Are You Selling Solutions or Products?

Filed Under (First Impressions, OP Sales Training) by Don on 27-06-2012

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Websites sell products but people sell (provide) solutions.  How do you talk to your customers?  When you make your calls do you spend most of your time talking, or listening?  In order to provide value you must give your prospect/customer a reason or justification to do business with you.  This is accomplished by providing a solution to a problem the customer/prospect has.  A problem that you have uncovered by effectively listening and asking open-ended questions.  No tricks or gimmicks.  I know a sales rep that asks me every time I see him, “What is the best gimmick I can use to open accounts?” I keep telling him that gimmicks are a waste of time but providing a solution to a problem will win the business every time as long as you can deliver on your promises to solve said problem(s).  If you’re already selling to the customer are you taking the time to develop relationships with the empowered buyers in the office?

An account won on price is an account lost on price.  However, if you sell a solution you have proven yourself to be someone who desires to be a true business partner and help your customer grow their business.  Regular business reviews will help uncover new opportunities, a subject I have discussed many times here.   Here are a few things to consider:

  • Do you know what your value proposition is?
  • Are you developing relationships throughout the customers office?
  • What do you do differently than your competition?
  • How often do you communicate new products and ideas to your customers?
  • Websites sell products, people sell or provide solutions. Which one are you?
  • Who do you have your business reviews with? If it’s just the buyer you’re missing a golden opportunity to show the value you present.
  • Are you making full use of your CRM program?
  • Have you completed an Account Analysis worksheet to identify the business opportunity in each of your accounts and prospects?

My last question involved an Account Analysis worksheet.  If your manager or company doesn’t have this email me and I’ll send you a copy.  It is widely available from the major wholesalers but I will gladly email you a copy if requested.  So stop selling products and start selling and providing real solutions.

The last word:  “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” –Dale Carnegie

Is Your CRM a Pass or Fail System?

Filed Under (OP News & Views, OP Sales Training) by Don on 10-07-2008

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Most of us know that CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management”. This is most commonly achieved in a technology/software program that is used for that purpose. The technology can be either in-house or an off-site hosted service and there are many to choose from. Products such as Salesforce.com, Sage CRM and SugarCRM offer highly advanced and customizable packages that may require deep financial pockets to have the product programmed to fit your business. While these providers are well suited to large corporations that have deep pockets my personal preference has always been the Goldmine product that has been designed to fit our industry as offered by the professionals at Longbow Consulting. But the purpose of this post isn’t to offer advertising for Goldmine, it is to ask you how you plan on integrating this into your business strategy or if you have it already in place is it performing to your expectations.

The overall purpose of CRM is an emphasis on trying to win more sales and account penetration rather than delivering any kind of value to customers. CEM which is “Customer Experience Management” is primarily focused on the experience the customers receive or the ‘branding’ and/or value added to each touch point. While the efficiency of CRM is important CEM requires that your business treat each customer touch as an important part of building brand and creating a customer advocate.  This is a critical step necessary in order for a CRM technology to work and requires careful planning and implementation before any CRM technology will ever meet your goals.

Expenditures on CRM technologies increased from $20 billion in 2001 to $46 billion of 2003 yet one study found that 55 percent of CRM installations drove customers away and earnings were lost. Another study by Oracle found that ineffective CRM systems were a primary cause of poor service experienced by customers. The exact opposite of what CRM is intended to do.

There are four components of a successful experience with your customers.

1. Consistent
2. Intentional
3. Differentiated
4. Valuable

These are achieved by voice, email, web and fax. The role of CRM technology is to support the delivery of these components. Every touch you have with your customers whether inbound or outbound represents a unique opportunity to strengthen your customer relationship. Your sales and CSR staff must be prepared to respond quickly and accurately to the demands of each customer. By utilizing an effective CEM first, you will create a vital channel for delivering an effective way to strengthen your customer relationships via your CRM.

Before you begin installing a CRM system implement a customer strategy. Woo your customers, don’t stalk them. Don’t install a CRM system until you have created a customer focused organization and do not assume that more CRM is better. Clearly identify what you want your CRM system to accomplish and align your goals to meet your objectives. CEM comes first and to succeed in your CRM goals everyone from the front office to the back office needs to be on-board with your goals and strategies to make it work.

The last word: “When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves. ” – William A. Ward