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5 Reasons Blog

How to Eliminate Sales Peaks and Valleys

Monday, July 18, 2016

“OMG, my sales funnel is bone dry!!” 

Panic sets in.  You sell like crazy, get some sales traction and start nursing your new found opportunities to closure.  You focus on nothing else for weeks.  A few of them close.  Champagne corks pop and commissions are calculated.  Finally, you pause for breath and look at your CRM. 

“OMG, my sales funnel is bone dry... again!”

The sales rollercoaster is the number one selling Pain chosen in a recent survey of my blog readers.  The peaks of the ride are a blast, but the valleys totally suck.  There is, however, a way to tame this 5 ticket ride and carve a path to steady, reliable and predictable revenue.

Here’s the thing – every sales person knows about the rollercoaster.  Strangely, they seem to readily allow themselves to climb on board.  They know if they get so busy closing business [or implementing new deals] and stop prospecting for net new customers their sales funnel will run dry, yet they repeatedly make this fundamental mistake.  How come?

I think it’s the dopamine effect.  Dopamine is the chemical in your body behind the feel good rush [pleasure] you get doing whatever your favorite thing is.  For sales people, the mere thought of closing business feels good. Closing sales feels even better – hello dopamine! 

Contrast this with the grunt work behind finding brand new clients.  Cold calling [lots of rejection], endless web research [boring!] and completing CRM fields [mind numbing] is super low on the dopamine producing scale.  It’s no wonder many sellers gravitate away from Prospecting.

To keep the dopamine flowing and get off the roller coaster, try some of these road tested and proven methods to minimize the valleys of the ride...

Hire someone else to do the heavy lifting prospecting work for you:  This one is road tested by me personally.  There is a market of highly qualified virtual assistants today that did not exist even 5 years ago.  Select one and pay them to do the part[s] of the prospecting process you don’t enjoy, are too busy to do or are just no good at.  Have this work done while you are busy closing your current sales opportunities.  When you are done with them, there will be fresh opportunities to close.  This investment will put money in their pocket, hours back into your day, and new prospects into your sales funnel.  It’s a win – win!

Set and keep a 45-minute appointment with yourself every day:  For most sellers 45 minutes a day focused on acquiring net new sales opportunities, will more than meet their sales productivity needs.  Imagine, 240 [or so] focused prospecting sessions a year!  The secret[s]?  First, find the 45 minutes.  Even if you are quite time efficient my bet is you can tighten up here and there and create this golden chunk of time.  Second, be focused [no personal phoning, texting, Facebook, inbound email alerts, etc] when prospecting.  Third, use CRM to record your work religiously.  This will allow you to get productive the first few minutes of your session and not burn time getting organized. 

Set and measure your prospecting productivity goals:  Something like “Each week I will generate a total of ‘X’ number of net new prospects” will do.  Next, tell someone else about your goal.  Sharing goals has a way of cementing them in our minds, and firming our resolve to meet them. 

Refine your prospecting methods:  Cold calling is dead.  If you are still performing this soul sucking task you need to stop... Now!  Search your favorite book store and select a book that will teach you how to get your prospecting into this millennium.  There are many more effective, efficient and enjoyable ways to find your next big client than cold calling.  Hint...it’s called social media.

With just a little discipline and stick-to-it ‘ness you can get off the sales rollercoaster.  If you adopt any of the above strategies my prediction is you will flatten the peaks and valleys, make more money, and have a great time doing so.  Have fun!

Customer Relationship Management for Sales Part 2: Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Microsoft has their own Customer Relationship Management tool – Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Starting at $60 per month with a 30-day free trial, Dynamics CRM is a helpful tool for sales teams.

The strongest selling feature for Dynamics is the integration with other Microsoft products. This is great if you use Office 365 with Outlook and SharePoint, etc. If this is the case then Dynamics can work well for managing your sales process from start to finish.

A handy feature is the Outlook integration. It has the ability to track emails, appointments, tasks and contacts. For legacy Outlook users this keeps things familiar and makes life very easy. I also like the ability to take notes with OneNote during a call and have that saved with the contact's record.

Mobile capabilities are impressive with the right tablets and phones. It’s great for outside sales reps on the go. Team collaboration with the integrated Microsoft products is also helpful for closing more deals.

For managers Power BI is a tool that has informative, interactive dashboards with customizable reports. It’s easy to use and an excellent tool for Sales Managers to monitor results and provide feedback to reps.

Unfortunately, Dynamics CRM can be complicated to learn and clunky. My personal experience in learning to use it was somewhat painful. It was one of those "once you know how to use it, it is quite easy" experiences. In short, I did not find the software to be intuitive. This can definitely be a roadblock to adoption by your sales team.

The product has a significant customization capability, but that can get costly to set up. One of my high tech clients took it upon themselves to do their own customizations. Even they found it challenging to make them, so beware. If you do decide to purchase Dynamics CRM, make sure that you hire assistance for the setup and customization.

Overall, if you like Microsoft products and currently use them, this may be a good tool for you. However, setup time and cost, plus the time involved to get a sales team up to speed are factors that must be considered before making a buying decision.

Rating: 3 / 5

Customer Relationship Management Options for Sales Part 1: Salesforce

Monday, May 23, 2016

For salespeople and managers, tracking sales efforts is vital to success. At its most basic, using CRM allows you to track sales activities and corresponding results. Used effectively, using CRM will allow you to refine and optimize your sales and revenue generation processes towards reaching your sales goals on a reliable and predictable basis.

Over the course of the next few months I’m going to review several CRM options. Hopefully this will be helpful in pointing you in the right direction toward choosing the one that is the best fit for you and your team.

Let's start with Salesforce.com, one of the most widely used and recognized sales tracking tools.

Salesforce starts at $25 per month with a 30-day free trial. The fees vary based on number of users etc., so get clear on that so you can derive your costs.

The dashboard allows users to see an overview of their day at a glance, including their tasks and calendar. There are a variety of reports available which reps and managers can run to see their sales opportunities, new business won, and existing accounts. I find the dashboard to be quite readily customizable. You don't need any technical knowledge to do so, just some patience with clicking on drop downs.

It is easy to add new leads, and track tasks and activities connected to them. Because it can integrate with Outlook, all correspondence can be attached to that record for easy reference and increased productivity.

Excel tracking can be eliminated by using the opportunity forecasting tool. Reps can identify where to focus their sales efforts based on what is in their sales pipeline.

Collaborating with other reps can be done through the Salesforce Chatter tool, which works far better than email.

Managers are able to readily analyze sales activities and results across the business and eliminate the need to track down individual reps for information. They can also easily communicate where sales are now and where they are trending.

The bottom line... Salesforce is a robust CRM tool that will do just about anything you ask it. It has numerous bolt-on options to increase functionality and just about every sales automation app out there will interface with it. The only downside I've experienced is that to make it really hum you'll need a third party integrator to ensure all of the bolt-ons you want are connected properly so they function as desired.

Rating: 4.5 / 5


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