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Going mobile – the rise of Smartphones in Sales

November 20, 2013 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Communication, CRM, Sales Driven Organisations, Sales Meetings, Social Media, Social Sales

In December 2012, we published the 12 Sales Trends Report for 2013 and released a brief summary of each trend. This month we are focusing on the Sales Trend “Going mobile – the rise of smartphones in sales”.

As Australia deals with the challenge of becoming more globally competitive, organisations are making greater use of both increased mobility as well as tele-conferencing using smartphone technology.   Anecdotal research is showing that smartphones are giving salespeople an edge in a number of ways.

sales video conferenceThis sales trend will see salespeople transitioning from always needing to rely on traditional selling practices such as in person face2face meetings and getting used to doing business via video streaming and smartphone chat apps.   The increase in mobile telecommunications technology means that salespeople and organisations will make more use of Skype, Tango, FaceTime and other mobile video conferencing technology when it comes to working with their clients. This also has the added benefits of cost savings and business sustainability i.e. decreased travel time, car costs, airfares and CO2 emissions.

Coupled with this, salespeople are now able to process orders on the spot with clients, run their sales territories, diarise appointments and update pipelines and client data bases via mobile apps linked to their organisation’s systems. Customers are already able to track their deliveries with apps and sim card technology; and what about circumventing clunky CRMs? There are mobile apps for that too.  Pretty soon everything will be in the palm of our hands, if it isn’t already.

According to Greg Martin, Director at Intilecta Apps¹, we need to think differently about data and how people like to access and use it.

Rather than build a CRM and make salespeople adapt to it, which rarely if ever works anyway, why not build apps around what salespeople already use and make the system work for them in familiar territory.   We need to harness the way salespeople work already to give management the visibility they need.  As Greg says “what if sales tools were so easy to use salespeople loved them and sales governance happened automatically?”

Now we are talking.   People are already using the apps of their preference to connect with one another and use the easy access to information in creative and useful time saving ways such as:

  • ten-example-business-apps-small Making effective presentations using videos and interactive slides shows via tablets and smartphones
  • Note taking & proposal preparation: Saving time by taking notes using a tablet in clients meetings which you can instantly upload to the cloud or email where the time take to prepare a proposal is halved because you do not have to transcribe your hand written notes to a typed format.  By the way, if you cannot come at typing on a tablet in a client meeting but can see yourself writing on a tablet with a stylus pen instead there are handwriting recognition apps that immediately translate your tablet handwriting into text format.
  • File Sharing: Sharing files with colleagues or clients at the touch of a screen or via cloud systems such as Dropbox..
  • Project Management: Easy project management, especially around communication, file sharing and task management and allocation with internal stakeholders, clients and suppliers: systems such as Basecamp or Trello are excellent project management systems you can see from anywhere..
  • Prospecting, Lead Generation, Networking & Social Media: apps for LinkedIn, FaceBook, Google+ and the like are making it easy to research, prospect and network with clients and prospects while on the road.  It is estimated that there are over 1,000 known social networking sites that are connecting over 1 billion people in the world.  In the business world there are at least 20 well respected business working sites that can be useful, LinkedIn by far the largest at this point in time, all accessible via smartphone technology.
  • Order placement and closing deals: orders and deals can be prepared using electronic forms and electronic signatures, all linked to company systems: both supplier and customer.
  • Monitoring Stock and Delivery Schedules: companies can give salespeople access to stock inventories in real time whereby salespeople can immediately relay to customers whether items are available.  In addition customers can tap into their deliveries by tracking shipment movements via sim and satellite technology i.e. Startrack Express
  • Collecting Customer Data: customer contact details can be easily uploaded and stored in company systems including photos, audio and video recordings (with permission of course), contact details, notes, electronic information, etc.
  • Virtual Meetings: as previously mentioned the instant meeting access via smartphones using the likes of Skype, Tango and other mobile video conferencing technologies will help salespeople and customers get on with doing business without having to wait on flights or spend hours in cars driving to and from appointments unnecessarily.  Face2face meetings are likely to be more specific and targeted for key activities and events.  Face2face client meetings will not stop but the frequencies will change because we will get the virtual face2face time we want and need.

Integration will be key: those organisations that allow their salespeople to access real time data, and connect with their clients via mobile technology will be giving their sales teams a distinct advantage. The technology is not so new but how people and organisations harness its power in the coming years will break new ground.


¹ Intilecta Apps supplies smartphone apps that bind with data held in any enterprise data store (local and cloud) and blends them together to create instant knowledge that can be accessed by people anywhere, anytime and on any business device.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au

Customer Experience Management (CX) will replace CRMs

October 17, 2013 in CRM, Social Media

More products and services are becoming commoditised. Price differentiation is less of a sustainable advantage. Smarter buyers demand a faster response and expect greater value. In this kind of market it’s no longer good enough to simply satisfy customers. Successful organisations are those that delight their customers. That means that companies are going to migrate from merely managing relationships to understanding their customers’ entire experience with the organisation.

In December 2012, we published the 12 Sales Trends Report for 2013 and released a brief summary of each trend. This month we are focusing on the Sales Trend “Customer Experience Management (CX) will replace CRMs.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are going to be replaced with more effective and agile Customer Experience Management (CX) systems that provide a deeper insight into the customer’s total experience with the enterprise. At the same time less constricting sales automation, with in-built mobility and easy integration of social networking web sites and apps will take a step up and become the heart of these intelligent CX systems.

A combination of the proliferation of social networks (at last count there were more than 200 such sights with collectively well over 4 billion members) and the increased mobility of the sales force means that communications will have to be instant to be effective; they will need to be broader, deeper and more accurate to be useful to sales; and will have to be current to have any real value for customers.


CRM’s do not know anything about this about the customer

CRMs, with their traditional focus on the management of the organisation’s financial interface with its customers and production activities (some with the “bolted on” input from sales), just don’t cut it anymore. CRM may have got the “management” part right but it totally missed the boat on relationships. Customer Experience Management systems on the other hand, do it all and close the gap. They give companies an interactive 360 degree view of their customers’ total interaction with the company – financial, production, marketing, sales and service. And advances in technology make the CX interface between buyer and seller in real time.

This change will see salespeople being unshackled from databases that take up too much time and do little more than police their activities. Because CX is likely to be more sales friendly, more responsive and more all embracing, salespeople will be more prone to use the systems, cutting out costs in the sales process, increasing their productivity and their responsiveness to customer requests. In the end CX will do what CRM failed to achieve – i.e. help salespeople become both more effective (i.e. work smarter) and more efficient (i.e. deliver more sales).

A recent study[1] of over 860 executives revealed that companies that have increased their investment in Customer Experience Management reported higher customer referral and satisfaction rates than their CRM using counterparts achieved. The finding was corroborated by research completed by software company Chordiant (Europe). Their study showed that over 75% of the organisations with CX systems achieved improved performance in four key business areas – market share, customer retention, profitability and customer satisfaction.

So, the question is: “What Constitutes Customer Experience”?

Customer experience refers to a customer’s interactions with all of the channels of the organisation – marketing, sales, production, administration etc. – which makes the buyer feel happy, satisfied, enjoying a sense of being respected, served and cared for, according to his / her individual expectations, from first contact through the whole relationship.

Jan Carlzon - Moments of Truth

Jan Carlzon – Moments of Truth

A few decades ago Jan Carlzon (Scandinavian Air Services – SAS) introduced what became known as Moments of Truth as a service ethic that helped his small, regional airline become a global player. At that time Carlzon defined “moments of truth” as any experience that a customer or potential customer had with the organisation, whether that experience was direct or merely a passing message observed in an advertisement.

At the time that exposure did not include the now pervasive Internet and social networks that have increased the opportunities for these moments of truth and have opened a forum for customers to express their feelings – positive or negative.

Today’s Customer Experience Management systems can’t just rely on tapping sales, finance or production data. They have to extend to include the Internet and social networks. Forrester research says that experience-based information from these social networks, when integrated with both internal and other external sources enable organisations to create end-to-end customer experiences views. This vast array of data allows management to evaluate their business models and customer interaction protocols as well as their support and operational systems from the customer’s point of view. This way they can achieve higher level of customer-centricity resulting in more sustainable customer loyalty, less churn and eventually greater revenue and profits.

In the mostly undifferentiated current market conditions, the ability to deliver an experience that sets one organisation apart in the eyes of its customers encourages an increase in spend with the company and, optimally, inspires loyalty to its brand.

What do you need to do?

point-of-viewTo create a superior customer experience requires understanding the customer’s point of view. “What’s it really like to be your customer? What is the day-in, day-out ‘customer experience’ your company is delivering? How does it feel to wait on hold on the phone? To open a package and not be certain how to follow the instructions? To stand in line, be charged a fee, wait for a service call that was promised, come back to an online shopping cart that’s no longer there an hour later? Or what’s it like to be remembered? To receive helpful suggestions? To get everything exactly as it was promised? To be confident that the answers you get are the best ones for you?”

CX focuses the operations and processes of a business around the needs of the individual customer. Successful companies are those that focus on making sure that the customers’ experience is a positive one. In our view, the term ‘Customer Experience Management’ represents the discipline, methodology and processes used to comprehensively manage a customer’s cross-channel exposure, interaction and transaction with a company, product, brand or service that cares.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au

[1] Strativity Group, 2009

Why managing sales inputs leads to sales disaster

June 27, 2013 in CRM, Education in Sales, Performance Management, Sales Forecasting, Sales Management, Sales Measures - Inputs & Outputs, Sales Motivation & Rewards, Sales Pipeline, Sales Results

‘Selling is a numbers game’ has been said more times than any of us care to remember.  And yes, numbers are critical to sales, however some organisations place far too much emphasis on the managing the numbers, especially their obsession with their salespeople’s input activities – i.e. number for prospecting (cold) calls, client meetings, numbers in the pipeline etc.

This “management by numbers” approach is flawed and leads to confusion, distress and worst, poor sales results over both the short and longer term.  The approach fails to grasp that up to 80% of the activities of a sale are outside the control of the salesperson. Most of the inputs that lead to sales results are centred around conversations with people and the decisions they make based on their own priorities which is filled with variables that cannot be tracked by focusing on numbers alone.

forcastingWe are not suggesting that account planning, sales forecasting and pipeline management are invalid, they are critically important, however focusing ONLY on the numbers, at the expense of coaching salespeople to be more effective at working with people (clients, prospects, stakeholders, internal support, etc.) as well as proactively managing the decision making process, will result in a flawed and less effective sales force.

For example, if a salesperson is managed against forecast accuracy with a benchmark of 100%, the natural reaction of the salesperson is to make the lowest forecast possible in order to meet the benchmark. Similarly, if the benchmark is “make 50 client calls per week” with consequences if salespeople don’t hit that target, where will the focus of the salesperson be, even if they are $2M behind target? Obviously on meeting the input call rate target.

This linear data driven approach to selling limits people to being number watchers, obsessed with missing their input measures while failing to look at the bigger prize which is attracting more business and retaining viable clients.

If a salesperson can make 5 quality client calls a week and win business that meets or exceeds their sales targets because they understood their target market, knew the right people to call on in the value chain, positioned themselves effectively and delivered real value to the both the client and the business, would it really matter that they did not make the 50 calls that week?

Knowing what you are doing up front only tells you half the story because it monitors what sales people are doing, not HOW they are doing it.

From what we can see in a number of businesses here and overseas there appears to be DATA addiction, tracking everything possible but to what end we ask?  Just because you can track lots of activities now doesn’t mean you have to.

How much time do you think it takes your salespeople and sales managers to complete these input sales reports?  A bloody long time is the answer! Where should your sales people be?  Out seeing their customers and working with people, finding out who the key decision makers are, getting in front of them to have real quality conversations that can lead to results.  Some client relationships and deals take many meetings but are worth pursuing while some happen more quickly and are equally worth pursuing and that’s the challenge.

waste of time 3d scatter Selling and buying is not a linear process.  It is holistic, 3D, where both rational and emotional decisions swirl about and our salespeople are charged with navigating these waters for us. How do you track that? You can’t.

The obsessive focus on input numbers and input activities for the sake of activity measurement that can be logged into a CRM is holding sales teams hostage.

Selling and Account Planning should be people focused not numbers focused. Sales people should be responsible for proactively managing the decision making processes in an account; working out who are decision makers, their profiles, their preferences, their priorities, how they contact prospects and how they position themselves effectively, etc. and working out how to navigate their way to effective client relationships based on real exchange of value.

Sales managers would do well to coach their people around these capabilities, making sure their people are really performing at a quality standard rather than obsessing about the input activity, the numbers.

Just tracking numbers such as prospecting calls, clients visits, proposals/quotes presented does not automatically give you the desired output i.e. profitable sales results. It does not give you information about the growth of the market, competitive intensity, or fragmentation of segments and client trends.  It just gives you numbers of activities with no context.

In conclusion:

Selling is a ‘Doing’ job for sure but it is a ‘Thinking’ job as well that should focus on quality not just quantity.  While we know sales people have to do these sales activities, we suggest you will get better sales results if you coach your sales people around the quality of what they are doing and how they are thinking and then monitor the output of these actions to get real fix on results.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au

Intuitive CRM

October 25, 2012 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Brand & Reputation, Complex Selling & Transactional Selling, CRM

‘Intuitive Customer Centric CRM’ was voted by our readers as the number 10 Sales Trend of the 12 Sales Trends of 2012.  The goal of a CRM solution should be to drive growth (i.e. revenue) and maximize efficiencies (i.e. profit) in business practices and processes developing relationship management (sales) with customers at the centre of every decision. 

However, for too long CRMs and sales automation have essentially been technological concepts foisted on salespeople by IT specialists who convinced management (not sales) that CRMs and SAs would improve sales.

As Ray Wang of the Altimeter Group – a leading global CRM and technology expert recently acknowledged – “the promise of closer relationships between buyers and sellers; of more effective selling supposedly delivered by CRM, has failed”.  
No more than a year or so ago, Ray spoke about the rules of relationship management. He admitted that CRM developers were only now beginning to figure out the relationship part of CRM. He acknowledge that CRM has, until now really focused on the management part of the equation, and little else.

Well even these IT boffins, most of whom, like management, make their living from something other than selling, have had to concede that the answer to re-engaging the customer and rebuilding relationships is in building trust through meaningful interactions and “social insights” not simply by inadequately fed data.

In 2012 we are seeing CRMs move away from being a contacts database and pipeline / forecast management tool to becoming the system that places customers at the core of a company’s operation.

This means integrating marketing, sales, service and support to provide a single view of the customer as they move through the engagement lifecycle.

Relationship Experience
Value of the client Companies value to the Client
View from Company View from Client
System and Transactions People and Interactions

CRMs are out and are being replaced in Sales Enabled organisations with the more strategic Marketing Intelligence Central Knowledge Base that embraces a 360 degree view of the customers’ total experience with suppliers and their supply chain. This means that CRMs finally have to do what they originally promised. In turn, that means getting technology experts out of the way and including sales specialists in the solution.

Now that may seem like revolutionary talk in an environment such as this. But the reality is that IT experts, architects and programmers understand technology. Salespeople understand the sales process and the people involved in it. Together there is the potential for a strong partnership. Separately there is even more potential for a greater and costly disaster.

In 2012 and beyond smart companies will make sure their CRM has a simple, intuitive interface easily configured for integration to finance and legacy systems presenting a single source of t truth concerning customers. In fact CRM is likely to be renamed as CEM – Customer Experience Management to reflect their true role.  Your CRM/CEM will also easily embed social media to aggregate all content concerning a customer. As for employee productivity it also needs to be mobile to give staff flexibility to access and update information efficiently while they’re on the move. And in 2012 and beyond, CRM/CEM goes where you go.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au  

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