I’ve been selling CRM software solutions since 1999. I served as a subject matter expert for both Siebel and Vantive Software. My professional background prior to this was selling advanced technologies including artificial intelligence and factory automation. Many of the early consulting companies in the space thought it was critical to have a sales professional who could “tech” speak with their clients’ executive teams on why they should invest millions of dollars in the software and consulting services. I was good at it because I uncovered several small ideas that resonated with my clients leaders. I thought sharing them with you would give you an idea why I think SCRM may provide a small technology companies a distinct advantage in competing with larger competitors.
A Short History of CRM
CRM software in the late nineties provided sales professionals with an opportunity to manage their sales processes more effectively. In theory, it permitted sales leaders a better opportunity to forecast future sales and coach their sales professionals when deals stalled. It also provided the company with an opportunity to retain key information that before was held in a sales person’s rolodex. Now the information was in a central database where companies could be assured client information would not be lost if the sales professional left for greener pastures. For those of you who were around, you remember how much high tech sales turnover there was during the period from 1998-2000.
Finally, many tech companies were looking for a professional sales management system that enabled them to know what materials were sent out to the customer. The more advanced systems would allow marketing to plot their great marketing campaigns and track which materials clients responded to. I remember many software sales professionals that would complete a call and then spend several hours trying to upload the call visit reports to the home office databases so the sales and marketing departments knew how well the call went. Sales professionals spent more time on the computer than in front of customers.
The Downside of CRM
CRM tracked a lot of information about clients, marketing, and sales call data, but it didn’t really track information about individuals. The successful sales professionals used the CRM system and uploaded their call data, but they still had a personal rolodex. Many used a form called The MACKAY 66. The Mackay 66 was a paper form that walked you through 66 questions to get information about the people they were calling on. The form included personal as well as professional information. It enabled sales people to know a lot about their clients and the people they were selling to. It was created by an envelope executive Harvey Mackay, who was convinced the more you knew about your clients, their business, and the people, the more likely you were to be successful in building a successful relationship with them. I worked my way through the form with many clients. In many instances, I created lifetime clients and partners.
What about Social Media?
It’s funny to me when I hear people talk about social media and how it’s going to change things for many successful small business owners. It’s going to change how we relate to others and allow us into their world more quickly. I’ve seen it do just about the opposite for many sales professionals. It’s made sales and marketing to be about the volume of tweets and number of friends you have. There’s an incredible amount noise out in your market. People are feeling unheard and overwhelmed. How do you get heard above all of the noise? Don’t despair! This is a great opportunity for the technology selling professional.
Social CRM Combines the Best of Both Worlds
Great sales professionals are always gathering information and clues to better connect with their clients. The advent of Social CRM or SCRM provides the sales professional an opportunity to connect on a personal level. It’s the same thing I used to do using my paper form. I’ve used the social media networks to increase my awareness of what’s going on in the client’s life. I can provide support when needed and in a way that is more helpful. I’m able to build a true relationship with my clients and their companies. SCRM allows me to share insights and information with my clients faster and more cost effectively. I’ve even starting sharing tools and training to my better clients on how to use it for their own business development activities. Successful sales professionals can use a simple solution to track their clients, their contacts and extend their reach into customer organizations. With that in mind, I’ll be sharing a new tool that makes it easier for the small business technology leader to track their best clients, potential customers, and build more complete understanding of their clients business using a SCRM tool called XeeSM. Check for my next blog to see what it can do for you.
Tripp Braden is an IT marketing and sales consultant who specializes in developing seven figure partnerships and businesses. He is also the editor of Market Leadership Journal. Discover how to grow your company through extraordinary partnerships by visiting http://www.HighGrowthBusiness.com where you can find resources and products to increase your success.