Small business starts with a Lone Ranger
With a small business, the owner or maybe another person performs the sales activity. This "lone ranger" is the person who obtains the new prospects, converts them into profitable customers and then helps to nurture the account relationship. In these early days of your business the managing of customers is relatively simple.
Your sales team is small and you let them manage their day-to-day activities as they see fit. They manage their own activities, and if, as the sales manager or owner, you needed to know what they worked on, you simply asked them, possibly reviewing a few emails or spreadsheets. You were small, agile and adaptable.
But a Lone Ranger does not build a Lasting, Consistent Business..
Nowhere is building mind share, and in turn customer loyalty, more complex than in the (B2B) business to business environment.
Now your organization has grown and this has brought new challenges that your business has not encountered before. You're not quite as agile as you once were. Sales reps are spread across different time zones, new product lines are being sold, customer segments now have the need for a different sales process to match customer's buying process, prospects are much smarter than before and managing multiple accounts is taking more resources.
In some cases, B2B transactions can involve 6 or more parties in a single endeavor. There are multiple touch points from the prospective call or web inquiry to the initial transaction, quoting, pricing, negotiation, approval, ongoing support, account management and so forth.
Your CRM system needs to easily capture these complex opportunities and the relationships for continued business growth.
Example of a Infor CRM (formally Saleslogix) Opportunity...
In your world, hundreds if not thousands of transactions must be monitored and coordinated. This is why solidifying a strong B2B relationship often starts with sophisticated database capability and analysis.
For long term success, a business needs to move away from its “Lone Ranger” sales model and transition into a (CRM) Customer Relationship Management model in which team selling is now practiced.
So the knowledge capture, transfer and sharing pays off BIG.
Quickly review the previous marketing communications the prospect has received. What eMarketing content were they most interested in and when?
Capture the intelligent communications between the prospective customer and the sales person, especially those notes that indicate the issue(s) your business is solving for them. The notes from meetings, phone calls, and related emails are captured so everyone is on the same page.
Identify the competitor(s) involved along with your sales strategy based on knowledge of their strengths and weakness. Share which of the prospect's contacts have favor for a specific competitor.
The consistency in your quoting and proposal system exhibits smart professionalism to the customer and provides a clear understanding of what they are buying.
Pricing and any discounting are clarified and approved by sales management.
If a sales opportunity is getting stuck, sales management can be called on and quickly informed on the opportunity’s status.
No more creating weekly sales call reports. The completed activity from the meetings, phone calls, notes and emails become the transactions for dynamic reporting for sales management.
Special handling, packaging and shipping instructions can be communicated efficiently.
Related payment terms, credit limit and AR Aging balances are shown for existing customers. Helpful to know when having those difficult conversations.
CSR’s -- customer service reps -- are in the loop on clarifying what is really being quoted and ordered so the customer's expectations are met and their experience is positive.
Customer service and support issues are captured, categorized and resolved which helps to obtain a complete account management perspective.
Best of all, the sales professionals and sales management now have a much better view of the forecasted revenue from identified prospect opportunities so smarter and better decisions can be made.
To his credit, the Lone Ranger did have his horse, Silver, Tonto and lots of local people who, once they knew him, did trust him. But for continued business growth, the selling team needs the collaborative tools and centralized database found in CRM.
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What are other benefits you can visualize in moving away from the lone-ranger selling model?