Whether it’s a global corporation or a home-based start-up, the single most valuable asset of any business is its relationship with its customers. However, countless companies often fail to nurture and enhance those relationships. Many businesses tell me they don’t even have an efficient means of collecting and sharing basic information – names, titles, phone numbers, last contact date, etc. – about their customers and prospects.
Customer Relationship Management software, which has been readily available for over 20 years now, is one tool that can help a business enhance customer relationships, yet most companies fail to utilize this tool effectively – or at all. Why? Because sales representatives are notoriously reluctant to use company controlled databases.
If you’ve decided that it’s time for your business to take control of its client relationships, then getting your sales reps on board is a challenge you’ll have to address. Judging from the experiences of hundreds of small and large businesses that have traveled this road, the odds are stacked against you. The fact is that you’re more likely to fail than succeed in this endeavor unless you address the “what’s in it for me?” question from the sales rep’s perspective.
Here are four simple ways to encourage your sales team to get into the habit of using contact management software without wasting their time, running them off or spending hours and hours on training.
Let your Sales Team Tell You What THEY Want
This seems glaringly simple, but many companies fail miserably at this. Let’s face it, you want to grow your business and are probably looking for contact management software to enable increased direct marketing, improve customer service through information sharing and improve your sales management capability through reporting. The simple truth is that your sales team may not intrinsically see these goals as beneficial to themselves. So, give them a say. You don’t have to promise to give them everything they ask for, but involving them in the process will probably yield some valuable ideas you don’t already have on your list. A few things to ask:
•What are the most repetitive, mundane tasks you perform each day? Can we automate them? Can we take a few steps out of the process?
•Where is lack of information hindering your relationship with your clients?
•Why types of information do you need most often? When do you need it?
•Where and when is this information normally gathered? By whom? Asking these few simple questions will show your sales reps that you value them as members of your team and that you care about making their jobs easier.
Let Your Sales Superstars Lead the Way
>Every team has one or two superstars – you know, those salesmen that everyone else would love to emulate. Ask your top producers to detail out the steps they typically follow in their most common sales situations, then invest a little time in customizing those steps within your contact management system to create a road map of sorts for your sales team to follow. Documenting the “best practices” that have led to success for others will create a huge draw for the rest of the team. This also becomes the foundation of effectively managing the activity of your sales team, identifying weaknesses that need attention and forecasting revenues.
Clearly Communicate How Using CRM Software Will Help Sales Reps Sell More
If you can’t make this point, then they won’t use it – it’s that simple. The details will differ for every business but, the broad advantages are:
•They’ll save time on “paperwork” by automating the creation and sending of proposals, sales letters, brochures, etc., to customers.
•They can keep in touch with customers more proactively. Basic reminders to call key clients every three months, email blasts of updated price lists, etc.
•They’ll provide better, faster customer service. Your support team can effectively serve clients without stopping to ask the rep what to do about every mundane situation.
Show Them How to Generate New and Repeat Business through Direct Marketing
Sales reps may see themselves as the center of the universe and undervalue other areas of your operation, but they all understand the value of an incoming lead! Show your reps how simple it is to maintain an up-to-date list of prospects that can be used to generate a direct marketing campaign and net new leads or repeat business from existing clients. Your contact management system should offer easy and affordable direct marketing solutions via email or print, such as:
•Sending new product information
•Inviting customers to visit your website for new information
•Surveying customers about their thoughts
•Inviting customers to visit your next trade show
•Following up with customers after their first contact with your company – a simple thank you note, etc.
•Sending news and educational information your customers are interested in
•Creating on-going “touch marketing” campaigns that incorporate all these aspects into one automated campaign
Make the commitment to your sales team that your business will implement effective direct marketing strategies using your contact management software as the basis. Again, let them provide some ideas. No sales rep has ever turned a blind eye to the prospect of a hot new lead!
If you invest just a few hours showing your sales reps how they “win” by using your customer relationship management software, you’ll go a long way toward ensuring that your investment in software will be just that – an investment in the growth of your business.