In an earlier post, I wrote about the old rules of selling and the new tools and technology that are changing how salespeople work. I left off the obvious two core areas of sales – CRM and Mobile and will share some thoughts on those here.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
Old Rule: CRM might be the granddaddy of all sales tools. Software like Act and Goldmine were two of the dominant tools in those early days. They were the depositories of customer contacts, target companies and the employees who worked there. They held primarily phone numbers, addresses and eventually email addresses in addition to recording the sales activities and progress made on closing the sale. Early on they were designed to run on individual computers, and then eventually networked together. Sales managers would request the activity reports and pipeline reports from each salesperson, and then would tally them together to get an idea of how the sales team was performing.
Then Salesforce.com (and later competitors) was introduced and with it the scope, complexity, scale and cost rose significantly. By leveraging the cloud, managers were able to check an online dashboard at any time for a view of sales activity and performance. From my experience, it was during this time that the drivers and focus of CRM changed from the salesperson to management and executive leadership. The decisions on what was to be entered into the CRM tool were based on what information the management needed to generate reports. The complexity of these installations grew significantly, to the point that it required a software engineer or programmer with a six figure salary to manage, modify and manipulate the information that was being collected.
As a salesperson, it was a painful, time consuming process to enter in all the information that was being required, and it was all manual. Social tools and websites were in their early stages so if information needed to be in the records, it had to be entered manually. I feel the ache in my bones while I write this. It was a dreadful, manual process and of little value to those in the selling process from my recollection.
New Tools: CRM tools today are almost unrecognizable when compared to those in the Old Rule time frame. Manual entry is almost entirely been removed. The new tools like Base have been built from the ground up with the expectation that people are mobile and technically literate, and they don’t solely work at their desktop PC. Everything is now mobile enabled. The ability to access a customer record from the parking lot of the customer is now fully enabled. Every record can now be integrated with your email, calendar, financial system, and more. You can call any client from your smartphone with the touch of a button. Purchase history is available on demand. Presentations you share with your customer are now embedded within the tool and available for reference and future use.
When a prospect registers for a webinar they are added into CRM. If they download a whitepaper, or comment on the company blog, or request more information about your product or service, it is all captured and available without even one keystroke from the salesperson.
Even the selection of the CRM tool itself can now involve individual salespeople and their needs as well as representatives for other departments in the company. Customer history and information can and should be available to everyone at the company.
This newest generation of CRM has removed that tedious burden of the past and replaced it with a valuable sales tool that is delivering strong improvements for both salespeople and managers alike.
Old Rule: “Day-Timer” ring a bell for anyone? Franklin Planner? Those were some of the leading tools that productive sales-makers used to keep track of their customers and activities. Palm’s Pilot was the next wave of tech for sales teams. It was able to replace the old rolodex of customer contact information, but remember that there was no phone integrated yet. You entered info into your Pilot with a stylus and then referenced that same information so you could call them from that fancy new Motorola Star-Tac flip phone that you were so proud of. That was about the extent of the usefulness of tech to the sales effort.
New Tools: This might be the biggest change of all. Smartphones built on the early features of Palm Pilot and others, but added internet and cellular connectivity to the equation. Selection of your company tools must now take into account how they work on smartphones and tablets. Capabilities that were never possible to accomplish before are now available.
Consider navigation and GPS location services. The ability to take your daily calendar of activity and have your mobile device layout the most efficient routes and a map can have dramatic impact. The ability to receive notification of traffic problems and a re-route can save meetings that would have been missed in the past. If you are fortunate enough to have a CRM or other tools that are mobile-enabled, everything that you accessed from your desktop in the past is now available anywhere in the field. The ability to maintain and in many instances enhance productivity while being in the field is valued by everyone.
I have heard from numerous salespeople and even sales managers that one of the criteria they consider when changing companies is the level of new tools and mobile-enablement a new company offers. It has become one of the attracting perks being offered by new companies for top-producing sales professionals.
The old rules of selling still play an important part of the sales profession. The new tools are proven to be a productivity multiplier and to ignore them or rely on tools from the past that do not use the current technology will surely indicate a much tougher sales forecast ahead.
Now that you’ve read both parts of the series, are there any Old Rules vs. New Tools I’m missing? Let me know in the comments section below.