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Extending the value of your relationships



This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.


Last week I wrote about some of the changes that are occurring in customer relationships management software and sales force automation, including predictive modeling and social selling. Much of what is changing is going to ratchet up the pressure on the salesperson to comply with stricter rules regarding use of their systems and leverage their company’s technology to make more sales.

Still, many salespeople resist using their customer relationship management software or sales force automation. They don’t like to be burdened with work that takes their time away from selling—especially since they are compensated and rewarded for making numbers, not for data entry. So, these salespeople resist.

For those of you that may still be in this camp, let me try convincing you otherwise. Let me try to persuade you that your SFA is really about serving you and not simply sales management.

Tracking your relationships

Your results in sales and business are based on your relationships. You create value for people that know you and that trust you to help them with their businesses. Your relationships are your most important assets as a salesperson. In fact, your relationships are your most important assets period!

In the old days, your power was indicated by the quality of your Rolodex. In the not too distant past that same power was found in the leather bound binders full of business cards that sat on your desk. Now, the information about those relationships, like all other information, has gone digital. Your relationships are still the measurement. It’s still who you know and who knows you, but digital.

Resisting capturing the data about your relationships in a digital form is as ridiculous an idea as it would have been to resist putting business cards with hand written notes in a binder.

The power of capturing digital information extends far beyond what was possible in the past. Now you can capture and retrieve the data about your relationships from almost anywhere and on almost any device. You can leverage technology to have it do the grunt work of remembering who you need to contact, with the added bonus of reminding you how long it’s been since you have done so, as well as the content of your last communications. Your technology can give you a nudge.

Relationships need nurturing, and neglecting relationships is one of the surest ways of not having them. Robin Dunbar’s research indicates that human beings can manage about 150 relationships total due to the limited size of our neo-cortex. I believe that our technology extends our ability to manage more relationships.

But the address book functionality is only part of the benefit of using your CRM or SFA.

Track your important communications and information

Any information that will later be useful to you or your team needs to be captured in a way that lets you easily recall and share it.

The information you capture about your clients and their needs is valuable to your relationship. Your retention, and your ability to recall and share that information with your team, is what will later help you to execute.

Retaining and recalling important information also indicates that you care. It indicates that you are professional and that you sweat the details instead of winging it. This builds trust, and it builds your client’s confidence in you and your ability to help them produce results.

Using your tools isn’t about serving sales management. Using your CRM or SFA is for your benefit and for the benefits of your clients. These tools extend the value of your relationships and, when used well, they allow you to create more value for your clients.

Questions

How do you track and manage your most important relationships?

How many relationships can you manage and nurture without leveraging technology?

What would happen if you lost all of your business cards and scraps of paper with phone numbers written on them?

How does your retaining and sharing information help you to help your client?

What could you do to better utilize your technology when it comes to relationships?


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