Category Archives for "Sales Process"

Optimizing CRM – Part 3 of the “23 Tips Series”

Optimizing CRM – Part 3 of the “23 Tips Series” 1

This is the third part of a series designed to help set up and manage a CRM to produce better results. Far too many organizations don’t reach the full potential when it comes to their CRMs.

In this instalment, we’ll focus on optimizing CRM. The next 5 tips will help your system run smoother and encourage you to take advantage of some powerful features. if you want to review the first two parts of the series before continuing, they are Part 1: Strategic Factors; and Part 2: Making CRM Easier to Use. By using these proven tips, you will get a faster ROI on your investment, and significantly increase sales and marketing productivity. Here’s a quick re-cap of the ideas presented in Parts 1 and 2 of the series:

1. Gain Executive Buy-In
2. Create a Plan
3. Build it for Users
4. Training & Support
5. Mandate Adoption

6. Communicate Results
7. Minimize Fields
8. Customize Layouts
9. Minimize Required Fields
10. Simplify Leads

11. Automate Formats
12. Simplify Field Names
13. Use Help Buttons
14. Make it Mobile

Optimizing CRM for Best Results

#15 Segment with Precision: This is one of the most important “must-do” first steps in optimizing CRM. Whether you’re running marketing campaigns, communicating with clients, or using sales reporting, you must divide and tag your clients, prospects, and partners into well-defined segments. A major benefit of CRM is its ability to slice and dice a large database to communicate with, or track, a specific target audience. This should be done as soon as CRM has been set up and before you start importing account lists. As an example, usually there is an “Account Type” record in the CRM. Use this field to divide your accounts into groups such as Customers, Prospects, Partners, Vendors, and Competitors. You will likely want to further divide certain groups into sub-segments for easier isolation. Customers should have a field defining whether or not the client is Active, Inactive, Former, etc. The bottom line is that the more you segment and sub-segment your account records, the easier it is to manipulate the data you want. This provides better list management, targeting, and visibility. It obviously takes some time and effort up-front. But, if you do this properly, your CRM will serve you well.

#16 Leverage Reports: Customizing the reports you’ll use should be an immediate priority. Ideally, CRM reports should be the only “voice of truth” when it comes to managing your sales and marketing activities – so lose the spreadsheets once and for all! I would suggest you train a couple people to become “report experts” – they’ll be able to fine-tune the key reports you’ll need to make CRM a success. There are usually many pre-made reports included in your CRM. However, you will need to tailor them, or create new ones to suit your specific needs. It’s important to think carefully about reports. Make sure they are user-friendly and only contain the information needed for the intended purpose. Pipelines reports, forecasts, marketing analytics and other outputs are fundamental tools for driving your business forward through CRM.

#17 Keep Data Clean: A common issue with many CRMs is the build up of “dirty data.” Duplicate records and poorly designed account relationships being the major culprits. If your CRM doesn’t tell you an account is similar to the one you are about to save, you need to train people to check for variations before they create, or import new accounts. Whether it’s duplicate accounts or other data integrity issues, you need to keep your CRM clean. A good practice is to have a scheduled process to “sweep” your data for duplicates, and inaccuracies. Most CRMs have features that will help with this.

#18 Standardize Data: It may seem trivial to some, but I have found that creating standard data formats will help avoid confusion and messy reporting. Paying attention to the detail from the beginning will save you time later. It’s best to create standards for date formats, state/province, and country abbreviations address formats, company name suffixes, and so on. Using CRM-supplied options can help with some of this and it’s usually easy to customize fields to follow a specific format. Some, however, may need to be taught and manually applied, or mass corrected as part of your data management process discussed above. Ideally, you should standardize at the corporate level so all your systems look (and possibly exchange) this type of data in the same formats.

#19 Automate Tasks: Today’s more robust CRMs let you automate repetitive tasks. It’s beyond our scope here to dig too deep, but one of your team members should take the time to understand and implement this functionality. You can gain huge savings in time and increased productivity. For example, you can “program” your CRM to close, create or modify records when certain conditions are met. Another great function is the ability to trigger email notifications to any CRM user when a variety of different conditions are met. For example:

  • when a lead converts to a qualified opportunity
  • when the sales cycle reaches a certain stage
  • when a deal closes and action is required
  • when a prospect fills out a web form or subscribes to your newsletter
  • When certain numeric thresholds are reached or exceeded
  • When activity due dates are close, or past due

These a just a few illustrations of the many time-saving and communication benefits available with CRM automation. I hope you have found some of these ideas helpful. Optimizing CRM takes some work to get the most out of it. But, the experience I’ve had, along with many others, is that if you do it right – the impact on your revenue far exceeds the effort!

If you are so inclined, please share any thoughts or experiences you may have on this topic. Contact us if we can help in any way with your CRM project, or at least point you in the right direction. Subscribe? If you enjoyed this post and would like to receive notification of future Think2Grow blogs and newsletters, simply fill in the subscribe section on the sidebar above. To follow us on your favorite social feed, select it below.

Sales Lessons – 7 Great Ones I Learned From My Dog!

Maggie Sales Lessons
Maggie Sales Lessons

Whether you do it professionally or not – we all sell, all the time! Negotiating with your kids about bedtime, interviewing for a new job, and talking your way out of a speeding ticket are all great examples.

Whether you do it professionally or not – we all sell, all the time! Negotiating with your kids about bedtime, interviewing for a new job, and talking your way out of a speeding ticket are all great examples. It occurred to me one day that some of the best sales lessons I have seen in action come courtesy of a 6-year-old, 24 pound Cockapoo, we call “Maggie.” In her constant quest for attention, a walk, a scratch behind the ears, or anything that tastes better than Kibble, Maggie repeatedly proves that we can take away some valuable sales lessons from our four-legged companions. There are are a few more, but here are my favorites:

#1 Always Adding Value: Not to take anything away from cat owners or those with other pets, but after all, a dog is known as “man’s best friend” for good reason. First off, Maggie acts as a 24x7 security system and alerts us when anyone is near our property. Granted, her stature and demeanor won’t scare off trained Navy Seals – but her “big-girl bark” is at least a deterrent. Like most dogs, though, her greatest gift is the joy we receive from her unconditional affection. Maggie adds real value to our lives each and every day, whether she closes a deal or not.

#2 Identifying Opportunities: Always on the hunt and ever-alert, Maggie reflexively looks for opportunities, especially when “human food” is at stake. The beeping microwave, commotion in the kitchen, or a crinkling potato chip bag from anywhere in the house are all beacons of hope. With her keen sense of smell and exceptional hearing, Maggie always seems to be there when opportunity strikes. Once her commission has been paid however, there are no “high-fives”, or time spent basking in the glory – it’s right back to business!

#3 Influencing Decision Makers: From years of training, along with her keen intuition, Maggie knows her target audience extremely well. She has clearly identified the decision makers in our home and how to best approach each of them. Our dog has taken the time to know and understand her prospects and then executes accordingly. She knows precisely when and how to push for the order with each individual. This is an important and fundamental strategy that often separates the best sales people from the rest of the pack – pun intended.

#4 Patience and Persistence: If you have a dog or have in the past, you will relate to the phrase “like a dog on a bone.” Maggie will sit and stare for what seems like hours when she is mooching for a treat. Her focus is unwavering and she will come back again and again. As smart as she seems though, Maggie conveniently forgets the meaning of the word “no” and usually wears you down. At times this can be a bit annoying, but when you finally give in, it’s always with a smile and somehow she makes you feel good about it.

#5 Continual Learning: Old dog, young dog, it doesn’t matter. Canines can be remarkably fast learners. I’m not sure where Maggie sits on the intelligence scale, but she picks things up quickly. We started buying dog toys from the same store recently and after seeing her new “squeaky weasel” or coloured “chew ball” emerge from the shops’ branded bag only a couple of times, Maggie got the message. When that bag comes in the house now, she goes into overdrive because she has learned that fun and exciting things usually come out. When toys don’t materialize, Maggie goes back to point 4 above and persists until she realizes, this may simply not be her day. With a look that says “how could you do this to me?” she finally saunters off undefeated because that bag will return!

#6 Positive Attitude: Although you wouldn’t know it from the sad, brown eyes leading up to a transaction, Maggie seems to know exactly how “sealing the deal” will pan out. I can’t prove this of course, but she appears highly confident she will get what she wants and I sense that particular movie is playing over and over in her head. The look of expectation on her face loosely translates into “I’ve added value in this relationship through many unique and highly rewarding exchanges – now it’s your turn to give me some of that steak you’re eating.”

#7 Enthusiasm: Regardless of what mood she’s in, Maggie runs excitedly to the door every time she hears the key in the lock. She makes you look forward to this moment of the day and for a brief time you feel revitalized from her predictably warm reception. Whether begging for food, playing with a ball, or engaging in a session of “rub my belly,” dogs are wonderfully enthusiastic. The exceptions of course are daily nap times, baths, vets, and toe clippings. The point is, dogs exude a strong positive energy that’s hard for even the most hardened soul to resist. The lesson – enthusiasm sells! I realize a dog is far less complicated than we mighty humans and that a significant portion of their behavior is instinctual. That said, it’s quite impressive when you think about our beloved pets in the context of selling. Dogs naturally possess some of the most critical sales skills needed to succeed, and they have a gracious, calm way of managing the sales process. They don’t spend time bragging about their company and products because of course they can’t. Instead, dogs work at building long-lasting and meaningful relationships that offer high value to all parties involved. Isn’t that what selling and buying should really be all about? As a side note, if you watch the way young children get what they want, you will see some incredible selling taking place there as well. I hope you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I did writing it. If you have a pet you think is an exceptional “seller”, or other similar comparisons, please share.

I realize a dog is far less complicated than we mighty humans and that a significant portion of their behavior is instinctual. That said, it’s quite impressive when you think about our beloved pets in the context of selling. Dogs naturally possess some of the most critical sales skills needed to succeed, and they have a gracious, calm way of managing the sales process. They don’t spend time bragging about their company and products because of course they can’t. Instead, dogs work at building long-lasting and meaningful relationships that offer high value to all parties involved. Isn’t that what selling and buying should really be all about? As a side note, if you watch the way young children get what they want, you will see some incredible selling taking place there as well. I hope you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I did writing it. If you have a pet you think is an exceptional “seller”, or other similar comparisons, please share.