Category Archives: CRM

Thank You, Thank You Very Much

elvis-rl-blogI found myself in the city of Nashville last week and had the opportunity to walk along Broadway. It was amazing. People everywhere were enjoying the city’s history as the sounds of country music filled the streets from every bar I passed. I watched the smiles as passersby soaked up the experience when there it was, a life size statue of Elvis Presley.

I could almost hear the thunderous applause followed by the King himself saying, “Thank you, Thank you very much.” I began to think, how often in sales do we take the time to say, “Thank you”? I know we live in a sales world of CRM and contacts with our customers revolve around forecasts and revenue projections, however I am talking about contact with a sole purpose and a sole purpose only, to say thank you. Not some passing thanks for the last order and then asking for another, but a face to face to just say I appreciate your business then disconnect.

Sure, using social media in sales is important, but our sole purpose for interaction with another human should not be to beat them with a URL, to drive them to your website, or deliver content that will help raise your credibility. Saying, “I appreciate your business” without another motive might just display something that is more valued than your company’s product or service, something called caring and sincerity.

So, the next time you wish to get closer to your customer don’t send them a survey, retweet or a blog, take a lesson from the King. Look them in the eye and say, “Thank you, Thank you very much.”

Author: RichLucia

Are You Selling Like a Four Year Old’s Soccer Game

four year old soccer This past weekend, I had the pleasure of stopping by a four-year-old’s soccer game. I watched as these boys and girls had the best time chasing a soccer ball in unison, up and down the field. There were no plays and their techniques yielded to a recurring cheer of, “get it”, kick harder”. It occurred to me, while watching, how similar this scene is to most sales organizations.

Like their four-year-old counter parts, they dress the part and there is often no lack of enthusiasm, but there is something else missing; a good strategy. Many sales teams, armed with no strategy or one that was designed for days long gone by, are also given the same recurring cheer, ‘just go get it, sell harder’.

In times of poor sales results, there is no lack of finger pointing. Blame is spread generously on the economy, pricing, sales compensation, and lack of sales training. If there ever was an example in today’s sales organizations of the similarity to four-year-olds playing soccer, it is watching companies run to one technology tool, quickly abandoning it and running to another as they play ‘just kick it’ with social media, CRM and other selling tools designed to track sales people and catch them doing something wrong.

Have you ever considered it might just be a lack of a sound sales strategy? How powerful is a sales strategy that totally understands what is happening now in your market and addresses it with an executable solution. Technology clearly has its value, but remember the key mission of any technology is to make a process more efficient. If your process is flawed, then your best case is you will achieve failure more quickly.

When was the last time you put your sales strategy under the microscope and held it accountable for the results you seek? When asked, What is your sales strategy?” do you answer it only with a goal or is there a plan attached to that goal and is that plan current?

Having a solid sales strategy is much better than selling like four-year olds playing soccer. A ‘kick it harder’ mentality may occasionally result in the ball finding a chance goal but that might not be good enough to accomplish your mission.

Author: Rich Lucia

Are You Selling Like a Leprechaun?


It’s the time of year that brings to mind the Leprechaun and how many sales people operate every day as if they were this bearded green mythical character. Like the Leprechaun, sales people are observed tap-tap-tapping their tiny cobbler hammer, driving nails into shoes, appearing they are hard at work, confusing activity with results. It is the same expected behavior and selling techniques that have been passed down for hundreds of years with the hope that it will lead to a pot of gold. There is no pot of gold using antiquated sales practices and the customer of today is in a different place. Why do we continue to follow a rainbow that has moved or doesn’t really exist?

Why then, are we teaching our sales representatives to continue to tap-tap the same way they did in the past. We have even implemented CRM technology that inspects our out of date practices when the real answer is to change the way we sell. Our customers have changed. How they get their information has changed so it just might be time to put away the cobbler hammer and start ‘Selling in the Now”. Selling is no longer folklore but a deliberate effort to keep in tune with today’s buyers and how they buy.

Let’s take the tap- tap practice of cold calling. Ancient wisdom always told us that if we tap (knock) on enough doors we will find someone who will buy from us. Behind those now locked doors are buyers who get their information from the internet and each other, yet we still address this phenomenon by just making more calls. Are we taking the time to target those prospects that are predisposed to buy? Standing at the edge of the woods, taking a shot and hoping to hit something isn’t hunting.

Why are we spending our sales training dollars on what to say when we get in front of a prospect when the new challenge of today is getting that face-to-face appointment. We work very hard tap-tap-tapping on a standard brochure or elevator pitch when buyers have ceased to be standard. We challenge our prospects when confronted with an objection, yet the buyer of today is too informed (or think they are) to let us get away with a challenger attitude. Do we fully understand that today’s buyers talk to each other to seek consensus of thought? Are we truly too busy tapping our cobbler hammer to look up and see who our new buyer is and what matters to them.

The good news is, there really is a pot of gold if you follow and understand the rainbow of today. It’s no longer how many nails you hammer but which ones and where you place them. We grew up in a world that taught sales tactics yet today’s success is embedded in the correct selling strategy. Get your sales team on the right track first, then speed up the engine.

Remember history is a great educator of what not to do in the future, so leave the Leprechauns out of your sales practices and realize your customers are no longer attracted to a tricky green man with mythical results.

Author: Rich Lucia

Don’t Worry About The Competitors Outside Your Company

Don’t Worry About The Competitors Outside Your Company; Start Focusing On The Competitors Within Your Company.

Many companies today spend a great deal of money, time and resources on competitive analysis. What are competitors saying? What are they doing? How does that affect my offering and my business? Has it occurred to anyone that the real missed opportunities and true competition just might be created everyday within the company?
In this fast moving world, many companies have turned to technology to keep up with the latest tools and practices. You may have already jumped on the bandwagon and invested heavily in the “flavor of the month” solution looking for that silver bullet that will propel your business development efforts into success. Who has taken on the task to insure that these latest and greatest social tools play well together? They just might be competing with each other.

Sure, LinkedIn might get you connected to people, but are they the right people? The people who are predisposed to buying from you? SEO can drive traffic to your website, but is it the right traffic? When the people who are predisposed to buy from you view your website, what do they see? Do they see what is of interest to them or a beautiful assortment of graphics and pictures that were selected from the artistic preferences of its designer? Introduce a new social selling tool that might work independently but you may find it trying to collocate with your other initiatives, resulting in conflict, and there you have it: Internal Competition. These tools and practices are designed and implemented in a vacuum. They have the possibility of competing with each other and can unknowingly sabotage your mission.

These are just some examples of how the race to keep up and use the “latest and greatest” tools can unknowingly lead to conflict and ineffectiveness leaving you with an internal competition where there is no winner. This type of competition is greater than what any competitor can bring to bear.

What can be done? Well, for starters, shift some of the attention from external to internal competition. In order to succeed, it is going to take a new focus to make sure that all the tools and processes have a purpose and are successfully integrated with each other.

Integrated Social Selling is just that; a process that identifies the specific value of social selling tools and practices. It designs an integrated roadmap to have all resources working in harmony to successfully achieve the mission. The process starts with identifying and finding the “ideal customer”, from nurturing them through the buying experience, exposing them to their buying preferences, monitoring and suggesting next steps, to teaching your sales personnel how to interact with today’s new breed of buyers.

There are no silver bullets, however, practicing Integrated Social Selling allows your resources to work together for an efficient and successful outcome.

Author: Rich Lucia

Is Your Sales Strategy … Ready, Fire, Aim?

Working with sales management teams around the country, I often see the desire to “fill the sales funnel” overshadowing straightforward logic. Instead of ready, aim, fire, modern tactics have turned into ready, fire and we will aim or qualify prospects afterwards. We were all taught to accept that if you put prospects in the top of your sales funnel and work them until you realize they are not a good fit or they elect to take another path then you are following the proper process of the sales cycle. If too many prospects don’t make it out of the end of the funnel and result in sales, managers often sent their troops out to find more people to pour into the top of the funnel. Again, not worrying about aiming, just fire away and we will spend time money and company resources to do the aiming later. That is why the graphic chosen for the selling cycle process is a funnel.

What if there was a way to work towards reshaping that funnel into more of a cylinder? You would be spending more of your time and resources on people who would have a greater probability of making it all the way through the selling cycle and becoming customers. Your order cycle would be quicker, there would be fewer distractions from people who will never buy from you, and your overall cost of sales would drop. So how do you change the shape of the selling cycle from a funnel to a cylinder?

It begins with losing the thinking that quantity is better than quality. The reality is that standing on the edge of the woods, shooting, and hoping something runs into your shot, is not hunting. The quality over quantity goal begins with identifying the profile of the person who already wants or is predisposed to wanting your product or service. How do you do that? Easy, look at your existing customers. Profile them and study why they bought from you. This will give you will have your ideal customer profile. Armed with your new knowledge, go out and hunt only for that profile. Avoid the temptation to spend your time with just anyone. Remember, it is quality you want, not quantity. No more ready, fire, aim. You want your selling cycle to look more like a cylinder not a funnel.

This immediately rules out cold calling. There is no way you can know a person’s profile by cold calling. Sure you can ask, if you get through, but you are back to wasting time putting everyone into your sales cycle and qualifying them later. Using social media, such as LinkedIn, if used properly and integrated with your ideal customer profile is a start, but beware; many LinkedIn zealots have transferred the quantity over quality methodology from the old sales cycle thinking. Some users are out to see how many people they can connect with and they wear the number of people in their network as a badge of honor thinking this is the new measure of success. Some Twitter users have also fallen into the same trap. They have confused how many people are following them with listening and tweeting. Are you focused on the right people? Your social media efforts must be integrated with your ideal customer profile. This will give you the first two components of Integrated Social Selling. The other components of Integrated Social Selling will continue to assist you in pushing out those sides of the sales funnel so it will look more like a cylinder.

Leave the Ready, Fire, Aim strategy for the people who have no direction, purpose or plan and are willing to bet their fate on luck, rather than following an Integrated Social Selling Playbook.

Author: Rich Lucia

In Search Of The Sales Holy Grail

I often travel throughout the country to work with sales organizations and a common theme seems to be in play. Everyone appears to be looking for that one thing that is going to lift revenue to new heights. People are looking for the Holy Grail of sales tools that is the answer to prayers.

It appears the world of business development has spilled into two camps. On one side of the great divide, we have the traditionalists who seek age-old sales training and selling techniques. Their thinking is that it has always worked so why reinvent the wheel. They seem to be more content with following past processes over getting results. They forget that buyers have changed and how these buyers get their information has changed, locking many of the doors that once had a welcome mat. These die-hard traditionalists have an answer to cold calls that don’t generate results – make more of them. Of course, when the strategy does not work, they seek training from 20-year-old sales manuals to polish their cold calling skills.

On the other side of the great divide, we have the early adopters with their answer to business development. They throw out all of the old selling techniques and believe that social media is the only true modern path to business development. They have even engraved, “Social Selling” on their Holy Grail, as they chase the latest social media platform and abandon the one before. Their battle cry is, “it has to be good – it is new.”

So, who is correct? The answer begins with an understanding that there is no Holy Grail, and as difficult as it is to accept, there is no magic pill and no one silver bullet to effective business development strategy. It is going to take a combination of the correct selling tools to get the job done today. Having an understanding of buyers today and selecting selling tools that are effective with those buyers is one half of the mission. The second half of the mission, an even more important one, is realizing the tools you select are supposed to compliment each other. Selling tools and your processes have to be integrated. You can create and deliver the best presentation of your life, but giving it to a person who has no need for it will result in no sale. Don’t use a great tool to drive an interested party to your website, only to find when they get there it has extinguished their interest because it was designed for your company’s bragging rights instead of being customer-centric.

It’s going to take a holistic approach to business development today and therefore the need for Integrated Social Selling. By social selling I am not talking about the new branding of social media but instead how do we become closer or more social with our prospects and customers. In this age of point and click, are we really working harder to know our prospects and customers and how they buy? Are we working all stages of the sale cycle with the laser focus of purpose and making sure we aren’t unconsciously sabotaging our efforts by ignoring the power of integration? Have we become content in accepting a sales funnel with its 85 percent effort and wasted resources or are we working to widen it into more or a cylinder shape?

Replace your search for the Holy Grail with the knowledge that a holistic, integrated plan is needed. A plan that insures that you have correctly identified your target, selected the correct tools and they are working with each other and not against each other. Do these things and keep a Social Selling Playbook and you will achieve successful business development today using Integrated Social Selling.

Author: Rich Lucia

Breaking the Code for Business Development

It was no secret to companies that measured their ROI on sales performance that only 15% of the prospects they invested money and resources in became customers. It was just something that was expected. If you wanted more customers just pour more into the top of the sales funnel and accept that you would throw away 85 percent of your investment for business development with no return. When the recession hit, companies no longer could survive with such a small ROI and cut back. They cut back support; they cut back advertising and even cut back the sales force.

We are now seeing a slight upturn in the economy and are ready, once again, to return and are forced to accept the fact that 85 percent of what we do will yield nothing. This is the way it has always been so why not just get on with it? But times have changed. How people buy and how they get their information has changed. The good news is that there is also a new change in a methodology that alleviates the need to revisit that black hole of inefficiency. Yes, someone has broken the code. Finally, there is a Selling in the Now technique that will yield a greater return for your sales efforts by following a successful business development process that works in today’s business environment.

Here’s how it works. Why spend time working with people who are not predisposed to buy from you and probably will never buy your product or service. Your potential customers are easily recognizable much like a Zebra amongst a group of other animals. This new process focuses on how to find your Zebra and the efficient methodology to turn them into a valued customer. Think of it as a front end to a CRM system. While a CRM system records efforts, tracks results and allows you to forecasts outcomes, this tool is different. It helps you to find your Zebra and guides you through the sales process to keep you focused and on track. Ironically, this company is called Selling to Zebras. Their expertise is helping you find your ideal customer profile and implement a system that nurtures your prospect into becoming a valued customer.

For more information about Selling to Zebras, they offer a free downloadable book.

Link here to download the ebook Selling to Zebras.

Author: Rich Lucia

Is It CRM or MIS?

Let’s set the record straight. CRM is supposed to stand for ‘Customer Relationship Management’. But with current CRM that’s just about where the relationship to your customer ends. If you believe knowing your customer and understanding their needs gives you a greater chance you to solve their problems with your solution then what’s on the market today will be of little or no help. The original CRM systems were founded on the belief that if you could see the world through your customer’s eyes, then you will know what they buy and how they buy. Early CRM captured relevant information about your customer. Their likes, dislikes, family names and birthdates, hobbies, past buying experiences, how they are evaluated and compensated, personal preferences etc. were all kept on record. These systems got you closer to your customers and help you build a relationship by keeping in touch with their world through their eyes. They truly helped you manage the relationship.
However, CRM companies started catering to the check writers: Management. The benefits of capturing and sorting customer profiles data were part of why CRM existed, yet it yielded to a more immediate need to measure: What is going on? Customer relationship building data was replaced with pipelines, forecasting, probability of close and activity documentation. All of which are geared around the end result of an action, not how to achieve success. Let’s face it. CRM is now an MIS, Management Inspection System. I had a sales manager once tell me that he loved their new CRM system as it gave him everything he needed to manage his team. He said, “No one can make a move without me knowing about it. I can see how much and what they are working on, as well as their activity and forecast accuracy.” I asked, “How does that help them sell more”? He responded. “They know I’m watching”. Customer Relation Management System, I don’t think so: Management Inspection Systems, most definitely.
Other than the practice of trying to catch someone doing something wrong, these new MIS systems might be necessary in running a well-managed, reportable sales organization. They do not, however, deserve the title of Customer Relationship Management Systems. Moreover, emphasis on these mislabeled CRM systems have taken us on a different path than getting to see the world through a customer’s eyes. Knowledge to build a strong relationship has been replaced with pie and bar charts of results or forecasted results. Sadly, not only have the check writers prioritized their needs over the CRM mission but they have also sent the message to their sales force that knowing your customer takes a back seat to data entry that answers, ”What are you doing?”
I posed this dilemma to several CRM companies and other than them telling me I can customize their fields to capture more data, they had little understanding of what it takes help their clients make that sale. So, if current CRM has become a post-activity data collection system, then who is concerned with what a sales person needs to know in order to close more sales? There just may be hope as LinkedIn is getting ready to announce a new contact management system. LinkedIn has always been a believer in the power of connections and relationships. Who is better positioned to merge that power with a contact management system?
While the modern sales process has changed in many ways, the fundamentals are the same. The tricky part is merging the past and future together. Visit to learn more about forging ahead in today’s sales environment and May the Sale be With You.

Author: Rich Lucia