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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 LinkedIn Invitations Need To Be Purposeful

December 14, 2011 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Communication, Social Media

LinkedIn is about creating and nurturing relationships. It’s a marvelous tool for researching and connecting with people and helps you forge genuine relationships based on substance and value.

I’ve been on LinkedIn for many years now and have been steadily growing my network. I only connect with people I know personally or have connected with via an event or activity. As much as I am for prospecting and building new networks and business I draw the line at sending out impersonal LinekdIn requests, random or otherwise to people that I don’t know.

LinkedIN Standard Invite

LinkedIN Standard Invite

So why do so many people send out LinkedIn invitations with no explanation as to why they want to connect with you, no personalised note introducing themselves and no obvious reason for linking in?

In the last six months I have received more LinkedIn requests from people I don’t know with the standard line, “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” They neglect to provide any explanation or valid business reason (VBR) for connecting with me.

I’m at a loss to explain this lazy and careless approach. My view of this practice is that it appears insincere and grasping for business. On the other hand, a friend of mine says he accepts these random invitations to grow his database. He doesn’t send them himself because he agrees it seems unprofessional, but happily accepts invites from those he doesn’t know. While I see his point of view, I’m not convinced it’s worthwhile. Many people I speak to are expressing similar frustrations with impersonal LinkedIn requests. Is frustration of the recipient really the aim? In my opinion, sending impersonal LinkedIn invitations is the equivalent of spam.

I treat LinkedIn invitations like prospecting calls. How you position yourself is very important. You need to think about why you want to contact and connect with that person and develop a Valid Business Reason (VBR). A VBR must be meaningful and relevant to the LinkedIn contact. It should be a reason why the LinkedIn contact should want to speak to you further. It must be of value and important to the LinkedIn contact and answer the What’s In It For Me (WII-FM) if they connect with you.

If I contact anyone I do not know via LinkedIn it would be with a well thought out message first seeking permission to speak with them to ascertain if it would be beneficial for us to connect/ meet/ work together.

So how do you deal with these potentially unsolicited LinkedIn invitations?

Benefit of Social Networking

Benefit of Social Networking

I have developed a strategy to test how genuine people are that ask to connect with me. Firstly I look at each person’s profile to see if I do know them and if I can see some sort of benefit from our connecting. Secondly I send out the following message after I have received the “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” invitation.

Thank you for your invitation. I must apologise if we have met before however I am not sure where I know you from. Are you able to let me know how we are connected and how you think we would both benefit from our shared association?

Cheers Sue

It is very interesting what happens next. One of 4 things usually occurs:

  1. I never receive a response and I delete the invitation.
  2. I receive a detailed reply from the person stating how they know me and how they would like to benefit from our association. I usually accept the request if everything seems ok.
  3. I receive an apology that they may have made a mistake.
  4. I receive a ‘snippy’ or ‘hurt’ reply, upset that I would actually question their invitation.

I do not take my LinkedIn invitations and connections lightly. In the earlier days I probably accepted more LinkedIn invitations from people I didn’t really know. Today, however I see much more value in developing a real network of contacts who are seeking mutually beneficial outcomes and support from their peers. Like any relationship, LinkedIn relationships have to start somewhere. So if you are thinking of using the festive season to build your LinkedIn network, consider starting off a new relationship on the right note, keeping in mind that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

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

Age Old Lawn Bowls Turns New With Social Media

September 6, 2011 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Sales Culture, Social Media, Strategy, Success

Lawn Bowls clubs are innovating to attract new members, even running bare-foot bowls and speed dating bowls for new and existing members. If the sport of Lawn Bowls can embrace the internet and social media to reinvigorate its brand, increase participation, grow its members and lift revenues, then so can we all.

Ben McArthur JunChamps 2008

Ben McArthur JunChamps 2008

Lawn Bowls has been around for hundreds of years with its origins supposedly dating back to Ancient Egyptian times along with its cousins, Bocce and Pétanque. It’s often been seen as a traditional sport for older people with rigid rules and recognisable but rather unattractive white uniforms. I can remember my grandmother, Clare playing bowls for years all around Victoria and South Australia. As a child and teenager it appeared to me to be a rather stiff and formal pursuit, certainly not aimed for youth participation. We were in fact actively discouraged from pursuing it as a suitable sport. You would think this perception as a recipe for a dying brand, yet Australian Lawn Bowls is seeing a strong resurgence like never before at both the elite and social level.

Memberships are growing, participation is high across a wide range of age groups and revenues are strong. So what have they done to reinvigorate their brand?

I came across this good news story while listening to ABC radio on one of my early morning walks which coincidentally passes right by our local Lawn Bowls club. I was delighted to hear the Chief Executive of Bowls Victoria, Peter Hanlon telling us that the sport of Lawn Bowls now has a whole new lease of life: especially in attracting a much younger demographic from teenagers to Gen X ‘s & Y’s. In fact some of their current national champions and elite players are teenagers and Gen Y’ers.

Lawn Bowling Tim Mason

Lawn Bowling Tim Mason

Bowls Australia and its state entities realised some time ago that the sport wasn’t growing and this was largely due to its brand perception; ‘strict rules, old person, white uniform’ image. They commissioned extensive research and found that there were many people of many ages and abilities who wanted to play Lawn Bowls and the beauty about the sport is that almost anyone can play. So the answer was simple: communicate with the people that want to play.

Australian Lawn Bowls clubs quickly flung open their doors to people of all persuasions; people with disabilities, teenagers, families, community groups, even speed dating agencies; providing a venue and activity great for introducing people to one another. Corporates and businesses were also quick to see the benefits of lawn balls as a team building exercise and social outlet for out-of-office activities. The sport read the signals right and embraced its new members. So much so, clubs have even introduced Barefoot Bowling to make it even easier to participate.

There are no longer barriers to playing Lawn Bowls now. Anyone can play and anyone is welcome.

Here is what Bowls Australia now stands for:

Our vision
We will stimulate innovation of the business and sport of bowls so that peak bodies and clubs become known for their delivery of excellent services and resources and facilities become contemporary community venues and the game attracts people of all ages and backgrounds.

Our mission
To provide leadership and facilitate a collaborative approach for the growth, development and success of the sport and business of bowls in Australia.

Core values

  • Teamwork – national unity through constructive relationships;
  • Autonomy of state and territory associations;
  • Professionalism – demonstrated through integrity;
  • Progressive – adapt to the changing needs of society through the coordinated efforts of BA, state and territory associations and clubs;
  • Innovative – proactive culture attuned to environmental changes within and outside the sport.

‘A new game plan’
In March 2009, Bowls Australia released the strategic plan for 2009 – 2012 entitled ‘A new game plan’. No longer considered an old person’s pastime, the sport now has a whole-of-community approach. Other sporting bodies have taken Bowls Australia’s lead and done the same, an example of this flow-on effect is Swimming Victoria, now ensuring everyone, at every level has an opportunity to participate.

Once the signals were read, it was time to communicate. Social media has been a large part of Bowls Australia’s strategy for connecting with its new members and potential new members. The organisation embraced the online phenomena. Social media tools proved to suit its needs and Facebook, YouTube and Twitter proved to be the best way to connect with a new audience, promote events and report results, all the while bringing people together to share in a revitalised sport and social activity. By embracing new media, the brand breathed new life into what was becoming a tired and tried age-old activity. Check out their website to see how they did it.

Lawn Bowls is now one of the most socially inclusive sports across all levels across Australia. It gives people of all persuasions a place to socialise, participate and compete. As the Chief Executive of Bowls Victoria, Peter Hanlon said ‘it takes five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master’.

Thanks to Peter Hanlon, Bowls Victoria and Bowls Australia, my husband and I are now looking at getting into the sport much earlier than we would have otherwise anticipated and who knows we might just get the whole family involved too. Bring it on.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

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

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