3 Tracking Tools for Serious Sales2

CC March 14

The Pipeline Guest Post - Carrie Powers

Effective tracking tools pave the way for great sales, so when considering what tools to use for your business, you shouldn’t accept anything less than exceptional. Let’s look at three of the best tracking tools available.

Evernote

With over 800,000 downloads on Google Play™ alone, Evernote® is one of the most popular and highly rated productivity apps on the market. It’s compatible with nearly every device and computer, and can perform an incredible amount of organizational tasks. It allows you to quickly and accurately catalogue everything from web pages to business trip itineraries to notes from meetings, and also includes multiple sharing functions so you can share your thoughts and ideas with colleagues.

So what does this mean for your salespeople? They’ll spend far less time slogging through a mess of information and more time actually using that information to turn your business into a well-oiled super-sales machine. Once you’ve used Evernote to establish a smooth and steady flow of useful material, you’ll be better equipped to form comprehensive sales strategies, reach out to your customers with new and fresh content, and keep everything neatly organized all the while.

Automatic Address Book

In the world of large and small businesses alike, it’s a widely known fact that using a customer relationship management (CRM) system can help you boost sales. CRMs allow you to give your clients the personalized attention they want and deserve. Only a handful of CRMs offer excellent tools that go beyond basic functionality to achieve remarkably intuitive performance. The Automatic Address Book from Insightly is one of those tools.

There are a plethora of both free and paid address book programs available, but what sets Automatic Address Book apart is its ability to automatically identify all kinds of connections within your large network of contacts and customers. For instance, let’s say that 5% of your customers know each other through a recent business conference. While a standard address book application wouldn’t be able to detect this sort of subtle information, Insightly’s Automatic Address Book analyzes the from, to, and cc fields in emails to identify a connection, and then searches the web for files that include the names of those customers together (such as online comments and conversations pertaining to the aforementioned conference).

Just like that, you’ll have valuable information on how your customers know each other, so your salespeople can best appeal to their interests and experiences, taking that budding sales relationship to the next level.

Business Card Apps

Even though the vast majority of the modern business world is now digitized, physical business cards still remain the most popular way to quickly exchange contact information. After all, we don’t always have the time to pull out our smartphones, create a new contact, then enter a name, work number, mobile number, and email address.

The problem is, however, that even when given plenty of time, most salespeople won’t sit down after every networking event to go through their stack of business cards and manually enter each contact into their device one by one. The solution? Quick and efficient mobile apps to scan or photograph business cards, then instantly turn them into an easily accessible contacts on your smartphone, tablet, computer, or any number of social networks.

ABBYY® and CamCard, two of the most trusted card reading apps on the market, are available for iOS® and Android™. CamCard is also available for BlackBerry® and Windows Phone. With so many options (and so many other card reading apps out there) you’re bound to find something to suit your needs.

Although all of these tools may seem a bit intimidating at first glance, their useful and noteworthy capabilities can make them invaluable to your sales team. If you’re looking to boost productivity, cut down on wasted time, and see an increase in sales, these tools could be just what you’re looking for.

About Carrie Powers

Carrie Powers is a college student, writer, and lipstick enthusiast. She is currently earning her bachelor’s degree in English while simultaneously pursuing a career in writing and marketing, and has previously worked as a content writer for BlueGlass Interactive. She is now a contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com.

Carrie has enjoyed writing for a wide variety of clients, from clothing brands to car insurance companies, and prides herself on her ability to make any topic fun, engaging, and fresh. Her areas of expertise include beauty, fashion, and style, and she looks forward to a long and exciting career in writing.

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Sales Tools Don’t Fail – Sales eXchange 1864

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

change

Advancements in technology, and the access to information have come at a staggering rate over the last 25 years.  In some cases the resulting gains in productivity and efficiency have been as great or greater; access to data and analysis, manufacturing and supply chain are a couple of examples.  But some areas like sales, have lagged.  Considering the upside presented by sales tools, and lately web 2.0 based apps, sales people should in theory be much more productive and efficient in executing their craft and improving their output, but they are not; the question is why.

There are a number of contributing factors, and all are in some way are connected to probably the most prominent factor, the inability of the purveyors of said technology, to effectively communicate to the users, the sales people, a compelling reason to adopt.  While both vendors and the executives of sales organizations can be blamed, I would focus on the executive/leadership.

I hold the executives responsible, for one simple reason: they fail to do the very thing they demand from their teams daily – putting the clients’ interest first, show the client the upside and they’ll deal with you, put yourself first and you lose.  The vendors fail because they only focus on part of the buying group, not the whole.  Since the final decision and funding is with the executives, vendors spend a lot of time selling the executive, the visibility they will get, the great data collected, leading to valuable and actionable data, while ignoring the front line rep.  But if the front line rep does not adopt, there is little visibility, insufficient or questionable input, leading to questionable output, analysis, action or the desired change; all leading to failed implementations.

Both vendors and the executive need to sell the front line reps on “what is in it for them”, the oldest rule in sales.  Instead reps are told about all the ways these tools are going to make it easier to adhere to the process, give management a better inside view, provide data to other departments, make it easier for marketing to support the sales effort and customers, give CSR’s a complete view of the customer, and more.  All good things, but none speak to how the tool’s will make it easier for the sales person to close deals, make quota, and make more money; which is “what’s in it for the rep”.

What’s ironic is that sales people have traditionally been early adopters of technology and tools that help them with any or all three of the things above; they were early users of the web, e-mail, and mobile phones.  They will often take time to learn or relearn things when they believe it will make it easier for them to close more deals, make quota and money.  Remember the effort many of us put in to learning how to write again when we bought our Palm Pilot in the 1990’s because it made selling easier, freed up time and resources used to sell more.

That has not changed, today you can see hundreds of tools and apps sales people seek out and adopt on their own in order to make sales gains.  Just look at the growth in the BYOD movement, sales people willing to spend time and money on those things that help them make sales, quota and money.

Leaders need to practice what they preach and provide tools that first help sellers succeed, and in the process spin-off all the benefits they need.  Providing tools that integrate into the sellers daily efforts, rather than distracting them.  When a tool does require time and effort to learn, show the front line rep how it will help them succeed.  Show them how the tool, app or whole new system will help them be more strategic, save them time and effort while enhancing their tactical execution; do that, and they will clamor for the tool.  Tell them how it helps YOU with YOUR forecasts, job or help YOU cover your ass instead of theirs, and you can bet that same ass that you’ll have assure minimal use, mandated or not.

Another mistake some leaders make is going BIG right out of the gate, and assuming the gains before they happen.  Rolling out a new SFA tool, with a steep learning curve, and using the new tool as a reason why reps should be able to sell more is not only counterproductive, but unnecessary.  You can either introduce a tool in stages, aligning it with the team’s execution of the sale, allowing them to integrate as they benefit, then introduce the next phase, and so on, leading to a smooth and productive adoption.

The alternative is to introduce tools that make it easy to deliver value to the user, the executive, the organization as a whole, by helping reps do something they already do in a more productive way.  An example would be Front Row Solutions.  This app, which sees a 95% adoption rate, helps reps capture the outcome of a sales call (live or phone), in a few taps on their wireless phones.  This helps them stay focused on their best opportunities, plan next steps, drive deals, evolve their execution and best practices, and more, all in a few easy seconds.  In the process it produces some of the most actionable data for management and the rest of the organization.

In the end you can blame lack of adoption on failed roll-outs, the tools themselves, on reps reluctance, and more.  But for me it comes down to bad selling; bad selling on the part of leadership.  Failing to sell their customer, the front line rep on “what’s in it for them”, instead making it all about the leaders.  What makes things worse is that same sloppy selling manifests itself right through the sales organization they lead, putting them at an even further disadvantage.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Mobile Apps for the Mobile Sales Force58

The Pipeline Guest Post – Lauren Carlson

In an increasingly mobile business world, professionals operate day-to-day on their mobile devices. Because of this, vendors have worked to develop the best apps that can bring all the necessary business functionality to an individual on the go. One profession that stands to benefit most from these apps is sales. We at Software Advice typically focus on sales force automation software, but we decided to broaden our focuse and see what is available on mobile devices to match the needs of a mobile sales force. We were honestly amazed at the great tools we found. Below we highlight some of our favorites.

Networking
Hashable Mobile – With everything else going digital, why shouldn’t business cards? Hashable has developed a neat app that basically allows you to track everyone you meet. If you can gather an email address or Twitter handle, the app will do the rest. It logs the individual down, along with the place that you met them. It allows you to make contact notes, set reminders to follow up, and track phone calls and meetings. Everything can sync back to your calendar and/or email to help keep you organized. Hashable Mobile is free and available for iPhone and Android.

Presentations
Soonr – Soonr brings file collaboration to your mobile device. Not only can you create and edit PowerPoint presentations, but Soonr allows you to access and share over 40 different types of files, from spreadsheets to mp3′s. Because Soonr operates in the cloud, any changes made from your mobile device are automatically saved and synced back to your desktop. Another cool feature is the SMS notification. Whenever a file is updated or edited, anyone who has access to that file will receive a text. This way, you always know what is going on with your files, even if you are thousands of miles from the office. Soonr is $9.95/user/month and is available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Android tablets.

Travel
FlightTrack Pro – One of the biggest pain points in a traveling profession is, you guessed it, traveling! FlightTrack Pro was developed by Mobiata to ease some of that pain. This is probably one of my favorite apps. It allows you to sync your travel itinerary, and then sends you push notifications about any changes with itinerary – delayed flights, change of gates, etc. It also has a really neat map feature that allows you to track your flight on a visually stunning graphic map. FlightTrack Pro is $9.99 on the App Store and is available for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

CRM
Sugar Mobile – Sugar is already a leader in the CRM arena, and now they have extended their capabilities to mobile devices so that you can access client-critical information from anywhere. You can run reports, set up meetings, manage cases and contact information all from your mobile device. And with their latest update to the app, the user interface has become even more intuitive and simple. The coolest new addition to the app is the Twitter Connector. This feature essentially allows you to manage your Twitter account and Twitter streams without having to leave the app. Price is free and it’s available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

These are just a sampling of the apps. For more information on each one and to see more choices for each category, check out the original article here: http://www.softwareadvice.com/articles/crm/apps-for-the-mobile-sales-force-1072811/.

About Lauren Carlson

Lauren Carlson is a write and market analyst out of Austin, Texas. She focuses on enterprise technology in the area of customer relationship management. She has been mentioned on Forbes.com and other notable web sites. You can see her articles regularly on the Software Advice blog.

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Is 2.3% Growth Enough For You?31

October 19, 2010 was not a great day if you are involved in the economy, and believe me, if you are reading this you are involved, as you read on, perhaps we should say impacted by the economy.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average delivered another banner day, giving up 165.07 points; not to be left behind, the TSX in Toronto was down 97.46 point.  While this may be bad enough, for companies, sales organizations, and sales individuals like you, the really bad news came from a different source, sources to be more accurate. 

On October 19, The Conference Board of Canada cut its growth forecast for the Canadian economy for 2011, using Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure, they are forecast a growth of only 2.5%, down 0.4% from earlier predictions, not that 2.9% was a great shake to begin with.  Main culprit, a cooling in spending, that is spending as in the key ingredient needed by sales types like you and I. 

Read on…

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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You May Have Noticed

If you look to the top of the column to the right, you will see that I have been nominated for one of the Top 50 Influential People In Sales Lead Management 2010.  Please take a minute to vote, you can vote for up to three people, so in addition to me, you select two others.  Thank you in advance.

A Random Walk Up Sales Street – 911

sales exchange

Productivity?

While there are the usual definitions for sales involving “relationships”, driving revenue and all that, you could look at as the constant pursuit of greater productivity. Sales are not alone in the corporate world to have to produce more year after year, but there is something unique in the challenge of sales.  Increases in productivity and efficiency on one side of the equation, say manufacturing, is  usually partially, if not entirely accompanied by a reduction in cost or spend for the manufacturer, and it is similar in other businesses. At the same time, in this same environment of shrinking cost (or spending), sales people have to go out and raise more sales, more revenue, better results.

The quest for efficiencies is not lost on the growing industry of providers of means and tools to help sales people and organizations deliver more. From CRM to SFA, palm computers to BlackBerrys, all promising greater visibility into accounts, knowledge of clients, and of course all more efficiently and in less time. But the promise is often not achieved, and it is not for lack of quality or the intent of the providers, but more the attitude of the user.

Let’s take the BlackBerry, I have one, I am writing this and many other posts on it, and do all the other things on it you would imagine. But I do believe that it is bad to unleash them on sales without some serious rules in place before handing them out, big boldly written warnings displayed every time they fire the thing up, and a life time supply of Ritalin.

To see things our way, you do have to buy into one basic belief we have at Renbor Sales Solutions, we believe that all good and great sales people have a form of attention-deficit disorder (ADD), or Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) if they are under 30, and, oh look squirrel!   So when you take a group with reactionary tendencies with ADD, and you add the BlackBerry to the mix, you have the unnatural swirl of circumstances that make sales people lose sight of reality and become the human equivalent of a super ball locked in a gyrating 1 sq foot box.

We’ve all seen it, a rep doing something perfectly productive, say cold calling; they had scheduled a full hour, and have been doing good for 15 minutes. Then their BlackBerry rattles and shakes, and you can see the ADD kicking in, (Ooh new mail, gotta read, read now), and everything changes.  Like someone possessed they drop everything, and get sucked into a vortex of reactionary waste land where there is a lot of hurrying, a lot of movement, but little productivity.

Well first we gotta answer that e-mail, then find out the facts, send an update to the e-mail, that we are looking into it, and then waiting for the answer. Can’t make any more calls till this gets resolved, just in case we’re on the phone when the answer lands, but this is important, wants to know if we will still be delivering on Thursday morning.

I don’t know how many times I have seen perfectly sane and calm sales people jump up in the middle of a meeting, run for the door and off to save the planet again. I always ask what the issue was, and not once has it been a life and death situation, or a deal or no deal scenario. Usually it is a distraction to the meeting they are in, and a chance for the rep to look productive, to seem responsive to buyers’ needs, and self-important.  But rarely is it necessary, when you look at it, the odd time, the 1 in 100 times the planet is saved is a very small percentage of time, the anomaly that does not justify the negative impact all the other times. 

Beyond the distraction to the others involved in the meeting, beyond what they may have missed while bouncing down the hall, disturbing one worker after the other; the fact remains that it is rarely productive. 

While it would be easy to blame the reps, they are not at fault, they are told to do more in less time with less resources.  They are not trained in the use of many applications beyond which button to push for managements’ desired effect, but not how to use the tool to improve workflow and productivity.  So it is easy to conclude that they have asked me to do more, they have given me a tool that seems to do things, so if I use it a lot, use it often, and use in taking care of clients or client issues it should make me a better worker.

Management tells them to cover the market and client, build relationships and bring in more revenue, and oh, here is something that will help to make that happen.  Can you blame the last link in the chain for the outcome?

Again, we love the tool, we do not blame the inanimate object; we blame the lack of training, leadership and direction.  The power and confidence to tell the sales team, “This CRM or this handheld device is here to help you control and manage your workflow.”  Instead where it leaves sales reps is a place where the tools are controlling and managing the sales reps and the outcomes.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


 

How Trevor Salvaged His Situation

On Thursday we posted a piece about Trevor and his dilemma,  Salvaging The Worst Of A Situation; having stayed at one appointment so long that he was too late for the next one.  We asked people to submit creative ways Trevor can make the best out of an awkward situation.  We promised that we would reveal what Trevor did, and share the responses of others and have you vote for the best suggestions.  At the moment we have had five people with some interesting suggestions, we would like to see a couple of more; so while we will share Trevor’s here, we will open the voting tomorrow for the best way to salvage things.

The way Trevor tells it, he did not want to make the second prospect feel less important or wanted than the first, so he ruled out calling them at 3:00 to tell them he ran long at the 1:00.  As already pointed out, Trevor did not go to the stuck in traffic route as it leaves open the question as to why he didn’t call sooner.  He did intuitively start driving towards the second location, but could not come up with a scenario that did not either make him look careless, sloppy or uncaring, nor was there a scenario that did not insult the client if he showed up that day close to an hour late.  That’s when it struck him, he says, he had a moment of clarity, and he turned off the road and headed back to the office.  At the end of it all there was nothing he could do that day that would help him come out of this without being behind.  According to Trevor there was only one thing to do, wait.  Wait for the day to be over, and wait for a chance to do it again.  When will again come?  For Trevor it was exactly a week later.  The very following Wednesday at 2:55 Trevor pulled stepped into the prospect’s office for his 3:00 meeting.

The client seemed a bit confused:

P:  Weren’t we supposed to meet last Wednesday?
T:  No, I had it for today, see! (He held out his Palm with great pride, there at 3:00 Wed. Jul 22, meeting with XXXX, the person now standing opposite him)
P:  I guess I must have marked in on the wrong day, I am glad one of us had it right, come on in.

Trevor tells me they are getting along famously now, and they have started what looks to be a lucrative and ongoing relationship.

Tibor Shanto

 

 

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