What’s the most precious commodity in relationships with customers? With decades of experience working closely with clients, my answer is that it is either time or trust.
Obtaining a customer’s time is where a tremendous portion of salespeople’s effort goes which generally is in the interest of earning the customer’s trust.
You can have time without trust but, you can’t have trust without time.
So, my conclusion is that a customer’s time is the most valuable asset you can earn, as it is the beginning of everything else that can be built or earned with a customer.
One way that this distinction is important is in thinking about the salesperson’s objective when they’re engaged in a conversation with the customer. An obvious answer would be “to get the sale!”. Before you can begin planning the financial gain, your sales team must understand how they can leverage the hyper-valuable time with the customer to it’s maximum potential.
Keeping in mind that considering every second spent communicating with a customer as priceless, it changes your perspective on a lot of what salespeople do (and don’t do).
Depending on your business and how you want to define things, salespeople spend an average of 40% to 80% of their time on prospecting – essentially trying to get in front of the customer to learn about their needs and propose solutions.
Let’s break it down financially. If you’re paying a salesperson $100,000 per year and they have customer presentations 5 times a month, each presentation costs you between $667 and $1,333 each. However, if that salesperson’s quota is $1,000,000, then each presentation is worth $6,667 and $13,333 each.
In the traditional sense, salespeople have a higher success rate at turning that precious meeting into an order.
Most of the top producing salespeople I’ve ever known were always very well prepared. Lots of research and preparation was done prior to the meeting.
Being prepared before a customer conversation allows you to prevent the conversation from stopping in it’s tracks. Being prepared allows a salesperson to answer with specific information that moves the conversation forward toward a decision. Instead of “Great question Mr. Customer! I’ll look into that and get back to you.”, the answer could be “Great question, last year you spent $35,843 on repair services and this year you’re on target to spend $45,000”. The distinction is massive!
So, what’s your salesperson’s role? Is it to find prospects and see what questions they have and then try to find answers? Or is it to find prospects and help them make decisions to buy?
Many companies design their CRM system to be a place to capture and organize information about customers. They’re happy to know that they can look up a customer and see notes from all the previous meetings when they need it. That still leaves the salesperson in the role of fielding a question from a customer and saying “Good question! Let me research that for you.”
There is a fundamental shift in the role of a salesperson that is needed.
From Ignorant to Informed
Having every bit of information you’d ever want at your fingertips doesn’t benefit you if you don’t use it. A well organized CRM can save your top producer time in doing the research she’s always done before the call. However, will the other salespeople who typically just wing it start doing research because it’s easy now? Not likely.
The key is building processes on top of your CRM that make being informed and fully prepared to facilitate the customer’s decision as automatic as putting business cards in your briefcase.
To do that, you must ask yourself what the questions are that customers always ask before they buy. What information is needed to answer each of those questions? Can your CRM process organize your customer information so that these things happen?
- The salesperson knows at a glance what crucial information is not yet known about the customer.
- Information is organized and presented to the salesperson in the context of the decisions the customer will make.
If you’re investing money and time in CRM solution, you’re only leveraging a small portion of that investment if you only collect and organize the data. It’s not about access to the data, it’s about re-engineering your processes to use the data to best effect. In order to take full advantage of the information is to ensure your team is trained to work differently.
In a multi-step sales process, you may need to look at each step and define:
- What decisions should be made?
- What information might be needed to make that decision?
Give the salesperson a pre-call summary with that information at a glance.
The real value of a CRM at the center of well designed business processes and workflows is the opportunity that materializes when information to make decisions is at hand.