| March 08, 2022
I just lost an argument with a software guy.
I was trying to convince him that his product, a CRM program, was flawed. They tried to make it simple, and in many ways succeeded, but in several very important ways, I think they failed. Which is too bad because I would really like to find the perfect CRM program, and it doesn’t seem to exist.
I use ACT! as my own CRM, and I often tell people that I couldn’t run my life without ACT!, let alone my business. But I also tell them that ACT! is a product that can do 100 things, and I only need eight of them. In my experience, the sheer bulk and complexity of ACT! and other products like salesforce.com keep many salespeople from committing to a CRM. And that’s truly unfortunate because this kind of software should be the backbone of any salesperson’s sales efforts.
What’s It All About?
I say that because, at the most fundamental level, selling is all about getting someone to the next level. That may mean getting a raw suspect to respond to an e-mail or voicemail. It may mean progressing from an e-mail exchange to a face-to-face meeting. It may mean converting a quote to an order, or getting an actual customer to buy more from you, or give you a few referrals. Until someone becomes a maximized customer, there is always a next level, and I think you want to get there.
All of that means that selling is about follow-up. Follow-up is how you get people to the next level. And the most important function of a CRM is to be a follow-up machine.
Here are some very fundamental sales strategies. After every contact or outreach with any buyer or potential buyer, you should always ask yourself two questions: 1) Based on where I think I stand right now, what should I do next toward getting this person to the next level? And 2) When should I do that?
In other words, how and when should I follow up on what just happened?
That gives you a plan. Now you need a place to store your plan and a way to remind yourself to execute it. That’s what a CRM/follow-up machine can do for you.
I had an interesting conversation during an onsite visit last week. One of the salespeople I was working with stated that more printing sales opportunities are lost due to price issues than anything else. I thought about that for a while and decided that I disagree. Yes, sometimes it’s a Price Monster situation — people who make all their buying decisions based strictly on who offers the lowest price. But just as often, it’s a situation where one salesperson outsold his or her competitors. The distinction I’m drawing here is that, many times, the salesperson who lost was never really in the competition, so there was no real opportunity.
In my experience, more printing sales opportunities are lost because they fell through the cracks than for any other reason. In other words, no plan and no follow-up.
The bottom line for today is that selling is pretty simple. Identify an opportunity. Follow up on that opportunity. Sure, there’s complexity in each individual selling situation, but the fundamentals are not complicated at all. What do I do next? When do I do it? What is the next level? What is the appropriate follow-up?
One more thought for today: Selling is still a numbers game. The more opportunities you identify and follow-up on, the more successes you will have.
I have 300+ suspects, prospects, customers and maximized customers in my ACT! database. I add to and subtract from that database every week. I don’t succeed with every opportunity, but I never lose out on one because it fell through the cracks.
Gotta go now. I have to figure out what to do next with my software guy.
Dave Fellman is the president of David Fellman & Associates, Raleigh, NC, a sales and marketing consulting firm serving numerous segments of the graphic arts industry. Contact Dave by phone at 919-606-9714, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his website at www.davefellman.com.
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