Walking a Fine Line with CRM Management
“Times have changed,” says Paul Steinmetz, National Sales Manager for Travel Leaders Corporate, LLC, in an episode of the Sales Lead Dog podcast.
For Steinmetz and many other sales leaders around the world, to close and finalize a sale is only part of the sales puzzle. Today, successful salespersons and successful sales leaders focus on balance. They walk a fine line between give and take because they know that this makes all the difference.
“I think there’s a fine line between being a pain in the ass and being really persistent and effective as a salesperson,” offers Steinmetz. “It’s a bit of a tightrope act.”
Good sales leaders understand that to balance on that tightrope takes dedication and empathy. Nothing sours a deal more than an overzealous salesperson. Similarly, potential clients want to know that their sales professional is passionate about she does and that she wants to solve their problems.
Steinmetz says that success hinges on being curious and hungry when it comes to sealing the deal, but a sales professional also must be cautious and persistent in the face of negativity. Sales today is more about reframing negative responses into positive learning experiences. It’s also about building relationships.
Addressing sales professionals, he says, “If you [have] a genuine concern and curiosity, people pick up on that. They want to do business with people who want to help them.”
Sometimes, a “no” isn’t always a “no,” he adds. It’s all about understanding that “now” might not be the right time to make a deal. Whether it’s outside factors you have no control over or just bad timing, it’s important to reframe a “no” into a “maybe down the road.”
This is where a strong customer relationship management (CRM) strategy comes into play. According to Steinmetz, if you’re able to create and maintain a positive relationship with potential clients, they’re more likely to come back to you in the future.
It’s crucial to understand that your CRM platform is just another tool in your sales toolbox. It won’t work for you if you don’t put in the work to make it work. Your database is only as good as your data, just like your sales pipeline is only as good as the leads you feed it.
Not convinced? Read on to learn that if you balance your CRM with a healthy dose of genuine passion and persistence, this can make you a better sales professional.
Angry Cheerleaders Don’t Make Sales
Steinmetz started his sales career at age fourteen when he sold gym memberships. He’s since learned what makes a potential client tick and what doesn’t. He’s picked up wisdom from mentors here and there, but he’s convinced that you learn more when you recognize what not to do.
Traditionally, there are two camps that sales leaders fit into: those who get angry when their sales team doesn’t perform and those who become a cheerleader. Neither, according to Steinmetz, really does the trick anymore. That kind of mentality is “old school.”
Today, successful sales is about the balance between persistence and passion. There are three things, in his mind, that help sales leaders and their teams succeed.
Have a Genuine Curiosity and Hunger for What You Sell
It’s important to be passionate about what you sell. Many salespeople have an outdated image of the depressed salesperson who sells anything and everything just to make ends meet. You don’t have to sell something you hate and be miserable doing it.
Instead, sell what makes you passionate. It’s the key to being a successful salesperson.
“Be an evangelist about your product from a place of honesty,” says Steinmetz.
Not sure what you’re passionate about? Make a list. What are you good at? What do you like? There are sales roles out there for you. You just have to find them.
Know your product. Believe in your product. If you don’t, find something else to sell.
Persistence is Key
Remember, sales is a balancing act between passionate persistence and overbearing annoyance. You need to walk that line with finesse if you want to succeed.
“Persistence is huge,” offers Steinmetz. “Sales is rejection. Anyone who tells you different isn’t in sales.”
It’s important to understand that “no” isn’t always a “no.” In fact, sometimes “no” means “Now is not the right time.” Be persistent and pursue potential clients. But do so with tact and empathy.
Learn how to leverage a negative into a learning experience.
Often, the difference between a lackluster salesperson and a successful one is the ability to know when to call it quits. Don’t let yourself get pushed around by a client who just needs a little convincing.
For Steinmetz, sales is a numbers game. For every no you get, you’re that much closer to a yes. Believe that.
Build and Maintain Relationships
“People buy from [those] they like and trust,” says Steinmetz.
Cold calls and door-to-door sales are a thing of the past. Today, it’s about building long-lasting relationships that lead to strong sales opportunities. These opportunities can be now or in the future, and it’s your job to build and maintain the relationships that make the juice worth the squeeze.
Successful salespeople are willing to pursue deals that might not come to fruition right away. Today—due to the nature of the business and the global uncertainty caused by things like COVID-19 and supply chain upheaval—it’s easy to build rapport and good working relationships virtually.
Tools like LinkedIn and Zoom can continue the conversation beyond a “no” initial response. Steinmetz suggests “liking” posts and commenting even when someone has denied you a sale.
Treat digital platforms like cocktail parties. You wouldn’t approach someone at a cocktail party with a heavy sales pitch, would you? Instead, build a strong relationship that can be leveraged into a sales opportunity down the road.
If you’re passionate about what you do, people are more willing to come back to you for products and services. Know your product, and don’t let uncertainty paralyze you. Times have changed, and you can too.
Your CRM Platform is a Tool
“A database is only as good as your data,” says Steinmetz. “A pipeline is only as good as the leads you put into it.”
Steinmetz has a love/hate relationship with CRM and what it means for sales. He recognizes its usefulness as a tool, but he also understands the pitfalls inherent in its use.
“Some days I love to hate it,” he shares. “That’s the beauty of CRM. When you use it correctly, you can really dial in your forecasting. You can be organized. It’s a tool. It can do a lot of great things.”
Don’t let your CRM manage you. Treat your pipeline as only live, real opportunities. Contacts are different than sales opportunities. Move them through your pipeline quickly if you don’t recognize potential for a sale.
Pipelines can be full of dead wood. You want to streamline yours to make room for something new. Be honest with yourself and evaluate which potential clients in your pipeline are “real” and which can be relegated to the back burner. It does you no good to have 100+ contacts in your CRM platform who only take up space.
Be proactive and understand that if you manage your time, properly implement your CRM platform, and are selective about where you focus your passion, you’ll find great success.
“Managing your time is everything in life,” says Steinmetz, “but in sales, it’s critical.”
Balance Your CRM Honesty with Genuine Sales Curiosity
Walking the tightrope through your business deals is daunting at best and hazardous at worst. But that’s the name of the game if you want to succeed as a modern sales professional. Walk a fine line, be passionate about what you sell, and know when to pursue potential clients now and in the future.
What’s more, you’ll find rewards and satisfaction when you turn a negative response into a positive one. That’s what sets successful salespeople apart from those who fail.
“Getting someone who initially tells you no to then buy from you, that is sales,” says Steinmetz. “That’s the judo that is sales.”
And all of this boils down to customer relationship management, knowing when to be persistent and when to move on.
A strong CRM platform can make all the difference.
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