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Joanna Goddard, commercial growth strategist, is a highly respected business consultant based in the UK

Why sales teams are forgetting about clients and what to do about it

Clients, remember them? Do you recall a time when sales teams regularly talked on the phone, caught up at industry events, even organised one to one, face-to-face meetings? In an age when jargon is so overused it makes David Brent seem witty, talk about data, social media and automated e-marketing is deemed the solution, it’s easy to see why so many sales teams can be led off piste. Many are rapidly drifting from their core role of nurturing client relationships and providing new business solutions to existing clients.

The distraction factor for sales activity in today’s business world is a real issue. It’s all too tempting to rely on digital marketeers at the expense of the impactful sales activity.

I find that it’s not uncommon for a business to focus almost entirely on sourcing new contacts for their databases – then rely on digital marketing to do the selling for them. Now, those of you who work with me know that I’m the first person to embrace digital efficiency, (see previous blog on this) but I am seeing a regular pattern in sales teams – something has been lost. Establishing personal rapport with a new client is still irreplaceable, but you must continue to maintain that effectively.

If you start with a memorable and sincere approach from the get-go, then prove inconsistent in your contact, you’re unlikely to reap the loyalty and commitment a valued client will bring. And that, my friends, is going to directly affect your business performance and ultimately damage revenue levels.

It is imperative that the client experience, journey, or as I often refer to it, the ‘life of the lead’ is clearly mapped out and becomes a robust system within your organisation if sustainable and profitable revenue growth is to happen. A lead is for life, not just for a few weeks when you first meet them!

This is an area that I advise on with clients quite regularly to ensure that time efficient systems and processes are developing accordingly in growing organisations. The starting point is establishing a concise and efficient system to ensure that prospects and clients who engage with the company are then cared for, in a relevant and appropriate manner without anyone slipping through the net and being forgotten.

A consistent and balanced mix of personal contact and e-marketing is required. Using a managed approach to this will also improve your teams capacity planning.

Sounds simple – but when was the last time you tacked the ‘Life of a lead’ in your business? You might be surprised.

Here are some aspects to consider:

  • The client journey – map it out. Nothing fancy get a flip chart going and pens to hand and map out what happens when a client enters your circle – form capturing in a database to what they receive from anyone in the company, when and how. What are the touch points? How often? Then compare with the process programmed into your CRM system. You may find big raging gaps!
  • Set up dummy clients – run them through the system to see what happens. Review your reports.
  • Review the time lines between actions – how long is it, for example, from when a client of yours requests a quote to when they receive it? Is this consistent? Do you have a minimal accepted time gap for this and if so is it effectively monitored?
  • What can be automated that isn’t already?
  • What should be personalised – when is this truly relevant and when is it inappropriate? Is it accurate? Run a mail label print and sit down and see!
  • Template the approach so it’s brand aligned for all automated marketing – engage your brand advisor to ensure that the written word is brand aligned, not just the images.
  • Create auto reporting and alerts for overdue actions to ensure nothing is missed if team members are absent. How is responsible for monitoring the results? Ensure someone is.
  • Have a back up system for when people are absent
  • Archive unused data
  • Complete a GDPR Gap analysis – time is running out to ensure your company is compliant across HR, Marketing, IT, Board etc
  • Explore Leadership development for managing change in your organisation through GDPR, digitisation, or if expansion is on the cards. Client relationships can be the first element to suffer if change is not efficiently managed.

There are plenty of CRM systems out there, so briefing a specialist to select and set up can be a time and cost efficient way to choose the correct product for you and your company.

Just because you can self teach how to install a CRM system doesn’t mean you should. If you have had a CRM for sometime, when was the last time you had an audit – do you have the latest version and are you making the most of it? Share your business plan with your CRM consultant and make it really work for you.

Most of all, schedule a little time soon to put yourself in the client’s shoes and take a good hard look at what that experience looks and feels like – is it good enough? 

Overwhelmed? I’ll be happy to show you how to break this down into bite size chunks with your team.

[Joanna is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and member of the Advisory Council to the School of Management at St Andrews University. She is a business consultant and owner.]