Pick Up the Phone!: CRM Systems Are Great, But...

Technology has allowed us to track our lead sources, assist us in buying advertising, organize our day, notify us when to make a call, and send emails. Some systems even dial the phone for us. Technology also gives us all the reports and information we can possibly digest to use for training, changing ad copy, and tracking our sales staff's activity. And it allows us to work more leads than we could handle with a paper filing system or a box of index cards.

But are we going too far expecting the CRM system to sell our franchises for us? Is it replacing the soft touch and individual contact with "people"? Or is the real purpose to manage the sales team? What about the candidate who wants to investigate at their own pace? Or the candidate who doesn't want to complete an application without feeling more comfortable with the new relationship? Without picking up the phone and communicating with candidates, important information, relationships, and trust aren't shared and created.

Technology can't replace relationships

Don't misunderstand me. CRM systems are a fantastic tool for working with our candidates! There are franchise suppliers with wonderful systems that assist in making contact with candidates who don't want to talk on the phone initially. But implementing a CRM system that is used to replace "good old-fashioned" hard work and dialing the phones is one of the biggest mistakes we see when mystery shopping franchisors' sales qualification systems. Let me explain with an example of how it feels to be the candidate trying to move forward without "human contact."

We called a franchisor and requested information. We were referred back to the website to complete an initial form and someone would contact us shortly. Okay, so they didn't want to talk to a prospect that called in? Hmmmm! They requested more information before we could have a phone conversation, so we completed the form, only to start receiving the first of 11 emails in 11 days asking us to watch a video that didn't load and to complete a full financial application form that no one in their right mind would complete without talking with someone first. We literally begged for a phone call, which was finally scheduled only by email communication and required homework to get to that point.

This was not an isolated case! Why do we torment candidates with information or processes they don't want? We can't forget that some candidates want to talk sooner rather than later, that not all candidates are created equal.

CRM systems have been one of the best innovations to assist in following up with candidates, delivering information, and creating reports to help us manage and train. If you don't have a CRM system, you need one. When checking references, research the options carefully. Talk with franchisors that have sales qualification processes similar to yours and that have a similar franchise offering. There are numerous choices, so make sure you purchase the system that best suits your franchise system.

People buy from people! If you want to outperform your competitors, pick up the phone and reach out to your candidates. If the reason you are using a CRM system is so the sales person can work 200 to 300 leads and cut down on outgoing calls, you are losing sales. Use the CRM system to assist your team to stay organized and deliver information. Your sales will increase incrementally with the number of outgoing phone calls your team makes. Do you have a report from your CRM system of how many outgoing phone calls are made each week?

Features needed in a CRM system

  1. User-friendly for the sales staff; it shouldn't become additional work
  2. Provides the reports you need to manage, train, and fire
  3. Allows attachments of documents, within or outside the system
  4. Communication templates that can be sent in normal text or HTML
  5. A management dashboard for easy daily management
  6. Back marketing capabilities
  7. Allows the sales process to be adjusted to the candidate's schedule and needs
  8. A solid platform that is backed up and protected
  9. Permits changes to be made by your company, or at a low cost by the provider in a timely manner
  10. Mobile applications for access away from the office

Happy Selling, Marc Kiekenapp

Published: October 12th, 2011

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