Keeping track of activity is a common challenge for small business owners. We wear many hats and are responsible for many things. One of the places where we fall down is with our sales process. I am a huge fan of systems because I believe systems keep us on track and focused.
Systems To Build Business
There are three areas where I see these systems having a lot of value. They are:
- Follow up
Who and where?
The question here is, “Who is your target market?” You can have more than one. However, pick one at a time to work on. Ask yourself which industry or demographic makes the best client for you. Now, go find the prospects within that target. Once you have the list, determine how you are going to pursue them.
Having a specific, structured system for how you are going to connect with the prospects within a target market will help you schedule those steps and implement them.
How are you going to monitor your interactions with those prospects? Having a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system makes the most sense to me. There are a number of small business CRM programs out there. Explore a handful of them with an eye toward what information you want to be able to capture.
You should use a CRM system that integrates with your calendar so you can set reminders and tasks. A couple of systems to take a look at are: Salesforce, Insightly, and Base.
I consider selling to be what you do when you are in front of a prospect. So, think sales appointment. The key to a successful sales appointment is gaining information – not giving it. This is your chance to learn as much as you can about the prospect. What is their issue, urgency, budget, decision making process, ability to pay, etc.?
Create a list of questions you can ask the prospect. As you listen to their answers and write them down, pay attention to how they are sharing. You want to do business with clients who value you, are forthcoming with information and openly discuss their situation. You have the chance to determine if they are a prospect you really want to do business with.
Having this list of questions, will help you gain all of the information you need to successfully quote. Which brings me to the next step of the selling system. Create a quote that speaks directly to what they’ve told you. You can even repeat what you heard them say. This is confirmation that you heard them and are responding to what they told you. This will diminish objections as well.
Follow up System
One of the most critical parts of sales success is the follow up. This is also one of the places that we fall down the most. We get busy and are prone to focus on the task at hand. However, follow up is a key ingredient in the health of a business. Using a CRM program to monitor when and how to contact your connections, prospects and clients can be invaluable.
Determine what information you need to keep track of when it comes to follow up. Then look at the tools you already have in your business; tools like an Outlook calendar. You can set reminders and alarms with Outlook that will remind you of when you need to make a call or send a letter.
Setting agreements with the other person is an interesting part of a follow up plan. This entails suggesting to the contact when you will call them or when you should meet again. When they agree, put it on your calendar. You can email them a confirmation as well.
When you keep these activities on your calendar and treat them as appointments, you are more likely to see them through. This will help you maintain your activity and progress.
You can see how setting up systems can help you maintain your forward progress and business growth. Don’t leave these important areas of your business to chance – the chance of having time and remembering to do them. Rather, create your systems and then implement them.
You’ll find your business growing steadily.
Building Business Photo via Shutterstock
Thanks. This is a very helpful overview. I really think follow up is sometimes the greatest challenge for businesses. At least, this has been my experience. But figuring out a system to address many of these issues is probably the best way to be sure nothing gets missed.
Couldn’t agree with you more about followup. So many times we have good intentions but forget to follow through on what we start. Automation can be a lifesaver for these situations.
While I agree that automation can be a lifesaver, I always use automation as my last resort. I think the whole idea of a sales process is coming up with ways to better manage real relationships. When you’re a small business just starting out, relationships are extremely important and are always on your mind. These are the relationships that help you to grow.
Once a business grows, it should never forget its roots, nor should it forget that relationships with customers are the backbone that cause real, lasting success.
I prefer processes and systems to be maximized by human interaction. This is where CRM systems like Nimble, JobNimbus and Insightly excel, because they allow human interactions to flourish instead of becoming robotic and routine.
Thanks for the comments. Brad, I agree that sales is all about relationships. My point about automation is to ensure that we are maintaining those relationships. I don’t mean to say that sales should become so automated that we lose the personal part of it. So, thanks for bringing it up. It’s a great point.
I couldn’t agree more with Diana’s assertion that a Customer Relationship Manager system is crucial for monitoring contact with and following up on prospects. Like the systems named here, Maximizer CRM can be also integrated with business tools like Microsoft Outlook, Exchange and Office to allow staff to access detailed information quickly and easily. This improves productivity and allows staff to spend more time on customer-facing activities and relationship building, which is at the core of any sale.
Matt Ranger, Head of Sales – EMEA, Maximizer Software