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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

Tips for using email and web leads effectively in sales

August 8, 2013 in Customer Service, Education in Sales, Sales Driven Organisations, Sales Skills, Social Sales

Sales can be made in several ways: face-to-face, over the phone, web-based, direct mail or via e-mail.  With the plethora of internet businesses now transacting sales online you’d be forgiven for thinking that you could dispense with sales people all together but in many instances you would be incorrect.  There are very few businesses that can run purely on the internet with no sales people interaction required.  At the very least these online businesses need customer service or ‘live chat’ enquiry centres where customers queries, complaints and comments can be addressed effectively.  How well these business execute this function it critical to their ongoing success.

For other businesses that deal in face-to-face and telephone sales how you deal with web leads and use email is incredibly important to keeping sales opportunities rolling in.  Sometimes sales opportunities come in from different time zones and overseas or some customers may work night-shift and require additional communication options by other means.

Almost all businesses are now in a position to provide customers and prospective customers with the chance to engage with them via a web request or email.

How quickly and how well you respond to these requests is becoming increasingly important to attracting and retaining your customer base. Take for instance the retail car sales: many dealerships have their own websites now or places on the car sales sites where prospective customers can request information etc. If the sales people from those car dealerships do not follow up within 1-2 hours the lead goes cold. Gone. Lost.

fast response to web leads

follow up within 1-2 hours or the lead goes cold

The prospective customer has moved on to another dealership.

Respond fast to web leads

If you are not in a purely online business then ideally you would respond to a web sales lead as fast as possible (immediately when possible). If appropriate our first tip would be to call the customer first (assuming they left a phone number).  If they are not there leave a specific message stating why you are calling and your contact number.  Then follow up with an email stating the same and leaving a contact number.

While it is easier to return emails than phoning someone the only time we would suggest emailing in place of phoning first is if the customer is operating in a different time-zone and it is not appropriate to call them in your work hours.  In your email you should see if you can arrange for a mutually suitable time you can both speak.

How to use and not to use email

E-mail is a medium of communication that can be used to overcome some of the challenges in dealing with customers where face to face contact is extremely difficult or as a supplement to your regular sales activities.  However, you should not expect email to become your main selling portal.

Why?  Well how long does it take to write a well crafted, well intentioned, unambiguous email?

Answer:  a very long time.  If you have the chance to speak to the person via phone to progress the sales or initiative contact then pick up the phone.  You will get where you need to go much more quickly than relying on e-mail by itself.

Send emails that the recipient wants to receive.

Send emails that the recipient wants to receive.

Tips for using e-mail.

  • In sales, ideally, you use email to confirm details of meetings times, overview of a discussion, facts, meeting agendas.  Do not try to use emails to convey emotional topics or difficult issues as too many things can be misread or misinterpreted in an email leaving you worse off than you were before.
  • Emails are effective for setting up an agenda prior to a client meeting. (see our article on setting the sale agenda)
  • Write your emails in a way that it makes sense to someone who does not know you. Put things in context, spell out acronyms.
  • Be both friendly and professional via email, even with people you know well.  Have a greeting (‘Hi xxx’ or ‘Hello xxx’ or ‘Dear xxx’ if it is really formal), and a sign off (‘Kind regards’ or ‘Cheers’ or ‘Sincerely’).
  • The subject line needs to be short, clear and specific which helps your receiver make a prioritised decision.
  • Spell-check and proof-read emails before sending.
  • Keep it short.  Long emails don’t get read. Most people don’t realise this and spend a lot of time crafting lengthy emails when a simple, to the point email is better.  It is much harder to say what you have to say in a few sentences but your messages will be much more effective if you can master a shorter email.  All paragraphs should be less than four lines long and use bullet points whenever possible.
  • If you send an attachment, let people how long it will take to read it.
  • Watch for formatting issues. Use simple text that translates well into any email system.  If you are writing an email in MS Outlook, remember that the formatting options available to you are not available to many others who receive emails. So try to write the emails in plain text. Use a “*” rather than a formatted bullet. And watch for funny symbols, different font use, color use, or curly “smart” quotes.
  • Copy in the person who gave you an introduction or referral.  This does two things: It keeps the referral partner in the loop. Since the referral partner will probably be a key circle of influence, you want to ensure that person is aware of what you are doing. It legitimizes you to the customer. You really did get an intro from the referral partner — and you are proving it by the CC.
  • NEVER put anything in an email that you would not say to  someone in person. Never put anything that may incriminate you or anyone else in an email.  It is a legal document and can be used in a court of law.
  • Keep your signature relevant.  Use your signature box to convey your company’s clear message; your contact details, your brand, your social media connections (Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc.).  It is all adverting real estate.
  • You can also attach a vCard. vCards are very useful. A vCard is a file format standard for electronic business cards. A vCard (usually a .vcf file) is an attached contact file that is compatible with many contact management systems like MS Outlook: Mail. vCards carry contact information and you can also have them carry a marketing message.

We hope this helps you use email effectively when selling.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

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

From Mass Marketing to Markets of One

March 30, 2012 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Collaboration, Communication, Marketing, Sales Skills, Social Sales, Teamwork

”Move over mass marketing welcome to fragmentation and segmentation” was voted by our readers as the third most important sales trend in Barrett’s 2012 Sales Trends Report. Market fragmentation and segmentation is well and truly taking over from Mass Marketing society’s staple way of communicating with buyers for over 50 years.

So what will this change look like for our businesses and our customers? Barrett is seeing the relationship between marketing and selling widen as each fights for supremacy in the digital communications era. With this widening gap, marketing will finally find a meaningful role and sales will be left to do what it does best – seek out and harvest opportunities.

digital communication explosion

digital communication explosion

Many marketing professionals have tried to take ownership of the digital communication explosion and claim the entire revolution as a marketing initiative, expecting that salespeople will continue to go about their job of generating business opportunities and closing deals.

Now, if marketing and sales can actually put their differences aside they’ll quickly see that they are two sides of the same coin. The two are simply using different media and marketing tools to achieve the same end result; more sales at better margins, from customers more demanding than ever before. How? Well here’s just one sample…

 

Pre-Sales…
Social and digital media can be used to identify prospects in different segments. These tools allow salespeople to approach selling on a targeted basis, rather than mass marketing techniques of the past. From a marketing point of view, the groups they once lauded as “segments” will be reduced to markets of one. For salespeople already familiar with markets of one, digital media can be used to more carefully to segment buyers so that the approach is more focused and more targeted. The result – less leg work and more sales time!

 

During the Sale
Salespeople use the digital highway to keep in touch with prospects and keep them focussed. The buyer receives constant reminders of the value the salesperson can deliver. It needs to be admitting that mass marketing is out. Marketers should now be treating each buyer as an individual and use digital tools to expand the footprint and gather information. Better yet, marketing professionals can use digital media to capture share of mind and promote their message at lower cost and with more certainty, purely because they’re sending the right message to a segment of the market that is ready to receive it.

 

Post Sales
Selling should use the data to help clients integrate their solutions and maximise return on investment. They can also use the medium to capture and retain share of mind as buyers familiarise themselves with the value of any purchase. Marketing can join in the battle for share of mind by staying socially in touch with customers at low cost and with high frequency.

 

custom made engraved guitar

custom made engraved guitar

So, the upshot is simple. As customers become increasingly aware of their uniqueness they will shift away from mass marketing, looking for customised solutions that suit their business and life style. In fact, they already are. Salespeople can use the digital media to learn more about their customers’ expectations, as opposed to their needs, and use this data to help their customers get a better solution that is more meaningful.

So instead of creating a chasm of difference, sales and marketing teams need to work together even more closely now and take their listening skills to a whole new level. Smart companies will tune in to where buyers are electing to spend time and money. Ready or not, new consumer markets will emerge demanding different ways of doing business.

This means sales teams must be more targeted in their sales planning and prospecting efforts – no more scatter gun approach. Marketing teams should stop producing catch-all marketing materials that ignore buyer preferences and attitudes at their peril. Leaders will need to start looking at their strategy‘s evaluation measures and start measuring marketing and sales teams on the same measures. 2012 requires a distinct shift in attention from an internal company ‘me’ focus to an external buyer and seller ‘we’ focus or expect to perish.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

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

Exceptional Prospecting and Social Media

April 7, 2011 in Call Reluctance, Communication, Prospecting, Sales Tips, Self Promotion, Social Media, Social Sales

With social networking sites and the plethora of online data available, 2011 presents us with better quality prospecting and more qualified prospects. ‘Prospecting and Social Media’ was voted as the Number 4 Sales Trends for 2011. Business networking sites such as LinkedIn and Plaxo, and the emergence of Facebook and Twitter as business destinations, give the discerning business or sales person access to quality data where they can research key contacts with an organisation, as well as business activity. Then, when appropriate, they can use this data to make professional connections.

Smart business leaders and sales people are using social networking sites as tools to engage in better quality prospecting and improve conversion rates rather than just using them to make a list of prospects. These sites potentially make redundant, the concept of Cold Calling and the fear of prospecting and can help people become exceptional prospectors. So how do you get the best out of Social Networking sites when prospecting? Let’s look at the business phenomenon that is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn

For Business to Business prospecting, LinkedIn is proving to be a rich source of information, contacts, suppliers, prospects, referrals and clients. It has exploded in connections and content, and usage has skyrocketed in the last 18 months through its many features helping you get connected to the right people. It is the largest B2B social media networking group in the world. For instance my own LinkedIn profile and network currently can connect me with over 5,200,000+ contacts, imagine how we could all harness the power of these connections. So how do you use LinkedIn to help you prospect more effectively?

Step 1: Develop a sales plan, clear message and profile
Before you set up your LinkedIn profile make sure you have a clear sales plan which identifies who you need to be connecting with i.e. types of clients, suppliers, peers, industry sources and groups. Think about what you want to present by way of image, message and purpose i.e. what do you stand for? What do you do for people? Look at how you would like to position yourself as a business professional. Like websites, your LinkedIn profile is your professional resume online; it represents your professional brand. This is why you need to be clear about who you are, what you do and what you want to communicate to a broad audience. What you do, what your company does, what you represent, people are likely to make up their mind about you based on what they see and read about you. Your LinkedIn profile should form part of your sales and marketing strategy.

Step 2: Join LinkedIn
Get your profile up and live. It’s easy and it’s free – go to www.linkedin.com and get started. There are also various levels you can subscribe to enhance your profile and get you better connected with search features and other options. These extras come with a monthly fee attached. Begin by using the free access option and try it out before committing to upgrades.

Step 3: Join LinkedIn Groups
There are many and varied LinkedIn Groups you can join. These groups provide people with forums to discuss and exchange ideas and opinion, as well as keep up to date on the latest trends, ideas, innovations, etc. It’s also where buyers are increasingly looking to research suppliers before they buy. They are looking for what others say about you and your products or your industry. They can compare you with your competitors’ offerings. In these groups you can listen to what your customers are saying before they even decide to talk to you. Your sales strategy should guide you as to who you should be in contact with. What types of groups would be useful for you to belong to? For instance if you are a Learning and Development specialist, Engineering sales professional, Environmentalist or Procurement Manager then there are groups focusing in these spaces and many more. But do not limit yourself to the narrow bandwidth of your own expertise. Often looking outside your comfort zone can give you access to new ideas and contacts as well. These groups allow you to listen to your community, suppliers, clients and other interested parties. This gives you access to a wide range of people. See Barrett Consulting Group LinkedIn group as an example. A word of caution: Do not blatantly self promote or advertise your wares in these groups; it will not go down well. If you try to blatantly self promote and prospect in these groups you will be shunned and often kicked off the group.

Step 4: Start to connect
The best way to build up your network of contacts is to invite people you know to connect with you. This way you can begin to build up direct connections who, in turn, can then give you access to people outside of your direct network. You can often look at your contacts list of connections and you can see who might be good to make contact with. It’s advised that you don’t contact someone you do not know directly without some form of personal connection or link; instead, you can seek an introduction through one of your direct contacts. Sending out LinkedIn requests to people at random will not be seen as good business and will be deemed inappropriate or spam by many and may affect your reputation. It is also wise to be discerning about which connections you accept as well. Don’t just accept invitations from anyone, make sure you find out why they want to connect with and how you can be of best service to each other.

Step 5: Identify and Research Your Prospects
If you are already connected on LinkedIn and you know what types of people you need to prospect to you can look through your contacts lists to see who is there. You can also develop a list of names of people who are in your target market via business websites which often have names of key contacts or business news sites and industry magazines which often feature key decision makers. Your own CRM or client database should have lots of names you need to speak to. And of course you can buy lists once you are on LinkedIn and begin to research your prospects. In the upper right hand corner, there is a search box with a pull down menu. Click on that and you’ll see six options (people, jobs, companies, answers, inbox, groups). Click on “people” and enter the prospect’s name. You can see a lot of information about prospects, the groups they belong to, what they are interested in, their experience and knowledge, etc. You can use a prospect’s background to develop questions that relate to their area of responsibility. It will help you to develop very clear Valid Business Reasons (VBR’s) when calling them. Make sure you know how to get prospects to talk to you.

Step 6: Start Prospecting
Develop a list of 20 to 40 prospects per week and then make contact via the telephone as you would normally do. Use relevant VBR’s to help you connect. Pretty soon you will be making contact with the viable prospects and on your way to making more sales. If you are still not comfortable calling people via the phone you can use Linkedin as a prospecting option however make sure that you still use a VBR in your message or invitation to them.

Summary
Does this mean you will learn everything about a person via their profile or that you take a carte blanche approach to prospecting? NO. We will need to be mindful about how we go about making contact as we will still need to engage in skillful prospecting activities to position ourselves effectively. Remember information is not POWER it is potential power. LinkedIn and other social media networks are not the only sources for prospecting but they certainly can help you achieve peak performance in prospecting.

With clear sales plans and well defined prospect profiles there’s no excuse NOT to prospect effectively. 2011 will be about a Total Quality Prospecting environment.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

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

Having a sales monologue instead of sales dialogue with your customers?

February 10, 2011 in Communication, Prospecting, Sales Relationships, Social Media, Social Sales

  • Have you ever noticed your customers getting that glazed look when you tell them how fabulous you and your company are?
  • Have you ever had your customers seem very agreeable in your sales meeting but never seem to follow through with an order?
  • Have you ever found yourself doing all of the talking whether in a client meeting or over the phone?

If so, chances are you are having a sales monologue and not a sales dialogue with your customers – you are nothing more than a ‘talking’ brochure and are wasting yours and your client’s time.

We all know what it is like to be in the presence of someone who only talks about themselves with no interest in anyone else. They do not enquire about others’ wellbeing or interests; they seem totally concerned about their own needs and ambitions.

Imagine being one of your clients sitting there unable to express your concerns or be able to discuss ways to solve your challenges or achieve your goals, or get a word in edge ways. Frustrating isn’t it?

Sales monologues were standard fair at the height of the ‘product selling’ days of the 1970′s and 80′s. ‘Show up and throw up information’ was how many sales people sold back then, and some still do it today. You would think we would have shifted our focus to a more enlightened sales approach by now, yet sales monologues still happen more than you think. Where we are seeing it most often is in online community groups.

Take LinkedIn Discussion Groups as an example: watch and listen to the discussions on these forums and see what happens to anyone who tries to promote their business or tout for business in this space – they are set upon by the Group Community and read the riot act because they are not engaging in a discussion. Engaging in sales monologues is causing people to be shunned by their online communities.

The new world of social media and sales is about sharing, educating, giving of yourself and working to enhance the communities you find yourself in. Blatantly advertising yourself is frowned upon because it’s just the same as being a talking brochure and people don’t want that, and quite frankly, never have.

The key to conducting a successful sales dialogue is to start listening and tune into what people are saying. You can get insights galore about peoples’ opinions, preferences and ideas at online communities like LinkedIn and Facebook. This, in turn, will give you more ideas about what you need to do to engage in meaningful dialogue with others and develop the opportunities to produce something far more fruitful. Let your customers or contacts do the talking, ask them questions, find out what they are after and then work with them to give them what they want and/or need.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

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

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