on my Browser, but it also has terrific apps for Android, iPhone and iPad.  I like its ability to simply have lists with tasks in each list.  You also can share your lists.

Email - I still use Outlook for email due to several factors:  1. it's flexibility with folders; 2. the simple ability to use and manage my three email accounts for OMG, Kurlan & Associates, and Baseline Selling without signing in or out, and 3. the Rules Wizard for managing incoming mail and customizing automated replies and actions.  You can configure any device to send and receive email but they only sync with Outlook if you're using Exchange.  If it weren't for my multiple addresses and tremendous reliance on the Rules Wizard, I would use Gmail.

CRM - Landslide is still my favorite, but I'm reviewing some simple, new applications from other companies.  SalesForce.com - I'm sure that you know it, but it's complex, expensive and not very user-friendly.

Contacts - I still maintain my contacts in Outlook and on my Android device, so by default, in Google contacts too.  I use SyncCell to sync those contacts between devices.

Notes - Evernote - There's an app for every device and they sync seamlessly, so what you note on one device shows up on all others.  You can also share your notes.

I have two monitors and they typically look like:

Monitor2

My email is open on the first monitor (not shown); the second monitor has several tabs at the top; one has Google Calendar running, one has Wunderlist running, one has Landslide (shown with dashboard), and one has Hubspot, my blogging and lead generation application running.

As for devices, I use:

Working at Home - Macbook Pro - It's awesome.

Working on the Road - iPad - It's so simple!

Monitoring Work from the Road - Smartphone - Take your pick!


Here is a list of other applications which I think are terrific:

Reachable.com for determining how to connect with people.

LinkedIn for building a network of connections which Reachable.com can analyze.  I don't accept invites from strangers or people whose reason to connect is not compelling to me, so I favor quality over quantity.  You may have a different view of that...

Wistia.com for sharing video.

VisibleGains.com for sharing files and tracking opens.

Are there any other great applications which you use?  Let us know about them!

Topics: sales culture, Dave Kurlan, crm, sales applications

What It Really Means When CRM Isn't a Sales Force Priority

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 @ 14:02 PM

It's rare when a company isn't using something for CRM, even if it's an old version of ACT.  In most companies, it's not whether they are using CRM, it's which CRM they have chosen to use and whether the CRM has actually been adopted.  The CRM application of choice is completely useless to management unless the entire sales force is using it as intended.

The management dashboard, metrics, charts, graphs, tables, pipeline, forecasts, reports and anything else you can coax from today's feature-rich CRM applications will not contain up-to-date and accurate information unless every salesperson is committed and held accountable to updating it - DAILY.  Some CRM applications make this easier than others.  Landslide is a good example of easy because they provide VIP support to salespeople who aren't at a computer or mobile device, or to those who are computer-challenged.

But today's article isn't about adoption.  It's about the companies that fear CRM or any other important sales tool that requires selection, installation, training and adoption.  When companies fear providing tools, they are unknowingly saying that they are OK with their sales force being at a disadvantage.  Their competitors are using it.  It's a very similar scenario to companies that don't provide sales training or won't use sales assessments for selection.  They are sending a message to their sales leaders and salespeople, but it isn't the right message.  They are afraid of rebellion.  They are worried that, "If we demand that our salespeople use these tools, they will become upset, stop performing and leave our company."  Now, would that be such a bad thing?  Do you really WANT salespeople that would become upset and leave if you introduced and required them to use tools to help them sell more effectively and efficiently?  Salespeople rebel when their time is being wasted, not when they are being supported appropriately!

Selling has changed; it has become much more difficult.  Prospects are more resistant; there is more competition.  Margins are shrinking; sales cycles are taking longer.  As a result, salespeople are working harder, longer hours, dealing with more rejection and disappointment, and have less to show for their efforts.  Tools are their salvation!  Tools help them navigate the more complicated environment in which they find themselves.  Today's tools are integrated.  They are must-haves.

My rant is done.  Would you like to contribute?  Please add your thoughts below.

Also, the February issue of Top Sales World News (I'm on the cover, but not sure why) is available for download.  Inside there's a link to a short interview with me on the topic of, "Are Salespeople Still Cold-Calling?  The Ugly Truth".

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales performance, crm, jonathan farrington, sales assessments, sales tools

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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