Getting Pushback on Your CRM Adoption?

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 @ 13:01 PM

crm, sales coaching, sales pipeline, sales management best practices, sales lessons, sales funnel, recruiting sales people, sales training, sales competencies

This is the 11th article in a January series on the Architecture of the Sales Force.  Here are the others:

In a recent conversation with a CEO, we discussed his use of CRM.  While his intention was to increase focus and visibility into new business development, the primary usage had become tracking client and delivery activities on large, existing projects.  Little attention was paid to tracking the flow and evolution of new opportunities.

In his case, significant non-sales events had diverted his attention.  Because his business was driven by large long-term projects, profitability and cash flow had stayed positive.

Last week, during a Sales Recruiting program, we discussed reasons why the recruiting and startup process failed to work.  I asked the management team whether their CRM system tracks the internal milestones needed to do business with someone, or a sales process that leads to a prospect wanting to buy from them.  After some silence, they acknowledged that it was the former.

These scenarios illustrate ways in which CRM is misused and underused.  While sales technology tools have grown significantly in the last several years and companies are investing in them, it is important to look at adoption, usage, and most importantly, outcomes.

What are some of the desired outcomes of using a CRM platform?

  • Better data on the status of opportunities,
  • Greater accuracy of forecasting,
  • Retaining institutional knowledge on clients and prospects,
  • More accurate metrics and KPI’s,
  • Insight into the sales process,
  • Sales Coaching,
  • Increased productivity, and
  • Earlier adjustments to strategy.

Most salespeople won’t optimize their efforts without proactive debriefing and strategy development.  In virtually all cases, this requires the sales leader.  Well-planned, adopted and utilized CRM is necessary for this.

I reached out to our partners at Membrain, a world-class CRM tool, for their thoughts. Recently, they were named Best Sales CRM in the 2013 Top Sales Awards.

Leadership adoption is critical.  This doesn’t mean just talking about the virtues and critical reasons for using CRM.  In the movie “We Were Soldiers”, Mel Gibson tells his troops that the paratroopers have a rule: the officer is always the first one out of the plane.  If sales leadership uses the tool daily, the team will be more inclined and encouraged to do so.  If the CEO uses it and makes this known, people will pay attention.  However, if leadership fails to do this, the initiative will very likely fail.

Many salespeople don’t make the connection between using CRM and it’s value.  They see it as an unnecessary burden.  Much of this derives from their often unstructured and non-detailed styles.  Leadership has to work tirelessly to close this gap and show the salespeople that it’s not just a reporting tool.  All efforts should go toward ensuring that it helps the sales team execute the sales strategy, follow their process, get better coaching and win more profitable and satisfied clients.

It must be incredibly easy to use.  When used properly, it will impact their workday tremendously.  It cannot be an obstacle for the sales people.

It can't be seen as stand-alone software, it needs to tie into and support the overall sales strategy, reinforce the training programs and encourage best-practice behavior.

Visibility and awareness are crucial.  Salespeople need to know the rules and have a clear, accurate picture of where they stand.  Combining this with healthy competition helps.  Spend time discussing with your team (group and individually) what the conversion ratios are, what the optimum sales cycle is, who is getting traction quickly and who’s moving opportunities through the process more consistently.  Send out daily updates, based on your observations of the data.

For those of you who may be interested in learning more about being an effective sales leader, our expert team at Kurlan & Associates is presenting an upcoming, complimentary webinar on February 5:  "Leading Your Ideal Sales Force - Part 1" at 11:00AM Eastern Time.  Please do consider registering.

 

Topics: Sales Coaching, sales training, sales competencies, sales management best practices, sales lessons, crm, sales pipeline, sales funnel, recruiting sales people

College Professors and Sales Leaders Have it Backward

Posted by Chris Mott on Fri, May 03, 2013 @ 14:05 PM

Bored PeopleI was listening to a public radio program recently on how online learning will continue to alter radically the traditional notion of college learning.  They were talking about the Khan Academy which is a pioneer in the “almost free” space.  Ironically, a quick search of their website yields nothing under “sales”.

One of the guests asked a fabulous question about college.  Why do we listen to lectures in class and do homework at home?  Shouldn’t we do homework in class and listen to lectures at home?  Putting aside the student for a moment, the most important person in the room is the teacher or professor.  They are the subject matter expert and skilled at explaining the content, but more importantly, making it come alive and helping people who struggle to learn the material.

I suspect that like sales head trash, “you can’t ask a direct question without offending a prospect”.  College head trash such as “I’m not smart enough to understand these concepts” is a significant obstacle to successful learning.  The teacher or professor should be, and likely is many times, the best-equipped person to help someone through these challenges.  We can argue over how well-prepared the average professor is and what changes are needed to make this work, but the idea of leverging a professor's core skills is valid.

In a typical sales meeting (weekly, monthly or annual), much time is spent on delivering information.  This includes product knowledge and application, marketing efforts and strategy, and positioning.  How much time is spent on “homework”?  I define homework here as practice, role-play, live demo’s and presentations, objection management, mock cold-calling, etc.  Most of us would probable agree that the answer is not enough.  Companies do bring in motivational speakers to talk about limiting beliefs, commitment, tenacity, being open-minded and singularly purposed.  These are all good, but when the master (teacher, sales leader or trainer) is in the house, we should take advantage of this opportunity to leverage their expertise.  Adults learn by watching others.  In sales, without a live demonstration of how to make cold calls, handle a thorny objection or find the issue behind the symptom, it’s academic.  The more that we role-play, the greater the value to our team.

What percentage of your sales meetings is spent on practice and role-play?  How much telling versus asking do you do?  How effective are your sales managers at debriefing a sales call?  Is it safe in your organization for someone to screw up and learn from their mistakes?

Take a few minutes to take our Sales Force Grader.  It will help you better understand where your opportunities for improvement are.

 

To learn more about selling effectively, please consider 2 of Kurlan & Associates' upcoming events for C-Levels, VP's and Managers:    

  1. Annual Boston Area Executive Luncheon on May 21st.  Contact me and I'll work on getting you a discount code for free registration.
     
  2. Annual Sales Leadership Intensive also in Boston, MA on May 14-15.  Contact me if you have questions about getting registered.  

Topics: Sales Coaching, sales training, sales management best practices, sales force development, alignment, better salespeople, booking appointments, business development, sales lessons, cold calling

Traffic Jams, Ice Flows and Sales Process

Posted by Chris Mott on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 @ 11:04 AM

traffic jam, sales processOn a recent trip for the Inbound Marketing Summit, getting out of New York City was a painful process.  We left by 3pm expecting to beat the traffic, but had an entirely different experience on the return trip to Boston.

You may be wondering how traffic and ice relate to sales process.  Before I discuss this, I want to comment on the Summit.  If you haven’t been paying attention to “Inbound Marketing”, I suggest that you do.  Consider what I heard: 80% of the world’s data has been created in the last 2 years.  Assuming this number is off by 30%, it’s still a head-popping statistic.  Recent research shows that prospects have made up to 60% of their buying decisions prior to speaking with a salesperson.

Consider the implications of these data points and the profound impact which they have on the sales profession.   I ask sales and sales leadership professionals this question:  When they first begin talking to a prospect, “How often do their prospects have incomplete and or inaccurate opinions about the best way to solve their problems?”  The answer is always, “Very frequently.” 

If 60% of the buying decision has been made prior to the salesperson entering the conversation and the prospect's planned solution is lacking, salespeople must first help prospects to understand what they missed in their research.  Said differently, they need to unsell them prior to helping them determine what the best solution is.

How many of your salespeople, even the most productive ones, can do this consistently and effectively?

Now back to ice, traffic and sales process.  What frustrated us the most was how one minute we were whizzing along at 70mph only to be stuck in bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic the next minute.  This continued for close to 100 miles.

Several years ago, there was a study which reported that ice freezing in streams is a good model for predicting traffic congestion.  Ice forms first in the slow moving, shallower pools along the banks.  A small disruption in the flow of water there changes the main current and causes it to cycle through, slowing down and accelerating.

Back to the sales process.  Many of the delays experienced when attempting to close a sale can be attributed to 2 things: 

  • The prospect lacked a compelling reason to buy and
  • Something changed.

The most impactful elements which we can control are:

  • A properly defined sales process,
  • Consistent execution of the process,
  • Great sales coaching in the context of the process and
  • Improved recruiting and onboarding of new salespeople.

The best way to determine how effective your salespeople really are, is to accompany them on random, unplanned sales calls and only observe.  Experience shows the following will happen.

  • If there was a call strategy, it will be only partially executed.
  • Major milestones will be skip or missed.
  • Your sales process will not be executed consistently.
  • Your salespeople will begin presenting much too early.
  • Follow-up questions will go unasked or will be ineffective.
  • The prospect will control the process.

The biggest problem will be how the salespeople interpret the results when the call ends.  In virtually all cases, their perspective of how the call went will be overly optimistic.

Selling has changed and sales organizations must adapt.  Science and process need to become the new norm.  Sales leaders must be excellent coaches and embrace sales infrastructure with an operational mindset and your sales organizations must move toward a more process-oriented approach.

We have a few upcoming events targeted toward CEO's, VP's and Managers.  At a minimum, they will be great events to learn about the services which we offer.  The first one is our Annual Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston, MA on May 14-15.  Contact me if you have questions about getting registered.

The second is our Annual Boston Area Executive Luncheon on May 21st.  If you are going to be in the Boston area, please plan on joining us.  Contact me and I'll work on getting you a discount code for free registration.

 

Topics: effective sales coaching, sales training, sales management best practices, sales process, sales force development

Boxing Cornermen - The Chemistry of Great Sales Leadership

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Dec 06, 2012 @ 09:12 AM

Boxing Cornermen Chemistry of Great Sales People

HBO’s 24/7 chronicles the pre-fight training camp for significant upcoming bouts.  This Saturday, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez square off in Las Vegas.  It’s the fourth time that they’ve met.  Pacquiao leads the series 2-1, but Marquez defeated Pacquiao in their last bout.  Expectations and excitement levels are high as the boxing experts see these two being incredibly closely-matched.  We definitely can expect a great fight on Saturday.

Behind the fighters are two of the greatest cornermen in the game, Freddie Roach and the legendary Nacho Beristan.  Nacho’s fighters have won an amazing 25 world championships.  Freddie Roach has trained some of the best fighters in the world and has a storybook following.

What struck me was the nature of the relationship between the fighters and their coaches.  To say they trust and respect each other is a huge understatement.  And, the personal rivalry between Nacho and Freddie is perhaps greater than that of the fighters.  In short, there is a tremendous amount at stake including pride, history and legacy.

Putting the chemistry between the cornermen and fighters aside for a moment, Freddie and Nacho can teach us a lot about being world-class coaches and mentors. 

  • They are creatures of routine and habit.
  • Their workdays start early and end very late.
  • Details are never missed.
  • They will do whatever it takes to win.
  • The emphasis is on fundamentals.
  • Conditioning is paramount to success (behavior).
  • Mental toughness trumps everything.
  • They are masters at diagnosing the situation.
  • Changes are made incrementally and build on each other.

Listening to Manny and Juan talk about their coaches was similar to hearing grandchildren laud praise, honor, respect and unconditional love on their most adored grandparent.  It was a thing of beauty and a wonderful illustration of people helping people for all the right reasons.  My sense is that it’s almost more important to the fighters that they win for their coach than for themselves.

How committed to your salespeople are you?  Would they walk through walls if you asked them?  Is your relationship based on deep respect and trust?  Which elements of a cornerman’s approach are you missing and what are you going to do next?  A sales force evaluation would be a great first step into the ring!  Why not contact me directly?

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Topics: Bonding and Rapport, sales culture, sales competencies, sales personality, better coaching of sales people, achieving trusted advisor status, compelling reasons to buy, sales management best practices

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