Five years ago I helped a software house with a lovely little project. I was reminded of it the other day when a chap with half-a-dozen reps on the road talked to me about, in his description, “manned crm”.
Many people like the sound of this. My job when I hear something along these lines is to manage an expectation that could dampen enthusiasm. Namely that you shouldn’t seek details fed back on everything, in the hope that at last you’ll finally get info strangely always absent from your own sales reporting system. Instead, it’s way better to try and capture a small and specific subset for a certain period of time.
I used the above example, which I can now put meat on the bones given the time passed. It happens to be from non-selling support resource. The company, Roxar, provide big ticket software that, among other wizardry, saves millions upon millions by assessing where best to drill a new oil well before a bore is ever struck.
They had a team of salespeople all over the globe and a new module launching. A snip at $20k a pop. But how to best maximise this before the competition got wind was a knotty one.
The then head of Sales and I agreed that we could utilise the hitherto untapped intimacy afforded the techies. They were real eggheads, with doctorates aplenty, and would go on-site for all manner of training, consultancy and intricate data crunching.
What if we could spread what they knew, real-time, to the salesforce?
Like in many sales organisations, neither formal nor informal communications lines seemed to uncover the hottest prospects. There was a field on their system (salesforce as it happens) but of course, it was never filled-in or checked.
So, our solution was to devise a kind of simple call report format, have the techie talk it through to a message number of mine, and my guys would do the rest.
Over the three months of this opportunity-audit, countless new insight was gleaned into customer stickiness. It even yielded (probably two) straight, unexpected orders which dwarfed the collection costs. Deals that otherwise would have gone completely begging. A sweet result.
When we discussed the project initially with those we’d need to phone-in their details, I knew they were all on-side when one guy (mentioned in passing at the time) smiled how much he “loved the James Bond stuff”.
So a further message here, is that if you’re seeking info locked away inside non-sales people’s heads, you’d be surprised at how readily they’d get on your side to reveal it and magic up those sales you’d otherwise miss out on.