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Friday, February 24, 2012

Easing the pain: CRM epic part 2

Pain and agony?

It looks like when you say, "CRM", a lot of emotions can come up. I've even heard a couple of salespeople describe it as excruciating. Excruciating? Okay, let's not get overly dramatic here. Excruciating is when someone impales you, rips your skin off, or cuts off your limbs. I don't think we should use that same kind of language to describe using a database.

It could possibly describe the way it makes you feel when you think to use it. As in, the idea of using a CRM system, i.e., beginning to use it, is extremely uncomfortable? Could that be a more realistic way to describe using it? I think so. Yes, it's uncomfortable to use a CRM. Initially. It took me a good two years before I even got used to the idea of using it, or even felt like I really wanted to use it. And that's when I saw its benefit. When I made the decision to be proficient at using my company's CRM system.

Making your own outline

I understand there are some CRM systems that outline the entire sales cycle. Luckily, I don't have that type of CRM. My company's CRM is a simple system. Some of my associates say it's not user friendly, but I don't think that's accurate. I think it's easier to use than other CRM systems, but it just takes practice. And a decision to use it. You can't just stand there and stare at it, expecting to get results. Looking at your CRM is a start, but you need to learn to use the links, schedule appointments, look up your customer's information, etc.

In other words, don't be afraid to push buttons. That's how you learn. An outline of a sales cycle is only an outline. It doesn't mean you have to be exactly on target through every day, every hour, or do everything exactly the way it's outlined for you. It's just a guide. If you don't agree with it, make your own. But don't stop using the CRM because of that. There are other uses you can get out of it if you decide to focus on more positive aspects of CRM.

Appointment scheduling and tracking

It's great for scheduling appointments, and tracking your interactions with a client. And yes, you really want to focus on using it to enhance your interactions with that particular prospect/client. While you're interacting with your client, your time is for them. And that's when you focus on making that customer as delighted as possible. But you'll know so much more about them, and it'll be easier to interact with them because of how you've learned about them through CRM.

Use it for you

One of the reasons I decided to learn how to be proficient at CRM was so that I could teach other people how to use it. I also decided to do that for me. So I could become more valuable to my company. It is definitely a great way to set yourself apart from everyone else. Most salespeople don't want to use it, so when you find a salesperson who is not only willing to use it, but also likes using it, that sets them apart. If you are looking for any type of leadership position, it's a great thing to learn. Your company will rely on you more, because they know you can teach others how to use it. It saves them time and money, and makes you look good at the same time.

Customer satisfaction

The number one reason we use a CRM system is to enhance customer satisfaction. Bottom line. You want your customers to be happy. And happier than they would have been if you had just done things the same way as before. That personal interaction is always most important. There's a difference now, though. It'll be with a little help from something you didn't want to know, but are now glad you did.

Thanks for stopping by...CC

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cara's list of lists...

12 Reasons to love a hand written note...

1) You can make it like a tweet (140 characters or less)
2) It's charming
3) It reminds people of Grandma
4) It's a bit old-fashioned (yet cool at the same time)
5) It lets the recipient know you cared enough to write (no kidding!)
6) It says something about your personality, i.e., stickers or stamps or other style indicators
7) It makes you stand out (in a good way)
8) People get to see that you can actually write
9) They get to see that you also have messy hand-writing, making you more approachable.
10) It's sappy and sentimental
11) It can't get deleted from their inbox, and they'll feel guilty if they think about throwing it away
12) It helps you keep in touch with prospects, clients, and loved ones:D

Thanks for stopping by...CC

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The not so dreaded CRM...

We use it, too

Inside sales has changed. Even in the last couple of years, it's become a lot more sophisticated. We're using a lot of the same tools and systems as outside sales people. Tools such as the CRM, for instance.

It's not a phone book

Do you know any of the people in your local white pages? Probably very few of them, if any. Why? Because they're not a part of your life. Their names might seem familiar, but there are too many of them to tell one from the other. This is exactly what you don't want with CRM. These are not just names in a phone book. They're your clients. They're part of your community. They matter to you. The worst thing you can do is treat your CRM as a list of names of people you don't really know or care about. Take time to get to know these people. They are in your CRM for a reason. You made them your clients, and they've worked with you for a reason. You've already established a relationship. Make it count!

Ten customers a day

The goal should be to call or send thank you cards to at least ten customers a day. And not just to call them. To really interact with them. To establish a great relationship as a foundation for future business.

Leave it open

My CRM is open throughout the day. I like to toggle back and forth between computer screens, and check several simultaneously. It's easy when you get used to it. Anybody can do it. It just takes practice, and a mindset of making it a priority.

The best time to use it

I've found the best time to take advantage of CRM, and what it has to offer is the very first hour of the work day. You're fresh, and you're just getting started. Do it then. It's the best thing to start off the day, because later it might get hectic. It's great to do at least five thank you notes, along with at least five calls first thing. And work on your customer list for the next day at the same time.

Take notes

This one is huge! I'm a stickler for taking notes. I'm constantly taking notes about each client in my CRM to remember their preferences, and to understand their life style. Yes, I use it every day, all day. And it's worked for me, because there's only so much I can remember on my own. I use it to study my customers, and it really helps when I'm ready to call them so I'll know exactly what to say to them.

During my interactions with a client, I am going back to CRM and taking notes on what they say to me. You'd be amazed how much all of those notes will come in handy when you call a client. Invaluable. It's like an essay about that particular person. They'll be amazed at how well you remember things! This is a major part of CRM that doesn't get enough attention. Note taking in CRM is extremely valuable. Take advantage of it.

Take it for what it's worth

No, CRM isn't going to be your major money maker. It should be used to help exceed expectations. Meeting your sales goals should be done outside of CRM. That's not what it's for. It's for going over expectations that have already been met. You want to be good at what you do, and you probably are. But if you want to be an amazing sales person, you have to use it every day. Even if you don't like it, you still have to learn to like it.

Using the tool

The more you use it, the more it grows on you. And you get used to using it. That's the key to making it work.   It becomes more and more valuable to you the more you store information in it. Then you realize how important it really is. Your CRM is there to help you through every step of the sales cycle, if you'd only use it.

Thanks for stopping by...CC

Friday, February 3, 2012

Customer service "wow" factor...

Turning woes into wows

Sometimes, a customer will have a "bad" experience. In their minds, it's very bad, and they might never want to come back to your company. Wait a minute. But they're telling you this, so think of it as an opportunity to put your company, and your customer's experience in a different light. You might need to apologize for something you didn't even do. Get used to it. You are the front line, first face they'll see. And you are the face of your company. Apologize.

Ask them what you can do to help them right now. How you can make it better for them, as long as their request is reasonable. And why not? They might have decided to never come back had it not been for you putting out that fire, but now they've decided to give your company another shot. And next time, they'll be coming back to see you. Not only that, but they're going to tell their friends about how you helped them when they were upset, and seemed to make everything better for them. Bottom line? You've probably gained at least three to five clients from that one. Because you set yourself apart from those who gave mediocre service. And you showed that you cared about them.

That personal touch

I call it the personality touch. You add your personality, and color the conversation with information the customer can use, that is also entertaining. Nobody wants to buy from someone who is not fun! If you show you're having fun, and actually engage with them, they will tell you everything you need to know to help them. First engage, get to know each other as humans, then work out what they're looking for. In that order. They'll want to stay with you so much longer, because you took the time to care. And they won't want to leave at the end of the sale. That is what sets average salespeople apart from outstanding salespeople.

Artificial doesn't cut it

Have you ever walked up to someone you knew was going to try to sell you right away? And what happened? You wanted to get away from them as quickly as possible, right? They said hello to you with that Cheshire Cat grin, and you knew you'd walked into trouble. Because it wasn't real. Their smile, and their pitch just didn't feel right. Because you can't fake caring. Or an actual smile. It's as simple as that. Even your eyes will give you away when you're forcing a smile, compared with when you're genuinely smiling. The only way to make it look real is make sure it is real. Even if the customer is talking about something you don't really care about. Take the time to think how you would feel if that was you. You'd want you to care. When you shift your mindset this way, it forces you to really listen. And makes you a better person, as well as a better salesperson.

Get to the point please

We all have an agenda. Your customer has an agenda, and that's why they're asking for your help. You are there to assist them in getting their point across. You are there to listen, and assess their needs in a timely and efficient manner. One of the main things customers need from you is not to waste their time. Your friends and colleagues need this from you, too. But especially your clients. So give them what they're paying you for. Do a great job for them, and in a more than reasonable amount of time. It's another sign of caring. And they'll love you for it.

Give them value

Value is about a complete experience. Did you help your client find products or services that met all of their needs, and fell within their price range? Did you provide friendly guidance for them in making their decisions? Did you redirect them when you saw they could possibly be making the wrong choice? All of these factors add up to a whole experience. They create value for the customer. But mainly, it is you that creates value for them. By the service you provide, and by genuinely caring about helping them meet and exceed their needs. You don't want to just be good. You want to go beyond set expectations. To make them value you by showing that you value them. And having them look back fondly on the experience they had with you every time they use your products. That's real value.

Thanks for stopping by...CC

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