Colin Northway's track record
Founder & Managing Director DDM Advertising
Director IT Services Dun & Bradstreet UK
General Manager Dun & Bradstreet Switzerland
Chief Executive Christian Brann Direct
Since 1990 Managing Director Colin Northway Associates
Colin is a member of the British Computer Society
Colin can be found on Linkedin
Business to business selling in the current climate is very difficult. With business deluged by emails, phone calls and unwanted mail it is very difficult for the salesman to be heard.
And yet the job the salesman has to do is often ill defined and poorly supported. What is his target market. How should he approach this market? What is his competition and what are his unique selling points? To expect the salesman to have the answers to all these question is to misunderstand his role.
One further point. Is the salesman there just to win new business or is he expected to win repeat business? If the latter how does his company set about the task of Customer Relationship Management?
All the questions I ask are in reality the task of company management to answer. But too often company management doesn't fully comprehend what it to be a salesman. So we often have a dilemma where management and sales don't work together effectively
The definition of the market, analysis of the competition, and the unique selling points of the product must be defined by company management. In my view, and in the view of many, the salesman's job is to present his case face to face with the potential customer or talking to the prospect over the phone. The task of identifying the prospect and setting up the meeting should be left to telemarketing. One salesman I spoke to recently told me he could make eight sales calls a week setting his own appointments. But if he had telemarketing support he could make eight calls a day. Perhaps a slight exaggeration but nevertheless a valid point.
Another salesmen who was targeted to sell repeat business told me that customers often had no idea from whom they had bought the product or service and consequently were as hard to sell to as cold prospects.
Which brings me to Customer Relationship Management. There are many ways of operating this, from newsletters to research, to offers, and so on. The effect of the programme must be capable of being measured in terms of its impact on repeat business. But one thing is for sure. You the company may think that the customer is your customer but the customer often has no knowledge of the relationship. Get Customer Relationship Management wrong and the customer very quickly becomes irritated. Get it right and you have acustomer for life.
I designed and implemented the first automotive CRMprogramme in the UK for Renault in the late 1970's. It was highly successful. It was quickly copied by other manufacturers and by many companies in the business to business sector. But sadly CRM is still not fully understood or implemented by many companies who think that a web site is all you need today to build a relationship with a customer.