You researched the more than 350 CRMs on the market and spent a good chunk of time and change deploying your solution of choice. Your reps are using this new solution (as far as you know). Management is swimming in reports. But suddenly it dawns on you: for all the blood, sweat and tears that went into implementing your CRM, not much has really changed.
Despite the dollars and dreams you poured into this CRM, everything is business as usual. Shouldn’t your processes be improving, or your sales cycles be getting shorter, or something? So you start to ask yourself: is your sales success being limited within the confines and capabilities of your CRM? Here are 5 warning signs that your CRM is stunting your team’s growth, and what you can do to take your team to the next level.
1. Rep Adoption Is a Struggle
As consumers, we refuse to adopt technology that fails to make our days more productive. But as business people, we are often expected to use applications that actually make our lives more difficult. It shouldn’t surprise management that when employees are instructed to use outdated and Excel-like applications, adoption suffers, with 74% of sales teamsusing CRMs reporting poor adoption rates. In turn, data gets lost as reps invent alternate solutions like spreadsheets and pad and paper.
Start paying attention to how much and how often reps are actually using your CRM. Low sales platform adoption should serve as an indication to management that the value the software provides does not outweigh the effort it takes to use it. Search for a solution that is highly intuitive and takes its cue from consumer-facing apps like Venmo and Uber. Features and functionality like automatic data capture, drag-and-drop UIs and email integration inherently drive adoption by facilitating rather than hindering the sales process.
2.Your Team Has to Juggle Multiple Supporting Tools
Today’s market is flooded with point solutions that seek to solve small pieces of the sales performance puzzle, from email tracking to call dialing and reporting. Rather than adding these functionalities to their platforms and upfront costs, many CRMs simply require businesses to also use and integrate these point solutions. At the end of the day, your CRM may be just one of 3, 5 or even 7 different platforms that reps have to use to get their jobs done!
In fact, 59% of sales reps believe they are required to use too many sales tools. In addition to hurting productivity, the more point solutions your team must use on a daily basis, the more data gets scattered across multiple platforms, and the less visibility management has into performance. Not to mention, these point solutions don’t come for free! Instead, look for a solution that provides calendar integrations, real-time notifications and other necessary tools in an all-in-one sales platform to enhance rep adoption and productivity.
3. It’s Not Connected to Your Company’s Existing Systems Companies use an average of 7 different business management tools, from CRMs to marketing automation platforms and support systems. Within each of these platforms resides a goldmine of lead and customer data, but without the ability to make these systems talk to one another, each part of the business will remain blind to the others. This results in fragmented, impersonal lead and customer experiences.
If connecting the dots between your CRM and other business tools is proving to be a major hassle, if may be time to reassess your options. Future-proof solutions should provide robust APIs that enable, not inhibit, the ability to synch data between your sales software and other systems. Some vendors even offer key out-of-the-box integrations and extensive, hands-on API support.
4. It’s Not Mobile Friendly
Does your business have a field sales team? Do your reps ever travel? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then you should understand the importance of your team being able to enter and access information in your CRM in real-time. Unfortunately, in an effort to avoid being left behind, many legacy sales CRMs launch mobile applications that are essentially read-only versions of their desktop UIs, leaving field reps squinting at tiny numbers and scrolling through lengthy tables on their smartphones. These solutions may be mobile, but they are definitely not mobile friendly.
To avoid information getting lost on-the-go and empower your field sales team to perform at their full potential anytime, anywhere, opt for a CRM that provides a fully native mobile application. Not only should this type of tool give your reps the same capabilities on their smartphones and tablets as they have on their desktops, but it should also provide special features tailored specifically for the field sales rep, such as geolocation and offline access.
5.You Have Data, but No Insights
While many CRMs promise deep insights into sales performance, the reality is that, with reps entering so little information throughout the sales cycle, achieving these insights simply is not possible from a data volume perspective. And even if it were, most solutions don’t really offer the big data infrastructure necessary to provide them. Instead, these solutions offer (or integrate with other solutions that offer) reports that provide simple snapshots of overall performance.
Try asking your CRM, “Are my reps performing according to plan?” Getting an answer to this yes or no question should be easy enough. But if you try to ask why they’re performing a certain way, or what can be done to improve, don’t be surprised if you’re met with radio silence. Since legacy sales tools were not built for the big data era, they typically collect only basic information and provide list-like reports. In contrast, next-generation sales platforms not only enable businesses to understand their results, but they also provide in-depth sales insights that prescribe the actions a company can take to achieve a desired outcome.
Don’t Get Left Behind Your CRM should help reps and managers alike move faster, sell better, close more easily – you get the picture. Don’t settle for a platform that limits your team to “business as usual.” Keep an eye out for these 5 warning signs, and for more advice on finding the right CRM for your business, download this free white paper: 7 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Sales Software.
Rachel Serpa is Content Marketing Manager at Base. For more tips on how to take a scientific approach to sales, visit the Base Blog and follow @getbase on Twitter.
Surprisingly, 71% of salespeople say they lack the necessary knowledge to sell better and increase their close rates. While the concept of enabling sales to sell better is not new, defining it as a fully realized strategy is. By identifying it as such, companies are in a much better position to define their end-to-end sales process and align their marketing and sales teams in order to achieve that.
And it works — 59% of companies that exceeded revenue targets in 2015 have an established sales enablement operation.
The specifics of how companies are enabling their sales teams to close more deals depends on their goals. For many, it’s about using the best software tools. For some, it’s about training. For me (and my team at PandaDoc), it’s all of the above plus a vital component overlooked by most of the businesses — sales content.
I believe that delivering engaging, relevant content to prospective customers will beat out the competition and close deals faster. This is often a joint effort between sales and marketing — both teams need to work together to understand their business landscape and create content that speaks directly to their prospective customers.
Here are 4 ways to drive more deals through content:
1. Reusable Templates for Proposals, Quotes, and Contracts
Transactional documents — proposals, quotes, contracts, and more — are often a necessary evil for sales teams. And while most sales reps hate how much time they take to put together (finding the correct client info, copy-and-pasting from older versions, etc.), the bigger concern is that they’re often boring and ineffective.
By creating templates the entire sales team can use, it not only cuts down on the time it takes to put them together, but it also creates consistent messaging. Your sales team shouldn’t be sending out collateral that’s inconsistent with each other. They should be working with marketing to create templates that corresponds and aligns with marketing’s efforts.
Marketing can also help develop templates that really “pop” visually. Standing out from the pack means just that — delivering a business proposal, contract, or quote that catches their eye immediately.
The following are other types of content to develop and leverage, and which sales reps can include in their templates.
2. Beat Out the Competition with Battle Cards
It’s marketing’s job to understand the competition, but it’s sales’ job to sell why you’re the better fit. Sales is also the front lines of your business, so they know how people view you vs. your competitors. That’s why they need to work together to develop “battle cards” — content that educates and differentiates you from your competitors, and gives sales ammo to get the deal done.
Again, this creates consistent messaging across your organization, but they also let each sales rep personalize their pitch for each prospect. Tell them exactly why you’re the better solution for their specific needs.
When marketing and sales work together to better understand the competition, it creates stronger messaging and closes more deals by staying ahead of the game.
3. Let Your Customers Do the Selling
The best advocates for your product are those that are actually using it — your customers. But developing case studies isn’t just about letting your customers speak for you. A prospect is much more likely to become a customer when they see a case study (or a few) that’s directly related to them.
Marketing needs to develop a vast number of case studies that speaks to every kind of client you have, whether it’s by industry, company size, or specific use case. Sales can help identify current customers who are the biggest champions of your product. Marketing can highlight the areas where case studies are lacking. Together, both teams can develop engaging narratives that really illustrate the problems your product solves.
There’s a few items you should make sure to include when putting together a case study:
Create a narrative. What problem were they looking to solve and how did your product or service provide that solution?
Get specific with quotes. Let the client speak directly about how they saw improvements with your product or service.
Quantify with data points. Get to the point with specific data points. How are they quantifying the results they’re seeing? Are they saving time? Have they seen an increase in their business?
Include information about the client. Put what industry they’re in, the size of their company, and any other information that would be relevant to prospective clients. Someone in the technology field probably won’t find a case study about an HR organization relevant or useful.
When a prospect is wondering whether your product is the best solution, they’d rather hear it from someone who had a similar problem, not the person trying to make a sale.
4. Show, Don’t Tell, with Videos.
It’s 2016, so why are you still selling the same way your grandparents did in 1916? We live in the digital era with so many possibilities to sell better and stand out from the crowd. The simplest one to implement? Videos.
Would you rather receive a proposal that just lists what the product is and why you should use it, or would you rather watch a short video that actually shows you how it works?
You can include videos that go beyond just illustrating what your product can do.
Here are a couple examples of videos you can include in your proposals, quotes, or contracts:
Create video testimonials with your clients. As I said above, your customers are your best spokespeople. Include ones that are relevant to the current prospect, and let them see and hear all the wonderful things they have to say about you.
Introduce the team members who will be working with your clients. This shows off your company’s personality by putting faces to names. Let your prospects meet who will be working with them.
Videos make your proposals, contracts, and quotes interactive, meaning your prospects are much more likely to actually interact with them.
Mikita Mikado is the Co-Founder & CEO of PandaDoc, a platform helping sales teams create, deliver, and track intelligent sales content to close deals faster. To learn more about simplifying your sales documents, connect with Mikita and the PandaDoc team on Twitter, and LinkedIn.
If you’re like most salespeople, you spend your life in hustle mode. Your inbox, CRM system, mobile phone, social media, and other channels for client questions and demands engage you in an endless game of Whack-a-Mole.
That’s how it seems, anyway. But, of course, there are times when the action slows, if ever so slightly. The end of summer is one of those times. So–mostly–is December. Clients go on vacation or into budget season. The incessant shrill of alarms quiets to the occasional chime. Most people use this lull to sweep candy wrappers from desk drawers, catch a baseball or hockey game, or just watch the backs of their eyelids.
Don’t be most people. There is opportunity here. Just as luck favors the prepared mind, so downtime favors the driven.
Here are three things ways to take advantage of downtime:
Write a one-pager. Create something for your client that is not a sales piece. How often do you connect with clients on a meaningful level, when you are not asking for something? We have all read about being a “consultative” salesperson or executing a “challenger” sale. But what does that really mean?
It means going above and beyond to help clients gain perspective. Be that person! Write a report that teaches one client some tricks with your product or service that you’ve learned from another client. (You have to respect confidentiality, of course. No spilling one customer’s beans to another, no matter how educational those beans may be.) Or lay out some important changes in the industry. Put together a quick hit on what’s coming out of the lab. Or just jot down a note about something important that you’ve learned recently.
Keep it short. Make it smart. Be useful.
Build your network. This is a good time to grab coffee or lunch with people you actually want to grab coffee or lunch with. No agenda. No expectation of boosting your quarterly numbers. The best networking is networking conducted with the purest motives: because you want to get to know and possibly help more people. And yes, down the road they may help you, too, but for downtime networking, you don’t require an ROI.
So reach out to five or 10 people on the periphery of your network. People you’ve always wanted to know better. You’ll be surprised by the positive response. After all, they’re likely in a slow period as well.
Thank the people who have helped you. Make a list of the people who have helped you in the past year. On a notecard, thank them and be specific about what for, and offer them help in return. You can even send a small token: a book, a funny coffee mug, a gift card, a shirt from their alma mater. Put it in the mail and then sit back and smile. You’ve made someone’s day.
The strategic implementation of technology into your sales team can be both necessary and maddening. On one hand, recent technological advances leverage sales efforts, minimize daily tasks and decrease the sales cycle. On the other hand, weeding through the endless stream of “next big things” to find the tools that truly meet your salespeople’s needs and help move your company forward is a heavy burden to bear.
Challenges come from all types of decisions regarding technology, such as:
Data dilemmas diminished. Technologically advanced third-party providers handle data more efficiently than the on-site servers of old. There are fewer calamities, crashes, and data losses for example, than in the past. This results in more productive operations and more robust sales information at a fraction of the cost. But, which ones to choose?
Mandatory mobile movement. Offering mobile tools is no longer a “should” or “might” initiative, it’s a requirement for modern business. Companies that fail to invest in mobile technology will languish several pages deep on search engine returns, and frustrated prospects will abandon ship with a simple tap of their smartphone. Optimizing your website and business for mobile and employing mobile sales apps are crucial steps to staying competitive and relevant, plus, top sales teams use mobile to close more deals. How can you accomplish this?
Big data beef. This is a major sticking point. According to Hubspot’s Sales Professional Survey Report, 53% of sales professionals ranked “bad processes” as their top challenge. Smart decision makers understand that gathering potential clients’ information and buying habits increase their company’s reach and forge greater brand awareness. However, big data can take a lot of resources to organize, edit, and analyze. How can you benefit from big data without a drain on man hours?
Technologically advanced tools level the playing field between established and blossoming, and corporate conglomerate and modest boutique, but only if the leaders make the best decisions. Before you fork over a hefty slice of your budget for a technology investment, build a plan of action that helps minimize wasted resources and maximizes your ability to meet sales’ needs with the best evolving technology.
Take stock of current tools.
Before you embark on a buying adventure, inventory the sales software you already possess. Do your present technology solutions offer upgrades or integration? Would those suit your needs and be cheaper than brand new ones? If you are already planning on purchasing new tools, will your current processes be able to implement them with little effort? Establish your technology baseline by answering these questions.
Examine your business goals and growth agenda.
By outlining your company’s short and long-term direction, you can pinpoint your technological needs faster. Talk to business colleagues, research your competitors and create a list of new technologies that would make your sales team more agile and higher functioning.
Allow proper vetting.
Don’t jump on the newest software or the snazziest app the first time you hear of it. Conduct research about the processes, read reviews of current clients and how they use it and discuss the potential new technology with your sales team. Use their expertise to measure and weigh your decision. Putting the right technology in place at the right time takes more than a cursory glance every six months. Stay educated on new advancements by reading journals and technology blogs. Investing time helps to ensure smart, timely decisions and positive results.
Consider a shift in job titles.
Salespeople are no longer just knocking on doors and writing up orders. They are looking at lead conversions, social media connections, and mobile selling tools. Is it time to create an evolved position that rides the fence between sales and marketing and technology? Will such an employee be a valued asset in streamlining emerging technical trends with traditional ways of conducting business? Seriously contemplate when and if such an addition is necessary to get the most out of your technological investments.
Be prepared to pay.
It’s a bit daunting to see the price tag on some of the newest tools and is stressful for decision makers to pull the trigger on such a large outlay of cash. Identifying a solution that will energize your sales team, and be instrumental in bringing on a greater number of clients in a shorter amount of time, will make the return on invest (ROI) worth it.
Take measures to be ready for when, not if, you need to invest in advanced technology. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to raise the capital for your investment, from spending cuts to small business loans to credit cards. While none of these options are painless, it’s imperative to secure funds to keep processes functioning and on par with your competitors.
Analyzing, choosing, and implementing evolving technology is a big job, and takes a commitment. It is, however, an important part of a modern company’s strategy and cannot be ignored without falling behind your competitors and losing business. By maintaining a keen understanding of your current tools, investing time in research and education, and securing the financial means to invest in technology that helps your sales team meet their goals faster, you will stay ahead of the curve and keep your company thriving.
Are you thinking about investing in evolving technology in the near future? What tools do you favor, and how they will assist you in your goals?
Matt Greener is a marketing, digital and SEO leader. He currently heads marketing at App Data Room, a mobile sales enablement platform.
Have you ever wondered how many of your sent emails were deleted before the reader reached the second line?
It seems like nowadays we can almost smell a sales pitch right after it’s sent. That’s because there are patterns, or even whole templates copied so many times that we don’t even bother to read them. We see the subject line and think: “OK, yet another sales pitch…”
If you want to see more replies, try to come up with unique content that draws prospects into your message and makes them want to respond. It is a difficult task but you can organize the process into six steps to make it easier.
Subject lines are like keys. If it’s not cut for the right door, it won’t open. Many cold email subject lines sound like newsletter titles or commercials, and thus feel generic. They are irrelevant to the personal message that a cold email is supposed to accomplish.
Take for instance:
“iOS & Android Application Development Proposal”
“Professional Business Marketing Video”
These sound like they were sent to thousands of people at the same time.
Compare the two above with these:
“Mobile version of <company> web app”
“Your post on <topic> & a question”
I would open an email with a subject line like this because it promises that the message is going to be about me and my company. It’s a personal touch and it works.
When crafting your subject line, make it personal, relevant and valuable.
Step 2: Draw them in with the intro
Start with a reference to their work and draw them with relevant context to your value proposition. Make your prospect the main character in the story. Next, find a link between your product or service and their business needs.
Step 3: Write a value proposition that actually shows value
This can be tricky as it’s very difficult to avoid sounding like a sales pitch. “At ABC, we do <this and that> and I thought…” And that’s usually the moment we think: ‘aha! this is a sales pitch!’ Don’t get me wrong, we all need a value proposition in our cold email. The trick is to make the recipient actually see the value in it.
To make sure this happens, keep in mind the following 3 rules:
# 2. Choose one most relevant benefit and craft the whole value proposition around it.
# 3. Show them how exactly it helped other companies so far.
Step 4: Don’t ask for too much in the Call To Action (CTA)
CTA triggers the prospect’s action after they have read your email. Make sure yours is clear and to the point – it should specify the exact next step to be taken.
The most common CTAs usually ask for a call or a meeting, but take time to get to know your prospect first. A prospect-focused question is a good first step.
Seek to start a relationship and to learn as much as you can about your prospect. The better you know their business needs, the better you’ll be able to help them. If they feel you’re helping, they’ll be more eager to buy from you.
Step 5: Plan a valuable follow-up sequence
You likely know and have received the “touching base” and “just checking in” follow-up email. AsJill Konrath rightly points out, such follow-ups are the easiest way to make yourself look selfish.
A follow-up email should show your prospect that you care about helping them and not just selling to them. Use this as an opportunity to showcase the value you bring. Here are some examples:
a link to a case study of your successful customers, which will allow the prospect to relate to your offer.
a post, article or event that will exemplify how the type of solution you’re offering may be useful for their type of business.
an example referring to another painpoint than the one you’ve already addressed, which may resonate better with their needs.
Try to keep the follow-up as valuable as the opening email, but shorter. It is possible, it just requires considerable effort to achieve – which your prospects will appreciate.
Step 6: Keep learning, testing & improving
I’m not telling you to burn all cold email templates and resources including sales emailing tips. On the contrary: get all the templates you can! Analyze them – look for patterns and practices that may work in your outreach.
I was collecting templates and analyzing them to understand the mechanisms that rule cold emails. Then, I put the results of my research in anebook, for others who look for inspiration and want to learn.
Don’t copy the most effective templates. Analyze them, learn from them, and use the knowledge to craft your own emails. Then test and improve your copy on the basis of first-hand experience.
Cathy Patalas is Marketing Manager atWoodpecker.co – SaaS helping B2B companies directly contact prospective clients via personalized sales emails & follow-ups sent automatically. Cathy writes about cold emailing and prospecting at blog.woodpecker.co and is author of the ebook15 Cold Email Templates that Will Get You Leads.
High-performing sales professionals and executives make conscious time to network and explore new leads. In business building trust quickly has several benefits. Not only does it make you memorable but also incredibly valuable. Recovering from a bad first meeting is hard to do but there are several easy ways to avoid fumbling and instead create a positive first impression.
What not to do
Don’t treat initial conversation like a round of speed dating. It’s a poor idea to spend your time ranting about your qualifications and accomplishments. There is a time and place for this and it’s best received coming from someone other than yourself. You don’t want to be remembered as the one who wouldn’t stop talking about him/ herself.
What you should do
Practice Active Listening. Make eye contact and ask questions that have impact.
Arrive prepared. To ensure you’re ready for conversation, do some research about your subject before the meeting. This doesn’t need to exceed a few minutes and can help move conversation forward if there is a lull. Be ready with 2 or 3 key facts about them that are unique and interesting to you.
Be dependable. Think about someone you trust. Whether it’s your boss or your significant other, chances are you trust them because they’ve proved to be dependable. Take this opportunity to showcase that you are a man/woman of your word. Confirm your meeting place, date and time the day before. Make good on your promise of deliverables following the meeting. If you promised materials after the meeting, provide them within 24 hours. (Sooner is better!)
Be funny! Humor is disarming and when used appropriately can increase overall comfort and make you memorable.
Be self-effacing in an authentic way. Authenticity is key! Admit your foibles. Many think this destroys credibility in a client relationship but in theory it has the opposite effect. Sharing concerns or mistakes you’ve made along your professional career is one of the quickest ways to build trust. It shows you’re authentic and not only showing your best face.
Send a handwritten thank you note. Providing a thank you note after your meeting will help you to stay top of mind. Handwritten notes are the most impactful and offer yet one more touchpoint for building upon your client relationship.
Recently You & Co Media had an interesting experience moving through the marketing and sales funnel of a business we really admire. The early experience from web through to email nurturing was seamless, enjoyable and engaging. Then when marketing passed over to sales, the entire brand experience shifted, and where the human element should have extended the experience, it damaged it.
The experience was a negative one and trust was lost in the visual and lingual communication of the brand. It was clear that three things should be accomplished for sales to have an effective transition and close deals.
The customer shouldn’t notice a shift in the messaging from marketing to sales.
The customer shouldn’t notice a shift in presentation from marketing to sales.
The customer should feel continuity to build trust in the company/brand.
When so much of the consumer’s research is completed online, there is a language – both visual and written, that they identify and are interested in. When a prospect is ready to consider their options, it’s essential to continue the look and feel of your information. This maintains comfort and build trust in you as a sales rep in what is likely their first face-to-face interaction with the business.
Give your customers peace of mind, a great sales experience, and help to build trust not just in you, but in the business you represent. Ask marketing for assistance with these three sales collateral pieces to avoid confusion.
Designed case studies:
If the prospect has gone through a well thought out funnel and are ready to see proof, what better way than to show them a case study that explains what your customer wanted to achieve and the results you delivered. The information should definitely tell a story, as well as have the facts and figures clearly presented.
The first thing to ask for is a designed case study for each of your core personas – that tells a story, not just displays results. Having this sales collateral at the closing stage will ensure your lead is confident in your services and identifies their needs.
The better you know these success stories the better your conversations. By listening to the pain and needs of your prospects, you can offer a case study in line with their pain points through the eyes of someone who experienced the same frustrations to emphasis the points you’ve shared.
A slick proposal template:
Salespeople are known for having large personalities, which can also mean a penchant for being individual in their approach to their sales pitch. Though when it’s time for a proposal, your future customer needs to see a slick, company aligned presentation – not something that was created on a standard PowerPoint template. Designers have a way of working out how to structure visual information to enhance the experience of the audience. Ask marketing to sit down with you (and a designer if you can), and give a clear brief on your biggest objection points and try to present these challenges in a way that becomes less daunting for the prospect.
Customer reviews of your product or service:
This is V2.0 of your designed case studies. These don’t have to say “We doubled our business in 3 months!” they need to be genuine and duplicate the live reviews section of your Google+ and Facebook (or any other review places you are using) profiles for a genuine reminder that these services have been supported by other people in similar positions and they had a good experience.
So arrange a meeting ASAP. Get in sync with marketing. Find a place that supports your sales messaging style AND complements the marketing collateral that the prospect has become so used to.
BONUS TIP: Leverage current marketing for social selling.
For those social selling or maintaining an active online profile (clap clap). A great place to start with ensuring you’re on brand is to review the communication/style guide for any blog or social media efforts the business makes and align your core language markers with those. This is an easy way to build further continuity in brand messaging from attraction phase through to signing the deal.
When creating sales collateral that follows the good head start marketing has made, what’s demonstrated on the website or early collateral should be continued both in messaging and visual style. Considering your marketing as the preface to your sales messaging is essential to the best customer experience.
Andy Twomey is the Managing Director of You & Co Media, an Inbound Marketing Agency in Sydney. He loves a good gin, is an average surfer and wishes ‘marketing’ wasn’t such a dirty word.