Managing Your Working Day in Inside Sales

To CRM or not to CRM – that’s the question

Most organisations I work with have some form of customer database or CRM – customer relationship management – system in place. If you do, then you should learn every aspect of it and use it to run your working life. Simple.

A good CRM will allow you to track every contact with a customer, what you said, what they said and the progress you made along your company’s sales process. CRMs can be useful in curating data such as key performance indicators – KPIs and many of them have calendars and email management built in.

If you don’t have a CRM system either buy one, lease one that’s in the cloud such as Salesforce or use the latest version of Microsoft Outlook with the CRM add-on. Better still, obtain Office 365 for yourself and your team, add the CRM bolt on and you’re cooking on gas. If you’re familiar with Outlook and the Office suite of products then your learning curve for Office 365 will be negligible. I’m going to show you how you can do this and finally get to grips with time and email management.

Office 365 is an Inside Salesperson’s dream. Add on Dynamics CRM Online and you have the perfect intuitive solution. Your emails, tasks and appointments from Outlook can automatically be synchronised into the database. Your Word docs and Excel files can be stored there too. Your conversations will be noted and saved. And not just for you – but for your whole company.

There’s nothing worse for a customer than when he or she calls a company and they’re treated like a stranger. That doesn’t happen with a good CRM system. You and your employees are sharing all interactions with your community in the system. You have the system integrated with social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. You have emails, activities, notes, conversations and documents linked to every contact and account. Let’s get into Office 365.

Use the Cloud

Office 365 sits in the cloud, in other words, it can be accessed from any device via the internet. It doesn’t sit on an old fashioned hard-drive. This means you can pull data from any device, so set them all up first. Your phone, laptop, PC, tablet. Whenever an entry is made on any device, the database is updated in the cloud in real time so anyone can see the information from their devices.

365 Contacts

The best feature here is the merge option where you can link your social media accounts to your contacts. So when you link in with a new contact, their details automatically transfer into your contacts, with a picture too.

If you get into the habit of photographing people you meet with your phone, incorporate this into the contact details. So when they phone your mobile, their name flashes up and a photograph too. A picture brings back memories far quicker than text.

Emails from new contacts can be dragged into the contacts box and a contact entry is automatically made with all the details harvested from the email.

365 Calendar

Firstly set the options so your calendar looks like you want it to. Decide you working week, which may include Saturday, mine does. Sort out the default view for your calendar.

Now decide colours for differing items. Here’s my suggestion:

  • Red – making money
  • Blue – marketing activities
  • Yellow – administration
  • Green – self development
  • Orange – personal activities

You can then see at a glance whether you’re being productive or not.

Microsoft provides an enterprise quality web meeting software platform called Skype for Business. It uses the Skype engine but it’s not connected to your personal Skype. It allows you to run a web meeting with anyone or any group at the click of a button. Make sure you obtain this and link it into Office 365. It’s far better than GoToWebinar and more cost effective too.

365 Tasks

Office 365 comes with a stable task management engine which is underused. Many people just list all their tasks into one giant “to do” list and this can be very bewildering.

There’s a couple of ways you can convert your tasks into something more digestible. The first manner is to put dates on each task – start and end dates – so they appear at the bottom of your calendar for the relevant day. Handy if they must be done on that day.

I do it differently. I categorise each task so I can group them on my calendar. I believe I’m more productive when I’m doing similar tasks in clusters rather than free-wheeling.

Firstly, I’m crystal clear as to my objectives, supporting projects and goals I need to achieve. I’m sure you are too. With that in mind you should be choosy whether you add an item into tasks. You should only do this if it moves you forward in your objectives. If it does, it’s known as a Tactical Next Action – an TNA.

I have TNAs for:

  • TNA: Calls
  • TNA: Online
  • TNA: Do
  • TNA: Write
  • TNA: Someday maybe

The last one is true; I have 35 items in that category at the moment but none are deal breakers, but the first four are what my calendar carries most.

When a new task comes into your task list, put it in as unassigned – it will automatically find its way to the top, so when you do your task management, you can allocate an TNA to it. Use your phone to add tasks whenever you think of something or someone gives you a job to do. Don’t rely on the brain to remember, it won’t, but the phone will. The task will whiz into the cloud and synchronise across all devices.

365 Email

The foundation of all communications and one of your collection points. I’ll talk about collection points shortly. But let’s tame your email once and for all; I’ve known salespeople to drown in it. Here’s how.

Before we go any further, turn off your email alert feature. This has to be one of the worst distractions known to the Inside Salesperson.

You are allowed to check email regularly for important items but it’s best to do this every couple of hours – say 9am, 12 noon, 3pm and 5pm. But only to deal with urgent ones, leave the rest till later when you clear your inbox. For a quick reminder of urgent versus important you won’t do worse than Stephen Covey’s Time Management Grid. You can see below that he creates four boxes which determine whether a task should be done or delayed or even ignored.

If you really do need to keep tabs of urgent email as they come in, buy yourself a smartwatch and Bluetooth your inbox. I have a Microsoft Band which does this for me, it vibrates and you glance at the tiny screen without accessing email.

And you must clear your inbox every day. Here’s how.

Choose a 60 minute window every day at some time, best before the close of play. Start with the first email. Can you handle it in less than 2 minutes? If so, handle it. If it’s going to take longer than 2 minutes, then put it into a task to be dealt with at another time. You can simply drag the email into the task area on Office 365 and it will automatically populate a task, which remains unassigned to be assigned an SNA later.

If it’s something you don’t want such as a subscription, see if you can unsubscribe. Be ruthless with these.

If it just needs filing somewhere, just drag it into the folder on your PC where it belongs.

Work your way through your emails in this manner and you will clear your inbox. And you must do this every day. Believe me, you’ll feel good when you do.

Collection Points

This is my term for where information and communications come into your business. Have a quick think about what collection points you have. Here’s mine when I first did this exercise:

  • Texts
  • Email
  • Post
  • In tray on my desk
  • Desk
  • Car dashboard
  • Post-it notes on my computer screen
  • Unassigned tasks on my phone
  • Mobile voicemail
  • Land-line voicemail
  • Social Media direct messaging
  • WhatsApp communications
  • Ideas stored in my brain

The aim is to reduce them, I was ruthless because the more collection points you have, the more difficult it all becomes to keep in control and you’ll soon be overwhelmed. Here’s my culled list:

  • Texts
  • Office 365 Email
  • Unassigned tasks for ideas etc.
  • In tray on my desk for all paperwork including post
  • Plastic folder in brief case for receipts etc.

Email is king for me, so I channel everything through to my email inbox and because I can access this on my phone, I don’t miss a thing. All social media messages come through to email, eBay notifications everything. It does mean I have a full inbox every day but I do clear this each day.

Do all these things and you too will manage your time really effectively so you can concentrate on selling. I do.

Bad Telemarketing Habits You Need To Avoid

It is the new year. Time to clean up our act. Time to improve our business. Time to be better than last year. And it is also definitely time to change bad habits. And those are definitely habits that you would want to forget, since these will affect your ability to generate sales leads. In fact, this can prevent you from succeeding in your lead generation campaign. One of the biggest triggers your bad habits to surface is your ‘need to sell’. When you hunger for a sale, your thinking gets clouded, and you make mistakes. When you make mistakes, you end up making a mess of your appointment setting plans. Aside from that, there are also other bad habits that appear when hunger for a sale:

1. You talk first – this happens when you enter the room, launch directly into your product or service demonstration, and basically do all the talking. What is so bad about this is that you do it without first considering what your prospects need in the first. That is a very bad move, and that will definitely cost you your B2B leads.

2. You talk too much – this is another major marketing misstep that you have to break. Talking too much gives yourself away too early. Aside from that, it creates annoyance on the part of the prospects. If you really want their business, then you should also give them the chance to speak.

3. You manipulate discussions – remember, people are smarter these days. They can spot a manipulator from a mile away. And that is the last impression you would want to create in their minds. This is especially serious when telemarketing is involved, since only your voice will be heard by the prospects. This explains the negative lead generation reviews given by prospects.

4. You rush to close – now, if there is anything that business prospects hate the most, it is being made to rush by the sellers. Any responsible (and level-headed) lead generation specialist will know that decisions need not be rushed. Give the prospects time (plus a little, just a little, reminder from you) and you will really get more positive results.

These are just a few things that you need to remember when conducting a telemarketing campaign. While these are seriously bad habits, you can always make them right. For one, when you sell, you should do it with a clear mind, if you act all hungry for a sale, nothing good will happen. Second, put yourself in a context of plenty. You may not get that sale today, but you can always go to your pipeline to get new ones. And lastly, be conscious of your actions, never lose your cool. If you get carried away, you will lose your chance to generate good B2B leads.

You should also invest in a good lead generation team. Since they will be representing your company on the phone (which is the most likely task), you need to look for the best. It would be ideal if you can go to an outsourcing call center to help you.

How to Use Tie Downs to Build Momentum

I don’t know why tie downs aren’t used more by sales reps selling over the phone. They serve several crucial functions, including:

Getting confirmation that the point you just made was understood and accepted by your prospect. This is especially important when selling over the phone as you don’t have the physical clues that tell you how it’s going.

Using tie downs is also instrumental in building that all important yes momentum. If the prospect keeps agreeing with you, then you can feel confident at the end in asking for the sale.

Tie downs also give your prospect a chance to engage with you – when you use one, you actually have to wait for them to respond.

Using tie downs also gives you control over the flow of the call. Remember, whoever asks a question is in control.

There are many other value reasons for using tie downs, but let’s look at some of the most effective, and go over in what situations they work best:

#1: Whenever your prospect asks you a buying question (and any question a prospect asks you is a buying question), after you answer it you must use a tie-down. Examples:

If a prospect asks you how much something is, after you give them the price, you can use any of these tie downs:

"How does that price sound?"

OR

"Is that what you were looking to spend today?"

OR

"How does that compare with what you are paying now?"

OR

"Is that within your budget?"

OR

"That’s a great value today, and I’d take as many as I could at that price – how many should I ship you today?" (O.K., that’s a close, but I couldn’t help myself! Do you see how tie-downs can lead to a close?)

If a prospect asks a question about a feature or a benefit, use any of the following:

"Do you see how that works?"

OR

"Does that make sense?"

OR, better:

"How would you use that?"

OR

"Do you understand how that works?"

OR

"I think that’s a great benefit – how about you?"

If a prospect makes a statement that seems negative, use:

"How did you come to that?"

OR

"Compared to what?"

OR

"What do you mean exactly?"

OR

"How does your current vendor handle that?"

#2: Use tie downs throughout your presentation. Most sales reps power through their presentations and use far too few tie downs or check-ins. And when they do, they are usually closed ended which lead their prospect to reveal little. Use these more open-ended tie downs to engage AND learn crucial buying motives:

"That’s how we drive the leads… now tell me about how you would get the most out of them?"

OR

"That’s one of our biggest selling points… tell me: how would this impact how you’re currently doing things?"

OR

"Do you see how this works?" – And then: "How might this work for you?"

OR

"Are you with me there?" – And then: "What questions do you have?"

OR

"That’s a nice feature, don’t you think?" – And then: "How would that work for you?"

OR

"Is this sounding like it might work for you?" (O.K., there I go again! Do you see how after a few tie downs, it’s just natural for you to start closing?)

#3: General tie downs are useful at any point of your presentation. Customize from any of these to fit your product/service:

"What do you think of this so far?"

OR

"Would this location work for you?"

OR

"How many locations would this work for?"

OR

"How many departments would want one of these as well?"

OR

"That’s pretty special, isn’t it?"

OR

"Do you see why this is so popular?"

OR

"Tell me, would that fit into your budget?"

OR

"Most people like this – how does it sound to you?"

OR

"Will that work?"

OR

"What else do you need to know?"

OR

"What other area are you interested in?"

OR

"Would that be a deal killer for you?"

OR

"Would that be enough for you to move forward with this?"

OR

"Tell me: how close are you to wanting to move forward with this?" (There I go once again!)

Let me reiterate that using tie down’s gives you the intel you don’t have because you can’t see your prospect’s reaction (because you’re selling over the phone). Therefore, it’s critical for you to begin using more of the above tie downs during every conversation. Remember, the more you can get your prospect talking, the more you’ll learn what it will take to close them…

Copyright (c) 2015 Mr. Inside Sales