Time was, I more or less refused to put my activity into CRM, as mandated by most Sales Organizations. I figured I was measured by quota, and if I hit quota they’d keep me regardless if I updated CRM and if I didn’t hit quota they’d fire me anyway, so screw them – if they wanted me to update CRM they could get ride of my quota. But the past few years I worked as a manager where CRM was watched soooo closely and it was so chaotic that (to make a long story short) you had to use CRM. So I;ve gotten int he habit of it and am one of the most ardent documentary in CRM now. I still dont think it’s a great tool as compared to effort vs. reward, but when in Rome…
A few years ago I published a couple of books on Kindle, just for fun. I even got a positive review or two (I got one reasonable-but-bad review about my formatting so promptly took that book from the shelf since I don’t want to waste people’s money) and got a commission check for 100 bucks based on a few years of royalties. But I’ll never be more than an informal, self-published writer: I love to write but a) only like to write first drafts, b) have a short attention span so get bored after just a few pages, and c) don’t need the hassle of actually trying to get things published, so Kindle is pretty easy and ideal for a hobbyist hack like me. Anyway, I haven’t done it in a few years since I’ve been busy and tired, but took a couple of hours and published a short booklet last night. I have an interesting sales pitch: I am brutally honest with the quality of the work. I’ve found that it is very important to charge a cheap price and to be perfectly honest in my write-up (i.e. saying it is self-published, has typos and may not be very good); that way if someone buys it (rare) and hates it (common), at least they only spent 99 cents on it and were warned. I do it for fun, not for money, recognition or false aspirations of being a published writer, and my favorite part is just seeing once or twice a month that a book was purchased.
A few years ago, it seems there was a trend of sales “professionals” sending calendar invitations to prospects (via outlook) then showing up in the lobby at the proposed time if the person didn’t respond. I remember one peer I had in particular used to say, “I never cold call anyone. I just send them a calendar invitation.”
I always felt like that was a pushy tactic and was never a fan of it* so am glad that the trend seems to have run its course. I think there were a few reasons for this trend: one is the silly obsession sales VPs have with meeting metrics, i.e. requiring sales people to have a certain number of meetings in a week and threatening to fire them if they don’t meet it. In this case, by sending a calendar invitation a sales person is more likely to end up with a meeting in some shape or form, and if they show up in the lobby and the client is passive aggressive and doesn’t show then the sales rep can still claim they had the meeting since it shows on their calendar. The second is in a highly competitive sales world where managers are deluged with calls and emails from sales people, it was a way of trying anything to get a few minutes of a Decision Maker’s time. Lastly, it was like anything else, a few more people started doing it, which led to a few more people doing it, and so on until there was a snowball effect, which like most snowball effects run their course until they dwindle. But, again, it does seem like the popularity of this tactic has run its course, thankfully.
In my experience, there is no magic formula — such as unsoliced calendar invitations — to reaching all managers all the time. As someone who has been in management so has received my share of unsolicited calls, my pet peeve are reps who ask for 15 minutes of time via email but really don’t provide any information on what they are offering. Why would I possibly commit to 15 minutes of time I don’t have when I don’t even know what the rep is offering? 🙂
* Except if I met with a client and the client owed me follow up or made a commitment and wasn’t following through on it – I don’t mind if managers don’t want to take my call or to meet or aren’t interested, but it is a pet peeve of mine if they take my time and make some promises then don’t follow up That is, I won’t waste their time, but don’t waste mine either 🙂 ).
We were taken out of the field for a full f***ing week two years ago and flown across the country and stuck in a dark conference room during the all-important January to attend a Sales Training mandated by that nutbag Mahfuz, our so-called leader. This was bad enough, but then we spent most of the time brainstorming for a new business idea that we could pitch to customers. WTF. We were running a 500M organization with firm practices in place with a nutbag CEO (Mahfuz), and he wastes a fully day of my time brainstorming for what-ifs? This would be fine, but he was completely intolerant of missed quotas and had a no cell-phone policy during these meetings, which is why 80% of the people were fired or quit every month, plus I had an office I was responsible for. I was thinking about this right now, as I came across the title “Content Manager” and that was one of the ideas — Content — we were brainstorming for. As a former Educator, I knew these one-day brainstorming with no follow-up on top of a million other similar activites that Mahfuz oversaw on top of our stressful day jobs was doomed to fail. I rue the day I ever worked for that whack job, and the next time I think of him will be too soon 🙂
ALthough I have always had individual responsibility, I have had management responsibility much of the past 5 years, which means I am not only making sales calls but receiving them from other sales people, too. It is wonderfully helpful – I can see what I like, what I don’t like and what trends are and adapt my own approach accordingly.
For example, several years ago I would tell people up front in an email that they didn’t know me, and coincidentally many of the emails I receive lately from sales people start out with “we’ve never met” or “I hope you are having a good day.” That tells me to tweak that approach, since everyone else is doing it.
The other thing is, I don’t like when sales people ask for a call or a meeting yet give no information about their solution other than a few words. I don’t have time for a 15 minute “chat,” and even if I did I don’t want to talk to a sales person for 15 minutes, so in my mind better is to be clear up front about what is being offered/proposed.
Finally, I don’t take calls from other area codes, since 99% of the time it is a sales person. Instead, I let it go to voice mail. They have just a few seconds before I delete them, so those few seconds better be good, and I will never ever listen to an automated call or a call that sounds like it comes from a call center.
Anyway, sometimes the best teacher — at least for me — is watching other people in action 🙂
Ond of the things I try to be respectful of as a manager is that when someone from my team leaves, I stress that I’d love to stay in touch (unless they were not a good person and I showed them the door), but I don’t pressure them to stay in touch and give them their distance (although once in a great while I might send a random note that simply says hello an dhope you are well). So when my team reaches out to me, especially as the months go by, I feel flattered and happy. The past two weeks not one not two but three people I used to manage reached out to me to ask if I’d like to have coffee/lunch and catch up, and the thing is they know I am not in a position to hire right now which means it is reasonably genuine. I love hearing from my ex-team, since I truly care about them!
My last employer ruled its sales team by metrics. 50 “dials” (I hate that word) a day, 1-2 meetings a day, etc. each and every day. The COO of a billion dollar company looked at these metrics every single day – who is meeting these metrics, who is not? It takes all strategy out of it, and makes the job absolute hell, like working on a factory line but with the added pressure of quota. In good times, this might be okay, since the frenzied buying can hide a lack of strategy, but they have really been suffering this past year. Meanwhile, I am sooooo glad to be out of that hell.