6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a CRM

6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a CRM

Still using Excel to track your networking connections? That might work, to a degree -- but it isn’t scalable. You easily lose track of contacts, you miss follow ups and you can do better. Do you dream of a tool that tracks your pipeline, stores all your notes and automatically reminds you to follow up, or even does it for you?

That tool exists. Enter the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system of your dreams.

You might be thinking, “Oh, great--another piece of technology to learn.” I hear you--technology is always changing, so it’s hard to keep up. Then, there’s the risk that picking up a new tool will just add complications, rather than clarity. Let me help you out. Here are six questions to ask yourself. Take the time to answer them, and odds are you’ll find the perfect CRM for you.

  1. What is your digital culture? Take a moment to list the email service, project management software, inbox and other programs you’re using. Are you a Microsoft Brain, or do you get down with Gmail? Tools like Zapier can help make the connections seamless.
  2. What does your network look like? Make sure that your CRM will allow for different sales pipelines and tagging structure so you can store all of the necessary data. A good CRM will track not just your leads, but your strategic partners, vendors and more. Avoid systems that consider everyone to be a ‘lead’.
  3. What kinds of automation will you be using? Look at what process flows you have.  Are you automating? Where might there be opportunities to automate? Things like email messages, task assignments, and reminders are critical for lasting CRM success.
  4. What do you need to track? Priorities vary from sales pro to sales pro. Consider what you truly need to measure and track in the future. Then, check to make sure the CRM you’re considering will accommodate. Things like weighted pipelines and varied sets of activity can help make your choice easy.
  5. How much time are you willing to dedicate to your CRM? No matter what platform you choose, a CRM is only as good as the information you put into it. If as an owner you aren’t the championing your CRM as part of your culture your team will not make it a priority.
  6. At the end of the day, does this make my business better? Simply put, if the answer is “no,” time to consider another CRM.

Now that you have been able to narrow the field by asking these questions, it’s time to take that new CRM out for a spin. Take advantage of a free trial to see how you like the interface. Once you settle on a perfect match, customize it.

Intimidated by the thought of putting together a sales process, automation, and contact structure? You’re not alone. It can seem even more daunting than choosing the CRM., Contact @revenue to get started.


The Impact of Values on Small Business

The Impact of Values on Small Business

Value Statements, mission statements, retreats, and branding exercises are often considered luxuries that small business owners will simply slide off of their radar. After all, there are so many more important things to do, right?!?

The short answer is, yes. There are many important things to do. Until there is a crisis, conflict….or even a client interaction. Then, this collective verbalization of what is important to us, what we strive for, and what we can expect from our leaders and peers becomes the foundation for success.

There are always metrics that are analytically trackable: sales, financials, all the numbers, right? But when it comes to measuring the alignment of organizational values in a small business what are you supposed to look for?

Here it comes….feelings.

OH, YOU KNOW HOW I LOVE TALKING ABOUT FEELINGS!

Check in with your team, and at different times:

To understand the adoption of values in your business it’s critical to check in with your team and learn if what you thought would be important about your values is resonating with them. As a leader, when you set the values for your org you set them through one filter - yours. But your values, have no guarantee of aligning with the person across the table. When we asked our new admin, who had been with us for about 90 days, Song said, “The concept of professional love was completely new to me. very few of my past employers have been as kind and invested in me and my goals in life, not just professionally but personally as well.”

Wow. After 90 days one of our team members knew that we cared about her as a whole person. Professional Love. Check.

When we asked another team member how he was impacted, Ben’s response was, “I am excited about the creativity that I have experienced with how @revenue works with clients. Developing ways to creatively collaborate with clients fuels innovation and brings excitement to the marketing strategies that we provide.”
This felt like a completely different view of the same question, but it gave us an understanding of how he was absorbing what we thought we were communicating clearly.

Having those conversations and getting feedback gives you a place to open yourself to getting better. Speaking better. Professionally loving them better. So what is the impact of those values? They are a measuring stick for the leadership of your organization and an opportunity to openly communicate over more than just ‘is the task complete?'.

The deeper the understanding and engagement your team has around your values sets the tone for how they care for and communicate with your clients. Give them something to believe in...and then believe in them.

We would love it if you would share your organization’s values with us! Visit us on Facebook or LinkedIn and share your vision - we are all ears!


Sales Sabotage: How Internal Communication is Hurting Your Bottom Line

Sales Sabotage: How Internal Communication is Hurting Your Bottom Line

In an ideal world, your sales and marketing teams would be best friends. Sadly, they don’t always see eye to eye--sometimes, they go head to head. The truth is, only 8% of companies report a strong alignment between their sales and marketing departments (source).

What’s the deal with this disconnect? As we discussed previously, sales and marketing can benefit and learn a lot from each other when they’re in sync. Heck, they both have the same goal--to drive revenue! Let’s take a look at just how disjointed these two efforts are, and what we can do to turn the situation around.

LEADS:

Did you know that sales reps ignore 50% of marketing leads (source)? WHAT!?!? It’s true--half the hard-earned leads sent their way are going to waste.

Do you wanna guess what the team is doing instead? About 50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting (source) Not only are they tossing aside the leads marketing is providing them, but they are wasting time on bad leads!

So if sales is only taking 50% of your leads, and wasting 50% of their time, that’s 100% failure. The sales team has reasons for passing on those leads--instead of ignoring the problem or guessing why, the marketing side should ask them what they want and need. Why aren’t they using these leads? What about these leads doesn’t appeal? How can you shift your strategy to ensure you are providing more qualified prospects into the pipeline? Making that shift means way more to the bottom line.

CONTENT:

We can’t lay the blame solely at the feet of the sales teams. Marketers could stand to make some changes to improve their impact.. Approximately 60-70% of B2B content created is never used. In many cases, this is because the topic is irrelevant to the buyer audience (source). Isn’t that just great? Writing for the sake of writing. If you are wondering why your content isn’t getting any traction, consider bringing in the sales team. They talk to your customers all the time and know exactly what their challenges and pains are. Make sure to address those and craft compelling and valuable content.

And let’s face it, content is still king. 47% of buyers viewed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. (source). Be sure to engage your sales team so you're putting the right 3-5 pieces in front of them.

TOOLS:

If it seems that sales and marketing teams are speaking a different language, sometimes it’s because they are. All too often, marketing reporting and systems aren’t in line with sales processes and leads, and each team uses applications, tools and processes the other is unfamiliar with. In fact, B2B companies’ inability to align sales and marketing teams around the right processes and technologies eats up 10% or more of revenue per year (source). I bet you don’t spend 10% of your revenue on tools.

To get on the same page, consider bringing together both departments to your results meetings. When the marketing team learns where the sales are coming from, and sales learns about what’s working in the market, both parties produce better results. Don’t let the communication gap go on, because it’s only going to be more critical that you are in lockstep. By 2020, B2B buyers won’t contact vendors until 80% of the way through a purchasing decision. That’s going to put more and more pressure on the marketing team to reach, engage and convert more qualified buyers.

If your sales and marketing teams keep butting heads, it’s time to bring in outside help. Contact @revenue to look at both your sales process and marketing strategy to align everyone's efforts and create the revenue you deserve.


Tools for Business Development

Tools for Business Development

If you have any responsibility for developing business, you know how time-consuming and taxing it can be. Following up after events, the back and forth it takes to schedule meetings and keeping track of it all can leave your schedule packed and your energy drained. Let’s face it, this is a full-time job for some, but busy business owners have a multitude of other responsibilities. That’s why @revenue is here to give you the best tools in the industry to make your business development efforts not only work more efficiently but also to work more effectively! Check out a couple of our favorites that we have tried, tested and proven to be the best for busy business owners.

EatNGage.
Looking to really wow prospects or find a good excuse to get in front of them? How about you buy them lunch! EatNGage offers an efficient all-inclusive engagement platform that will schedule lunch with your prospects… virtually. Food is delivered and your meeting is done through web conferencing so no one has to leave their desks. You save tons of travel time and your leads have a great new reason to take that meeting. Plus EatNGage offers automated reminders, build in video conferencing and email tracking.

Insightly.
We all know that relationships are the key to business success but how do you manage them all? Enter your Customer Relationship Manager, and for the @revenue team, that means Insightly! Never miss a birthday, followup or forgotten lead with this robust CRM. Build deeper customer relationships and grow your business faster with this all-inclusive tool to organize, document and track your communication. With a handy Gmail plugin and a robust mobile application, Insightly keeps you connected and informed however you work.

Grammarly.
Nothing is worse than when you make a simple grammar mistake in your email. It can mean the difference between getting the appointment and the cold shoulder. More than spell check, Grammarly uses context to ensure that even your typos get the extra eyes they need. Make sure every email and piece of writing is perfect and worth a response.

Mix Max.
The newest tool the @revenue team has adopted is already cutting our correspondence time in HALF! With MixMax you are able to quickly schedule meetings, track your email activity, design followup automations and use templates all at your fingertips. It is every salesperson dream as it not only has a ton of cool features, but it also works right in your Gmail.

Remember all these slick tools and fancy apps won’t help if you aren’t able to build solid relationships. If you are still looking for more business development skills, come to join @reveue at our next Executive Brief. Learn how to strengthen your business development efforts with our relationship-focused sales process.


Manufacturing the Future: A New Sales Landscape

Manufacturing the Future: A New Sales Landscape

Globally the manufacturing industry has undergone a massive transformation in the past decade. Recessions choked demand, employment continues to fall and the floors and lines don’t have the same consistent flow of work to be done. With all of the nuances between each manufactured product and the manufacturers themselves, what is to be done to start to right the ship and save one of the most critical industries to America’s economy?

While I won’t wax poetic about inventory management or the technological advances on the floor, there is one aspect of manufacturing that lies at the root of its stability and growth. Sales. From small plants to those that sprawl for miles, this one critical function of the organization has been left unattended to. When it comes to advancements that the rest of the business world has already adopted, implemented and reaps the ROI on that manufacturers have done little to change. So what’s the problem?

For decades manufacturing companies have been in constant bidding wars, filling out painful RFPs and letting their prices be driven so low. In doing so, they have trained the market how to treat them, and how not to treat them as sales professionals. With painfully slim margins and a lack of true human connection in the sales process, the manufacturing sales rep is often no more than a bid fetcher, hoping that they are cents less than the other guys, and quickly moving on to the next bid.

It’s time to shift...and fast. In my studies and client cases, when we empower the sales staff to embrace a more proactive, soft and nurturing, relationship-based sales process certain things begin to shift.

Accountability: When you give your team members the processes and tools to get results they get a surge of ownership. They don’t feel as if they’re a victim to the bids and can own their numbers and results...and exceed them.

Bigger Orders: In the process of building relationships reps will typically increase their client's orders by 15-30% over the course of 2 years. It takes knowing the right questions to ask to uncover hidden needs and pain points of client's to really make this kind of impact.

Authentic Relationships: Ever had an order go out late or wrong? We all have, and it hurts every time. But if your team has the experience to and education to build a real relationship of honesty and trust with your customers, you are way less likely to lose the client when a mistake happens.

Client Retention: If your sales team is spending time putting together 100 bids a day and only getting a 3% return, how effective is your process? What if you were able to cut out that 93% of time wasters and create powerful relationships with clients that are GOOD for your business, that are invested in the relationship they have with you and are even willing to refer you business? By cutting out that 93% of the bidding that sucks time, energy, and let’s face it, the will to live out of your team, you get to build a client book of evangelists. Do that.

Talent Acquisition: Sales talent can be hard to find, and in the manufacturing world you are up against a wall when it comes to matching the technical acumen with the sales skills, and these rarely show up on the first day polished and ready to go. Having a consultative sales process that empowers your staff is going to result in the things good salespeople want: personal development, more commission, a more enjoyable work experience and the thrill of winning that BIG client.

All of these things sound great right? Well, they don’t show up magically. The shift has to come from the top - and that means that you, the business owner, must learn how to sell. They will not follow if you don’t lead. And I will tell you, it’s not a workshop kind of lesson. As you embrace a new way of processing sales, understanding the why behind decision making and showing that you are walking the walk it will allow you to hold your team accountable because you will become a credible messenger.

The big question is...are you ready for change? Are you ready for more revenue? And will you be the catalyst or a bystander in the future of your company?

Now is the time to solidify the profit of your company. Let’s find 15 minutes to chat - it might just make you millions.

Click here to schedule https://atrevenuecalendar.as.me/Disco


Sales + Marketing: Finger pointing or handshaking

Sales + Marketing: Finger pointing or handshaking?

Most businesses divide their sales team and marketing team into two different groups. At one organization I worked with, they were physically in different buildings... in different parts of the city. But what really is the difference between these two departments? They share the same goals, but their tactics for achieving these goals are very, very different.

It’s easy to get caught up with definitions like, “marketing is from the brand and sales is from a salesperson”. If that’s how you want to differentiate, I’ve got news for you. That sales person IS your brand! To more clearly separate these two facets of your business, I look at it from the messaging perspective. Here is my simplified explanation of these two departments and where the lines start to blur.

Marketing is a message sent to the masses. Like yelling into a megaphone, you say it once and it’s received by many people. For example, think of a TV commercial or a Pay Per Click ad that’s impersonal and doesn’t have a person on the other end sending you that message.

Sales on the other hand, is a very direct message sent from just one person. The message is tailored and personalized for each specific audience. It’s also not as scalable (one salesperson can only talk to so many people).

Now, here’s where it starts to get a little fuzzy. If done right, your marketing can feel like it’s coming from a real person AND your sales team can reach a wider audience.

This is why big data and targeted marketing is so exciting; it crafts a message that is targeted to the individual… but sent to many individuals. When this happens, your efforts have exponential impact.

Don’t just take it from me, here are the facts:

  • Personalization reduces acquisition costs as much as 50%, lifts revenues by 5-15%, and increases the efficiency of marketing spend by 10-30%. (McKinsey & Company)
  • By 2020, 51% of consumers expect that companies will anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they make contact. (Salesforce)
  • Increasing personalization in more channels can increase overall consumer spending by up to 500%. (The E-Tailing Group)

Here’s a couple of great examples where your marketing and sales team needs to work in perfect harmony:

Email: An average office worker receives 121 emails a day and sends around 40 business emails daily (Source). So it’s fair to say that this would be a sales channel,. Right? But wait, what about MASS emails? Those newsletters, automations, promotions and drip campaigns need to incorporate best practices from both departments in order to be effective.

Social Media: With over 2.19 billion monthly active users on Facebook, this must be a mass audience channel, right? Think again. Sure, you can have your marketing team create a bunch of posts, but without a sales perspective and communication style, your engagement and conversation ends there. To be successful, you need to build a relationship with your following, and who is better at building relationships than your sales team? By bringing together your marketing and sales minds, you’re able to attract, engage and even convert a dedicated community.

Sales and marketing are very clearly differentiated in our minds. But aren't they really doing the same thing? Connecting, convincing, and communicating. Any good salesperson or marketer knows that is the key to success.

If you are having challenges connecting with your clients, leads and audience, contact Marie at marie@atrevenue.com


How We Inspire Clients To Tackle Sales In The Office And In The Field!

How We Inspire Clients to Tackle Sales in the Office and in the Field!

Sales cannot stop once the contract gets signed!

Your sales process is part of your brand, part of your culture and the lasting impression that people take from your business. At @revenue, we know that creating a powerful process that both your sales team and your internal team can follow will allow not only for more sales but greater customer service and increased value per client!

 

If your business is ready for powerful growth, it's time we talked. 312.720.1399 x1

 


The 8 Characters that Kill a Sales Team

The 8 Character that Kill a Sales Team

As a business owner, chances are you are used to being the one that gets it done. You drive the sales, you travel the miles, you push harder than anyone in your company - and when payroll comes around, you are one that makes sure that the money is there. No one will be surprised to hear that you bring a bigger passion to the table than anyone else in your firm, but if you are the only true driver you are headed directly into years of frustration and even failure.

It’s a huge step when you a hire sales staff, after all, you are trusting someone to go out there with your baby and trust that they will do the right thing. Now, you are managing everything you were before, while onboarding new sales staff who need deep engagement with and education about your product and brand and managing their numbers, creating a sales culture, ensuring effective collaboration with marketing, and….now you are hiding under your desk. It’s ok….come out....you don’t have to carry this alone.

We see business owners go through a range of emotions when the pipeline needs to grow. See if you recognize any of these characters:

  • The Imposter: You have been making this business happen through sheer force of will and sell well because you know every inch of your business, but that doesn’t mean that you see yourself as a salesperson or leader.
  • The Overwhelmed: If there are 17 hats in your business, you are wearing at least 14 of them. Adding the large time commitment of hiring, onboarding, and managing a salesperson or team could only make the stack topple.
  • The Aggressor: With consistently underperforming sales, you are losing your ability to maintain patience with your sales staff and you are constantly doing mental gymnastics going back and forth between firing the underperforming or just pushing them harder to get the results that you need. The sales staff becomes the pack of kids that are always in trouble, but there isn’t enough time to train or coach them out of it, and hostility is more and more a part of your interactions (or at least inner monologue)
  • The Incredulous: I don’t need accountability, I don’t need hand-holding, training or coaching, why do they?
  • The Blind: With no central tracking system I couldn’t see the sales pipeline if I wanted to, but I have no idea how to pick the right CRM or how to program it to get the information needed to make the proper assessments and plans. And IF I do get it going, how do I not only train the team but keep them engaged with it?!
  • The Rivet Catcher: You know that there are opportunities everywhere, but with BIG sales, current clients, past clients, new markets and new trends you are constantly staring up and hoping to reach out and catch what is falling instead of being able to distribute a plan.
  • The Transformer: You see your industry moving from transactional sales to relationship-based sales but with a team that has been pushing papers for years, do you wipe the sales staff out and start over or teach the old dogs new tricks?
  • The Bootstrapper: If you had a few hundred grand to toss into a new sales program, you might not need to lean so hard on the sales staff anyway. You need to find a financially viable way to get the right people in the right roles to move the sales team forward and start producing results.

Find yourself nodding (or shaking your head in commiseration) with some of the points above? Don’t beat yourself up, every business experiences this growing pain. But, don’t wait for the answer to come find you, reach out and learn about how our Fractional VP of Sales services can support you to create, empower and maintain a successful sales force and give you the keys to keep the sales machine running when you are ready for it.

Call us today at 312.720.1399


The Power of Polish: Making the most out of 7 seconds

The Power of Polish: Making the Most out of 7 Seconds

Those of you that know me know that I never show up underdressed. I wonder if you know why I take care in my appearance?  Let me create a little business case for you….

When I started my entrepreneurial career I was young, and I mean young young. That special age where you think you know everything and that at 30 you will be a real grown up. That’s where I started. Since I already knew everything, it was easy, right?  Um, not so much. I very quickly stepped into a public role as the leader of eWomenNetwork and needed to not only sell to but confidently lead, a group of women that were 20+ my seniors and provide them with true value.

If I had walked on stage with a side ponytail or the most up-to-date fashion atrocity, it would have skewed their view of me for many, many months, and I would have to earn that credibility back. Not happening. I had sales to close. At that age, it sometimes felt like more of a costume, but I was ok with playing a role until I achieved the goal. Your appearance is how others decide to view you as a person, which they do, within the first seven seconds of meeting you.

What does your appearance say about you? Here are just a few possibilities:

  • Professionalism

  • Motivation

  • Experience

  • Attention to Detail

  • How you Represent your Brand

  • Trust

  • Like-Mindedness

So often we see business owners and employees that haven’t taken the time to put themselves together in a way that will not only help them open doors but help them close sales. A few years ago, one of my legal clients had a gorgeous baby face, not a wrinkle in sight. Before she went to court, she would pull her hair back into a simple high ponytail. How would you feel about a lawyer that looked like she was still in college? Not great was the answer for a lot of her clients. All it took was a different hairstyle to allow her to elevate her image to the professional kick-butt lawyer that she truly was! It simply took a little polish.

For the next week, I would like you to try a little experiment. Every morning, before you leave the house, take a look at yourself in the mirror and ask these three questions:

  1. Do I look like my brand (personal or business)?

  2. Is this a great fit for the meetings I have today?

  3. Does this convey my professionalism, my intent and my level of experience?

If the answer is always ‘uhhhhh maybe?’, it might be time to start putting together what your personal brand needs to be.

For questions or more information contact me at Marie@atrevenue.com


Dream Bigger

Dream Bigger

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness

That most frightens us.

We ask ourselves

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

Your playing small

Does not serve the world.

-By Marianne Williamson

‘Marie, I have something to tell you,’ my client began, ‘when I started dreaming about my business and setting goals I was stretching to see myself at 400k in my first year. I thought I was calculating something wrong when I saw that I had booked 800k, but when I realized that I would have more than a million dollars of business on the books before my year was even close to its end I got…’ He took a deep breath, ‘I got scared.’

Sounds like a great problem to have, right? We all roll our eyes at those who tell us that their businesses have grown too quickly, but epic growth not only brings with it a bevy of technical issues but a lot of emotional issues that we aren’t prepared for.

Questions come flying through our brains like:

  • Does this mean that I should expand my business?
  • Should I raise my rates?
  • Do I want a bigger business?

And the truth is, this can be a scary and lonely place to be.

I would like to offer you two words that can greatly impact your future, wherever you are in your journey. Dream Bigger. If your goal, your dream, your plan doesn’t stretch you, make you uneasy or is something that you could do in your sleep, you aren’t dreaming big enough. If you don’t feel a little nervous when you review your goals every month (not your numbers), you are playing too small.

The next part of Marianne Williamson’s poem goes on to say that “we are all meant to shine like children do”, and there is so much truth in that. If your business doesn’t light you up, if you aren’t on fire, take some time and reassess why the heck you are working so hard.

How do you know when your dream is big enough? Gut check time.

  1. What impact would achieving this goal have on my life? If there is no true impact...push further.
  2. How does this align with my values? If your goal doesn’t allow you to exemplify your values (ex. It’s more than just a number) or the impact of your goal on you financially doesn’t allow you to achieve a personal goal that matches your values it’s time to realign.
  3. When you take time to put your goals into actionable steps, can it be done with little to no effort? You should want a little sweat to happen on your way to your dream, it makes it more thrilling to achieve.

This year, I had to realign personal goals this when my whole life suddenly changed; my partner suddenly died. I had to learn how to dream again, how to figure out what will bring me joy, abundance or peace when my dreams were suddenly and uncontrollably altered and out of my control. Learning to dream big is a practice, a muscle, a gift you must work on for yourself.