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Navigational Sales Aids
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My current comments about this article: 

Navigational Aides For Sales Success 

 

One of the great difficulties in navigating isn't deciding

which waypoints to make along the way... it's finding the

next waypoint once your reference points have become obscure.

The more uncharted the area, the more dangerous the voyage.

For this reason the Coast Guard strategically places

navigational aids for mariners to follow.

Though the profession of selling and sales management have

been around fathoms longer than the Coast Guard, it's

remarkable how few navigational aids have been devised to

provide a safe journey to the often uncharted destination of

a close.

Probably the last major navigational aid in selling came

about fifteen years ago when Mouton and Blake quantified via

their Sales Grid what the street-smart "pros" knew all

along... that different people responded to different

stimuli. Through the Sales Grid, all salespersons were at

least now able to comprehend why their approach,

demonstration, objection, handling and closing techniques

missed the mark. And so since then, there has been a flood

of books and courses elaborating the psychological approach.

MAYDAY-MAYDAY-MAYDAY

HOWEVER, DESPITE THIS BEACON, SALESPEOPLE AND SALES MANAGERS

ARE STILL IN TROUBLED WATERS REGARDING THEIR LIVELIHOODS, ...

HENCE ARE THE COMPANIES FOR WHICH THEY SELL.

Additionally, several new waves are coming together to create

a "rogue" wave -- one which is formed by the additive effect

of multiple wave motions. The size and directions of the

individual waves are quite obvious.

. The new waves are:

­­ which is driving

more companies to direct mail and to telemarketing for

closing in addition to qualification.

which are leading companies and agencies to

determine their best course to the close.

which is driving the cost of

computing down to the point of making it economically

available to computerize the entire sales process for all

sized companies.

which is

forcing companies to obtain the same sales efficiency as

their competition.

which are demanding that

management provide more state-of-the-art sales support.

S-O-S

To circumnavigate the force of this "rogue," companies are

rushing -- both internally and externally -- to create new

navigational aids by computerizing the entire sales function

from lead source through close for both salespeople and sales

management.

According to Peter Simon, VP of Sales and Marketing at Travis

Datatrak Inc, (Weston, MA) authors of the sales management/

selling software application, DATATRAK, the wave crests to

computerize when "management becomes nervous: Nervous because

it no longer knows what people are doing; because it doesn't

know what the competition is up to; and nervous because it

doesn't know why things are not going the way they use to."

"Moreover, the triggering factor need not be the number of

sales people involved. Often, it is the number of accounts

that are being tracked per salesperson that causes the

nervousness far more." Asked how he measures nervous, Simon

responds, "We have had companies purchase DATATRAK after only

three week's evaluation !"

In all, the market can be characterized as "infant and

enormous" according to Chip Stofer President of Envoy

Systems, Inc, (Waltham, MA) makers of SALES MATE, another

commercially available selling/sales management software

package. "In major corporations that we call on, there are

now people whose sole job is to find ways of improving sales

productivity... They estimate that two-thirds to three-

quarters of a salesperson's time can be spent in a non-

selling mode. The goal of Envoy is to improve that

productivity with a series of twelve application modules."

On the internally developed front, David Hirschfeld,

President of Business Controls Corporation (Clifton, NJ) has

been using and improving a sales system that BCC built three

years ago with it's own Cobol application generator. "It's

quite simple; we're doing things that just would not be

possible without this system," says Hirschfeld. "It has

enabled a small salesforce to undertake yeoman sized

territories and more efficiently close and service the

prospects in the individual territories."

While at the Cortex Corporation (Waltham, MA), Drew Hannah,

VP of Sales, feels strongly that the system should be

designed and implemented for the field sales organization.

"While there is no doubt regarding sales and executive

management benefits from such a system, it is our sales force

that has been providing a propelling force in the improvement

of our present sales system which is developed with our

application generator, THE FACTORY.

RANGE AND BEARING

Simon positions DATATRAK as a corporate productivity tool

-- not just a personal sales aid. Travis' approach is to

meet with management to determine the exact needs and then

through their "superstructure" design the system so as to put

the necessary sales functions on a lap computer which in this

case would be a DG-1.

On the other hand, Envoy's SALES MATE seems more positioned

to assist the gamut of sales function after leads have been

semi-qualified, though full management reports are also

available. Through the functionality of twelve menu driven

applications (for example, Sales Mail, Sales File, Sales

Desk, Sales Aid, Sales Status etc.) sales personnel work

their territory, report to their company and other

salesperson, and design their sales campaigns. Perhaps one

of the slickest feature is that every change that is entered

by the saleperson is automatically transferred to the main

computer so that both the salespersons database and that of

their managers are always in synch. Again the DG-1 is the

lap computer of choice.

Stofer relates, "Actually, no one type of company is a

prospect, but those that have acquired our system are those

which have a high number of sales calls; those that have a

high need for information regarding order status; and those

that have long lead times".

Hannah is looking for Cortex's improved system to help out

with a problem. "We're among the trees now and its time to

see the forest... We want to improve salesman productivity by

capturing data from initial awareness to close -- to track

opportunities and from where they originate to determine

filter ratios, i.e. what it takes to move a suspect to

prospect to customer. If you know what it takes to close

business, then you take that as a baseline and know what you

have to do to close the business at hand."

MUTINY ?

" ?

According to Simon, sales force acceptance and rejection

seems to be a random event, though how it is introduced has a

big effect on acceptance.. "Some feel threatened by the

system, while others, like the salespeople of a mid-west

hardware dealer, have expressly stated that they would rather

have their commission rates cut rather than not have the

system... Certainly, one goal of the application is to

increase the efficiency of the average salesperson by 10%

percent... In all the system forces a discipline that most

are welcomed to have."

Hirschfeld concurs. "Immediate data access; daily follow-up

cards by salesperson; management reports; tracking marketing

support data; demographics analysis; general list capability

based on an unlimited number of selects; scare resources

scheduling; unlimited correspondence file for call reporting

and retrieval; automatic forecast generation by

salesperson/product/period; selected mail merge;

and electronic tickler file all make an uncomputerized sales

approach impossible to think about for marketing personnel at

BCC." (Apparently, three users of BCC products feel the same

way, for they have convinced Hirschfeld to sell his internal

package.)

BOUNTY ?

) ?

Simon: "The payback on DATATRAK is embarrassing. In several

companies it occurred so fast that management couldn't

believe it."

Hirschfeld: "It's absolutely impossible to tell. The system

has allowed us to do things that would just not have been

possible. Consequently, when you talk about payback, you're

talking real productivity versus impossible potential."

Stofer: "It's simple. The SALES MATE system per salespersons

cost about 250.00/month. Compared to the expense of just one

unwarrented face-to-face sales call, which is about $270.00,

it pays for itself daily."

Hannah: "We want to provide a function to reduce the time

and cost of expensive sales people qualifying inital leads."

DESTINY

, e Y

"There is a tide in the affairs of man (sic) when taken at

the flood lead on to greatness" so spake Ceasar. And were he

alive today and responsible for piloting a distribution

channel -- perhaps even for knives -- he would certainly ride

the crest to this navigational aid. Because when the surfs

up, so are the stakes. 

Sottile's Winning Action Team
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Tactical Marketing Agency

"Marketing Tactics Make Corporate Strategies Happen!"
                                                                   John Sottile