All sales professionals know that every customer is different. Each has preferences, preferred contact times and methods, and one most successful way to be approached. In the world of Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM’s) all of those items would be considered just the fine tuning.
Performance Practitioners Limited reports that the trend during the last eight years has been toward technology-based CRMs. They discuss research done by the Gartner Group (See diagram) that shows how the benefits to a company from any such innovation measurably increase when four specific facets are brought together:
- Sales staff training
- A well defined performance-related compensation system
- A clearly defined sales process
Corporations with large sales forces frequently invest millions of dollars on CRM technology, sales training, and performance-related compensation packages for their sales people. Yet they neglect the importance of defining the sales process. The investment made in the first three areas cannot be fully leveraged unless there is a formal process in place to track and support the growth of the entire system. Why is this gap present? What’s changed?
During the 1970s and 1980s, large corporations such as Hewlett Packard and IBM frequently led their new sales recruits through a twelve to eighteen-month training program. Today, salespeople consider themselves ‘lucky’ if they get an initial two weeks of training. Sales Leaders everywhere are cutting back on training budgets. Stockholders want to see measurable ROI for every dollar spent. Managers look instead to hire people who already possess proven sales talent needed to do the job, and send them out to the field armed only with the skills they already have.
The fact is that selling in today’s climate is both an art and a science. The field of Sales is a profession, and it demands a far wider range of skills than ever before. These skills require continual fine-tuning and constant practice. The United Professional Selling Association outlines Nine Selling Knowledge Areas that highlight how much training and skills development is required to produce top performing salespeople.
- On the first tier: 1) Personal Management, 2) Time Management, 3) Technology Management
- On the second tier: 4) Business knowledge management, 5) Product knowledge management
- On the third tier: 6) Selling Skills management, 7) Opportunity management
- On the fourth tier: 8) Relationship management
- And finally at the top of the pyramid: 9) Customer Service Knowledge / Customer Management.
I heard that! I agree, it’s really not simple to apply all of this when that monthly quota review is coming up. However, I think most could agree that it all would seem more attainable if it were outlined in a process, easy to follow, step by step, fully supported by management. You say your team doesn’t have a process? Hmmm, what an opportunity! Maybe you should be the one to start one!
You can do this!
By K.B. Elliott
K. B. Elliott is a freelance writer for Salesheads.com. Working both sides of sales desks in the Detroit area for over 30 years gives him a unique perspective on the process. His networking interests as an entrepreneur connect him with many new venture start-ups in Southeast Michigan. On the chance occurrence of spare time, you will find him building computers and airplanes, or restoring antiques. To read more of his blogs, please go to Salesheadsblog.com, and be sure to check out the postings for jobs in nearly any industry at Nexxt