Friday, February 28, 2014

CRM Features Your Sales Reps Are Looking For

A majority of working Americans carries a smartphone. An increasing number are equipped with tablet computers. It’s not surprising that vendors are rushing to build customer relationship management (CRM) system applications for these mobile devices.

Sales representatives are traditionally out and about, making their sales calls in person. The salesforce can use a mobile application that allows them access to the valuable tools they rely on in the CRM solutions.

While the clamoring has already begun, many CRM vendors are failing to address the needs of the salesforce, which means the adoption rate is fairly low in the field, especially by sales associates who have historically been reticent to work with time-consuming CRM reporting features. This is something you’ve probably already noticed with your own CRM and the end result may be failure to meet the goals you set.

Throughout the industry, less than 25 percent CRM deployments see a positive adoption rate. While the reasons for these poor rates vary, most sales reps simply don’t see the benefits of using the system. Many of your sales reps actually see CRM as a function for executives to use in oversight rather than a tool they can use to increase their sales.

CRM features are built not only for executive functions, but also for sales staff to use for lead nurturing, sales and customer relations. Unfortunately, a majority of CRM vendors build their solutions in such a way that sales reps perceive the interaction with the solutions as busy work that takes too much time away from what they do best – make sales calls.

CRM vendors should be more focused on building features that improve your sales reps’ ability to enhance their customer relationships, which is the vital step that leads to more sales. The CRM features should help establish a more customer-centered environment with easy-to-use tools that won’t require hours and hours of training to utilize properly.

Your sales reps are constantly on the go, which means they need CRM features that allow them offline or online access to the CRM interface. The mobile application you supply your reps should allow them to do this regardless of the power of their cell signal or whether or not they’re in a Wi-Fi hotspot.

The features that sales reps are looking for include easy customization of their customer relations information. GPS integration is also important for reps who want to facilitate appointment attendance. Calendars, contacts, email and tasks should all sync according to the reps’ specifications, and the CRM dashboard should offer a quick and easy view of the pertinent information.

Front Row Solutions has developed the CRM features that sales reps want. After interviewing more than 100 sales reps, we were able to put together a mobile application that sales reps can use to deliver a sales report in less than 30 seconds. Virtually no training is required, which means your sales staff will be more inclined to not only buy in to the product, but also use it after every sales call.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mobile Apps Are the Future of Customer Relationship Management Solutions

Mobile apps are not only popular tools for the average consumer, they’re gaining in importance in support of the mobile professional. According to a study by Gartner, mobile applications will exceed 268 billion downloads by 2017. The study also reveals that mobile apps will be the most popular tool used in computing across the entire globe.

Brian Blau, research director at Gartner, said by 2017 apps will no longer be confined to smartphones and tablet computers – consumers will be wearing them on various devices and you’ll see them in your home appliances, cars and elsewhere. Integration into everyday life will be mainstream and developers are stepping up to the plate to make this happen.

The average consumer spends about 2.5 hours a day on their smartphone and/or tablet and about 80 percent of that time is dedicated to the applications they’ve downloaded. Consumers are accustomed to working within apps and sales reps are no exception. Mobile apps are expected to become increasingly important to your sales representatives who want them integrated into their
customer relationship management solutions.

The Adoption Challenge

The problem is that many CRM vendors have failed to build their features around what your sales reps want and need. Therefore, the adoption rate for these mobile apps has been fairly poor. Customer relationship management solutions are often geared toward executives, even though they’re built with tools that can assist sales reps in lead generation and customer service.

The problem is that most CRM features take too much training and are too time consuming for the average sales rep. Organizations looking to thrive in this digital age must have a laser focus on consumers and must adopt solutions that offer your sales reps the tools they need to achieve better customer satisfaction, better sales results and a painless method for reporting.

It’s no secret that sales reps want to spend more time selling and less time entering data into their CRM reporting tools. Anything other than selling is considered a chore by these highly driven individuals. At the same time, as a sales manager, you know you rely on sales reports to better manage the sales force. When a clunky CRM turns off the sales force, you’re left without good data that could have been used to make fact-based decisions.

An Easier Option

Front Row Solutions listened to the needs of sales reps and built a mobile solution that offers quick and easy use. Furthermore, Front Row included a camera feature in the mobile app that allows the sales rep to use it for any number of purposes. For instance, if the rep has a picture of a contract, they can include it in their report and automatically notify the appropriate parties that the picture is attached to the report.

Communication continues to be an issue for many companies, which is why a sales-friendly mobile application is what CRM vendors should be focusing on if they want to meet the need. Unless a sales rep can quickly and easily communicate with peers, managers and customers, they’re less likely to reach out. Fortunately, Front Row satisfies this challenge. To learn more how we can help your sales team advance, contact us today.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to Get a Warm Response to Cold Calling

It’s a rather daunting prospect: you, a telephone, a potential client and a thousand possible outcomes.  Cold-calling is a nerve-racking experience.  Everyone has his or her own, unique, style, but a number of common elements can help you to be persuasive and successful when speaking with potential clients. 

1.  Attitude 

One of the simplest ways to increase your effectiveness at generating new opportunities on the telephone is to be yourself and smile. You need to have confidence in your product.  Believe that the products and services you offer are genuinely excellent, and unique. Interestingly, the physical act of smiling changes the tone of the voice and gives off enthusiasm. This makes people much more willing to listen.

2.  Objective

Having a clear objective is critical. Before you make a call, it’s worth reminding yourself what the objective of the call is. Above all, remember that you’re trying to establish a long-term relationship with a client.  What’s more, it’s useful to express your objective to the person on the other end of the line. People are frustrated if they don’t understand the reason for your call.  Typical objectives are:
  • to obtain the name of the right person
  • to gather information about a company’s current situation/needs
  • to give information on what you provide
  • to arrange an appointment or webinar. 

3.  Messages

Whilst speaking with your contact, you need to express some clear messages. These should include:
  • I’m professional
When you start speaking, you want to convey that you are a professional business person speaking to another professional business person about something that is interesting and useful.
  • I’m credible
One of the most significant reasons that people listen to callers is that they believe they are credible because they provide products or services for many of the biggest and most admired companies in the world. For this reason, you need to learn as many of your client case studies as possible.
  • What I’m telling you is interesting
Every company should have its own USP. Perhaps it’s the latest technology, or the cheapest or the most hard-wearing.  Knowing yours will enable you to describe it easily and in a compelling way.

4.  Investigation 

The people you speak with will be at different stages in the buying cycle, but they are all useful contacts and conversations. The reason is that, even if they are not ready to buy now, the time when they are ready to buy could come around very quickly.  What’s more, their company’s objectives could change and they may require your products or services urgently or one of their colleagues might need your services.  They may even have friends in other companies who need your services
This means that every single conversation you have is useful in some way.

5.  Qualification 

It’s critical to understand what stage your potential clients are at in order to identify what outcome you want from the conversation. This is so that you respond effectively to them, and so that sales people don’t waste their time on pointless follow-up meetings.
What should you ask?
  • How many people will use the product or service?
  • When would they see it?
  • When are you looking to purchase?
  • What’s most important to you for the product or service?
  • Who is the budget holder for this product or service?
  • What stage is the planning for this program at and has the budget been approved?

6.  Dealing with objections

There are a few main reasons why customers will stall the conversation or not arrange a meeting.  For example:
  • It may not be the right time
  • They already have a supplier
  • They aren’t convinced about your credibility
  • They like to make decisions more slowly/prefer to think before committing, even to a simple meeting
  • They are very busy so don’t want to add to their workload.
Objections are most easily overcome if you know the prospect’s current situation and needs (so you can tailor what you say to persuade them) as well as competitor weaknesses (so you can identify how you are different and better).

7.  Closing/Next steps

Broadly, there are two types of closes:
i.  Prospects who you judge are ready to buy
When you close a call with a prospect who has a need and a budget, you will ask more closed questions.
One of the most effective closes is;
“from what you’ve said, it looks like it would be useful for you to meet one of my colleagues to show you our products/services. When are you free this week or next?”

If they become shy, and ask for information, be pleased and tell them you’ll send it to them.   Then ask them when you can call back to arrange an appointment.

ii.  Prospects who you judge are not ready to buy
For these people, your objective is to start the relationship and get permission to contact them until they are ready to buy.

Good ways to close these types of conversations are to agree next steps by asking one or more of the following:
  • “Would you like to be included in invitations to events and future product information and white papers?”
You can then take their email address.
  • “Would you like a short, online, demonstration of our products or services, so that they are familiar to you for when the time is right?”
  • “Do you know the best person to speak with about any product that we offer that we haven’t spoken to you about?”
  • “Do you know anyone in another company who might be interested in hearing about how we help companies with these products and services?”.
 Having many sophisticated and interesting conversations with fellow professionals is exciting. Each call is different - and a new challenge!

The harder you work, the more calls you make, and the more of yourself that you put into each call, the more success you will enjoy.  In the words of Dan Pallotta, entrepreneur and humanitarian activist, “open yourself up to the possibility a phone call offers. Discover this remarkable device called the telephone. It will give you a serious competitive advantage”.

Friday, February 21, 2014

CRM Features Enter the Mobile Space

Nobody can argue that the technology surrounding telecommunications over the last 10 years hasn’t changed the global landscape. Around 55 percent of Americans have a smartphone. Just over 40 percent are equipped with tablet computers, according to Pew Internet Project’s research on mobile technology.

In October of last year, Apple announced that they had reached one million apps in the App Store. Android continues to add thousands of apps per month for use by its users and should hit 800,000 regular quality apps before the end of winter.

Most organizations have at least considered developing an app for consumers if they don’t have one up and running already. As consumers become more reliant on their smartphones, organizations will quickly learn that the apps offered will be a gateway to information and/or services that get you what you want faster than you can through a search engine or traditional website.

Some of the first apps made by developers might seem quite useless by now, but apps are definitely not going away. As the number of smartphones continues to grow, the more essential apps will be to the everyday user. They are efficient, easy to use, exclusive to the tasks assigned to them, offer an endless array of possibilities and they are each unique.

Many people are using social media apps to stay connected better than they ever have. It’s obvious that apps are available for just about every conceivable need, but how advanced are they in the workplace?

In the Customer relationship management (CRM) space, the need to offer mobile apps is continuing to grow. This means that the
CRM features that sales people have become accustomed to on their laptops and desktops must now be available on their smartphones.

It’s no secret that sales reps are not the best adopters of CRM, despite the fact that a well built CRM provides access to the kind of data your sales reps and managers need to improve profit margins. However, sales reps are built to convert leads into sales, not punch numbers into a computer and file sales reports.

Some of the best CRM solutions on the market fail to achieve a positive adoption rate, mostly because the CRM team has not paid close attention to what every member of the organization needs in a solution. When it comes to developing mobile CRM, no sales rep is going to use it if it doesn’t allow them to get their job done faster.

Front Row Solutions has the mobile CRM solutions that your sales force wants. How do we know what the sales force needs in a mobile app? First,  our management team  is made up of former sales reps. Second, we have interviewed more than 100 sales reps to determine what they need in CRM solutions and mobile CRM features. When it comes to working in the field, reporting sales activities has never been easier than with Front Row’s CRM features for mobile devices. To learn more, give us a call today.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

6 Tricks for Creating the Perfect Sales Proposal


Learn six simple steps for dramatically improving the closing ratio of your proposals while increasing your average sale size.
What would it mean to you if you could increase the closing ratio of your proposals by just 20%? So many salespeople spend so much time in the initial stages of a sale, only to rely on the same weak proposal template in order to try to close the deal. However, simply crafting your proposals in a more intelligent way can eliminate this problem and increase your closing ratio significantly. By implementing these six easy steps, you will dramatically improve the number of sales that you close.

1. Get to the Point!

The second that a prospect feels you are making him do work, he will shut down. Most salespeople create long proposals that look super impressive. However, their prospects never read them. Instead, keep your proposals as short as possible, and get directly to the point. Anything in your proposal that will not directly contribute to a prospect’s decision should be removed.

2. Remove Any Boilerplate

Prospects will immediately skim through any information in a proposal that seems generic, and once he has begun skimming, he won’t stop. If you are simply plugging a different name and company into the same template each time, you are hurting your chances of closing a sale. Only include information in the proposal that you’ve learned in previous meetings with the prospect.

3. Think Outcomes

Most proposals focus primarily on what the salesperson intends to deliver to the prospect. However, your prospects are never buying anything for specific deliverables -- aka your product or service. They are buying the outcomes that you provide. The same is true when someone buys a drill: the buyer doesn’t care about the tool; he is more interested in the holes it creates. Focus your proposal on what your offering will do to improve your prospect’s current situation.

4. Outline Value

When your prospect feels sticker shock, it’s not because your price is too high. Sticker shock happens when the prospect doesn’t see enough value in what you are offering. During the course of your meetings leading up to a proposal, be sure to outline the value, in dollars and cents, of what you are offering. Ideally, you can ask questions that will help your prospect articulate the value of solving his challenges. Then be sure to include this value in your proposal. Every outcome should have a corresponding value.

5. Create Options

When you give your prospect one option in your proposal, he is likely going to want to shop around for some comparison. However, when you offer three different solutions, ranging from the most basic option that will solve his key challenges to a premium one with all the bells and whistles, you are providing some immediate context for his decision. Plus, you increase your chances of closing a larger deal simply by offering that premium, high-priced option for your prospect to consider.

6. Turn Your Proposal into a Contract

Have you ever had a prospect say that she was ready to move forward with a contract only to have the deal fall apart? This happens to salespeople all the time, and there is one very simple solution. Make your proposal your contract. Since your proposal already outlines the scope, simply include a section at the bottom that allows the prospect to sign if she is ready to commit. This will allow you to avoid any clunky back and forth after there’s been a verbal agreement.
Which of these tricks do you think will be most useful for your business? Please share below in the comments.

Mobile CRM Solutions Slow to Hit the Market

Your telecommunication devices, once planted on your desks or in your walls at home are now in your pockets. Society is mobile in nearly everything. However, when it comes to sales and customer relationship management solutions, the mobility you’re accustomed to suddenly comes to a dead stop.

Like other workers, you are no longer chained to your desktop. You’re working from your own mobile devices as more and more organizations invest in mobile connectivity for their workers. According to International Data Corp, vendors were expected to ship out around a billion smartphones worldwide in 2013. More than 200 million tablet computers were shipped in 2013, which goes to show that what was once only done at the desk is now being accomplished on the commute to and from work as well.

So, what’s holding up the mobile abilities of the CRM solution? Some businesses blame the slow uptake on their sales reps that are slow to gravitate toward the mobile solution. Others say that it can’t be the mobile applications being offered up by vendors because sales reps don’t even use the desktop versions of powerful CRM solution platforms.

One train of thought is that the only way sales reps will take up a mobile CRM solution is if it allows them to make their sales reports faster than they can on traditional CRM. Unfortunately, most CRM solution platforms don’t address the needs of the sales reps in the field and stick to processes that are far too time consuming for the average rep.

Vendors can’t ignore the increasingly mobile society much longer. In fact, vendors have slowly started to put the puzzle pieces together and are looking for more automated processes that will suit the sales force. Don’t look for a groundswell of sudden support and mobile apps being directed toward the sales force though – it looks as though most vendors have opted for the long term focus rather than quickly pumping out solutions that will appease the sales force for the short term.

Oddly, the very CRM solutions that are built to help companies create better profit margins are being largely ignored by one of the most key components of the operation – the sales force. The only way your sales force is going to adopt mobile solutions is if they don’t get in the way of their selling. The workflow needs to be streamlined and there cannot be a steep learning curve. While most systems are falling short, there is one company that has delivered.

At Front Row Solutions, we have a management team with foundations in the sales force, and we’ve stepped up to deliver what your sales force is more than willing to work with. We know what sales reps want because we’ve been there. We know that sales reps hate adopting new and difficult to understand CRM systems with reporting tools that take valuable time out of their day.

To that end, we’ve developed a reporting automation service that allows your sales reps to file their reports in about 30 seconds. It’s so easy there is no excuse for not filing. If you’re ready to enable productivity in the field and an easy platform to capture the information you need, contact Front Row Solutions today.