Dear Fellow Entrepreneur, Business Owner, Marketer, and Salesperson,
(I currently am all of these roles in my business)
Some salespeople appear to have a secret formula or to have inherited their natural sales traits, right? There's more to sales than raw talent. You don't need to be born into sales. The truth is that companies offering proper training and support are much more successful than competitors who expect their natural-born sellers to carry the load.
If you feel the pressure and fear making silly mistakes, then check out our Top 10 list of sales fails and CRM pitfalls. You can circumvent these issues in your business, as long as you have a plan and plenty of practice.
Let's start with the list of possibilities. Click any of the phrases below to read more about it or just scroll through the list.
Marketing and Sales are like a husband and wife. They have separate lives but also work together. In fact, when they work together they experience more fun, love, and success.
Marketing does not merely generate leads for the sales team. A good marketing strategy should also be warming up those leads and educating them. By the time the leads are ready for direct contact from the sales team, the salesperson should have some background information about the lead. Most importantly, the customer journey and your process should be seen as shared information (and documented).
How are leads distributed among salespeople? Is it at random or do you have a plan related to personalities or product offerings? While I am the sole salesperson in my business right now, I have participated in teams with brilliant strategies around sales. For example, one company had 3 core products that could be packaged, but most commonly were bought as individual products. They hired 3 salespeople whose job was to know their product inside and out - every case study, user experience, and cool idea for how it applies to different industries. Now that is smart!
Once those three salespeople were onboarded, there was the chance of cross-selling with the other products. This is when tracking became vital. Every phone call, email, or research was tracked in their CRM software and shared among the entire team. This prevented them from stepping on toes or making a phone call to the wrong lead or not knowing the background of that sales lead. Information sharing is vital to your sales success.
Before picking up the phone, know who is on the other end of the line - really know as much as possible. While the marketing team may be able to tee up the leads for you and collect some data about them, you may need to dig a little deeper. This can make a huge difference in a sales call. Go on LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Twitter or Instagram for a couple of minutes to learn what you can about this person.
Try to understand his or her motivations. Put on your empathy eyes before dialing. Otherwise, you may create a misunderstanding or leave the lead feeling confused or annoyed.
It's easy to waste time on the wrong lead. It's not your fault. Sometimes, we just find out the hard way - getting on a call with someone who was just window shopping or looking for a freebie.
Among the best ways to avoid this issue is scoring. In Zoho CRM, we use scoring for leads, contacts, and accounts. It is a wonderful tool! You can set it up to automatically score a lead based on email opens & clicks and specific fields such as the number of employees or lead source. Depending upon your business, there are elements of a lead that help you evaluate the likelihood of them becoming a customer - those are your scoring rules.
This one is the hardest one to tackle if you are not confident (or are overly confident). There is a delicate balance between being proud of the product or service you offer and being humble about it. Strike that balance and you will be a kick-awesome salesperson. It may take some good internal training on sales presentations.
Accept that your offering is not right for everyone and it's okay if someone is not interested. Think about this in terms of a puzzle piece. If you try to force a piece where it does not really fit, then the rest of the puzzle will not be right. Your goal as a salesperson is to find the right pieces that fit into your company's puzzle. If the marketing messaging is clear and the sales pitch is tailored to that customer, he or she will figure out that it is the right solution.
Here is a phrase I've heard many times that you may recognize... "We have CRM software and everyone is using it, so why isn't it working?"
Nothing. Software is rarely the problem when it comes to sales and marketing success. It is most likely the user or how the CRM was set up for the salesperson. The number ONE problem I come across in business is a lack of CRM Strategy. The software salesman has convinced you that the technology will do all of the work, but that is a folk tale at best. Read about the 5 Reasons you need a CRM Strategy.
Some of the most common CRM Pitfalls I've come across include...
6. Disconnected Marketing & Sales Strategy
7. Automating the Team Out of Sales
8. Delegating Before Documenting
9. Short-Term Goal Setting
10. Inconsistency in Usage
Remember that Sales and Marketing are married, so they must work together to be successful. The moment you pit them against each other is when you create a big sales fail. There are multiple customer journeys in your business - ways people go from being aware of your company to becoming a loyal customer (or not).
There will be steps in the customer journey where questions arise about who handles the relationship at that point - sales or marketing. Create a strategy that everyone agrees on to avoid conflicts between these roles. Doing this will improve the customer experience and create a great collaboration among employees.
I've seen people automate themselves out of the sales process by setting up so many automated emails that the lead is left feeling confused or worse... like another number on your list. Please be conscious of what is set up in your system, what is sends out and when it happens. Evaluate what can be automated (such as a "Welcome" email) verses the communications that should really be customized (such as a follow-up after a call).
A simple suggestion to avoid this issue is to work out the lead to customer journey on paper or a digital workflow program first. Understand all of the possible paths someone can take before setting up your automations.
Among the many wonderful partners we have at Beckmann Collaborative is Trusty Oak Virtual Assistants. For small business owners and solopreneurs, VAs are an absolute blessing because they can take on some of the tedious tasks that often bog down the business owner. Throwing your hands up and saying, "we just need to sell, so help me" will generally not work out well.
The CRM pitfall comes with delegating before you have thought it through. Identify what tasks should actually be delegated in your sales and marketing. Perhaps one person on the team (or a VA) handles the list cleaning and lead research, allowing the salesperson to focus on calls. If there is a specific way you want it done within your CRM, then document it in detail and verbally communicate it. This is where the granular work you may hate is vital to longterm success. Write down every step that should be followed before delegating that task to someone else. Even better, empower that person to treat the process document as something that has room for improvement. It is a living document that will shift based on what is learned through the process and the person handling the task can update the document as he or she learns what works best.
You absolutely MUST set short-term goals such as month-end sales. However, those goals can quickly become moot if you set up your entire CRM software to only satisfy those short-term goals.
For example, your short-term goal is to close the 3 big deals that are already in your pipeline. Your CRM is set up with all kinds of alerts and automated emails based on your deals to help you close those sales. Ooops, you forgot something... the rest of your pipeline is now dry because you did not plan or structure what was happening with your leads who require more long-term planning and strategy. Suddenly, you find yourself only focused on lead generation and nurturing. Then you become delayed in closing the hot deals in your pipeline. It's a vicious cycle.
The solution is to think long-term about your sales cycles, understand the timing of messaging (collaborate with marketing), and set up the full flow before you get started.
This is the most painful CRM Pitfall, at least for me. It hurts to work with a team setting up all kinds of valuable flows, automations, and processes only for them to not use it. The human element of CRM is vital. People power technology, not the other way around.
Whatever processes you put into place, train and practice and train again so that the team consistently follows it. One client told me that he now incentivizes his salespeople to properly and consistently use their Zoho CRM account using a tiered commission structure. The more information you collect about the lead and pre-qualify them (following the process), the higher their commission rate.
The old adage that anyone can do sales and marketing is not true. Anyone with the right support, training, and planning can do a great job with sales and marketing. If you are new to using a CRM and want support, then reach out and we'll see if there is something Beckmann Collaborative can do for you.