I am a big fan of Harvey Mackay. Recently, I had the opportunity to read his new book, “The MacKay MBA of Selling in the Real World”. The reason I like Mr. MacKay’s books (I have read or own most of them) is that I subscribe to his philosophies about belief, trust, confidence, and most of all, seeking out people as coaches. While I may never actually speak with Mr. MacKay or meet him face to face (one of my personal life goals), he plays an important role in my selling efforts:
Working with a variety of senior executives, sales managers and sales contributors on a daily basis provides me with many opportunities to observe how committed they are to success. What success means to me is that you must mind the details, communicate more exceptionally and do the extra work that makes the difference between average and top sales performance. It includes updating customer content and activities in CRM when you know that takes extra time and effort, always sending a brief but appreciative thank you message to a potential customer, or going the “extra mile” when a customer makes an unusual request.
CRM adoption is a real issue. One reason that clients bring me in is because they have challenges getting sales people to regularly input data or even perform consistent pipeline updates in CRM. I want to share some insights I have gained from addressing this dilemma, because I find that the real reason for this issue is not well understood.
In my experience, the CRM adoption problem typically is framed as sales people versus management. On one hand, sales people feel that CRM is a management tool used to micromanage their activities. The other side of the coin is management’s perception of sales people not being accountable, lacking discipline, and the expectation that CRM input is a “job responsibility”. In other words, the sales team must be pressured to do something that management believes they won’t do voluntarily.
The reality is that the problem is deeper than sales people’s perceptions of a conspiracy to handcuff them into doing management’s bidding. Instead of using a push strategy, managers should consider changing their perceptions about how sales people actually benefit from effective CRM adoption. I believe that at the heart of good sales management practices is the simple idea that Managers should communicate positively to motivate team members.
Some time ago, I wrote a post about how start-up businesses always seem to look for “Connectors” to help their business find sales prospects. As I ramp up my consulting practice at Acorn Growth Partners, I have returned to networking with current and past colleagues, as well as prospective clients. Suddenly, I am receiving LinkedIn connection requests from people whom I haven’t heard from in years, or from people whom I have never met! I hope that’s a good thing but it’s something I am concerned about. Why?
Because being “connected” on LinkedIn is not being a “Connector”.
Perhaps the most important aspect of sales messaging is the ability of the sales person to take that messaging and apply it to customer dialogue. Otherwise, all the social media, blogging, website development and other messaging channels are a waste of time. In other posts, I have focused on why integrating the sales message with marketing dialogue is critical. To see an example, take a look at my e-paper “Operationalizing Social Media”, where I describe the integration of sales and messaging content.