Manufacturing Sales – Fear, Ignorance & CRMs
by Jo Shaer, on December 1, 2016
Hubspot's State of Inbound 2015 data highlighted a couple of interesting stats relating to salesmen, spreadsheets and technology.
Unsuccessful sales teams are 2x more likely to use Excel, Outlook or Physical files to store lead and customer data
46% of Salespeople Store Lead & Customer Data in Physical Files
Sadly, not a lot has changed in the last two years with manufacturers and fire & security sales teams still relying on spreadsheets and post-it notes or, even worse, keeping the data in their heads!
Why Manufacturers Don't Use a CRM
The first question to ask is actually, do the sales teams that work on behalf of manufacturers know what a CRM is?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and it's a type of software that is used to keep the details of all your contacts, leads and customers in one place along with all your interactions with them.
It's meant to remind the salesperson when s/he needs to speak to a customer about placing their next order and act as an aide memoire about talking points - both professional and personal - when making that phone call/going to that meeting.
However, the sales teams for many British manufacturers still use spreadsheets to document this information. And this is for two reasons - ignorance that a CRM could help them and fear of the technology itself.
Indeed, the language of the Hubspot report reflects this lack of understanding - "Of respondents who were using different types of sales tools and felt confident ranking their level of satisfaction..."
But it's more than just ignorance of the technology. In many cases, just as salespeople don't understand the benefits of a properly-functioning website, they also don't recognise the need for a sales funnel.
What's a Sales Funnel?
Many British salespeople do not monitor the behaviour of leads and customers so they can improve their conversion rate or the experience of their existing customers.
In fact, for many UK business owners, if you said sales funnel, they would look at you like rabbits caught in a headlight.
Over here, a lead is someone who has expressed an interest in your product by telephone or email. In fact, they prefer to use the term enquiry. If, after a sales visit/call, the enquiry doesn’t decide to buy, the salesman will never darken their doorstep again. Upselling or servitisation are not terms which have made it into the popular vernacular of many sales teams.
Even if the lead does become a customer, if it’s a one-off purchase - again, the salesmen will rarely return to upsell the latest model. Many British business owners are over-polite. They tend to wait for the customer to initiate a new transaction.
Our experience has been that, unless there is some kind of monthly recurring income through a maintenance plan or where the customer is a wholesaler who regularly buys more stock, British sales teams don't really monitor any interactions. But, even in this type of example, these engagements would be to keep the customer up to date with the latest models so not necessarily requiring a tool that allowed them to record engagement in anything but the most general way. A bit like the CRM on LinkedIn.
Spreadsheets or CRM?
I asked a couple of salesmen of my acquaintance who work for manufacturers how they stored their data. One said: “What’s a CRM?” and explained that he didn’t use spreadsheets either. He preferred to keep his own notes about the enquiries he was self-generating, rather than relying on lacklustre cold leads from the company telesales team.
The other revealed that he used both, but much preferred the latter. “Excel rocks” was his response to my question. It turns out that the Company wanted him to add his data to the CRM but he felt he got a more comprehensive picture of his leads and customers by using his own specially-designed spreadsheets.
And I think that is probably the crux of the matter. Most CRMs don’t have the columns that salesmen actually want and the instruction manuals don’t make it simple to understand how to create a landscape that will give them that information at a glance.
Don't Make Me Think!
It comes back to the age old problem of Don’t Make Me Think or ‘help’ documents that are designed by techies and bear little relation to the understanding of non-Geeks who live in the real world. If the manuals are too complex and confusing, normal people will stick to what they know and understand.
Stats which show a reluctance to adopt CRMs and a reliance on old-school paper would tend to suggest that the software designers are not designing for the people who will actually be using their tools. Make it too complex and the salesperson will resist the transition with all his strength, clutching his/her sheaf of spreadsheets to his breast as if his/her life depended on them.
Which brings us neatly to the CRM in Hubspot. Jon tells me that it’s easy to upload your spreadsheets.
Added to this is the ability to store valuable information about those people who have visited our website and downloaded something that they found of interest. We can then track them as they move around the site, reading blog posts and downloading more information.
Simple! I'm off to start uploading my own handwritten notes.
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