Exponential Sales

Why CRMs Suck

Yes, you read it correctly. In my humble opinion just about every CRM out there, and there are hundreds and hundreds, all suck!

CRMs, like all technology based solutions have to work hard to try and keep up with today’s disruptive changes in methodologies and processes to allow for a streamline ‘automated’ sales process.

It’s not good enough to tell our salespeople they have to be writing contributing and committing to content every day without a method or a process to simply and quickly do so. This is not only critical to their success but also to that of the organization.

 

So it’s not hard to understand how CRM’s or any system can quickly fall behind as things change. Whether it’s keeping up with the mobility of its customers, new disruptive technologies, or just that customers are creating a new buying paradigm, it’s tough to maintain relevance.

All that said, enough with the excuses. They simply have not kept up in any way with, “Social”.

Social in and of itself is a large topic, but when it comes to a CRM the sales and marketing aspects have been wholly missed. Worse, they’ve been ignored, and are not even considered as yet in most CRM environments. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few that make passing reference and or allow some focus, but as to implementing a real process around social sales and or marketing, not even close.

Having written many articles about how important traditional sales process still is and why it will always be so, does not change the fact that without lead generation the sales process is irrelevant.

This is where the rubber hits the road and sadly I’ve yet to see a see a CRM truly on the road.

Social sales, social marketing, and content marketing are all critical phases of lead generation that are not yet present in the vast majority of today’s CRM solutions. This means that the single most important and expensive part of any organizations sales process is missing!

All social channels should be directly integrated through a CRM to allow for tracking and automation. Any marketing platforms in use, likewise, to allow for one automated and streamlined system to manage, nurture, close and ultimately to maximize the account.

In today’s actual customer journey and as all the traditional sales methodologies lose their impact, it’s imperative that we develop productive and integrated tools. It’s not good enough to tell our salespeople to keep all their leads on this spreadsheet or that spreadsheet or in this other system or that file…

It’s not good enough to tell our salespeople they have to be writing contributing and committing to content every day without a method or a process to simply and quickly do so. This is not only critical to their success but also to that of the organization.

Most of today’s CRMs seem to be more focused on features instead of “Value” so they have lost sight of what their true value is. Let me provide a hint, it’s not just about your revenue / user. The value is to provide a solution that helps organizations automate and streamline Sales and marketing processes to improve the customer experience, not hamper it. In so doing, sales team will be far more productive and engaged with customers. I could go on, but you get the point.

It’s a tall order I understand, but to be truly effective I put the call out to all CRM solution providers and Developers. This to come clean and provide a simple unified platform in combination or separately to assist today’s B2B social selling organizations who will flock to your door and buy your solutions!

Just as one final addendum, this rant came about based upon our experience working with sales people globally. Seeing the challenges they have in implementing and actually running social sales, there are too many tools scattered across the landscape to help — but trust me, currently a completely effective CRM is not yet one of them.

 

Written by Thomas Ross  — @TRsocialselling || @ExpoSalesLtd

I Don’t Understand It, Every Year Our Sales Pipeline Shrinks

I was speaking with a new client recently who was totally perplexed by the fact that his team’s sales pipeline has declined for a third year in a row. More important, their sales had declined for a third year in a row as well. “If this keeps up we are all going to be out of jobs as the business closes the doors.”

“So tell me what you are doing, and what accountabilities have you set in place to turn this situation around.”

“Well for one thing, I have challenged them to increase their cold calling targets by 10%. We have bought email lists from a couple of companies and started to send targeted accounts a compelling message about our products. In addition, we have set new targets for the field sales team to make two additional visits per day to potential customers as they travel on their route”

All I can hear is the wrong answer buzzer going off every time he states an objective.

I'm the trouble starter, punkin' instigator

“Are you aware that 98% of all cold calls and emails go unanswered? That dropping in on people today will not get you through the gatekeeper?”

“Think about the time required to make all of those cold calls. If you can make 100 cold calls in a day, that will lead to two potential customers. Let’s assume you can see the two potential clients, what are your chances of closing them?”

“About 10%.”

“OK, so you need to make 1,000 cold calls to generate 20 potential clients that will result in 2 customers.” That’s 10 days to get to two sales that will takes months to close. Is that your sales target?”

“No that would not even pay to turn the lights on?”

“Then you need to change the way your team sells. Business people now proactively ‘block’ outbound marketing wherever they can, and no buyer is sitting around waiting for an unknown vendor to contact them. With the information that is available to us all today, along with options such as ‘educational content’ that can help drive ‘inbound’, it’s just lazy to continue to use unsophisticated outreach in 2018.”

This is an actual conversation with an actual client. The company has since adjusted their selling process to one of Social Selling. They are using their position in the marketplace to inform and educate. They are active on the social platforms, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Their web site is not a selling vehicle, as much as it is an informational treasure chest that generates questions. There is a call to action on every landing page. They post articles and other commentary in groups and social sites.

The bottom line is that after only 6 months, they are driving new sales and their pipeline is full of not only potential customers, but converted customers.

What is happening with your sales team?

Guy Kawasaki said: “If you have more money than brains, then focus on outbound, but if you have more brains than money, then focus on inbound.”

Written by Richard Doyle — @Deverons1 || @ExpoSalesLtd  

The Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada Get It!

Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA) has just released a TV spot intended to position CPAs as valuable assets to businesses heading into uncharted territory.

The spot, entitled “Record Label,” takes viewers back to the 1990s, on the verge of widespread disruption in the music industry (Give it a watch On Their Channel). A group of business leaders, brainstorms solutions to declining CD sales amid the emerging so-called “internet fad.” When a CPA suggests embracing market trends and going all-in with a digital subscription platform, she’s dismissed by a shaggy-haired executive who wonders how this will help him sell CDs.

Fast forward to 2018 and modern client behavior means that Social Selling is replacing the old ways of cold calls, email blasts, and drop by visits.

Like the disruption that online streaming and downloads brought to the music industry in the 1990’s, Social Selling is disrupting the Sales Process today. The question is; are you listening and are you prepared to make the changes required to embrace how the world sees selling in 2018?

Here are a few facts:

57% of the buying journey is completed before a sales rep is ever involved. (Source: CEB)
54% of people are now involved in the average B2B buying decision (Source: CSO Insights)
75% of B2B buyers now use social media to research vendors (Source: IDC)
90% of decision makers say that they never respond to cold outreach (Source: Harvard Business Review)
74% of buyers say they choose the sales rep that was FIRST to add value and insight (Source: Corporate Visions)

 

Your world is being disrupted as we speak, just like streaming and downloading crushed CD’s and CD retailers. The question is; are you prepared to transform your sales process and engage a new way of selling to grow your revenue and find new customers?

Don’t be like the blind executive at the CD company, open your eyes and mind to the new reality and build your business before the competition shows you how it is done.

 

Written by Richard Doyle — @Deverons1 || @ExpoSalesLtd || 

Are You a Nowhere Man in the World of Social Selling?

The year was 1965 and John Lennon wrote the song Nowhere Man, which was an introspective about his life at that time. He was asking himself; “Where am I going?”

Where am I going is a question all corporate leaders should be asking themselves today about their company’s commitment to Social Selling. If you are not committed to it, if your sales team is not actively participating in it, you will become a Nowhere Man, and the positive revenue growth you expect from your sales team will likely become a slow decent into frustration and declining sales.

Take a look at a few of the Lennon lyrics below and ask yourself, if this is how you view the world of Social Selling;

Nowhere man, please listen (are you listening and observing what is going on around you)

You don’t know what you’re missing (do you realize that buying decision are 57% complete before you hear of them and you are missing out on sales opportunities)

Nowhere man the world is at your command (this is your opportunity to beat the competition to the sale and grow your revenue)

Or does this describe you?

He’s as blind as he can be Just sees what he wants to see.

If this is your view of the opportunity that Social Selling offers and if this describes you and your company, you need to set a new path for your company and Sales Team. Like Lennon, if you are asking yourself were your company is going, if you’re looking for new ways to generate revenue, find new business opportunities and make your company more relevant, you need to explore Social Selling today.

The world of Social Selling can be at your command, all it takes is a little introspection on your part and a willingness to take the blinders off and see what you are missing.

 

Written by Richard Doyle — @Deverons1 || @ExpoSalesLtd || 

 

Does Social Selling mean never picking up the phone again?

This is one of the most asked questions we get and deserves a proper answer. So here it is.

No!!

 

The idea that the entire sales process is now conducted online is simply a fallacy (That should put millions of professional sales people at ease). Will it get to that point remains to be seen, but even if it does — human interaction and professional selling skills will always be in demand and critical in helping customers make informed decisions.

So then how does social sales fit into the sales process?

Sales is comprised of what we like to call phases and has been traditionally captured by use of this sales funnel as the example. For all of you sales people this is old hat and hopefully you follow this model every day with every lead.

For all of you senior managers, executives and owners, this will help you to make sense of all the noise.

 

Sales phases take us through the customer journey from lead to close and depending on how complicated or simple your sales process is, can have many phases. Going into an in-depth definition of these phases and why they are so important to sales is not the point here.
Suffice it to say that these phases are as important now as they were before customers began researching everything online. The difference is that by the time they enter the sales process they are usually much further along and much better qualified, improving sales conversions but more importantly reducing sales cycles and COSTS.

What is all the hoopla about social sales?

Ah, now it gets interesting. Social sales is not about what we do to help a customer through the sales process. It’s not about all the professional sales skills needed to help a customer make an informed and successful decision. It’s about how we got them into the sales process in the first place!

Traditional interruption based sales relied on activities such as cold calling, trade shows, email blasts (more commonly referred to as spam). These activities along with others are still in use and even relied upon by many, however they simply don’t provide the results they used to.

It’s really that simple. Customers and key contacts no longer answer phones, in fact many will outright tell you that. Trade shows have become more expensive while returning much less in the way of leads. They are now more important from a promotional perspective, ie, promoting new products, technologies and services to markets.

Email marketing has been less and less effective for quite awhile now for many reasons that range from government legislation to anti spam technologies. The final nail in this coffin is the fact that email is being used less and less as organizations use real time social tools to communicate with staff, vendors, suppliers and customers.

So is the use of the phone over, will we never call anyone again or answer our phones?

Of course not, in fact the phone is still a very important tool even though it’s more likely a smart phone than the traditional desktop model.

The difference is we use it after the customer and the lead have been developed through social engagement.

By the way, while the idea of cold calling through endless lists of contacts until we get a few meetings is hopefully losing any value. Cold calling can still be an effective way to try and reach a target and researched contact that you are not able to reach any other way.

Think of social sales as the funnel OVER your traditional sales funnel. It provides the leads and engagement we all so desperately need but in a much more productive, informative and effective methodology.

Hopefully this helps to put to rest the question of what Social Sales is and why it is so important.

Selling skills are still critical to the success of your sales team but they won’t matter much if they have zero leads and potential customers to engage with!!!

Written by Thomas Ross  — @TRsocialselling || @ExpoSalesLtd

 

Stand Out and Lead or Get Out of the Way

Here’s a hypothetical for you. You’re at a networking event and you meet three people in a group (as you do). You talk briefly, then ask them what they do. Based on the following responses, which person would you find the easiest to engage?

 

I am the CEO / President of company XXX.
I work at company XXX and we manufacture XXX product into the XXX industry.
I am a mentor and coach to my fellow employees and work on our business everyday to create a better environment for them.

 

In each case, you could be speaking with the CEO or President of a company, but response number three will get your attention. It establishes a better groundwork for conversation, and tells you something about the person. That response offers the opportunity to begin a relationship — at least, it opens the doors to a deeper conversation.

If we can agree, why is it that 90% of the people that have a LinkedIn profile only list their title and their company name?

LinkedIn is the greatest business networking site in the world. They have nearly one half of a Billion users, and it is growing daily. It is by far your best opportunity to network and grow your business through social media.

Think of yourself in a room full of Presidents and CEO’s. If everyone starts with their title and company, no one has stood out from the crowd. Isn’t that what we as CEO’s and Presidents are always trying to get our employees to accomplish? Well, it starts with you. How will you make yourself stand out so that you draw people in and make them want to learn more?

LinkedIn is that room full of people. If you want to stand out, you have to be different than everyone else in the room. Isn’t that how you got to the top in the first place?

First let’s look at a few facts:

 

75% of B2B buyers now use social media to research their vendors. They not only research the company, but the people in the company (IDC).

 

57% of the buying journey is done BEFORE a sales rep is involved (CEB/Gartner).

 

90% of decision makers say they never respond to cold outreach (Harvard Business Review).

 

It is plain that without a great profile, it will be difficult to stand out and be seen by your potential customers.

You are the leader in your organization. If you have a weak profile, then why should any of your employees be any different? As with all things in a company, people look to the leader as the example. You can’t ask people to do what you aren’t prepared to do yourself.

The facts above speak for themselves, your customers and potential customers are searching for the company to fulfill the next contract. Do you and your employees stand out enough to grab their attention? If not here are a few simple tips on how to develop a better profile and begin the process of standing out:

Create a header that speaks to who you are, not your title. You want to create a relationship. Think about response #3 at the beginning of this article: I am a mentor and coach to my fellow employees and work on our business everyday to create a better environment for them.
Develop a summary section that speaks about you and what you can bring to the table for your potential customer.
Fill out your work history, all of it. Show potential customers you have the experience and background to support their objectives.
Post articles and educate people on your industry, become an expert in their eyes.

There is more to do, but this is a good start. Social is here to stay and as per the Harvard Business Review, 90% of decision makers say they no longer respond to cold calls. Social is the new norm, don’t get left behind. Develop an enhanced LinkedIn profile, and get networking!

Written by Richard Doyle — @Deverons1 || @ExpoSalesLtd

 

Social Transformation : 2018

This is the year that organizations globally will turn the corner on “Social”.

What does this mean? This is the year that those stragglers still critical of this evolution will finally realize it’s not a fad or another phase. To all of those not yet sure, that breeze you feel is your competition moving past you.

Social is not just critical for sales, it permeates every part of an organization, improving communication and human relationships across all boundaries. Leveraging and becoming social is akin to learning how to swim. Some organizations will sink, many others will dog paddle (staying in place), while a select few will learn the power stroke.

What can “Social” mean across the organization? (in layman’s terms)

Human Resources 

  • Improved, simplified and lower cost recruiting
  • Keeping up with your teams in real time
  • Empowerment of entire organization to create a positive and powerful organism dedicated to it’s people and customers alike
  • Providing real time communication to your people allowing for seamless execution of all organizational activities
  • Becoming an organization that people want to work for
  • Becoming an active member of the social network in your industries, existing and new

Accounting

  • Leveraging professionals and cloud based technologies to drive business and cut costs
  •  Keeping up with changes in all areas of business in real time allowing for immediate adjustments when applicable
  •  Cutting the cord to old legacy systems that are holding most organizations to the past

Executive management

  • Real time instantaneous access to people and decisions allowing for mobility in decisions and strategy execution
  • Open and positive communication across teams and vendors for cost effective and efficient opportunity developments
  • Access to industry executives for capital and acquisition opportunities that might not otherwise be known
  • Ability to attract new talent and skills needed to grow the organization based on real time social communication

Production 

  • Access to all the key team members in real time allows for smooth coordinated production whether service or manufacturing based
  • Industry best practices in real time and managed accordingly
  • Execution and delivery clearly seen at every step and at every organizational level

Information Technology

  • Freedom!
  • At long last the ability to harness critical applications to power the organization immediately and without concern as to a legacy infrastructure holding them back!
  • Access to real time data!
  • Ability to communicate with all areas of the organization in real time to maximize efficiency and minimize costs

Marketing

  • The ability to seamlessly integrate customers, prospective customers, sales and service into one communication stream where all benefit with immediate and accurate data
  • The opportunity to leverage real time data to help bring immediate market opportunities to executive management
  • A closer and much more effective relationship with sales department leveraging the skill sets of all teams to maximize revenue opportunities for the organization
  • The opportunity to align and even set the marketing goals to be the same as the corporate sales goals!

Finally, Sales!

  • Developing new opportunities efficiently and at a much lower cost of sales / ROI
  • Creating deep and lasting relationships with customers and industry in real time
  • Replacing traditional expensive sales activities with much more efficient social sales methodologies that are best practice
  • Increasing sales opportunities while cutting sales cycles in half
  • Becoming an important and sought after source of information for your industries

 

This is the year.

Make it happen OR watch your competition succeed.

Written by Thomas Ross  — @TRsocialselling || @ExpoSalesLtd

Vinyl Records or Music Streaming – Cold calls or Social Selling

I am an avid collector of vinyl records. I have had a fascination with them since I first started collecting in the 1960’s. I was working for a rail company as a Redcap (carrying customer baggage for them), and I would get tips that I then converted into vinyl records. Everyday I would go into the record store and browse the thousands of records wondering which ones should I buy today. In those days LP records cost $2.98, so I was able to buy 2 every working day. I soon had a great collection and continued to add to it oven the ensuing years.

The came the fateful day in 1987. I was sitting on the veranda at the great Pinehurst Golf and Country Club in North Carolina and reading an article in the newspaper; The Death of Vinyl Records. I was stunned thinking this can’t be! It seemed at that time that a new form of recording was coming to the market called CD’s. I immediately decided that I would quote my Father when he said: “The Beatles will never last.” Of course, CD’s would not become the go to listening format. 

Well as we all know, they did and now they are a thing of the past for the most part as well. Digital downloads and music streaming sites have taken over and who knows where it will lead to next.

I write this because I am seeing a similar disruption and transformation taking place in the world of Social Media today. Social Media is becoming the go to form of communicating, purchasing, researching, etc. for society. Whether we like it or not it, is here to stay and will continue to evolve and integrate itself into all areas of our life. The question is; will we embrace this form of media or will we continue to play our old vinyl records?

As a business person, I am continually surprised by the fact that business people use cell phones, email, online purchases, etc., but have not made the business transition to Social Selling and Marketing. They play those vinyl records without seeing that the world has moved on. Cold calling, emailing and unannounced drop by visits are old school. Business today is being done more and more on Social and if you are not there, then you are missing out on a high percentage of opportunities to grow your business.

This doesn’t mean that you abandon your sales force or marketing department. It means that you give them new tools to drive your business. There is still a need to make sales calls. There is still an need to educate from a marketing perspective. The difference is that the opportunities are uncovered using Social, because that is where your customers are today, and if you are not there, you will miss out.

What do some of those tools look like?

  • An online profile that speaks to who you are not what you sell.
  • Articles and posts that establish you as the educators in your industry.
  • An online presence in multiple social sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, etc.
  • An understanding of how to create relationships online the same way you did in the past, face to face.

I have not abandoned my addiction to vinyl, but I also understand it is harder to find it (although it is making a bit of a comeback), and therefore I need to embrace music streaming, because the opportunity to listen to 100,000,000 songs is available to me as opposed to the limited opportunity I have with my vinyl collection. The same in business, we do not abandon the opportunity to meet with people and sell them our product, but the process of using social increases the number of opportunities to create new relationships and therefore the opportunity to drive our business.

Get Social!

 

Written by Richard Doyle — @Deverons1 || @ExpoSalesLtd

It’s Really, Really Cold Here

I was listening to a discussion recently about how cold it can get in Winnipeg, Canada in the winter. It’s true, Winnipeg is one of the coldest cities on the planet. The temperatures in the winter will reach 40 below C/F — add in the wind and you can get temperatures in the minus 50C range or more. On the other hand, you will not find a nicer place to be in the summer. Temperatures are moderate and there is not humidity.

Photo by Abby Matheson Photography, Twitter : @abbymathesonwpg Insta : @abbymathesonphotography

OK, so why am I writing about Winnipeg?

It’s because when it’s that cold, people avoid our city. Tourism is obviously limited, and even the residents do not walk around. When it’s summer, the city is a haven for tourists and everyone wants to be outside and meet each other.

If you are wishing to build your business in the social arena today, this is a good analogy for you. If you’re not participating, then you are like our frozen city — no one can or will engage you. You can’t be found, and you will float silently away into the dark.

If on the other hand you are engaged in social media, like the summers in Winnipeg, you will be found and people will engage with you!

It is your decision, but the consequences are clear. Ignore at your peril and engage to your delight.

 

Written by Richard Doyle — @Deverons1 || @ExpoSalesLtd