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Making best use of contact lists

IF you’re considering contact management software, consider what’s new before you consider what’s old. For the most part, contact management, or CRM, has not met the expectations that were set for it when it was first introduced more than a decade ago. The major reason is that management bought it based on the fact that salespeople would be more ‘accountable’. Hint one: Salespeople don’t want to be accountable, they want to make sales. Management encourages salespeople to keep their customer information current and document all their sales activity. Hint two: Most salespeople who have contact management software don’t keep it current, and consider it a pain rather than a tool. The reality is contact management, sales force automation, CRM, or whatever you want to call it, works. It can be a vital tool to a salesperson’s success (if it’s compatible with their sales activity and selling style), it can help them gain vital information, and it can help them close the sale. Otherwise it doesn’t work. Oh, the software works. But the hardhead who’s supposed to work it, doesn’t. Salespeople will tell you a variety of reasons why not: • it’s too cumbersome; • it’s too complicated; • I use some of it, but not all of it; • it doesn’t help me; • I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I don’t need it; and • I don’t have the time – I’m out selling. The truth is, salespeople (maybe you) don’t consider it valuable enough to use it. If they thought it was the key to making more sales, salespeople would burn the midnight oil or get up at five o’clock in the morning. Hint three: Every salesperson needs some form of contact control and sales organisation. Names, email addresses, mobile phone numbers, sales strategy, status of the sales cycle, decision makers, people of influence, barriers to the sale, proposals, timelines, and other information vital to the sale and the selling process. Information vital to the best use of time, and beating the competition. Information vital to providing value and building a relationship. Information vital to making the sale. And then there are the designers and manufacturers of the programs. They create the applications so that salespeople are accountable, and managers will buy it. I often wonder if the people who make the software, use the software. If you’re considering getting CRM, here’s what to look for, and here’s what to look out for: 1. Make certain the software is compatible with your style of selling. 2. Make certain the software is compatible with the product or service you’re selling. 3. Make certain your salespeople have tried it and are willing to use it. 4. Make certain it’s compatible with the email program you’re using. 5. Make certain the software allows data transfer from whatever you’re using now to whatever you’re buying (you do not want to re-enter all your data). 6. Make certain the software is ASP based (internet based) so that global access is possible at any moment, and all information is available to everyone the moment it’s entered. 7. Make certain the CRM software connects and interacts with your other software: accounting for invoicing; Word for drafting letters and proposals; inventory for product availability; and all your other vital information and communication needs while in the selling process. 8. Make certain your salespeople are trained to take advantage of the software’s power, not just ‘use’ it. 9. Make certain that the reports you need are available standard, or easily created. 8.5 Make certain your salespeople believe it will help them make more sales. If all of the above elements are OK, now comes the hard part. Installing the software, transferring the data, and getting everyone on board – even you staunchest inside opponents and sales prima donnas. But there’s only one true measure of the merit of the software – results. Hint three point five: Salespeople will tell one another faster than you can imagine. And if there’s a positive impact, word will spread – not as fast as negative, but the news will get out there pretty fast. There are a lot of choices in CRM; maybe too many. All of them work. The question is: Will they work for you? If you would like to see what I wrote on the subject in 1996, (I think it will help you understand the evolution and power of contact management) go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first-time visitor, and enter the word CONTACTS in the GitBit Box. By Jeffrey Gitomer

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