“A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing, always be closing.” If you’re in sales, that classic line from the film Glengarry Glen Ross has always resonated. It comes from the school of thought that when you’re talking with a prospect, you need to take control of the situation and always be working them torwards the sale and asking them, in various ways, to make the purchase. And while the velvet hammer approach is no longer a viable sales technique, it is true that in sales, we must always be working to provide and demonstrate value to our prospects so that they can make a purchase decision.
Today, that means having far more information than Levine did in the film. Levine was one of the older salesmen, a guy who was past his prime and was struggling to make any sales at all. The film portrayed a real estate investment company and the salesmen would followup on leads from people who had expressed some interest in buying real estate. At one point, Levine is charged up because he finally caught a break. After spending an evening with a couple they caved and made a substantial purchase. Little did he know, the couple just enjoyed the company of salespeople and had failed to complete a contract multiple times.
What Levine, and every business owner needs, are tools to manage customers and prospects. These tools are referred to collectively as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and they come in a variety of flavors. Initially, a CRM would simply be a place to house al of your propect’s information, which you would manualy enter yourself. This would typically include contact information, as much as you could obtain, and any other information about the business or notes you took during conversations.
CRM has now evolved into true systems that can organize client information from a variety of sources, including social media. Imagine being able to see what your prospects are saying on social networks regarding whatever it is they’re wanting to buy. Instead of spending half your day monitoring four different social networks, you only have to check in on your CRM occassionally to see if any of your prospects have posed a question or made a comment which might be appropriate for you to respond to.
To be clear, I’m not advocating creepy stalking activities. A good CRM will be showing you only what you’d be able to see if you were directly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ – wherever the prospect was. And as a good salesman you would be looking for buying questions or buying signals, just as if the prospect was in your store talking to their spouse. If you overheard them asking each other questions which you knew the answer to, you might interject and offer to give them the information they’re looking for.
The CRM integration with social media will also help you track and manage leads that come in through social media. More and more people are initiating business contact via social networks. If a prospect happens to see something you tweeted or shared, they might respond right there, on that platform, rather than go offline to make a phone call or send an email.
The following infograph provided by Salesforce sales software demonstrates how CRM can streamline your sales process so that you have more information and can work more efficiently.
If Levine had had a CRM solution in place, he would have known that his clients had gone through that same routine with other salesmen at his firm before, and could have spent his time with people far more interested in actually making a purchase.
Do you use any CRM at your business, and if so, which solution are you using?
Image courtesy of mtsofan, Flickr.