Why salespeople hate CRM? (& our solution!)

Why is it that salespeople generally dislike and do not use CRM software implemented by the Company that they work for?

After all as commission based salespeople don’t they stand to benefit from the primary reason CRM exists – to improve sales!

To start with you might even question this proposition. Perhaps in your organisation your salespeople do use your CRM. That is great if they do, but let me assure you that in most organisations with CRM software, the greatest problem with true implementation is getting salespeople to adopt and use the software. Over the 20 years that we have been building and implementing CRM software in the property industry, this has been and continues to be the single most difficult issue.

In the property industry we can charactarise a number of reasons that management elect to implement CRM software. We believe they are:

– improve sales

– improve systemisation

– provide better data clarity

– reduce costs

– reduce risk

I will go through each in turn:

1. Improve Sales. This is the most obvious reason and ostensibly the primary reason for putting in a CRM. “Lets capture every lead, put in sales source automation, coupled with fully integrated database marketing, and lets see our sales rates improve”.

2. Improve systemisation. In the property industry this includes everything from capturing leads, then implementing systematic database marketing, price list management, contract administration, financial reporting and so on. The implementation of a system to manage this entire process is a compelling reason to implement a CRM.

3. Provide better data clarity. A CRM should provide clear and realtime data on everything from leads, to live price lists, contract status, financial exposure and so on. All critical information to be a successful property business.

4. Reduce Costs. This is really a by-product of Point 2 – Improve Systemisation. Through implementing a CRM successfully, you should be able to reduce operational costs in your business.

5. Reduce Risk. This is not raised as often as it should be as a reason to implement a CRM. By centralising your company data into a single ‘silo’ you will eliminate significant risk in that data walking out the door, being lost and generally misused. Data is becoming an increasingly valuable asset to all property businesses, and a CRM should be an essential tool for collating and securing that data. Through systemisation of your business CRM will also reduce a businesses reliance on specific personnel, reducing the impact on any one or multiple employee’s leaving.

Quality CRM software is now generally good at delivering on the last 4 of these points. Industry specific software such as our foxEnterpriseCRM, are particularly powerful at Point 2 through many years of continuous optimisation to meet the specific needs of property developers, project marketers, investment groups and so on.

Point 1 – improving sales is however still a significant challenge for almost every CRM implementation I have seen. Why you might ask? The answer is simple. If you salespeople do not systematically use your CRM software, your sales pipeline has failed at the very point where it starts. If your salespeople are not entering new leads, are not updating leads as and when they communicate with them, if they are not following your automated activity plans, and not even accessing live price lists and other essential sales information via the CRM, then your attempt to improve sales through improved conversion rates, cross selling, database marketing or other techniques will fail…. or at the very least will struggle.

So we come back to the question at hand: Why do salespeople hate CRM? I will pose this in another way. What do salespeople want in a CRM? In our view it is the following:

1. Software that is easy to use.

2. Software that helps them perform their sales or admin tasks more easily.

3. Software that gives them the essential sales information they need (live price lists, sales kits, floor plans, fly throughs etc)

4. Software that is available to use no matter where they are

I have included below a screen grab of Salesforce, reputably the most popular CRM in the world.

The No 1 reason salespeople do not use CRM software is complexity. CRM software is just too complicated and confusing to use. When looking at this Salesforce screen grab there is nothing ostensibly easy about reading and certainly entering this data. Lots of of fields, lots of categories, lots of buttons. If you use the toolbar and start going into Accounts, then Opportunities and so on it just gets worse and worse.  If this software was developed and implement for salespeople, as every CRM vendor purports, just why has it ended up being so complex and difficult to use!

I am not just picking on Salesforce here. The is no CRM software that is as powerful and as full of features as our own foxEnterpriseCRM. For 20 years we have been customising and improving it with feature after feature to meet the specific needs of the property industry. The answer as to why foxEnterpriseCRM and other CRM software is just so complex can be found on my earlier points on why CRM software is implemented in the first place. As pointed out earlier CRM software is expected to do a lot more than just help salespeople make sales. Points 2 through to Pt 5 above all have nothing to do with salespeople and helping them make more sales. Each of them are fundamentally important reasons to implement a CRM however, so we can not say that a CRM should be developed solely for the needs of a salesperson. Marketing Departments, Contract Administration teams, Customer Service and Handover teams, Management and so on all have detailed requirements, and the CRM software has to meet all of them. By virtue of this, the CRM inevitably and inexorably morphs into a complicated beast that salespeople will simply not use.

If you have read this far then you are desperate to know the solution (or are a competitor of ours!). So I will let you out of your misery. The answer is you need 2 CRM’s. One for your salespeople, and one for your admin team!

One that gives your salespeople exactly what they want and need, and another that gives your administration staff exactly what they want and need. We think this is a revolutionary idea and is going to change forever how people think of CRM software. We are calling it CRM V2

One size does not fit all. One CRM does not work for all! Your current CRM almost certainly does not work for your sales team. So we have developed and launched a new CRM that runs side by side with foxEnterprise CRM – its called SalesCRM and as the name suggests it is made exclusively for salespeople. It is easy to use, beautiful, fast, available on every device and did I say simple to use! And it works.

Your salespeople will love it, and your management team will love foxEnterprise. Two CRM’s, working as one representing a whole new approach a successful CRM implementation.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Impeccable Customer Service!

Not long ago we talked about the importance of implementing CRM systems. As a winner in your industry, I hope you critically analysed your own processes and the available products out there and took immediate action.

This week we will be following up on the topic and adding to it, just like a builder will add the walls on top of a solid foundation for a multi-storey building.

 Let’s take two stories as an example:

1. Buying a Luxury Car – When you go to test drive a luxury car, let’s say a Jaguar or something similar, a good salesperson will be asking questions to get to know you; to get an understanding of who you are, what you like and more importantly what you don’t like, so that he / she can utilise this knowledge to persuade you to buy that expensive but lovely car. One sales agent I know of asks the question: What kind of music / artists do you like? When you do purchase the vehicle and return to the dealership to pick-up your new car, a stack of cd’s with all your favorite music is waiting for you!

2. Le Meridien Hotels – one of the well known, luxury hotel chains, has a unique service to ensure their clients always return to their hotels, anywhere they go in the world. So how do they get their clients to be so loyal? When you first go to one of their hotels they ask you a bunch of questions, silly things like what kind of pillows do you and your partner like (feather, downe, etc), how you like your eggs, do you like orange juice or apple juice, how do you take your coffee, etc. Silly questions right? Well, should you choose to stay with Le Meridien again, no matter where in the world you stay, when you walk into your room you will have your favourite pillow on the bed and when you wake up, your breakfast in bed will consist of your eggs prepared the way you like them, alongside your preferred morning drink, etc.!

Now the simple question you may ask, as a fellow salesperson, is how in the world did they know all this information and remember it? I can’t even remember a person’s name, let alone his / her partners name or where they work, let alone their kids’ names!

Well let me tell you that this is where the best salesperson leaves the rest trailing behind.

Just imagine, you maintain as much information about your prospective buyer or seller and even if they don’t do business with you now, you keep in touch with them (via email marketing as discussed in one of our earlier blogs) and when they do come to discuss their options with you in a year or two, you’re able to say:

“Hi Paul & Wendy! How is [insert kids names here]? Are they still at [Name of school]? Etc. And did you get my [Birthday Card /Anniversary of Purchase Letter]? . . .”

If I talked to you like that, would you feel a rapport between us? Would you like to do business with me? I hope you say yes!

How do you achieve this in your business?

Step 1: Build a strong foundation for your business with a good real estate specific CRM system.

Step 2: Capture the Data! You will need a process where you are able to capture the required information while you are on the move. This can be achieved by a paper based form which you fill out as soon as you have spoken to a prospect (buyer or seller). This information can be entered into the CRM by yourself or by your PA so as to maintain the accuracy of your CRM system.

Step 3: Implement the process. Time and again we have seen many agencies implement a fancy CRM program and even design a very good system but do not follow through. This is where your CRM supplier has to play an integral part to coach / consult with you to ensure the implementation is successfully carried out over the first 90 days. As soon as the Agency has been using the system continuously for over 90 days, it becomes second nature and the chances of falling back to the old ways of doing business will be reduced.

A Quick Brightfox Plug!

Brightfox is one of the world’s leading providers of CRM software and online marketing solutions for the property industry. We have a suite of software applications to suit individual agents, small, medium and large agencies, multi-office agencies, property developers, investment networks and retirement village developers and managers. We would welcome the opportunity to show you how we can help your busines, so please do not hesitate to contact us.

Action Plan:

• If you have not finalised a CRM system as yet, please do so. And when you are talking to your supplier, please enquire on whether they provide a consulting / coaching system to ensure successful transformation of your business processes.

• Decide on what kind of information that you would like to obtain from your prospects (buyers / sellers) and put it in a form / CRM • Start collecting information today!

• Put a plan in action for sending cards to your prospects / clients for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

As always, please let us know your feedback on this or any other idea, as your feedback helps us to continuously improve these strategies. And don’t forget to pass these insights on to your friends / colleagues and help share the success!

Upload Listings straight to homesales.com.au from foxAdvantage CRM software

After the successes of its various websites including carsales.com.au and bikesales.com.au, the team at the CarSales Network have turned their attention to the property industry with the introduction of homesales.com.au into the mix.

With over a decade of experience and a network of more than 24 classified websites attracting over 14.2 million visits every month, the CarSales Network is sure to make an impact on the property industry with the introduction of this new site.  According to the site, their goal is to lower the cost of real estate advertising in Australia and offer you “an opportunity to extend your buyer and seller reach by listing your properties on homesales.com.au for FREE”.

With the cost of advertising on some real estate portals on the rise, we may soon see many people making the switch to this new rival.

For all foxAdvantage users, uploading to homesales.com.au is 100% free. There are no extra charges for uploading to additional portals.

foxAdvantage to upload straight to realestate1.net.au portal

After great demand from users and agents, realestate1.net.au upgraded to a national search function capability in late 2010.

Along with this improved search function, new site features include improved property short-listing and bigger maps and images in property listings.

As one of Australia’s fastest growing real estate advertising websites, realestate1.net.au provide a user-friendly website with tools and information for buyers, sellers and renters. With the new features, realestate1 aims to provide an alternative real estate website for browsers designed to be simple, quick and easy to use.

As part of a recent update, users are now able to upload listings automatically to realestate1 from foxAdvantage. This improved functionality will support our many clients’ diverse marketing requirements and help them to remain market leaders.

How to successfully use technology in the Retirement Village Sector

Below is an interview I had recently with the Sales & Marketing Director of publically listed retirement village operator Aevum Ltd in which we discussed how to use technology in the retirement village sector.

Cameron: Much is made of the need to use technology in a modern company to improve sales & marketing. In your experience what effect has technology actually had?

Karen: Having grown from an owner/operator of 4 villages to 21 villages in just over 2 years, part of our growth strategy had to encompass significant improvements to our internal technology. To summarise, the investment in technology has resulted in huge improvements in the integration and streamlining our sales systems and processes, the creation of efficient and relevant reporting, the creation of great direct marketing opportunities and significant improvements in the communications process, both internally and externally with all stakeholders.

 

Cameron: Technology such as the internet and email marketing are usually associated with today’s youth, and not people of retirement age. Are these technologies relevant to your business and if so, how are you using them effectively?

Karen: It has been clearly researched and reported that Ageing Australians are driving Internet Growth. In mid 2008 we revolutionized our website to ensure that we were in a position to capture the growing number of ‘web generated’ enquiries. We also realized that our target market have a lot of time available  to research their retirement options on-line, hence a key objective was to ensure that our web was rich with relevant information. Marketers who assume that a large percentage of our primary target audience is not ‘web savvy’ are missing out on huge opportunities. We also know from experience that the influencer (family or friends of our primary market) play a large role in the decision making process and are definitely predisposed to doing their research on-line in the first instance.

 

Cameron: I know you recently implemented a new CRM system. How important is building this client and prospect database to Aevum?

Karen: This is marketing 101 for Aevum! Today’s prospects are tomorrow’s purchasers in this industry. Our broad marketing strategy is underpinned by a very strong direct marketing focus that is targeted at maintaining a consistent dialogue with all the prospects on our database. Building upon our database strategy, we also take this one step further by focusing on building quality ‘Priority Waiting Lists’ for our villages where a prospect registers their interest in a specific style of unit for a refundable fee of $200. This strategy significantly reduces our reliance upon expensive above-the-line marketing when dwellings become available for sale.

  

Cameron: One of the difficulties in implementing a CRM system is ensuring that your staff use it. Given that the average age of salespeople in the industry is high, has computer skills been an issue in getting your staff to use CRM?

Karen: No matter what the age, we are all generally reluctant to adopt change in the first instance unless we can see the ‘perceived benefit’. The vast majority of our sales staff is up-to-speed with a basic windows environment and have reacted positively to the introduction of a new CRM system. The key to success I believe lies not only in the initial training, but re-investing in regular on-going training to maximize the functionality of the system for all users.

  

Cameron: Late last year you also launched the new Aevum website. What has been the effect of this on your sales and marketing?

Karen: This has made a huge improvement to our lead generation and subsequent sales conversion rates, not to mention the marketing cost efficiency. As I noted earlier, an integral part of our re-design strategy was to ensure that our site was rich with relevant information. The integration of a dedicated ‘For Sale’ section that allows the user to search for specific retirement accommodation options by location, village name or price has generated extremely positive feedback and more importantly, great results!

  

Cameron: How common is it to find personal PC’s in your resident’s units now? Do you see this becoming a more common trend?

Karen: This is a huge emerging trend. We proactively survey our residents on a regular basis to obtain feedback in relation to their social interests, internet usage, resident satisfaction levels, suggestions for improvements, etc. Not surprisingly, internet usage continues to increase year-on-year. In support of this growing trend, we have also introduced computers and internet access into some of our village community facilities for the use and benefit of all residents.

 

Cameron: It is now pretty common place in many business sectors to communicate with clients via email and even customer service websites?

Karen: I think it is far to say that the Aged Care Sector has been slow to adopt using technology in this way. Do you see technologies such as these playing a role in the future? I think the industry as a whole is becoming a lot savvier when it comes to the options available in relation to communication technology and its subsequent benefits. The evolution of websites in this sector over the past 12-18 months and the increasing integration of customized systems is evidence that the industry is adopting new technology and I am sure you will see a lot more of this in the near future as operators look to improve their levels of communication and customer service.

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Brightfox developed the Aevum Ltd websiteand also supplied to Aevum Ltd its leading software, foxEnterprise, that Aevum use as the company wide CRM, Sales Management and Property Management software.