Successful Business Growth 101: Applied CRM
The most successful businesses that I know follow a clearly structured sales methodology and a detailed plan to get there. It shouldn’t be too surprising that in order to get to a big sales goal there are a whole series of much smaller structured activities that need to be followed through.
Here are some outlines on key learnings from many years of successful marketing and sales campaigns.
1. Define Objectives
Typically a business will select a CRM because they want new customers or new business. They see this as a sales hunting exercise and often have other sales people for farming or account management duties. The sales “farmers” are looking to grow the business by selling more products or more volume of the same products and services to the same people.
So the first step in more successful sales plan is to decide whether you have new customers/new business goals or account management goals and your strategy will be different. Remember – a CRM allows you to treat different customers in different ways according to their needs, goals and desires.
2. Tips for Lead Generation
I was talking to a business owner recently about their needs. The owner has a number in mind for new business and is looking for the best way to get to that point. The traditional approach is to hire a business development manager who can understand the market and work out where the business will come from.
Except that in this example, little or no marketing has been completed to date. Marketing is the brains of sales. An effective marketing plan has to be part of the sales plan otherwise the risk is that that sales team resources are wasted on chasing deals they have less chance of winning than they should.
What this business needs for their new Business Development Manager is a lead generation campaign so that a reasonable sales pipeline* can be built up. (*Sometimes called sales funnel – typically a list of potential customers ranked in order of their closeness to a sales decision.) Note: lead generation can now be outsourced.
The sales team needs to have directed, relevant, useful engaging conversations with their strangers or suspects, prospects and their customers to understand the most compelling reasons why they should do business with you.
3. Work your Sales Funnel
To have a relevant conversation with a business you only suspect may have a need of your product or service some form of lead development is needed. A marketer would have a target list of suspects and some form of communication to those people is then triggered. Often this is a multi format communication like a direct mail piece to the decision makers, a case study in an industry magazine and possibly even advertising in trade publications so that the target businesses have some idea of who you are / what you do.
At this point the phone may begin to ring – however – many of your competitors are doing the same, so you really need to “close the loop” by making contact with as many people on your target list as possible. This means making a series of phone calls to decision makers so that you can earn the right to be heard when that business has need of your services.
Many sales people make 1 or 2 calls at this point – however the golden number is 5. If you make fewer calls you will get to less people but if you haven’t reached a person after 5 calls then you should probably add them to a later campaign. There will always be a group you can’t get to in any campaign cycle. When you have spoken with each contact, determine how much lead nurturing they might need in future. When is the best time to call them again and what do they need to know about so that the relationship is nurtured to the point where you can bid.
4. What Others Say About You Wins Business
So lets say you have seeded the market with information about your positioning – what do you actually say to those suspects / prospects if you can get some of their valuable listening time?
This is where careful thought on call scripting is needed. A script needs to frame your messaging about capabilities and credibility in a way that can cut through all the other sales messaging in your market. You probably have 3-10 seconds to say something relevant to that person at that business before you get turned away.
What really works at this point is to get the suspects attention by telling them of a well known industry success where you were the supplier. This is especially powerful if you can quote that customer in their own words. A customer testimonial has major social capital and is much more significant that anything you can say about your own business.
As Brian Clark says
“What other people say about you is more important than what you say about yourself. This is the foundational aspect of linking and the backbone of social media.
Testimonials and media mentions are important because of the concept of social proof. We all, to vary degrees, look to others for indications of what to do and how to behave. Social proof is the basis of buzz, word-of-mouth marketing and fashion trends, but it’s also an important aspect of our day-to-day lives. We avoid sensory and information overload by looking to social indicators for judgmental heuristics that help us make decisions.”
More to the point – the suspect is more likely to believe you and give you another 30 seconds to communicate the “why” you are calling. This progressively wins you the right to more time to talk about the how and hopefully earns you an appointment where you can engage more fully in person.
5. Structure Your Sales Process
A sales call is therefore very important and needs to be carefully structured so that the prospect/s needs goals and objectives can be identified along with timelines, compelling events and other material factors like budgets and people.
So the next time a business owner asks you to sell – be very clear on all the key aspects of messaging, positioning, and proofs so you can build a quality pipeline. Every sales call needs to be a step closer to a sale for your product or service. Many times you will still have to wait for a budget cycle – but that is part of the discovery process and if you know that you can be in the right place at the right time. Those prospects will already know who you are and you should make the shortlist for serious consideration.
The other part of the sales conversation is to be clear on the other 6 key decision metrics about that particular sales need.
6. Fine-tune with Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
If we follow a structured sales plan then we can use our CRM to fine tune these process steps and maximise our chances of success by making certain we are “in the frame” when an important opportunity comes up.
It is time to improve your strike rates with new business. We believe the notes above provide an essential guideline for your business. To get help with sales planning and lead generation contact me now for a no obligation chat.
Find out the 6 key decision metrics you absolutely need to know.
If you would like more CRM related content please see these earlier posts
- CRM is not a Magic Bullet
- CRM & Knowledge Management
- What to Look for in CRM Strategy
- CRM as a Process Platform
- What is CRM Used For?
- CRM Thinking about Strategy 1