There are still a lot of businesses who feel that writing the check to buy a CRM application is the hardest part of implementing a sales process. Unfortunately, for those who think that way, they couldn’t be further from the truth.
Pamela O’Hara, Co-Founder and CEO of Batchbook, discusses why plunking the money down is just one step of many needed to have a chance of attaining sales success in today’s market. Pamela also shares info from the new small business sales guide Batchbook has put together.
Below is an edited transcript of the conversation with Pamela. The full conversation can be heard by clicking on the audio player below the transcript.
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Small Business Trends: Can you tell people a little bit about what BatchBook does?
Pamela O’Hara: BatchBook is a web-based CRM product designed for small businesses. We really focus our products on businesses that are figuring out what their sales process is going to be. Those that are still experimenting with a lot of different sales and marketing efforts, and really need a CRM to help them track those efforts and keep track of the relationships they’re building.
Small Business Trends: You guys are starting the year off helping out small businesses with a new small business guide to customer happiness and doing sales right. Is it harder or easier for a small business to keep customers happier today?
Pamela O’Hara: I don’t think it’s harder for small businesses, because honestly, small businesses really still have a much more personal, hands-on relationship with their customers in general. A lot of times, that’s why customers will come to a small business. Especially in retail industries or consulting industries. They’re looking for someone who can give them much more personal , hands-on attention. So those are the things that really do make for better relationships.
The flip side of that and the challenge can be that you also have fewer people on your team working with customers. You’re certainly stretching your resources a lot thinner. So whereas in large businesses you can have someone whose entire job description is just making customers happy. In small businesses, generally the same person doing that is also the person doing invoicing, running payroll, and… probably the person that started the company, a lot of times.
So, it can be challenging doing so many different things. But at the same time, I think that’s really the reason a lot of people started a small business. Even if you’re not the owner or the founder, you choose to work at a place that does have that more intimate relationship with the customer base.
Small Business Trends: Batch Book is offering this “Doing Sales Right” guide. Is that something your customers were asking for help with?
Pamela O’Hara: It definitely is something that our customers have been looking for. Every person who signs up for a BatchBook account, we ask them a question at the very end of the signup process. We ask them, ‘What do you want to accomplish with BatchBook?’ Because it’s important for us to understand what our customers are trying to do. Oftentimes, the answer is, ‘I want to sell more. I want to grow my business.’
We actually had someone write in very recently, literally his answer was, ‘I want to grow fast and profitably, but without losing my soul.’ So I think people want to understand how to sell more, but they want to feel good about selling. So for everyone who signs up for an account and shares what they’re trying to do, we have a follow-up. Someone will send an email. We also do phone consultations with all of our customers to help them set up their BatchBook account.
The first question in that process is also, ‘What are you trying to accomplish?’ And again, so many people will say, ‘I want to sell more.’ And we say, ‘Okay, well what’s your plan for doing that?’ And they say, ‘I bought a CRM. That’s my plan.’
So we really want people to understand that BatchBook, or a CRM product, is really a tool that will help you figure out your sales strategy, and figure out how to grow your business. But it’s not a plan. That’s sort of like saying, a hammer is what’s going to help you build an addition to your house. You need the blueprints. A hammer is a tool that will help you get to that new addition, but, you really need to have a plan.
Our entire team was involved in development of this new guide. It was not just the marketing department. It was the product department, it was our customer experience team. We all were involved in putting together a real step-by-step process that will help small businesses, all different types of small businesses, understand what they should be thinking about to put together this sales plan.
Small Business Trends: What percentage of those folks actually have a defined sales process, versus those who don’t have one?
Pamela O’Hara: We actually asked our customer base how many have a formal sales process. It was under 10% who had a process that they refer to more than once. Again, people feel like, ‘Well, you know, I bought a product. That is my strategy.’
Small Business Trends: You detailed about six key areas. That is finding leads, taking the right leads, making the pitch, the follow-up, the hand-off and making friends. If you had to pick the one area where you think people are doing well, and then pick the one area where you think they need the most help, what would they be?
Pamela O’Hara: I think people probably think of sales, and they probably spend most of their thinking in what we’re calling the marketing phase. That’s the social media postings, blog posts, email marketing, newspaper ads, radio ads, all of those things that you’re doing to get your word out. I think people do think a lot about that. What are the right channels? Where is my customer? What newsletters do they read or how are they deciding to buy products?
I think people spend a lot of their thinking on that side of things, and then they just don’t really have a good sense of, ‘Okay, someone’s interested. What do I do with them? I don’t want to be too aggressive. I don’t want to badger them with 60 different automated emails, but I would like them to buy my product.’ There’s a lot of things that are going to happen between that person being interested in your service or your product and that person actually buying it and walking away satisfied with the purchase.
You know, if you’re an Etsy business, there’s the first time they see your products. They may see it on Pinterest, they may see it on Etsy. But how hard is it for them to actually get it and enjoy it at home? They have to buy it. How are they going to pay for it? Are you making it easy for them to pay for it? Can they just do a quick PayPal link, or are you going to make them pull out a different credit card or are you going to invoice them separately… how are you shipping?
These are all part of the sales process. This is all part of that person’s experience with getting your product. And you really should think about all of the details all the way through that process. I think one of the especially hard part for small businesses is they rely on a lot of different vendors, different people in that process. You may not do fulfillment. You may sell T-shirts. But you have a print shop, and you have a separate mail service that does all the deliveries, or you use FedEx or UPS.
What is that customer’s experience with those services? Are you providing enough information? Are they getting the right T-shirt? The right size? Are they getting a nice note from your company with that T-shirt that says, ‘We’re thrilled that you purchased our product.’ That makes a difference. That makes a difference when that person opens that box. What are they’re going to think about your company the next time they’re looking for a T-shirt, or when they’re looking for T-shirts for a friend?
They’re all part of the sales process. It’s not just which social media site should I be posting my Etsy products in.
Small Business Trends: So there’s a lot of great information in here that you walk people through. How can people get this guide?
This is part of the One-on-One Interview series with thought leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the embedded player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.