Creating Value through Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
By Buff Parham/Parham & Associates LLC
Almost every salesperson in the country has been impacted by CRM (Customer relationship management) by now. We assume that's a good thing, but that isn’t necessarily so… Let's consider the pros and cons…
CRM is a tool rather than a solution!
For a variety of business reasons, CRM software is proliferating the landscape. Quite often, it's a "top down" affair, with senior management insisting that every member of a given sales force gets trained up and using it ASAP. What drives that sort of edict is the assumption that "sales will improve" if everyone just gets better organized at "managing" their respective customers. There's also typically an expected ROI for the CRM software that's been purchased. Magic wands??? Maybe not…
CRM is a major opportunity for salespeople to craft and execute specific sales strategies for each of their clients.
The nature of most CRM software invites a "cookie cutter" approach that doesn't recognize or appreciate the simple fact that no two clients are alike. Senior management may see it differently, but truly creative salespeople realize that they must "customize" their CRM software to their personal advantage.
CRM allows us to set up the ongoing value proposition as the thread that connects every piece of information we collect for a given client. Data for data's sake just doesn't work. Everything that goes into a client's data file should have context. We're trying to assemble a giant puzzle for each of our clients. So all of the people mapping, meeting notes, relevant articles, etc. should be "building blocks" for that client's respective value proposition.
Effective use of CRM software creates a coherent and cohesive body of information that drives the value proposition for a given client.
Sometimes it's more important to figure out what gets left out as opposed to what goes into a given client's database. There's no room for useless clutter that can confuse or distract us from the real business at hand. Just like our email inboxes, let's try to weed out the stuff that really doesn't matter!
Feel free to share ideas about using CRM with your peers…everyone has their own approach and we can benefit from what works for others. It's simply important to understand that this is a tool that allows you to create and convey more value to your clients on a consistently high level. Discard any ideas that it's "big brother" or a clerical chore. CRM used properly and creatively can and will generate better results for both you and your clientele. Sharing with team members here is simply a must!
If you're not using CRM software, it's never too late to get started.
If your company can't or won't supply it, then bear the expense of getting it yourself. In an information-driven economy, you're handicapping yourself by trying to be successful without it. Clients can easily sense who does and who doesn't use CRM. Those who do use it tend to be perceived as first class professional salespeople. Embracing CRM will also transform your own perception of how you perform your duties--there's simply no good argument against CRM at this point!
No matter what CRM system use, allocate ample time to maintain it to your best advantage. Just like every other tool in our toolbox, regular servicing of this one is mission critical! Stale data is a deal (or even relationship) killer. Perhaps the best test of your database is the ease with which another salesperson could use it in your absence. “Filling in all the blanks” is certainly important, but it’s also about making sure that the information is coherent and how well it supports your respective value propositions.
Here’s to continued great value selling!
About the Author
Check out Buff’s Blog www.BuffParham.com
Digital Media Training is excited to announce the addition of Buff Parham, a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He started in the mailroom at CBS, but quickly moved on to selling locally at KABC/Los Angeles and nationally for ABC Spot Sales in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Buff then continued on to spend almost 12 years with Univision, first as General Sales Manager at KUVN/KSTR in Dallas, and then 5 years in New York as SVP/Sales.
Buff believes that hard work matters and that raising the bar and having greater expectations tend to generate greater results. In his spare time, Buff finds cooking and playing golf to be two of the best therapies for a somewhat hectic existence!
About Molly DePasquale
Molly DePasquale is the Manager of Operations and Sales Training Strategist for DMTraining. She manages the day-to-day business and training operations while helping research and develop new training programs as well as refreshing signature programs to reflect the newest sales trends, technology, and best practices. Molly utilizes her wide-range of skills to create sales and marketing assets focused on delivering value to DMT’s clients. Molly has a passion for learning and leveraging new knowledge and experiences. Outside of DMTraining, Molly is a hard core Pittsburgh sports fan, enjoys staying active by running and golfing, and unwinds by reading and playing the piano.