I was a pretty good salesman, even if I say so myself. In my early selling career I enjoyed successfully closing deals and began to believe that I had a natural ‘gift’ for selling!
I used to attend sales meetings with colleagues and sat wondering why some of them seemed to struggle to hit their numbers and why they were always at the foot of the performance league table.
In my arrogance of youth I’d put my success down to charm, likeability, being hungry for success and generally being good with people, but there was something else!
Interestingly, I remember colleagues boasting about how they never took notes on customer visits because they were so good and that paperwork was for rookies, funnily enough I don’t remember any of them ever really being successful!
I clearly remember my first promotion interview and the managing director asking me for my key to success, as I tried to answer his question I realized for the first time that I had a system. In those days of paper diaries and card indexes long before laptops and smart phones I was organized and good at keeping detailed records of my customers, prospects, and really focused on following up. I now know that I had a CRM system.
I got the job and faced the challenge of managing my colleagues that struggled with hitting their numbers, as I interviewed them it quickly dawned on me that they didn’t have a system and there was no consistency in our sales approach and style, they had charm, knowledge and energy, but the missing element was a CRM system.
Promotions came quickly and I was riding the crest of a very exciting wave as I started to climb the greasy pole of management.
As I implemented my systematic approach across the team our numbers improved again and again, as our targets were pushed up we kept on exceeding them, team morale improved and the sales team got the recognition they deserved.
I continued to climb the greasy pole and my attitude to a CRM approach in selling has never changed, I’ve proved over and over again that you simply cannot be successful in sales without a CRM system, whether in an owner managed business or a corporate with a large sales team CRM is fundamental to success.
As I reflect on my selling career I know that CRM has been good to me, the businesses I’ve managed, the customers and the sales people I’ve worked with.
By the way, if you’re wondering I still have the charm, likeability, good looks, hunger for success, generosity, self-deprecation, nice guy, fun to be with……………………….
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