Be Likeable… and Use your CRM System

Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Blog |

Why are some sales people less successful than others? They create customer relationships that should lead to a sale, but it doesn’t. Does CRM make a difference? What can they learn from successful sales people? In my youth, shortly after beginning my career in business (which was a long time ago), I got to talking with a salesman on a long train journey. He was making notes in a black book. (This was in the days before Blackberry and PDA’s and IT-supported CRM.)  He noticed my curiosity; didn’t seem to mind my rudeness. I asked what he was doing. “These are my customers”, he said. I said, “It doesn’t look much like an address book to me; you seem to be writing a lot about each one. He said, “I write in the names of spouses and kids and birthdays and anniversaries.” I said, “Why?” He said it helped when visiting a customer to ask how his wife was or to ask how the kids were or if one of his kids had some critical exam at school; how did he get on? I don’t remember what he was selling, but he had to keep in touch with over 500 customers. “Remembering something personal establishes some common ground”, he said, “which helps a lot. It helps re-construct some relatedness from previous calls and visits before we talk about new products and getting an order. I might not have had an opportunity to visit for 1-2 years so I can’t remember things like I would with personal friends.” I was a recently graduated engineer and was working in a team at Dupont, where remembering personal things about colleagues was an unconscious part of working together. I had difficulty feeling comfortable with this ‘black book’ kind of relationship-support way of relating to people.  I said, “This sounds a little bit phony to me;  don’t people find it offensive?”   He said not. “If you ask about someone’s son Arnold and how was their skiing holiday, they take it as a compliment. Get his son’s name wrong and it’s an insult.” “It takes a little while to learn how to do it sincerely; it’s a different kind of relatedness builder, but it’s not dishonest. It has to become part of who you are, seamless, you know? You just need to remember that there is a business purpose to your relationship, and you don’t have all day, and you need to close the deal; and that’s who you are.” This was my introduction to CRM systems (though the label and the TLA came much later). Looking back on this encounter with many years of sales force consultancy work and CRM projects behind me (JI Management Consultants),...

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Sales Stars don’t use CRM (or do they?)

Posted by on Nov 18, 2016 in Blog |

Interesting question from Mike Muhney on Linkedin: What do you do when your top salesman refuses to use your CRM system? Here’s another: What do you do when the top sales person suggests that as the guy/girl who keeps the company alive, he/she should become Director/VP Sales? Should he/she be given a share in the business? I’ve seen that scenario played out a few times with interesting consequences. The question which intrigues me is this: Has anyone taken the time to get an understanding of what is going on in the minds of top (I don’t mean ‘very good’) sales stars when they say they ‘can’t’ use a CRM system (and they don’t mean won’t)? Is there something in their behavioral make-up that is creating some poorly-understood (insurmountable) ‘CRM/system’ aversion problems? Maybe even your best stars don’t understand what makes them tick; after all sales is not a science; it’s an act. There is a lot of ‘system believer’ logic in the judgment that a salesman who does not use the expensive CRM system that management have kindly purchased for him is doing so out of some kind of renegade behavior motivation. Does a sales force strategy based on ‘no stars’ lead to the kind of bottom line result we all want to see for our clients/customers? This may not be as daft as it sounds. So could this mean that the first step in your CRM rollout strategy is to fire all the sales stars and implement with only ‘journeyman’ sales professionals? This contribution is but an observation from one who knows he does not know. By opbservation however I note that many sales stars I have met are particularly intuitive and human and instinctive folk. I have been surprised that they are seldom nice-guy ‘pleasers’ as you might expect, but often irascible and not good at relationships with office-based colleagues (and bosses); clearly not ‘team’ players. If stars have a role to play in the corporate formula for making the biggest possible pot of money; what is it? Share...

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