Business Development Rants and Resources

Lead Management – “Working a Lead”

As someone that has spent a lot of time on the prospect side of the table, I am often amazed at the “great” follow-up on the part of salespeople to whom and I have spoken and to whom I expressed some interest. While there are some products and services that are quick hits, “impulse items” if you will, like gum or cheesy celebrity magazines at the checkout aisle, often the purchase is part of some larger process going on at the company and constant calling simply can’t affect that.

Our own sales efforts with the AMG Alerts notification system and to a lesser extent, the SalesInSync sales lead management system are typical. The larger the company – and the carrot – the less likely that constant hounding would have any effect. People are positive and give us all the GO signals and then disappear for however long it takes for them to move forward. That can be months, and harassing them in the meantime, while probably not a deal-killer, is at least going to leave a bit of a sour taste in their mouths. What we experience as customers is intense contact followed by a disappearing act. That’s not the way to do it.

Sales resources (and really just about all business resources) are in short supply for most companies. You have to be smart, have a sales process that involves staying visible without invading personal space, and have at least a simple, collaborative CRM System that assists in this. Too many people have a hot list on paper and work those, and as they get new leads to “work”, the old ones disappear to the bottom of the pile and then off the desk completely. I recommend our other blog post about the Marketing Shell Game, which is another commentary on sales process management.

September 22, 2012 Posted by | Lead Management and CRM | , , , | 1 Comment

Lead Management System Deployment to Channel Partners?

Many manufacturers use independent distributors as a primary sales channel. Even if the manufacturer has a great market presence and may appear to have their choice of distributor, a good distributor is still to be coveted in the same way a seller has to covet a customer.

This means that support of the distribution network is key, with elements that include training, good communication, and sales tools.

Good local distributors usually develop their own sales leads and have their own sales operations – and this in fact is a primary selection criterion for a manufacturer. The distrinutor needs to add value in some way, and this is a primary way to do so.

However, some manufacturers like to augment their distributors’ lead generation efforts by supplying leads of their own. Often, these leads are derived through expensive sources. These well-intended efforts, at least as a program, tend to be short-lived for the same reason why many other lead generation efforts are “events” rather than processes – the person paying the bill can’t measure the result due to lack of visibility.

A manufacturer will say “I spend $5,000 per month on my construction leads and I send them out and never know if anything came of it. I stopped doing that. I don’t even know if these things are followed up.” When we mention the possibility of putting in SalesInSync for this purpose, we hear “I can’t force them to use any particular system.”

But that response isn’t completely true. The problem is that the lead program had been rolled out to the distributors without all the tools in place. The program should have been rolled out so that basic disposition reporting was a requirement. Provide at least one SalesInSync user license free of charge, for distribution of the lead. Maybe the program will spread within the distributorship. Maybe it won’t. But the distributor will have to log into the system to retrieve the information and will have to provide some information on the resulting activity in order to keep receiving them. It’s not much to ask in exchange for valuable incremental business, and those (many) sales operations without an effective lead management system may get on board completely, which will make their own lead handling more effective and provide a high ROI for the manufacturer.

July 10, 2012 Posted by | Lead Management and CRM | , | Leave a comment

Quantum Mechanics in Sales Forecasting

I am not sure that this doesnt simply qualify as a Rant. I mean, I feel like I am ranting, but that is a common feeling for me as I am pounding at my keyboard.

Often when working with a sales or marketing manager in setting up their SalesinSync Lead Management System system I will suggest setting up their Probability (of close) percentages in increments of 10, i.e. 0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, etc. Every once in while someone will say, “oh, come on, nobody can guess that close. Gimme 0%, 10%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%.” Sometimes the choices are even more limited, like 0, 35, 50, 80.

Okay now I KNOW that this is a rant because it doesn’t happen often. But when it does it is irritating. The point of ALLOWING SALESPEOPLE TO GIVE THEIR BEST GUESSES is that, collectively, the data will be more accurate and precise. This is a simple statistical exercise. This will always be the case unless some extremely weird mechanism is in place due to bad management elsewhere. The sum of all these supposedly problematic uncertainties makes for a the BEST guess, most of the time!

So why not have a dropdown that allows 1 percentagepoint increments? Simply because then it becomes a bit of a farce and salespeople will not like using the interface. Our suggestion is to provide to the sales force the highest level of granularity that is reasonable. Maybe it is in 5 point increments. Who knows? There is simply no reason to force someone to select a number that does not reflect what they feel. Frankly, it can be frustrating and cause the user to question the process, as well as the value of the information. Once that starts happening, the game is lost because salespeople want to be making money and not punching numbers into a system they don’t believe in

May 6, 2012 Posted by | Lead Management and CRM | , , , | Leave a comment

Handling the Price Objection

Saying the price is too high, or we cant afford, it is the easiest way to get rid of a novice sales person. If there is value in your product or service, it is priced to reflect the value, and the sales person knows how to communicate the value, theres no reason you have to drop your price – ever.

I bought an email marketing list a year ago. I wanted the list and the price was right. I was just really busy at the time and didn’t have time to make the purchase. A week went by since I received the quote. The salesperson called and dropped the price by 40%. 40%!! I was willing to pay the first price, I thought it was fair. When the price is discounted that much it feels to the consumer like there was a lot of fluff in the pricing and that theyre getting ripped off. Not good for building trust and customer retention.

I recently tried to contact that list company to buy another list. The company is gone. Perhaps they sold services at below cost. This is never a good idea no matter what marketing gurus or analysts will tell you. If you use your common sense, its clear. Never sell at below cost, ever.The salesperson has to understand the value before they can sell it. Do they understand the competitors? Do they understand their strengths and weaknesses? Don’t kid yourself, your competitors have weaknesses. Do they understand your own company’s strengths and weaknesses? A key point – do they really –LISTEN– to the prospect?

If my list salesperson listened to me he wouldve presented ways to make the sale easier for me, managing my time constraints. Instead, as so many sales people do, he gave the product away.I love to help organizations teach their people how to overcome the Price Ojbection. If you listen to the prospect, its the easiest one to overcome.

May 6, 2012 Posted by | Business Building | , | Leave a comment