Is it time to update your CRM system?

Is it time to update your CRM system?
by Chase Kanaly – May 2015

How Do You Know it’s Time?

Answering these five questions can help you know if it’s time to update your CRM system.

  1. Are we fully utilizing our current CRM system?
  2. Have we researched new systems?
  3. Do we have the budget?
  4. Is the new system easy to train?
  5. Can we upgrade the system and minimize interruptions in sales?

Preparation

After conducting research and testing software trials, your team has finally come to the conclusion to upgrade your CRM software. From a technology and marketing standpoint, the decision is clear you are taking the correct step forward. Now comes the most important task: making the switch. The departments that relied so heavily upon the outdated software are now going to be thrust into this new system with no training and no concept of what changes are in order. Unless you do something first.

A few months ago, we faced this exact situation as we transitioned from Microsoft CRM Dynamics 2011 to Microsoft CRM Dynamics 2013. We researched, read relevant blogs[ref]Here’s a good one outlining changes from MS Dynamics CRM 2011 to 2013[/ref], and worked together in our Business Strategy and Analytics Team to sell the sales and sponsorship departments on the new system. Note: Department heads look for key words and evidence of  “sales efficiency” and “improved data quality” when hearing the pitch to switch to an upgraded CRM system.

Deployment

Our CRM developer guided us through the process on the IT and deployment side. Based on our experience, these five tips can help make the transition as smooth as possible:

  1. Focus on preparing, anticipating, and responding to questions from the other departments.
  2. Select CRM power users from each department or area to help champion the new CRM system.
  3. Meet with each power user one-on-one to let them beta test the new system and navigate through the changes.
  4. Schedule times during individual weekly department meetings to present and train on the updated system features.
  5. Focus on gaining the trust and cooperation of all departments by searching for more opportunities and ideas to increase efficiency & effectiveness in each department.

Upgrading

After you complete the steps above, it’s time to upgrade the system. It is imperative to find a weekend in which you can shut down your team’s use of CRM in order for the upgrade to be successful.  We were fortunate enough to upgrade during a three day weekend. This gave us plenty of time to test and ensure the system would be ready for all users prior to launching Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013. Before any representatives access the new system, the system administrator should test out the new system.During the next several weeks, it is vital that the system administrator provide follow up training and consistent on-the-floor support.

Keys to Your Upgrade

  1. Make a plan – Set up a timeline that announces and clearly identifies the necessary steps needed for the upgrade. Consider all parties affected: the end users, your team’s IT department, and your CRM developer.
  2. Identify specific users from the various departments that will champion the new system. (Power Users)
  3. Create transparency with all parties affected by the upgraded CRM system.
  4. Develop a training manual that explains how to properly use the CRM system.
  5. Keep training short and simple.
  6. Follow up with individuals meetings with all end users when necessary.

If you have other helpful tips on how you have managed CRM system changes and upgrades, I would love to hear from you. Feel free to comment below or contact me directly.

10 tips to shape your ticket sales career

10 tips to shape your ticket sales career
by Stephen Gray – May 2015

Many of the tips I’m about to share I received in the classrooms at Baylor as a student. Others I learned during my time at Spurs Sports and Entertainment.  They helped me grow into management. I hope they help you with your career. Some may seem obvious; but sometimes the most obvious advice is the most overlooked. 

  1. Win! Regardless of what else you do, the most important thing at the end of the season is: Did you take home the gold?  “It doesn’t matter whether you win by an inch or a mile. Winning is winning,” – Dominic Toretto from The Fast and the Furious.  If you are working next to others that have been with the team about as long as you, then make sure you come out on top of the sales board.  Or, surprise everyone by beating out a veteran.  A great place to start winning is in a sales contest.  Winning a few sales contests to start off my career at SS&E helped get my name out there to the entire sales floor.  I started receiving nicknames like “Stone Cold Steve Gray” and won multiple trips.  I know it’s not possible for everyone to win,  but what is always possible is to hate to lose. 
  1. Trips with teammates, whether for fun or business, are always company trips. Congrats! You’ve won the sales contest and are on your way to a free vacation with your teammates.  This will very likely happen at some point early in your career, so it’s important to understand that what happens on these trips DOES come back to the office with you.  Be sure to have fun, but be responsible.  Managers want staff members they can depend on.  If you want to make a great impression, be the responsible one of the group that is looking out for your teammates.
  1. The days of sales calls are not over. Thanks to the S3 program, I came out of school knowing I needed to hit the phones harder than my peers to be successful.  As a hiring manager, I now know how truly rare that mindset is.  Many candidates say they’re ready and know it’s a big part of the job, but saying and doing are completely different things.  If you land a sale job, focus on making as many quality calls and face-to-face meetings as possible.  Never make calls just to hit the numbers your manager gives you.  Your goal for every call is to move that lead further in the sales funnel. Every person you speak to should receive your full attention.  Have effective, open-ended questions ready to go. Most importantly: Listen.  Learn what they are passionate about and this will open longer conversations and higher close rates. 
  1. Take bullets and give accolades. To be a leader everyone can trust and depend on, you must be able to take responsibility, even for things not fully in your control. Attendance may be down and your manager jumps on the team.  Take ownership: We (I) should have done a better job selling & we (I) will make up for it the next time.  Make sure you do make it up.  Next, don’t wait or ask for praise.  Instead, give it out as much as possible.  This is one of the best tips I’ve received for building a positive culture in the office.
  1. Always under-promise and over-deliver. Before unloading all of the great benefits and gifts available to a buyer, stop to think about which ones to save to add value later. Especially do this when putting together proposals and contracts.  Hold some of the good stuff back that isn’t essential to getting the deal closed.  That is how you go from a salesperson to a hero in your client’s eyes.
  1. Find a mentor. Find an in-office mentor (who holds the position you seek one day) and an outside mentor.   Meet with the inside mentor every other week to discuss those matters s/he is most familiar with.  Visit with the outside mentor each month to gain a broader perspective.  Always bring a note pad. Always take notes.  This shows respect, indicates you are listening, and demonstrates that you plan on using what you learn.
  1. Limit wasting time during work hours. Are you tempted to browse ESPN, Facebook, or fantasy sports at work? Instead, when you need a break, pick up a book or listen to an audio book for professional improvement.  This goes over a lot better when your manager sees you not making phone calls or sending e-mails.
  1. When you succeed, share it. Nothing makes a worse teammate than making a sale and not sharing anything about it.  Share how you found the lead, how you approached it, and how you closed the deal.  These stories fuel sales teams to keep going and close more deals.  Become a mentor to others.  Find a college student or new teammate that appreciates advice and wants to learn.  Help them find their way and it will often lead to you developing as well.
  1. If a teammate needs a boost, call a meeting–regardless of title. One of the most impressive things a sales representative can do is call a meeting with teammates to get them fired up about calls, season ticket campaigns, or the upcoming theme night. Sales managers can be motivational, but sometimes they need help from the leaders on their teams.  When a sales representative calls a meeting, it is typically much more effective in motivating the team than the manager calling a second or third meeting that week.  The leader of the meeting doesn’t always have to be the veteran.  You just have to be passionate about what you are saying and remind them that as a team you can accomplish the task at hand.
  1. Think outside the box. To separate yourself from your peers, you must think for yourself and come up with new ideas and strategies. Once, I met with the principal from a San Antonio ISD elementary school to present why her school should participate in our annual School Day game.  Afterwards, she said what I had heard before: “We don’t have a field trip budget.”  How could we get these lower-income schools on board? In the corner of the principal’s office was a brand new Xbox 360 and a bicycle.  I asked, “I’m just curious, what are those for?”  She said, “Our school bought those to use as an attendance incentive with funds provided by the state for this purpose. Students with perfect attendance are entered into a drawing for a big prize each month.”  I asked, “So eight students win prizes throughout the year?  What if we made our School Day game the attendance incentive next year?  That way every kid with perfect attendance will win a prize.”  The principal loved it and bought over 300 tickets for the game.  We used this model for all of the lower-income schools I met with and my School Day sales numbers quadrupled.  Soon, I was teaching my teammates and other sales teams on how to sell the game to schools without field trip budgets.

Whether these tips are obvious or not, you would be amazed by the number of people that don’t follow through on most of them.  Without these tips, I don’t know if I would’ve made it this far in sales.  It can be tough at times, but the thrill of winning, sharing, and helping others develop in their own careers has made every minute worth it.  The next step for anyone that wants to be a leader, mentor, or just a good teammate is to take note of the best advice you’ve ever received and be sure to share it with your peers.

What Do You Want To Be Known For?

What Do You Want To Be Known For?
by Dawn Turner – May 2015

Is there a difference in work ethic across generations?

Some say that work ethic has decreased from Gen X to Gen Y. Others say that it varies by individual and their upbringing. Millennials need to be aware of potential generational biases and even seek to overcompensate in order to prove such theories do not apply to them.

To combat this type of thinking–whether you are a Baby Boomer, Gen X, Y or Z–ask yourself: What do I want to be known for?  A hard worker? A leader? Someone loyal and willing to do whatever the job requires? Next, think about what you don’t want to be known for: lazy, not being a team player, dishonest, disloyal, or a bridge burner.

Burning bridges

burning-bridgeAt a recent sports industry meeting, two people on the same day separately voiced similar complaints about the need to teach today’s young adults about how burning bridges early in their careers can come back to bite them. This got me to thinking about the generational attributes I have been reading about and what we can do to help educate future generations.

The first story I heard was about a young worker who moved from organization A to organization B. After being in the new position for six weeks, the worker received a call from organization A and decided to move back. This turned out to be a rather abrupt move that left organization B in a lurch. The second story I heard was about a recent graduate hired by an organization that they really wanted to work for. This person did a great job and was promoted after just a few weeks, only to decide to depart for a job with an external client.

In both situations the organizations put their faith and resources in these young workers, but were left in the lurch. Even though organizations move on, they will never forget how these two young workers handled these situations. The industry is so small, it is virtually certain word travels around to others. In any case, future interviews will be difficult because hiring managers routinely contact previous employers.

Short term vs. Long term

In the short-term these situations may not seem that crucial. But, it could come back to haunt them in the long-term. Let’s play this out hypothetically using the first example. Once the worker went back to organization A, they stayed there for five years until they got tired of the winter weather.  During that time the president of organization B decided to move to California and run organization C. Since the worker was seeking employment in a warmer climate they applied for a job with organization C. The new president of organization C saw their name come through and remembered how they handled things five years prior. They told their hiring managers not to bother interviewing this candidate and also told their friends at organizations D, E and F (also in California) that they would not recommend this worker. Organizations D, E and F shared this information with their friends at organizations G, H and I who then pass the information to organizations J, K and L. At this point it is very difficult for the worker to get an interview in the industry, let alone in their preferred state of California.

Here’s another real life example. A professional sports organization hired a college student for an internship. The intern turned out not to be very reliable and folks in the organization decided this person was not cut out for full-time employment. A few years later the former intern realized they were not mature enough to handle the work while they were an intern and called to apologize. When they called they explained how they have matured and are ready to take things seriously. Do you think the organization hired them for a full-time opening? No way! This is very unfortunate, because even though people may change, they already made negative impressions.

Who are you?

In my nearly 20-year career I have seen a variety of scenarios similar to these play out, not many of which are positive. The time to take personal responsibility for who we are and what we want to be know for starts now.  Am I a team player? Am I clear about my goals and aspirations? Am I easy to work with? Will my coworkers and managers give me a good review and 100% recommendation?

We should all ask ourselves these questions. If we present ourselves in the best way possible, it really doesn’t matter what the studies say about generations. What matters is who I am and how others see me.

Treating others how we expect to be treated should be toward the top of everyone’s list. As long as we always remember this, we won’t need to worry about making poor decisions that have negative repercussions down the line.


Cover table source: http://www.fdu.edu/newspubs/magazine/05ws/generations.htm

 

 

Making CRM training tolerable: The 10 Commandments

Making CRM training tolerable: The 10 Commandments
by Chris Zeppenfeld – May 2015

One of my favorite sales reps said this to me coming out of a CRM training session a few years ago.  I think it’s the best analogy I’ve ever heard about CRM training.

“Going to CRM training is like going to the dentist….no one really looks forward to going, but when you are done, you’re usually glad you went.”

Let’s face it, CRM training isn’t sexy.   Click here, do that, fill this fill field in, make sure you do that first, blah blah blah.   However, user training (and user adoption) is the most critical element of CRM implementation.  Here are 10 axioms to follow as you set up your user training for CRM.

1. Thou shalt not have 5 hour marathon training sessions.
I’ve probably conducted somewhere between 2,000-3,000 software trainings in my life.   If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t possibly hold a sales rep’s attention for longer than 45-60 minutes.  Maybe less.  An Indiana University study says that the average attention span of students is actually around 15-20 minutes.  Yikes! Make this a hardline rule right now:  Training sessions cannot be longer than 60 minutes.  The moment you hit 60 minutes…close up and stop training. Trust me, they’ve already stopped listening.

2. Thou shalt not cram all of the CRM training into 1-2 days.
We have a “CRM Boot Camp” that stretches across 10 (yes, 10!) days.    Why so long?  Repetition!   Repetition is the key in software user training.  I’d much rather have 10 shorter training sessions over a span of two weeks than to try to cram 2 marathon training sessions over a day or two. I purposely want my reps to go through the training, then go do something else not CRM related (aka forget about things)….and then come back the next day and see what they recall.   Remember, your reps need to know how to use CRM properly every day…not just this one time.   You’ll get much better rep recall when they run repetitive “sprint” sessions rather than “marathons.”

3. Thou shall not have “all staff” training sessions.
This one is brutal.  I cringe when I hear a VP/President instruct the CRM Manager to “grab everyone in a conference room and go through the whole CRM thing.”  Think back to the last time you had an all-staff meeting. How many people were fiddling with smartphones not paying attention to the speaker?  I did a quick survey with my own staff last time we had a non-CRM related all-staff meeting: 78% of my reps admitted playing with smartphones during a portion of the meeting. When the classroom size gets too large, it’s extremely challenging to make sure everyone is following along with you.

4. Thou shalt not intermingle departments.
There are two parts to training sessions: “This is HOW you do it.” and “This is WHY you are doing it.”  The first deals with compliance.   The second deals with buy-in and understanding.   How much you decide to dive in on the second part is the key.   With newbie Inside Sales reps, it’s often best to focus on the “click here, do this” part. They are still trying to comprehend the sales scripts they just spent 7 hours learning in role-playing. So, it might be information overload to start going into the intricacies of 1:N relationships in CRM.   My goal is to get newbie sales reps to do X correctly. For more experienced reps in Premium Sales, however, give them insight into why a certain form or process is being done the way it is.  Get buy-in and understanding from senior sales reps who have a far greater influence on the sales staff.  Sure, it might be “easier” on you to shove all of the departments into one training session.  However, the way you’re going to teach a “compliance” session is going to be much different than teaching an “understanding” session.

5. Thou shalt not have the CRM Manager move the mouse.
Think back to your teenage days learning how to drive a car.   Did you learn more from the passenger or driver’s seat?  Reps will learn far better if they are the ones behind the wheel. There is no prize in showing how quickly YOU can navigate CRM. It only matters how well they can navigate CRM. Have reps login as themselves on training PCs to mimic “real” experience in CRM. They see their My To Do List, their leads, their dashboards, etc.  Even in a group setting with multiple reps, always have the rep move the mouse on the screen. If they don’t do it, they won’t remember it.

6. Thou shalt make sure the rep’s boss is in the first few training sessions.
Nothing undermines CRM  quite like when the rep’s boss doesn’t show up for the first training session.   The typical dialogue between the rep and sales manager usually goes something like this, “Go see (insert CRM Guru here), s/he will run you through that CRM stuff.”   Remember, the reps report to Sales Managers, not CRM Managers.   When sales managers don’t show up for CRM training at least early on, it undermines the importance of CRM in their jobs. A special note to sales managers who don’t show:

[dropshadowbox align=”center” effect=”lifted-both” width=”450px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]What you are telling the rep is that while you say CRM training is “important,” it’s apparently not important enough for you to stay in this room and make sure the rep is paying attention.[/dropshadowbox]

7. Thou shalt not worry about anything else in CRM other than completing a phone call on the first day.
Everything the reps do in CRM falls into two buckets:  1) things they do about 100 times a day   2) things they do maybe once a day.  Guess which singular activity they do 100 times a day….phone calls!   The most important thing the reps have to do (correctly) in CRM is completing the phone call screen the way you want them to do it.  Don’t worry about anything else in CRM until you are 100% satisfied that they can complete a phone call correctly without you standing over them to monitor it.  Sometimes, you might get reps that will try to skip forward (how do I search this?  where do I go to do that?). Tell these over-achievers that you are purposely putting blinders on them and you’ll get to that training later in boot camp.

8. Thou shalt tailor the training to the type of rep in the room.
Especially when you are doing new sales reps onboarding with CRM, you tend to encounter three very different types of reps. It’s important that you identify which types of reps you have in your training room.

  1. “Soldiers” are the majority of your sales reps.   Soldiers come in with a “tell me what to click on, and I’ll do it” type attitude towards CRM.
  2. “Old Guard” are the minority of your sales reps.  Old Guards tend to be skeptical that what you are about to show them in CRM is going to be better than their “tried and true” methods.
  3. “Questioners” are the rarest of your sales reps.  Questioners want to know WHY something is the way that it is in CRM – and may not comply until they are satisfied with your explanation.

The people you should most be concerned with are the Questioners.   They are often the most influential about CRM to their sales rep brethren (positively or negatively). For more on this, check out my past S3 article that explains this in greater detail.

9. Thou shalt have mini-training sessions periodically with each department if you roll out a new feature.
Let’s say you roll out a new feature that can help them in CRM.   Maybe it’s a new view that organizes info better for them.   Maybe it’s a new process you’ve built in CRM that allows them to make appointments quicker.   Quick!   Grab the reps and huddle them together.   These mini-sessions don’t need to be elaborately planned.   It can be impromptu at their desks – or even better in a nearby conference room.   Your sales reps and managers might actually welcome it…it gives them a quick 10-15 minute breather from making calls.  I recommend doing these mini-sessions twice a month to refresh them on cool features they may have forgotten about and/or teach them new features that can help them do their job better.

10. Thou shalt make sure everyone can see the screen and read the text.
I know this one sounds really obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times this gets overlooked.   CRM from a UI perspective has a ton of small icons, menus, and fonts.  Even if you have a decent sized display for your CRM trainings (projector, large TV screen, etc.), it might still be difficult to read the text in CRM.   Remember, your software training deals with more than just icon and shape recognition….much of your training will involve the rep reading text and making an appropriate user interaction in CRM.  As you read this article now, take 10 steps back from your monitor/screen.   Can you still read this text?  If you can’t read the text, then your reps are too far away in your training room.

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