Thursday, December 10, 2015

What Top Sales Professionals Are Saying About Front Row

Top Sales World CEO Jonathan Farrington is “blown away” by Front Row Solutions CRM

When it comes to sales process tools I am far to be a "heat seeker" or a "tools nerd" Neither am I a Luddite. As long as I have what I need to make me as efficient as I can be, I am happy. However, every now and again I am persuaded to sit in on a demonstration and very, very occasionally I am impressed. That happened recently when Front Row's Etien D'Hollander asked if he could show me the advances he has made in "mobile CRM" Frankly - and sincerely - I was blown away. I actually told him that I could only dream about such a solution, when I was heading up sales teams. Really, really impressive.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Customized Key Information From a Sales Report

I got into a discussion with a new customer about the information they needed from their sales reps. Information that was critical to the success of their company. They are a bottled water company that sells water services to businesses across North America. He said what he needed from his sales reps was competitive contract expiry information. If we had that information he said we could begin a campaign at the appropriate time and go after that business. We have that information for less than 15% of our prospects. I suggested we add two questions into his Activity Card (A Front Row Activity card is a series of questions that a company creates that every sales rep answers after a sales call through the Front Row app on their mobile device).
The two questions we added were 1 a multiple choice questions “ which water company are you currently using” with these options.

Private Label
Aqua Fina
Poland Spring
Deer Park

And the second question with a calendar, “when does your current contract expire”.

These two questions were now front and center as part of their sales report and it became a constant reminder that this information was important to the success of the company.

Within six months the company had a huge data base of where every competitor was and the contract expiry information went from under 15% to over 60%. In addition we were able to provide management a report that showed the level of contract expiry information by sales rep which became a huge traing aid for they sales management group.

If knowing when a competitive contract expires is important to you contact us . We can help

Friday, December 4, 2015

Front Row Sales Pro

The Front Row app and system works by having a company create a series of questions that they would like their sales reps to answer after every sales call. We refer to this series of questions as the ‘sales activity card’. The development of the activity card has several advantages to both the sales rep and the management team.

For the sales rep, the activity card:
1) Provides a clear understanding as to what the company needs from the field.
2) Allows a sales rep to quickly and easily provide a sales report using the Front Row app.
3) Enables success tracking and prospect validation.
4) Provides automatic task assignment to sales support team.
5) Auto syncs with Google, outlook, and mobile calendars to provide clear follow up notification.

For the management team, the activity card:
1) Provides a clear picture of sales goals and company direction.
2) Standardizes the information from the field for better analytic's and KPI’s.
3) Improves accountability.
4) Supports the sales team with a tool focused on their sales reporting challenges.

From our data base of several hundred sales activity cards, here are the 6 most commonly asked questions:
1) How did you contact the customer?  By appointment, unscheduled drop in, phone call, email, web meeting, other.
This information provides insight into each sales rep’s preferred contact method, as well as close ratios and average sales amounts based on each contact method.

2) Who did you contact (could include name)? President, manger, owner, secretary, other manager, etc.
This question is industry specific and answers vary widely between industries. The information from this question ensures your sales reps are calling on the right people as well as identifying best practise and training needs.

3) What is the purpose of the sales call? Introduction, presentation, financial discussion, needs analysis, issue resolution, follow up, contract, etc.
Every sales call should have a purpose.  Make sure your sales reps understand what the purpose of each meeting is and what purposes are acceptable. From that point, track compliance, activity and results.

4) What was the result of the sales call?  Made a sale, not interested, needs more information, delayed purchase, budgeting etc.
From the result of each call, you can track and audit your clients and prospects while also providing solid information for best practise identification and training needs.

5)  What issues are holding the customer back?   Pricing, features, service, back-orders, warranty, competition etc.

This question can change your company and the answer is only available from input from your sales reps. Find out what your customers are saying about you. Is your pricing out of line, are your features weak, and is your service acceptable? Without this insight, companies are making decisions blindly.

6) When are you going to follow up? This question reminds the sales rep to book the follow up appointment which is automatically populated into the appropriate calendar for improved follow up compliance.
The Front Row system provides management with a view of each sales reps follow up calendar. The information provides insight into best practises and training needs.

These are the six most common questions from our activity card data base but there are hundreds more.  Other questions focus on forecasting, competitive activity, prospect development, marketing insight, products presented and so on. The questions can asked in any combination of free text, multiple choice, multiple answer, true and false, yes and no, alpha numeric, and calendar.

Feel free to create your own set of questions, and contact us to create an activity card and populate an app for you.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Success with Geo-location

As the Front Row Solution Company Success Manager, I have a unique insight into our customer’s success stories as well as the challenges they experience.

A key part of my role is to work with any new customer and help them create all the materials that we need to build and customize the Front Row system for their company. I am also heavily involved in training new users on the system, and getting them prepared prior to launch. After launch I will move the client over to our customer support team but only after I feel they are set up for success and am comfortable with their rep usage and compliance levels.

Post launch, I am always anxious to hear how our customers are using the system, and hear what successes they have – but I'm also interested in hearing from senior management and executives about what they think of our system. By talking with and forming strong relationships with senior managers, I am able to gain valuable insight into our opportunities to improve, but also hear a number of wonderful success stories. 

A recent conversation I had with an owner regarding the geo-location services or rep tracking is a great example. This owner has a growing business and is working on expanding his sales staff from 25 to 40 over the next year. When discussing functionality before launch, I asked about whether or not he would like to track his reps. I explained that this meant that we could show on a map where the rep is when a sales report is submitted from the field and compare where the actual account is. This makes it very easy to see how a sales rep is planning their day and if they are actually out in the field working vs. making sales calls from home.

Most high level sales people we work with love this feature as having an accountable rep is something they have never had before. This owner was adamant that this was a violation of privacy and absolutely not something he wanted to implement.

About 6 months post launch I had a call with the same owner and discussed a problem he had with unproductive new reps. These reps were not hitting sales goals and the owner didn't know if the reps were even out making the required number of daily sales calls. This owner had many calls with his sales managers about this problem and he didn’t know if it was a problem with the managers training their new staff, the products they are selling or with the new reps themselves.

Reluctantly, he decided to turn on the geo-location capabilities. This had an immediate and amazing impact on the information this owner was looking for. Just having the information he needed and never had before completely changed the outlook he had. Knowledge is power and the geo-location function gave him the ability to make informed and appropriate decisions regarding his staff.
This is one story that I like to relay to new customers about the type of information we can deliver and the positive changes we make for customers every day.

“Front Row-Solutions is the best CRM/reporting tool I have ever used and has had a significant positive impact on our company. Because of its ease of use and sales rep engaging features I get 100% compliance from my sales reps every day. With this incredible compliance, the information I get from the field is consistent and meaningful and my decision making is more relevant. Sales rep activity and productivity is up, revenue is up and profit is up.” –Michael Gaertner

By Michael D’Hollander

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sales Reporting From the Field Does Not Have to be Difficult

Sales reporting has always been a challenge for companies, a critical sales rep responsibility disparaged by most sales reps and made more difficult and challenging in today’s sophisticated CRM world.  

At Front Row our goal was to change that situation. We have built a sales reporting system and APP around the needs and attributes of the sales rep. The Front Row APP is fast and easy to learn and use and gives the sales rep the ability to complete and submit their sales report immediately after a sales call in less than 60 seconds. In addition we have added a number of features to the app that helps the sales rep be more effective and productive and thereby driving adoption. Front Row is currently running at a sales rep adoption rate of over 90% and we know we can achieve that same adoption rate for you and  your company. Information from the field is critical to a company’s success, it impacts decision making, client understanding, development needs, strengths and weaknesses and so much more. Join us in the Front row and let us help you achieve the success you are aiming for.

The picture below is a screen shot of the Front Row app as it appears on an Android phone. The balloons describe the features that sales reps use to improve their productivity and that have helped us achieve that 90 Plus adoption rate. The highlighted balloon is the most important component and is the unique Front Row reporting system that allows a sales rep to submit their sales report in less than 60 seconds. To take a closer look at the Front Row app or to try the unique Activity Card based reporting system please click here.

For more information or to set up a free trial please contact me anytime

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Young Salesman’s Sad Epiphany by Etien D’Hollander

It was my second day on the job as a new pharmaceutical sales rep. I was young, keen and naïve, and really enjoying my new Cutlass Supreme company car. I had spent two weeks in product and sales training and I was ready to turn the world on fire! I was taking over a territory from a sales rep who had been promoted to a marketing position and was moving to head office.

It was his job to introduce me to the territory and show me the ropes. We had accomplished two sales calls in the morning - one to a Doctor who he was friendly with, and one to take inventory at a pharmacy and recommend a replacement order. It was now lunchtime and we went to a restaurant in a local Mall where, to my surprise, we met with a dozen or more other sales reps from a variety of industries. I was introduced to these reps, amid some jocularity, and had a nice lunch. After lunch, we all filed down to the mall theater and went to a matinee. That was my second day as a sales rep. When I asked my co-worker/trainer about our day, his response was “that’s why you get into sales, those are the perks”!

There were two lessons I learned that day:

1.      There are more perks in being a sales rep than a company car,
2.      This is an easy profession to be a stand out in, the bar is low - just do your job!

If you think this is an unusual or rare situation in the sales rep world, I think you would be surprised. The problem is - you don’t.

The Front Row sales reporting system is a unique app based system that promotes and enables real time sales reporting. A sales rep can complete and submit their sales report (They can also update an opportunity, create a task, etc. But for these analytics, we only looked at sales reports.) immediately after a sales call, in less than 60 seconds, from any mobile device. Over the last 5 years, we have processed over 10 million sales reports and each one of these is both date and time stamped and GEO Located (geographical location). These sales reports from our clients came from a variety of industries including, medical, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, business machines, construction, food/beverage, communications, trucking, insurance, finance, and more.  Recent analytics on these 10 million sales reports revealed some interesting stats…

1.    74.9% of sales reps worked less than a 5 hour day.  A typical day runs    from 10 A.M to 3 P.M

2.    Less than 6% of sales calls occurred between 12 A.M. and 1 P.M. Meaning for most sales reps a workday is 4 hours long.

3.    80% of sales reps were active between 10 and 11 A.M. as this was the most active hour of the day with 22% of sales calls occurring in that hour.

4.    Less than 5 % of sales calls occurred before 9 A.M.

5.    Less than 9 % of sales calls occurred after 4 P.M.

Front Row Sales Report.

Why don’t you come visit us, take a free test drive, and discover for yourself the power of Front Row Solutions

Monday, April 13, 2015

Would you Rather Have a Great Product or a Great Sales Force?

Jonathan Farrington interviews Etien D’Hollander, Founder & CEO of Front Row Solutions

During a recent conversation with Etien D’Hollander, that is the question he asked me, and before I had the opportunity to respond he said, “When that question was first asked of me, I answered without hesitation – a great sales force – and thought the answer was obvious. I have continued to ask that question thousands of times over the years and have become enlightened with the answers. I ask that question in every selling meeting, in every interview and in every reseller discussion. In fact, the answer has shaped the direction of my selling approach, my hiring decisions and my reseller contracts. What I have found is that sales oriented individuals, like myself, always select “a great sales team”. Technical, financial and operations people always select “a great product”.

Etien then shared a response he received to that very question during a sales meeting only that week: “Is this a trick question? Because it could work either way. If you have a great product, that’s great! But without a sales force to push it, you are dead! If you have a great sales force, even if the product is mediocre, they may still be able to make a good impact…But overall, if all things are in order, the first option, a great product – would obviously make more sense. “

Etien continued…
“If you were selling sales training services/sales management services/sales enablement systems/sales force automation or lead generation systems and you had gotten that answer, what’s your next step? I don’t mean to be a hard ass, but the right answer may be to walk away. You see, the person who gave you that answer has no empathy to a sales rep and, no matter what you say, will not understand the value in putting more money and effort into the sales rep or sales team when that money could be spent on product development and enhancement. Even though I got quite indignant the first time a company executive said to me, “sales reps are shite and they always will be shite!” or a school peer said to me “is sales all you could get?” - I now realize I have no empathy for them either.

Empathy is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference – i.e. the capacity to place oneself in another’s shoes.

In over 30 years of selling, I always accepted that sales reporting was part of the job – not my favorite part, but a necessary evil at best. With the development of computers came automated sales reporting and, over the years, I have used several CRM systems including Siebel, Goldmine, Salesforce and Act. Not one of these systems was focused on me, the sales rep! They were difficult to learn, harder to use and did not offer anything to me to help me be more productive – in fact, they got in my way!

I now understand the problem with these systems and why sales rep compliance and adoption is so low – empathy. If you search the internet for any of the Legacy CRM systems, including the ones I have used in the past, and look at their executive teams, they are led by engineers, financial people, computer science grads – not a sales rep amongst them… no wonder they find it such a challenge to create a sales rep focused system!

At this point, Etien paused for breath, which is a rare occurrence for a man with so much passion about this particular topic, and I was able to give him my answer.

There is a misconception – commonly held by non-sales oriented C-Lounge residents – that great products sell themselves, which is of course complete nonsense. The only possible exception to that rule is a commodity.

The undeniable fact, which can never be challenged, is that our sales teams are our engine rooms, our offense, and our vanguard. As somebody once famously said, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something”. For all the investment a company may make in lavish offices, state of the art furniture and luxury company cars, they will not remain in business very long if they are not selling – and selling well.

I liked the fact that Etien placed such great emphasis on “empathy” because I know that is a characteristic he possesses in abundance – “when I see myself and my products through my customer’s eyes…”

You owe it to yourself to get across to Front Row and discover for yourself why Etien is enjoying so much sustained success. He doesn’t just sell CRM systems; he provides harassed and time constrained sales leaders with restful nights by giving them back complete control of their sales operations. Go take a free test drive today. Here.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Mobility does not mean Usability – Despite What You May Have Been Told

I think that it is easy to say that the mobile device has become the focal point of our lives. It gives us instant access to information and contacts and allows us to stay connected wherever we are – do we ever leave home without one these days?

In business, enterprise mobility has become the general trend; increasing numbers of employees are working away from the office and using a range of mobile device to perform a full range of business tasks.

Nowhere is this is more prevalent than within sales forces:  The days of populating and updating our CRM from a desk top computer have been consigned to the annals of history. Virtually every CRM vendor now claims mobility as part of their features and benefits (advantages?) My personal view is that far too many people read the word “mobility”
in an offering and automatically think “usable.” Nothing could be further from the truth. While there are some very effective and usable mobile business apps available many are anything but.

My advice? Before making your final decision about any type of mobile application, is to try it, try it again and even try it one more time after that.

I suggest that you begin by making a list of three critical things that you want your sales reps to accomplish using the app. For example, submit sales report, update opportunity, create a new client, assign or update a task, update a forecast, retrieve historical client information etc. then try that yourself.

Once you have completed this task, ask yourself: “was it easy to learn, was it fast and easy to use, was it intuitive in its function, did I need outside support, was outside support available and effective, did it help me improve my productivity?”

Whatever your personal results were during this try it yourself trial, you must assume that your sales reps experiences will be worse. Why? Because logically, they are less motivated and less tech savvy than you are and as a consequence, will have extra challenges in order to make it work.

During a recent implementation for an organization with more than 200 sales reps in the industrial supplies industry, we had (to say the least) some interesting support challenges. To give you a flavor, below are some of the calls that were logged into our customer support division – the guys that were dealing with these sales reps. While some of these calls may be
deemed amusing, my intention is to assist you in understanding the critical importance of usability. Never before has the “kiss” principal been more important than in dealing with sales reps and technology. Here we go….

·         “What is an app?”
·         What is an apple account and can you create one for me?”
·         I’m in my car and ready to get the app, where do I find the app store?”
·         It’s asking me about a data package?”
·         I loaded your app yesterday and now it’s gone”
·         “Ever since I loaded your app my phone doesn’t ring anymore”
·         “I use an I-pod Touch and its asking me about a data package”
·         “I don’t want any of your techno mumbo jumbo, just fix it”
·         “I think your app has a virus, every  couple of minutes my screen turns black”
·         “My fiancée loaded the app for me and I don’t know what it looks like”
Never before has the “kiss” principal been more important than in dealing with sales reps and technology!

The second step would be to ask the sales rep that is selling you the product to show you how they use it on their mobile device themselves. The results may be surprising.

The third option is to try it with your sales reps on a free trial bases and obtain their feedback, this is by far the best way to find out if an app is usable and effective.

 In addition to usability for the sales force there are several additional factors you need to consider before making that final decision.

·         How much band width is needed to power the app effectively and what is the data cost?
·         How does the app function when you have no connectivity?  Is it still usable and will the app store your activity until connectivity is re-established?
·         Does the app use battery power and data when running in the background and how much?
·         How much IT effort is required to activate the app?
·         How much training and support is required to initiate and to use the app?
·         What mobile devices does the app function on and what devices do your sales reps have? Very important in a BYOD (bring your own device) company.
·         Does the app have a history of crash or malfunctions?
·         Does the company have a history of providing enhancements to their apps?

But whatever you do, don’t let any of these challenges keep you awake at night. Simply email me –  We are here to provide restful nights for time constrained sales managers seeking to achieve total control of their sales operations.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Mobile CRM Revolutionizes Sales Process

When Steve Jobs introduced the concept of the iPad, he said that tablets were going to fill a gap between cell phones and laptop computers. There were some tasks that a laptop could do, but it was a bit cumbersome. Other tasks could be completed on a phone, but screen size and a lack of speed might make it less than ideal.

A tablet, however, would be a perfect fit for tasks that required the portability of a cell phone but the speed and visibility of a laptop. Critics were a bit skeptical, but a few years later tablets are everywhere.

While consumers love to read and surf the Internet on tablets, they are becoming indispensable in the business world. Sales organizations are finding that when they use tablets to implement mobile CRM, their sales process is revolutionized, resulting in improved efficiency and increased profits.

Here are a few reasons why mobile CRM and tablets are the right combination to get your sales organization on a growth trajectory:

Mobile CRM Eliminates the Inefficiency of a Laptop for Sales Presentations
In some industries, sales reps are forced to grab a minute of the decision-maker’s time between customers. Waiting for a laptop to boot up is not an option. The ability to look at order history, demonstrate new offerings and answer questions on the spot make mobile CRM on a tablet a game changer for sales reps.

Tablets Eliminate the Need for Paper Brochures
A tablet allows a sales rep to quickly pull up a PowerPoint or video demonstration to profile a new product or service. If the customer is intrigued, the sales rep is able to check real-time inventory immediately and place an order for the customer. Sales organizations can eliminate the need for printing brochures, a significant savings that will quickly replace the cost of the tablets.

Sales Reps are Able to Enter all Data During the Sales Call
Instead of getting back to their office with a list of items to complete for customers, sales reps can enter orders, check inventory and makes notes about possible opportunities while they are standing in front of the customer. Data entered into the mobile CRM is fresh, allowing sales managers to access quality information for sales reports.

Sales Managers Enjoy Full Compliance From Sales Reps
Sales reps tend to avoid activities that they perceive as taking away from time selling. When mobile CRM allows them to enter critical information in a few seconds, they no longer think of sales reporting as a task that robs them of sales time. They will quickly see the connection between using the tool and increased sales and profit.

Front Row Solutions provides a mobile CRM that can be used as a stand-alone tool for your sales organization or it can be implemented to interface with your legacy CRM solution. Call us today to find out how we can develop a customized CRM system for your sales reps that boosts profitability and efficiency.