Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Choosing the Right Customer Relationship Management Features

Many executives heading up a sales organization get overwhelmed when they try to choose the right customer relationship management features. The system they choose should have a significant positive impact on their sales numbers, provided they choose a system that actually drives sales.

So how do you choose the right system? Customer relationship management features are exploding in the field, as competition between providers becomes more intense. Whether you actually need all these features is a question that sometimes gets lost in the bells and whistles. Taking time to carefully evaluate the features that will drive your sales up is a critical step in choosing the right customer relationship management tool.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing which customer relationship management features will best fit your sales team:

Be wary of trying to make your system do everything. While you want your customer relationship management solution to be efficient and integrated with other areas of your business, its main purpose is to drive sales. Many organizations get their marketing department involved in choosing the appropriate features, for instance, and then struggle when their reps are expected to feed information to marketing from a sales call, rather than focusing on closing a deal.

Again, this is a double-edged sword. You need your customer relationship management  solution to accommodate and integrate the various parts of your business. What you don’t want, however, is your sales reps ceasing to be sales reps just to enter the data that other departments are after.

Choose the system your sales reps will use. This sounds simple and obvious, but many sales managers get wowed by a flashy customer relationship management tool, and later find that data entry is so cumbersome that compliance becomes an issue. If your sales reps won’t use it, it’s worthless.

Identify your top few data entry items. Whether it is three or eight, don’t have your sales reps entering more than a few items of information after a sales meeting. You should focus on having your reps enter a couple of key points related to what the customer needs, the reason for urgency and next steps. Sales reps should be able to enter data in these few fields in less than 30 seconds.

Make sure it’s mobile. Possibly the most important customer relationship management feature for field reps is a system that is supported for mobile use. Sales reps are becoming accustomed to entering data as they enter the elevator or as they walk across a parking lot, capturing the details from a meeting while they are fresh in their minds. Saving data entry for an office day takes the sales rep out of the field and allows information to be forgotten or grown stale by the time it is entered.

Front Row Solutions can work with your sales team to develop the customer relationship management features that grow sales for your business. We offer mobile app customer relationship management tools that allow your sales reps to stay in the field and focus on sales. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sales Accountability Happens in These Three Steps

Holding sales reps accountable may be more necessary with some sales reps than with others. However, even the best sales teams have weak spots. Once you have identified which behaviors most often lead to sales, you will want to hold your sales reps accountable to activity in those behavior areas. Ensuring that your sales reps are being held accountable breaks down into three simple steps:

  1. Define the activities you want to measure. This may be the result of an analysis of your sales process to see where you can improve. Maybe your best sales reps are those that incorporate a specific activity during their first meeting, such as asking the customer to describe their own goals for the business. Determining which behavior to measure is the most critical step.

Once you have identified those behaviors, break it down into the specific actions your sales reps need to take in order to fulfill your expectations. Once you have listed out the actions you expect, start tracking them.

  1. Match each of your sales reps with an appropriate senior staff member to go over their progress on a regular basis. This may be a more seasoned sales rep. It could be that you set up teams of sales reps to hold one another accountable and report back to management on their progress.

  1. The sales rep should meet with the person to whom they are accountable once each week. These meetings should be centered on the behaviors that are being tracked. However, these meetings can be a rich resource for both parties as they share what is working and behaviors that seem to lead to a dead end.

One of the benefits of having a sales rep meet with a more senior sales rep or other senior staff is that sales reports and other data will be looked at often, not just at the end of the quarter when a sales rep misses a target.

As a sales manager, you may be wondering where you will find the time to incorporate an accountability plan. However, this sales accountability plan should be designed as a support to make sure you hit your sales goals. It should not feel like another major project, but instead as a way to protect your goals and be sure that your team is on target.

With the right customer relationship management (CRM) system, sales accountability should be a seamless process. The technology available now allows for your sales reps to enter information about a sales meeting immediately following a meeting while they are still in the field. Within 30 seconds, they can enter all of the critical information about their meeting and the sales manager can access the resulting sales report within 60 seconds of the data being entered.

If you need help setting up a CRM system to support sales accountability, Front Row Solutions has the tools you need. We can help you track specific behaviors that lead to sales and grow your revenue. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Social CRM Features Increase Sales and Improve Customer Relationships

It’s no secret that social media has changed the way that people interact, but how do you harness that momentum to increase your sales? For some, the overlap between social media and customer relationship management (CRM) seems obvious, but in case you are wondering what social CRM is and what it can do for your business, here are a few points to consider.

Social CRM: What is it?
Social CRM is a strategy and philosophy that utilizes your CRM features to add in a social aspect to your business management. These features are designed to engage with your customer or potential customer in order to detect areas of mutually beneficial value.

Using CRM features to engage socially with your customers is a technique to plan, measure and design your social media efforts to improve customer relationships.

Why Social CRM is Important for You
Implementing social media into your CRM features is an investment of both time and resources, so it is important to understand how it can impact your business. Here are a few reasons that social CRM can benefit your business:

  1. Improve customer relationships. You can find out what your customers need from you and when they need it. You can also learn about the challenges they face and foster conversation on the platform of their choosing. Social media can also help you detect brand advocates and develop initiatives with them to maximize your combined potential. With social CRM you can increase your brand recognition and reach by using your CRM features to target populations with highly relevant content.
  2. Provide your sales reps with high-quality data. You can not only find out what potential opportunities are out there, but also find out what they are talking about on social media. This enables your sales reps to get a fuller understanding of the various factors and dynamics that affect your customers’ businesses. Your sales reps can walk into a meeting with a broader understanding of their prospect’s challenges and successes.
  3. Social CRM can help your sales reps identify and address business challenges. Social CRM gives your sales reps a window into the challenges that may face your customers. It can be a way to identify customer dissatisfaction before your customer decides to shop around and give you a way to fix the problem.
The right CRM features can allow your sales reps to tie into social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter to see what the buzz is around your company and industry. These sites provide valuable insight into the opportunities and challenges that might be there.

To find out about social CRM and how your business can maximize the opportunities that social media has provided, contact Front Row Solutions. We provide mobile CRM tools that use the latest technology to grow your sales. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Proactive Account Management

A proactive approach may seem synonymous with being a sales rep, but for many sales reps, it may be difficult to identify the areas in which to be proactive. If the customer misinterprets your proactive attitude for pushiness, it may spell the end for your contact with them.

A customer relationship management (CRM) solution can assist you in some key areas of proactive account management. Once you have identified the areas in which you desire to be proactive, the CRM tool can aid you in staying in a mode that results in higher sales and happier customers.

Here are a few areas that your sales team may want to implement a more proactive approach in your account management:

Revenue: Talk with your customer about the type of revenue you can expect from your interactions with them. This is not any kind of binding agreement, but rather an up-front conversation where you seek to determine what they plan to spend with your company for the year. By obtaining this information early in the game, you can identify possible opportunities and create a reliable projection for your sales portfolio.

Cadence: An agreement between you and the customer that identifies how often you will meet is critical to keeping the relationship with the customer positive. This proactive step helps you maintain good account management, eliminates frustrations of trying to get a meeting and helps your customer utilize their access to you.

Opportunities: Your sales reps can talk with the customer about what their business goals are for the years. Findings out about new opportunities early can help you identify where you might be able to grow sales and help the customer see you as a partner in their own success, too.

Feedback/Expectations: While feedback is reactive in nature, when it is combined with customer expectations, it can help your sales team look forward to improving relationships and service. Find out early in your relationship with the customer how they will measure their satisfaction with you and your company so that you know exactly what they hope to get out of the business relationship.

Measurement and Progress Evaluation: Once you know how the customer will measure whether your company is a good fit for them, develop an evaluation process. Through this process you can show the customer that you value their opinion and that your commitment to their satisfaction is not simply a sales pitch.

A good CRM tool helps your sales team be proactive in their account management. From identifying new sales leads to maintaining a positive relationship with customers, CRM has the capability to keep sales reps ahead of the curve.

Front Row Solutions offers mobile CRM tools that promote a proactive sales model. If your company is looking for ways to efficiently manage customer accounts and become more proactive in the sales process, mobile CRM can give you an edge over your competition.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Benchmarking Information for Fresh Ideas

When you are in a period of significant growth, it may be tempting to keep riding the wave and assume that you must be doing everything right. In many sales organizations, this is the norm. While it seems natural to avoid trying to fix what isn’t broken, you may be missing opportunities and new ideas by not taking time to gather benchmarking information.

Benchmarking information can give your managers new ideas. Even if you are currently growing your business with the tried-and-true metrics, compensation plans, sales promotions and other techniques, you may still be able to improve what you are doing by getting familiar with the sales strategies of another company.

Here are a few reasons why benchmarking another company every two to three years may benefit your sales team:

  1. You may receive confirmation that some of your techniques are solid sales strategies that are also employed by other leaders in your industry. Seeing another company using similar plans that you rely on may give you some much-needed confirmation that you are on the right track.
  2. Benchmarking information can help you get insight on a range of compensation plan ideas and other organizational components. Learning how another sales team organizes regular meetings, for example, may help you see benefits of another structure for sharing sales updates.
  3. Benchmarking information helps you get some fresh ideas. You may not only be able to pick up a specific new technique or strategy, but even getting outside of your normal environment can get your creativity revving. You may be able to brainstorm some new ideas simply because you got out of your office and into a new place.
  4. Even if you walk away from the other organization without a specific plan to implement in your own sales team, it may instead give you a sense of pride in how well your sales team is doing.

There are also a few tips for making sure you get the most benefit out of your benchmarking experience:

  1. Don’t get bogged down trying to find an exact match in both industry and size of the organization. Your best ideas may be the result of spending time with a company that is significantly different than yours to gather benchmarking information.
  2. Spend at least one full day with the organization. Don’t expect that a couple of hours will give you a true picture of the tools that are leading the sales team to growth and success.
  3. Be strategic in how you spend your time there. Take time, for instance, to watch the inside sales team in action. These interactions will tell you a lot about how the sales process is formed in the company.

Benchmarking information is a critical part of ensuring that your sales team is performing at its best possible level. Front Row Solutions can help your company identify measures that will lead to growth and opportunities and then show you how our customer relationship management tools can support that growth.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Making Meaningful Sales Opportunities From a CRM Database

Big data refers to the wealth of information available online. If you are using CRM, your system likely pulls together many sources of information together to create a massive list of leads. Getting actual sales out of a CRM database can seem like an overwhelming task.

In some cases, the CRM database is a coordination of not only Internet searches, but also contact lists from LinkedIn and other social media sites. Your sales team may also receive large databases of sales leads from your marketing department, with little consideration of whether these lists contain any feasible sales opportunities.

With so many sources of leads, sales reps can get bogged down in trying to find even a small number of legitimate opportunities. The first step in developing a list of leads from a CRM database is understanding who your target customer is. You need to have a solid understanding of what your sales team is offering and which companies should be targeted as customers.

Here are some tips to making sales from a large CRM database:

  1. Narrow the focus of your CRM database. Identify the customer you are after with critical criteria listed. Then use the data and statistics in your CRM database to identify the opportunities that best match your criteria. Be careful, however, not to get too bogged down in this step. You could miss months of sales by analyzing criteria instead of choosing your best potential clients and going after them.
  2. Remember that these companies are made up of people. Determining companies to target may be simpler, but there may be personal preferences at play that impact whether you can make a sale. Be aware of whether the buyer or other decision-maker fits your criteria.
  3. Consider the shelf-life of your data. Data has a short lifespan in the internet age, and you want to be sure you are after customers with good data. Updating your CRM database regularly will help you keep current with contacts and their needs.
  4. Connections should be meaningful. When you approach a meeting, tell them why you wanted to talk with them. Were you alerted to a comment on an article that indicated they were looking for a product or service like yours? Or maybe they attended a trade show that alerted you to schedule a meeting.
  5. Find the right tool to handle your data. The right CRM database can be user-friendly, helping you identify your targets using specific criteria. Once you begin using the right CRM tool, managing your database can become more and more refined, making Big Data a more useful tool for growing sales.

Once you have the right CRM tool in place, don’t stop improving your process for identifying useful leads. Developing a repeatable model for growing a sales portfolio is important for the future of your business.

Call on Front Row Solutions to provide you with a CRM database that leads to growth for your company. We specialize in mobile CRM, allowing your sales reps to stay in the field instead of wasting hours manipulating data in an office.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Benefits of Using Mobile CRM

You want to grow your business. You have a talented sales team and managers that are hungry for new business. You have a great product, with efficient processes in place in both operations and customer service. You are poised for a big push.

Are you really doing everything you need to do to have an edge over your competition, though? If you are not utilizing the best technology available for your sales team, you may be losing sales to other companies that are better able to know their customers and capture every possible opportunity.

Investing in a mobile CRM tool may give your company the edge you need over your competition. Sales managers are increasingly looking for mobile CRM solutions because they recognize that their sales reps need to be in the field, not spending entire office days logging pipeline and current customer information.

Mobile CRM could be the answer you are looking for. Here is what you will see when you implement a mobile CRM solution:
Improved Communication with Clients: Your customers aren’t just listed in your database. Your competition is out there talking to them, too. Make sure that you are keeping in touch on a regular basis by using mobile CRM to schedule regular sales calls and keep on top of current information about your customer.

In addition, with mobile CRM you have the potential to significantly improve the content of those regular sales calls. Your meeting or phone call will be well-informed because of the quick and efficient notes you had entered on your mobile CRM from your last conversation. Clients don’t want you to waste their time rehashing the same conversation over and over again. Use mobile CRM to streamline conversations and meet your clients’ needs.

With mobile CRM, your customers will see that you know their industry, you understand their needs and you care about their success through the use of your service or product.

More Efficient Sales Process: The use of mobile CRM allows your sales reps to become more efficient in their sales process. They can enter data while they walk to the elevator or their car, eliminating the need to set aside hours of time on a CRM system. The sales rep can enter orders and details from a conversation within seconds.

Better Planning: With mobile CRM, your sales managers have better data, accessed more quickly. As early as 60 seconds after data from a meeting is entered by a sales rep, the sales manager can access the information for sales reporting. Sales managers are able to make decisions based on better information in a more efficient way.

If you would like to discuss more ways that mobile CRM can positively impact your business, give Front Row Solutions a call. We provide a mobile CRM app that can be tailored to your specific needs, giving you the edge you need to beat your competition in the sales field.