Friday, October 31, 2014

CRM Outlook Includes New Ideas for Sales Training

When you hire a new sales rep, your company likely sends them along with a few other new hires to a centralized location for a few days or weeks of sales training. They are tested over the material, given role play opportunities and time to get to know a few of the sales executives that stop by to see the new recruits.

However, many sales organizations are becoming disillusioned with this model. Despite the high cost of putting sales reps up in a hotel for weeks while they learn the philosophies of the company, the product line and sales strategies, many of the concepts learned during training are lost within a few weeks of finishing the course.

While sales executives generally know that they aren’t accomplishing much by sending new reps to this type of training, they continue to do it because there hasn’t been another option. However, sales reps know the reality: most of what they know, they learned in the field.

Now, mobile technology is providing a new CRM outlook for training capabilities. While it may take some time for companies to transition to this type of training, there are some reasons it is worth considering:

Targeted Training
The use of mobile technology for training is new on the CRM outlook, but providers of CRM are starting to implement intelligent tools for training. The mobile apps for CRM are savvy at determining which parts of the sales process are breaking down for any particular field rep.

If a field rep is missing opportunities to follow-up after a face-to-face meeting, for instance, the CRM app is going to identify that break in the sales process and provide training prompts for the sales rep.

Uninterrupted Sales
Ask any sales rep about their national training meetings, and you will likely hear grumbling. The complaint is that it is hard to keep doing their job while they are holed up in a hotel with few breaks for addressing incoming calls and emails, never mind making an in-person sales call.

With this CRM outlook, one of the clear benefits is the uninterrupted sales process for your sales reps. They will not need to take a break from selling because their training is integrated on an ongoing basis, depending on how the CRM toll determines that they need it.

Cost Savings
The cost of periodically sending your sales reps to training eats up a portion of your budget. While CRM tools are an expense as well, because they do so much more than train your reps, the cost of the training modules will be a fraction of what you currently spend to train your sales team.

Front Row Solutions provides mobile CRM apps that naturally integrate training into the day-to-day functions of your sales team. Call us today to see how you can streamline your training budget and keep your sales reps learning new techniques to grow their territories.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Customer Relationship Management Apps Promote Integration Between Field Reps and Inside Sales

Many sales organizations are built to have inside sales reps that support a team of field reps. The inside sales rep may also have smaller accounts that they manage on their own, but their main role is to assist field reps in identifying leads and completing the daily tasks that are involved in sales.

As Amazon and other online merchandisers have made it easy for individuals to look up and research virtually any product sold on the market, some businesses are beginning to question the role for field sales reps. However, with the right customer relationship management app, you will find that your organization is positioned for major growth that requires the support of both field and inside sales reps.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about how inside sales and field sales can benefit from the right customer relationship management app:

Customer relationship management apps improve communication. Many sales organizations struggle to match inside sales and field sales reps in a way that promotes teamwork. However, with a good customer relationship management app, the field rep and inside sales rep can be in constant communication, with both able to enter notes on opportunities, challenges or other aspects of the customer relationship.

Customer relationship management apps reduce the gap between activity and reporting. An inside sales rep that takes notes on a delivery problem, for instance, can post to the system, allowing the field rep to see the notes within 60 seconds. This can be helpful when a field sales rep is about to walk into a meeting and they are able to review the latest notes on past activity in the customer’s account. If there have been any customer service problems, the sales rep can acknowledge them in the meeting and work to maintain a positive customer relationship.

Coordinating inside sales and field sales through a customer relationship management app allows sales managers to tighten and perfect a repeatable sales process. With a customer relationship management app, the behaviors and activities of both inside sales and field sales teams can be analyzed and measured to determine how best to assign tasks between the two types of reps. Having this type of analysis available can also help sales managers determine how best to structure their sales team.

In some cases, an industry may be best suited to having the sales team weighted largely in inside sales, because the product or service sold is not highly technical. In other cases, field sales reps may bear the bulk of the sales responsibility, with inside sales playing a minimal role for paperwork and small accounts.

If you are looking for a customer relationship management app that can maximize the productivity and growth of your sales team through the coordination of field reps and inside sales reps, call on Front Row Solutions today.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Using Customer Relationship Management Reporting To Grow Sales

When you use a customer relationship management tool, it can be easy to get bogged down in the data entry and simple sales reports. Don’t forget that any customer relationship management tool should be able to isolate and group various fields in order for you to target groups of customers for marketing purposes.

In order to get the most from your customer relationship management reporting capabilities, you should be doing targeted marketing. Identifying which customers may be most likely to use a particular product or service is the first step. Here are a few thoughts to consider when refining your customer relationship management reporting:

Don’t let your business size deter you. Even if you are a small business, tracking which customers might be most likely to appreciate a product or service offering can add value to your sales process.  It is never too early to use customer relationship management reporting to be sure that your sales calls are relevant.

Customer relationship management reporting prevents marketing on a mass level. If you use your customer relationship management tools well, you can avoid sending out marketing materials that hit only on a mass market level. What you want, instead, is to target the customers with marketing that is tailored to their needs so that you are increasing sales.

How to Segment Your Customer Relationship Management Reporting:

In order to effectively target customers or potential customers for marketing, you must first decide how you would like to add value through this messaging. For example, if your business is an oil distributor, you may want to target customers that are metalworking specialists with a new line of products that result in less waste.

In order to send a specialized message to your targeted group, formulate a sentence that will be populated by your customer relationship management reporting: “I want to (call/email/Facebook message) all contacts that (enter criteria) that are/are not (insert criteria).” This type of formulaic sentence can help you identify what it is that you are trying to accomplish through your customer relationship management reporting.

Next, use your database to pull the contacts that meet the criteria in your formulaic sentence. Then create a message that communicates the added value that you would like to offer your contacts that can be delivered through your choice of communication tools.

Before you press “send” or make a call, make sure you decide how to evaluate whether your targeted marketing activity was successful.

Front Row Solutions provides intelligent, efficient reporting tools for sales organizations that want to see measurable growth through data management. We specialize in mobile apps that keep your sales reps out in the field and provide up-to-the-minute reporting options for sales managers. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Choosing the Right Customer Relationship Management Features

Many executives heading up a sales organization get overwhelmed when they try to choose the right customer relationship management features. The system they choose should have a significant positive impact on their sales numbers, provided they choose a system that actually drives sales.

So how do you choose the right system? Customer relationship management features are exploding in the field, as competition between providers becomes more intense. Whether you actually need all these features is a question that sometimes gets lost in the bells and whistles. Taking time to carefully evaluate the features that will drive your sales up is a critical step in choosing the right customer relationship management tool.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing which customer relationship management features will best fit your sales team:

Be wary of trying to make your system do everything. While you want your customer relationship management solution to be efficient and integrated with other areas of your business, its main purpose is to drive sales. Many organizations get their marketing department involved in choosing the appropriate features, for instance, and then struggle when their reps are expected to feed information to marketing from a sales call, rather than focusing on closing a deal.

Again, this is a double-edged sword. You need your customer relationship management  solution to accommodate and integrate the various parts of your business. What you don’t want, however, is your sales reps ceasing to be sales reps just to enter the data that other departments are after.

Choose the system your sales reps will use. This sounds simple and obvious, but many sales managers get wowed by a flashy customer relationship management tool, and later find that data entry is so cumbersome that compliance becomes an issue. If your sales reps won’t use it, it’s worthless.

Identify your top few data entry items. Whether it is three or eight, don’t have your sales reps entering more than a few items of information after a sales meeting. You should focus on having your reps enter a couple of key points related to what the customer needs, the reason for urgency and next steps. Sales reps should be able to enter data in these few fields in less than 30 seconds.

Make sure it’s mobile. Possibly the most important customer relationship management feature for field reps is a system that is supported for mobile use. Sales reps are becoming accustomed to entering data as they enter the elevator or as they walk across a parking lot, capturing the details from a meeting while they are fresh in their minds. Saving data entry for an office day takes the sales rep out of the field and allows information to be forgotten or grown stale by the time it is entered.

Front Row Solutions can work with your sales team to develop the customer relationship management features that grow sales for your business. We offer mobile app customer relationship management tools that allow your sales reps to stay in the field and focus on sales. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Sales Accountability Happens in These Three Steps

Holding sales reps accountable may be more necessary with some sales reps than with others. However, even the best sales teams have weak spots. Once you have identified which behaviors most often lead to sales, you will want to hold your sales reps accountable to activity in those behavior areas. Ensuring that your sales reps are being held accountable breaks down into three simple steps:

  1. Define the activities you want to measure. This may be the result of an analysis of your sales process to see where you can improve. Maybe your best sales reps are those that incorporate a specific activity during their first meeting, such as asking the customer to describe their own goals for the business. Determining which behavior to measure is the most critical step.

Once you have identified those behaviors, break it down into the specific actions your sales reps need to take in order to fulfill your expectations. Once you have listed out the actions you expect, start tracking them.

  1. Match each of your sales reps with an appropriate senior staff member to go over their progress on a regular basis. This may be a more seasoned sales rep. It could be that you set up teams of sales reps to hold one another accountable and report back to management on their progress.

  1. The sales rep should meet with the person to whom they are accountable once each week. These meetings should be centered on the behaviors that are being tracked. However, these meetings can be a rich resource for both parties as they share what is working and behaviors that seem to lead to a dead end.

One of the benefits of having a sales rep meet with a more senior sales rep or other senior staff is that sales reports and other data will be looked at often, not just at the end of the quarter when a sales rep misses a target.

As a sales manager, you may be wondering where you will find the time to incorporate an accountability plan. However, this sales accountability plan should be designed as a support to make sure you hit your sales goals. It should not feel like another major project, but instead as a way to protect your goals and be sure that your team is on target.

With the right customer relationship management (CRM) system, sales accountability should be a seamless process. The technology available now allows for your sales reps to enter information about a sales meeting immediately following a meeting while they are still in the field. Within 30 seconds, they can enter all of the critical information about their meeting and the sales manager can access the resulting sales report within 60 seconds of the data being entered.

If you need help setting up a CRM system to support sales accountability, Front Row Solutions has the tools you need. We can help you track specific behaviors that lead to sales and grow your revenue. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Social CRM Features Increase Sales and Improve Customer Relationships

It’s no secret that social media has changed the way that people interact, but how do you harness that momentum to increase your sales? For some, the overlap between social media and customer relationship management (CRM) seems obvious, but in case you are wondering what social CRM is and what it can do for your business, here are a few points to consider.

Social CRM: What is it?
Social CRM is a strategy and philosophy that utilizes your CRM features to add in a social aspect to your business management. These features are designed to engage with your customer or potential customer in order to detect areas of mutually beneficial value.

Using CRM features to engage socially with your customers is a technique to plan, measure and design your social media efforts to improve customer relationships.

Why Social CRM is Important for You
Implementing social media into your CRM features is an investment of both time and resources, so it is important to understand how it can impact your business. Here are a few reasons that social CRM can benefit your business:

  1. Improve customer relationships. You can find out what your customers need from you and when they need it. You can also learn about the challenges they face and foster conversation on the platform of their choosing. Social media can also help you detect brand advocates and develop initiatives with them to maximize your combined potential. With social CRM you can increase your brand recognition and reach by using your CRM features to target populations with highly relevant content.
  2. Provide your sales reps with high-quality data. You can not only find out what potential opportunities are out there, but also find out what they are talking about on social media. This enables your sales reps to get a fuller understanding of the various factors and dynamics that affect your customers’ businesses. Your sales reps can walk into a meeting with a broader understanding of their prospect’s challenges and successes.
  3. Social CRM can help your sales reps identify and address business challenges. Social CRM gives your sales reps a window into the challenges that may face your customers. It can be a way to identify customer dissatisfaction before your customer decides to shop around and give you a way to fix the problem.
The right CRM features can allow your sales reps to tie into social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter to see what the buzz is around your company and industry. These sites provide valuable insight into the opportunities and challenges that might be there.

To find out about social CRM and how your business can maximize the opportunities that social media has provided, contact Front Row Solutions. We provide mobile CRM tools that use the latest technology to grow your sales. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Proactive Account Management

A proactive approach may seem synonymous with being a sales rep, but for many sales reps, it may be difficult to identify the areas in which to be proactive. If the customer misinterprets your proactive attitude for pushiness, it may spell the end for your contact with them.

A customer relationship management (CRM) solution can assist you in some key areas of proactive account management. Once you have identified the areas in which you desire to be proactive, the CRM tool can aid you in staying in a mode that results in higher sales and happier customers.

Here are a few areas that your sales team may want to implement a more proactive approach in your account management:

Revenue: Talk with your customer about the type of revenue you can expect from your interactions with them. This is not any kind of binding agreement, but rather an up-front conversation where you seek to determine what they plan to spend with your company for the year. By obtaining this information early in the game, you can identify possible opportunities and create a reliable projection for your sales portfolio.

Cadence: An agreement between you and the customer that identifies how often you will meet is critical to keeping the relationship with the customer positive. This proactive step helps you maintain good account management, eliminates frustrations of trying to get a meeting and helps your customer utilize their access to you.

Opportunities: Your sales reps can talk with the customer about what their business goals are for the years. Findings out about new opportunities early can help you identify where you might be able to grow sales and help the customer see you as a partner in their own success, too.

Feedback/Expectations: While feedback is reactive in nature, when it is combined with customer expectations, it can help your sales team look forward to improving relationships and service. Find out early in your relationship with the customer how they will measure their satisfaction with you and your company so that you know exactly what they hope to get out of the business relationship.

Measurement and Progress Evaluation: Once you know how the customer will measure whether your company is a good fit for them, develop an evaluation process. Through this process you can show the customer that you value their opinion and that your commitment to their satisfaction is not simply a sales pitch.

A good CRM tool helps your sales team be proactive in their account management. From identifying new sales leads to maintaining a positive relationship with customers, CRM has the capability to keep sales reps ahead of the curve.

Front Row Solutions offers mobile CRM tools that promote a proactive sales model. If your company is looking for ways to efficiently manage customer accounts and become more proactive in the sales process, mobile CRM can give you an edge over your competition.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Benchmarking Information for Fresh Ideas

When you are in a period of significant growth, it may be tempting to keep riding the wave and assume that you must be doing everything right. In many sales organizations, this is the norm. While it seems natural to avoid trying to fix what isn’t broken, you may be missing opportunities and new ideas by not taking time to gather benchmarking information.

Benchmarking information can give your managers new ideas. Even if you are currently growing your business with the tried-and-true metrics, compensation plans, sales promotions and other techniques, you may still be able to improve what you are doing by getting familiar with the sales strategies of another company.

Here are a few reasons why benchmarking another company every two to three years may benefit your sales team:

  1. You may receive confirmation that some of your techniques are solid sales strategies that are also employed by other leaders in your industry. Seeing another company using similar plans that you rely on may give you some much-needed confirmation that you are on the right track.
  2. Benchmarking information can help you get insight on a range of compensation plan ideas and other organizational components. Learning how another sales team organizes regular meetings, for example, may help you see benefits of another structure for sharing sales updates.
  3. Benchmarking information helps you get some fresh ideas. You may not only be able to pick up a specific new technique or strategy, but even getting outside of your normal environment can get your creativity revving. You may be able to brainstorm some new ideas simply because you got out of your office and into a new place.
  4. Even if you walk away from the other organization without a specific plan to implement in your own sales team, it may instead give you a sense of pride in how well your sales team is doing.

There are also a few tips for making sure you get the most benefit out of your benchmarking experience:

  1. Don’t get bogged down trying to find an exact match in both industry and size of the organization. Your best ideas may be the result of spending time with a company that is significantly different than yours to gather benchmarking information.
  2. Spend at least one full day with the organization. Don’t expect that a couple of hours will give you a true picture of the tools that are leading the sales team to growth and success.
  3. Be strategic in how you spend your time there. Take time, for instance, to watch the inside sales team in action. These interactions will tell you a lot about how the sales process is formed in the company.

Benchmarking information is a critical part of ensuring that your sales team is performing at its best possible level. Front Row Solutions can help your company identify measures that will lead to growth and opportunities and then show you how our customer relationship management tools can support that growth.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Making Meaningful Sales Opportunities From a CRM Database

Big data refers to the wealth of information available online. If you are using CRM, your system likely pulls together many sources of information together to create a massive list of leads. Getting actual sales out of a CRM database can seem like an overwhelming task.

In some cases, the CRM database is a coordination of not only Internet searches, but also contact lists from LinkedIn and other social media sites. Your sales team may also receive large databases of sales leads from your marketing department, with little consideration of whether these lists contain any feasible sales opportunities.

With so many sources of leads, sales reps can get bogged down in trying to find even a small number of legitimate opportunities. The first step in developing a list of leads from a CRM database is understanding who your target customer is. You need to have a solid understanding of what your sales team is offering and which companies should be targeted as customers.

Here are some tips to making sales from a large CRM database:

  1. Narrow the focus of your CRM database. Identify the customer you are after with critical criteria listed. Then use the data and statistics in your CRM database to identify the opportunities that best match your criteria. Be careful, however, not to get too bogged down in this step. You could miss months of sales by analyzing criteria instead of choosing your best potential clients and going after them.
  2. Remember that these companies are made up of people. Determining companies to target may be simpler, but there may be personal preferences at play that impact whether you can make a sale. Be aware of whether the buyer or other decision-maker fits your criteria.
  3. Consider the shelf-life of your data. Data has a short lifespan in the internet age, and you want to be sure you are after customers with good data. Updating your CRM database regularly will help you keep current with contacts and their needs.
  4. Connections should be meaningful. When you approach a meeting, tell them why you wanted to talk with them. Were you alerted to a comment on an article that indicated they were looking for a product or service like yours? Or maybe they attended a trade show that alerted you to schedule a meeting.
  5. Find the right tool to handle your data. The right CRM database can be user-friendly, helping you identify your targets using specific criteria. Once you begin using the right CRM tool, managing your database can become more and more refined, making Big Data a more useful tool for growing sales.

Once you have the right CRM tool in place, don’t stop improving your process for identifying useful leads. Developing a repeatable model for growing a sales portfolio is important for the future of your business.

Call on Front Row Solutions to provide you with a CRM database that leads to growth for your company. We specialize in mobile CRM, allowing your sales reps to stay in the field instead of wasting hours manipulating data in an office.