Lead Export via CSV

Now you can simply export all your leads to .csv whenever you like by simply visiting the leads section of your account and hitting the “Export Leads” button.

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We are committed to adding value to the lead follow up process, and by adding this functionality we are making it easier than ever to integrate with your back office solution.

Customer Feedback Will Point You In The Right Direction… And Open New Doors

Lead Assign runs lean. We are a small organization with big goals. Having only worked here a few months, I am still getting the lay of the land, but I love what I see.  I was whipped into action very quickly due to coming on board right after the company attended a Real Estate Tech conference called INMAN 2016. Upon returning from the conference I had a stack of 159 business cards, all from people who were quickly qualified with the promise that Lead Assign would follow up. I began the task of securing a CRM, getting all of my prospects into the application and starting to make the calls.

Early on I had some strong interest from prospects who showed great interest in the way that Lead Assign could simplify their lives however, some of the prospects I spoke with, wanted our application to work a bit differently in order to fit their individual business needs. After listening to some of the feedback from prospects, I brought some of the ideas to our development team kind of expecting the standard response of “it is what it is” or “they will have to pay for customization”. Remarkably, instead of the expected disappointing response, we ended up discussing reasons why the customer is looking to make this change. We then discussed how the changes would effect us and the possibilities of opening some new, previously unseen, opportunities.

Being as lean and nimble as we are, the development team were able to take the customer feedback, understand the goal, design the flow and then give me a completion timeline that I could convey to the client. I proudly called my clients back, thanking them for the feedback while also letting them know that the changes that they’ve requested are being worked on and would be completed by a specific date. Of course the client was impressed however, I was a little less excited, as I knew that earning the clients business depended entirely on our ability to deliver the change and I was just crossing my fingers and hoping that it would be done when I was promised. I put the clients on ice for about 2 weeks while the enhancements were (hopefully) being made. As the new guy, I was still unsure as to the process and expectations of communication between the sales department and the development team. All I knew was that I had promised a delivery date to my customer and I was hoping that it was being worked on.

About 2 days before my calendar due date, I overheard some of the team talking about the changes and I excitedly poked my head up over my desk hoping to insert myself into the discussion. Sure enough, the changes were complete, tested and we were ready to roll out ahead of schedule. I couldn’t have been happier. After getting a quick run through on how the changes would work for my client, I called them to proudly proclaim that the work was complete and we were all set to go. Both clients in question were delighted with the great news and we quickly implemented the changes for them. Two new paying customers! This is great news for our customers however, in reality, it’s bigger news for Lead Assign. The simple changes requested by our customer has, all of a sudden, opened brand new doors of opportunity for Lead Assign. To be specific, Lead Assign has always been able to deliver leads to agents phones and email, based on keywords and tags. Now with the changes in place we are capable of delivering leads to agents by a predefined “pecking order“, opening ourselves to new customer segments. We have other additional customer driven changes being worked on as I write this update. Soon we will be able to export lead data to .csv files, providing a benchmark for agencies to be able to track conversion of leads against properties sold making our product offering even more valuable.

The point to all of this, of course, is that we are developing our products with our customers needs in mind and as a priority. Coincidently, this is the same way that we initially became a company. We were approached by a Real Estate Owner/Broker who had a problem and he went searching for someone who might be able to help him solve it. This is the opposite of someone sitting at home and dreaming up a solution for a problem that might exist. I will always be more inclined to take a feedback from someone who knows that they have a problem and is looking for a solution over someone who tries to shoehorn their solution into a perceived problem.

M. Joe Steeves, Director of Sales and Marketing,  www.leadassign.com

 

5 Ways My Rock Band And My Day Job Are Alike

In yesterday’s post, I spoke specifically about harnessing one’s passion and using it as inspiration to achieve what you desire.

One of my most persistent, personal passion’s has always been music. Those who know me well, know that music has been a powerful force in my life, defining me since childhood. Growing up, all I wanted was to become a Rockstar, there was nothing else. Music and the electric guitar consumed me. I would spend hours mimicking my guitar hero’s in front of the mirror, tightly holding onto my cheap, Japanese made black Les Paul copy. I’d furiously whip my right arm in circles imagining that I was Pete Townshend from The Who doing his iconic windmill or doing the Angus Young duck walk across my bedroom floor. While I truly gave it a good shot, the truth is that none of the bands I joined or put together ever found any mainstream success. I did however, have some fantastic opportunities playing with some Internationally known bands and I’ve experienced some wonderful highlights and run-ins with genuine rockstars that I will always remember. To this day I remain an active member of a rock outfit, dare I say the tightest, most well rehearsed band I’ve been part of to date. My band, Mr Pharmacist, has been slugging away for almost ten years now. The similarities shared between being in a rock band and having a “real” day job are real. I have compiled a short list of my Top 5 similarities between the two.

1. Although you are part of a Team, it’s not a democracy…. most of the time

Being in a band, one would think that everyone has the same amount of time invested and therefore everyone would have an equal share in what goes on. In reality, as much as it pains me to say it, the singer is the one who’s holding the trump card. If he feels uncomfortable or unable to sing what you want them to, it just ain’t going to happen. A singer’s voice is your bands brand. When working in an office or work environment we are also lead to believe that working hard, as a team, will get you where you want to be however, keep in mind,  the person signing your paycheque has the ability and the right to immediately change your course of action or direction just because they want to.

2. It Doesn’t work unless everyone is participating, doing their job and giving it their all

A rock band is an ideal example of Aristotle’s claim that “The Whole is Greater Than The Sum Of It’s Parts”. If you put 5 musicians in a room together you can come out of it with something extraordinary and something far greater than just 5 instruments playing together. The same holds true with your day job. A business can only achieve their goals when the workforce is firing on all cylinders. When it truly is, you can feel it and you know it. It’s almost tangible and the exact same holds true being in a band.

3. It’s 99% work, driven by passion and 1% playing rock shows

I’m just taking a guess as to the ratio of work hours invested vs. time spent on stage performing but I think I’m pretty close. I won’t go as far as saying that rehearsals in a live band atmosphere can’t be fun, because they usually are, however what gets overlooked is what has to get done to make it all happen. A single Mr Pharmacist rehearsal on a Thursday night requires the following effort from me… A 1.5 hour drive EACH WAY, about $25 in gas, lugging a heavy amplifier, two guitars, a keyboard, a pedalboard and a bag full of cords, batteries, picks and strings out of my home studio, up stairs, to the car. Upon arriving in Toronto, navigating my way through insane traffic, I once again lug it all up another set of stairs. We set up, practice, have some fun, then I pack it all up, pay for rehearsal space rent and contribute to the beer fund, lug it all back downstairs and I then drive home, getting in at about 1 am, ready to be at work the next morning. I do this about 12 times for each time we play live. A lot of work? Definitely. Worth it? Completely. Just like the day job, the similarities are the same (except for the beer…usually). The commute, the hard work and long hours, coupled with hours of preparation and practice, the requirements are very similar.
4. Once you think you are in the groove, someone will quit or get fired

Ive been in many bands and have seen singers, bass players and numerous drummers pack it in. Sometimes the band will collectively decide to fire someone, sometimes the just leave. About a year ago I had a drummer quit citing an inability to work with another band member. You can’t try to convince them not to go, once their passion has dissolved, they will only hold you back. The disappointment of working endlessly to master the songs in the setlist and then have a member walk out is as painful in a band environment, as it is your day job. Unfortunately it’s part of the deal. One can only hope that the departure will result in a new addition that can bring some new insight, skills and positive energy to the team or the band. When we lost our drummer a year ago, he was replaced almost immediately by the amazing Glenn Miltchem.  We hand no idea that Glenn had taken great interest in the band and when we heard through the grapevine that he wanted in, we couldn’t believe our luck. Glenn has played drums for Canadian legends Blue Rodeo for the last 25 years and, is currently on tour with Ian Thornley of Big Wreck. Glenn is a monster behind the kit. To say that we landed on our feet after the unexpected departure of our previous drummer would be an understatement. We have all seen good employees leave our employers, only to be replaced with a far superior new hire. I happens.

5. You need to build and grow to keep your audience/customers engaged.

One of the most exciting things for me, functioning in a band, is when we work on new material. There is great satisfaction in mastering something new. We also know that if we want paying customers to keep coming to our shows, we must keep it fresh with new material. On the business end we also need to keep our products or services new and ahead of the competition otherwise we will become stagnant and of n interest to our customer base. You have to continually grow. I believe that at last count Mr Pharmacist had enough well rehearsed material to get through 2 one hour sets which is approximately 30 songs. It’s a lot to remember but enough practice makes a lot of it muscle memory, how our singer remembers all the words, I will never understand.

The similarities between being in a Band and working a day job are uncanny, that doesn’t mean you cant have great fun and reap great rewards doing either. Only one of these makes your ears ring. If your day job is making your ears ring you probably have an issue with an angry coworker.

You can catch Mr Pharmacist, Saturday June 11 at the Linsmore located in Toronto on Danforth Ave.

M.Joe Steeves, Director of Sales and Marketing, www.leadassign.com

Tap Into Your Passion And Feed Your Fire

Over the weekend I happened upon a new TV show that caught the interest of my family. I call it a new TV show however, I’m never really too sure these days, as I am a proud “cable cutter” 5 years in, and therefore I’m not exactly sure what is actually “new”.  The show “Little Big Shots” is hosted by none other than Steve Harvey, host of 2015 Miss Universe Pageant and solely responsible for misreading the cue card, falsely identifying Miss Columbia as the new Miss Universe, resulting in a collective gasp heard around the globe which then also resulted in a series of rather funny memes and oddly placed online jokes. To be fair, I actually like Steve Harvey an awful lot and I think he has recovered rather well, from what could have been disastrous for his currently skyrocketing career.

Little Big Shots is reminiscent of the 90’s TV hit “Kids Say The Darnedest Things” (1998-2000) hosted by the now disgraced comedian Bill Cosby. The premise of the show is this,  Steve Harvey invites a child guest onstage who has become somewhat of a youtube or online sensation some how, some way. Harvey will lob the kids ultra-open ended questions that usually illicit a comical response from the child causing the studio audience to laugh loudly and thereby stoking the child’s willingness to interact with audience and host. Imagine hearing a 4 year old discuss the exact number of Youtube views he has gained to date, along with his future viewership subscriber targets and goals. After a few minutes of comical banter, the child guest eventually stands up and will reenact the original feat that made them an Internet sensation.

What I saw was really quite amazing. I saw a sassy viral dancer and an amazing spelling bee kid. I watched a 5 year old animal hypnotist  and a rather cute 6 year old conductor. All of this was, of course, topped of with the Baby Bruce Lee.

As I watched these kids perform their magic I got to asking myself, how in God’s name could a 4 year old have found enough time in their short little life to have perfected such demonstrated skills? Many folks are familiar with the adage that you must devote 10,000 hours of practice to master that which you choose to conquer. I’m good at a lot of things however, if this 10,000 hour rule is the benchmark of my mastery, to date I have mastered driving, sleeping and possibly mowing the lawn. The young boy that demonstrates his ability to match Bruce Lee, move for move, in perfect unison, while the film plays behind him is really quite something, as is the spelling bee whiz. What I think sets these kids apart is unmatched passion. The spelling bee boy proudly professes his love for the massive Dictionary sitting on his lap while, the soft manner in which the young animal hypnotist speaks to her subjects is somewhat hypnotizing to me as I watch. They’ve found it, and they found it early. One can only hope that these kids continue to discover passion throughout their lives having been so lucky from the onset.

I too, have passion for the many wonderful things that populate my life, too many interests perhaps as I’m a master of none by my own assessment. The fact persists though, I can’t help but pursue what interests me and I continue to do so. It’s an easy path to follow if you are inspired enough to want to do it, as opposed to just having to do it.  I would suggest that using passion as inspiration to achieve or acquire what you desire, will also serve well as a benchmark in professional endeavours or aspirations as well. It is so much easer for me to envision my goals or an objective, when I’m not derailed by matters that don’t interest me. I’m inspired by my role at Lead Assign, the opportunity and the potential for growth excites and amazes me. I’m excited by the faith and resources that my owners have shown they are willing to invest in me. I am blessed to be able to live and work in a beautiful resort destination, allowing for a lifestyle I never thought possible, all while raising a young family. The passions i pursue in my life drives my motivation to do what’s required to sustain them, both personally and professionally. I’ll continue to stick with this approach until it not longer works for me but so far, so good.

My passion for what I’m doing at Lead Assign is starting to pay off. I can see the progress of my early efforts which are now working through my sales funnel. I’m thinking bigger and identifying new segments and previously unnoticed opportunities. I know things are growing positively because my problems are starting to change, which I always view as good indicator. An example of this could be as simple as “I don’t have any leads” to “I have too many leads and not enough time” or any other “good new problem”.  Embrace the change and consider it fuel to feed your passion.

Let your passion direct your interest and if you can turn that interest into a career you’ve achieved something that very few do. Passion… you can’t just stop it.

M. Joe Steeves, Director of Sales and Marketing www.leadassign.com

No One Wants To Know What Goes Into Making The Sausage

Not so long ago, I was sitting at my desk at Lead Assign HQ pondering. I was having a problem understanding a part of the scoring system and algorithm that Lead Assign’s Patent Pending technology utilizes to make what we do possible. Having asked for some insight into the issue, a young apprentice coder on staff started to explain to me how and why the intricate process worked beneath the many layers computer code. As I continued to listen, it quickly became apparent that I was involved in a discussion that was far out of my league and beyond my capacity to comprehend. As I started to glaze over having lost any memory or interest in my initial inquiry, I was miraculously rescued with the interjection of an off the cuff proclamation from Tom, Lead Assign’s CTO and a founding partner. “Nobody cares what went into making the sausage” he barked loudly, “they just like the sausage” he reiterated.

This comment of course was Tom’s way of letting his apprentice coder know that when someone like myself is asking for an explanation or help, they aren’t usually looking for an answer peppered with all of the juicy details, no matter how sophisticated, or in this case, how gross they may be. A good salesperson will have the inherent ability to take something complicated and make is easy for a customer to understand. The prospect simply wants to know, where is the payoff, and what’s in it for them.

Just recently for the first time ever, astronomers have confirmed the existence of an intense magnetic field surrounding the event horizon of a supermassive black hole. To a guy like me, this highly anticipated astronomical news means very little to me, at least from the onset. Fortunately for me, Tom, our CTO happens to really be Dr. Tom Andersen, an elite member of a Nobel Prize winning team from 2015 and also an expert in Cosmology and Particle Physics. I’m certainly am keeping great company these days!  Getting to know Tom, Ive come to learn that he has an fantastic ability to take the complicated and dumb it down for a good ole sales guy like myself. After hearing the announcement of the new discovery and catching Tom as he walked by my desk, I asked him to quickly explain to me, in layman terms, what exactly all of this “space news” really means. The explanation I received was nothing less than astounding, easy to understand but more than anything he made it incredibly exciting to me. I went home that evening and proudly described, to anyone that would listen, the magnitude of this momentous and what it all meant for humanity. I was after all an expert on the subject now.

You see Tom, didn’t tell me how the sausage was made. Tom simply explained what the sausage meant, and in a way that was easy for me to understand. Lead Assign is a sophisticated little bit of software but it is pretty easy to understand and grasp when clearly explained. My Lead Assign elevator pitch is this:

Lead Assign delivers your leads, almost magically, to an agents phone seamlessly by both text and email. Lead Assign features Patent Pending technology with automated lead consolidation and distribution capabilities allowing for the automatic delivery of all of  your leads to most qualified agent, based on unique keywords and tags that are pre-determined by the user. 

If you’re a working in a lead based environment, the above statement is simple to understand and the payoff to a customer is obvious in that Lead Assign can save them a lot of time by automating what is currently a painfully manual process. I will spare you all of the other gross details.

M. Joe Steeves, Director of Sales and Marketing www.leadassign.com

Meaningful Conversation With Your Prospect Will Trump Your Powerpoint Presentation Or Web Demo Every Time

There was a time not so long ago when a sales presentation was a completely different animal than it is today. Ive worked for employers who stated with conviction “your job is to Demo, then Demo and then Demo more”. At the time I remember thinking “yah, that’s it! I’ll demo the hell out of them until they buy”. Man, I’ve never been so wrong.

To be clear, I absolutely believe in the power of a well executed online or in person demo or presentation. The problem as I see it is,  salespeople (myself included because I’ve made every mistake there is), often run the risk of viewing an opportunity to demo or present as a nice easy shortcut on the path to a close.

It’s tempting to speak to a prospect and suggest “just let me take you through a quick webex, I know you’ll love what I have”. In reality the salesperson is simply looking for a shortcut to get the real work out of the way. “I just have to show them how great this product is and the selling will take care of itself”.  While the “demo or die” mentality will likely result in some minor success,  you will also be spending a lot of time demonstration your product to people who are not ready to buy, completely unqualified to make buying decisions or worst of all, people who don’t care or have no reason or interest in purchasing what you are selling in the first place. I can count on two hands how many web demos I’ve conducted online in 2016. I am fully capable of taking my prospect through a broad, basic demo or highly detailed demonstration of the amazing capabilities of  Lead Assign’s product offering but, it’s simply not always necessary.

I would prefer having a prospect spend 20 minutes with me on the phone far more than having them spend 20 minutes in an online demo or a one sided presentation every time. After all, I know how hard I had to work through my precious pipeline to get this guy on the phone and I also know that the longer I have the prospect on the phone, the more I learn and the more candid the prospect will become. After a 20 minute phone conversation with my prospect, I will definitely be able to determine whether or not it’s worth my time to recommend an online demo to assist getting me to a close. I’ve had lots of situations where I’ve entered into conversations with the single goal of getting a demo only to realize, after a good meaningful business discussion, that a demo to that particular prospect would simply be a waste of their time and mine.

The conversation is key and is usually conducted over the phone or in person. A well drafted email can do wonders to initiate a meaningful conversation but deals are rarely closed through email itself. If you can manage to get your prospect on the phone you are in prime selling territory. Break some ice, show your personality and slowly walk your prospect through a needs analysis. Get your customer talking about themselves and what troubles them, the more they talk, the more you’ll discover. Using the phone to clearly explain and explore how you and your product can can help your prospect achieve their business objectives should be your only priority. You will naturally arrive at a demo if it is warranted. If you conduct your needs analysis properly, you might be the party to bail on the demo, having determined that the prospect isn’t an ideal candidate for your product for any number of reasons, either way you’ve saved precious time that could be spent having more meaningful business conversations with new prospects on the phone.

M. Joe Steeves, Director of Sales and Marketing, www.leadassign.com

The great ketchup conspiracy runs thicker than you think

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If you reside in Southern Ontario you’re probably well aware of the controversy surrounding Hienz Ketchup’s decision to abandon it’s Highbury Canco factory in Leamington in 2014, leaving 740 employees out of work. This decision to move was only the beginning of the Heinz story. For those not aware, Leamington Ontario was the self proclaimed Tomato Capital of Canada until 2014, evidenced my the endless tomato farms and greenhouses that can be seen from almost all major highway’s in the area.

When Hienz turned their back on Leamington, they left a lot of farmers and tomatoes behind. Seeing an opportunity, French’s  (another lesser known American ketchup brand and competitor)  began sourcing tomato paste from the Highbury Canco factory previously owned by Heinz. This of course made tomato farmers and plant employees happy. Inevitably, social media got wind of the “warm fuzzy” inducing story about French’s rescuing the tomato farms and almost immediately, residents in southern Ontario felt that it was their duty to abandon their Heinz ketchup for the less expensive, locally produced French’s product.

Here’s where the story takes a turn. The wild popularity of the social media pro French’s ketchup campaign created quite a stir and really resonated deeply with consumers, myself included. I personally went into my local Loblaws store (the 6th most expensive Loblaws int the entire country) and quickly grabbed one of the two remaining bottles of French’s ketchup that had been overlooked by others as it was tucked in, way in the back of the bottom of the empty shelf. I felt overjoyed as I raised the small red French’s bottle over my head as if I had just seemingly won the Stanley Cup.  After pulling myself together I looked on in amazement to find that the neatly arranged Heinz ketchup bottles sitting at eye level were completely untouched and a bright red and black sign hanging from the shelf stated, Heinz ketchup was on sale for $2.99. My French’s was $4.99, but I knew better, I could see through this lame attempt to regain me as a customer. I go home and proudly post a picture to my Facebook account professing my new love for French’s ketchup. Moments later I receive a private message from a friend inquiring as to where I found the precious rare bottle of sugar and tomatoes. I quickly respond with the coordinates to my friend warning her “they’ve put Heinz on sale but don’t take the bait”.

Fast forward 48 hours.  As I sip my morning cup of coffee,  I open my iPad to read my daily news and to my horror I see a lead story that states “Loblaws stops stocking French’s ketchup” It doesn’t take a genius to see that Heinz felt they would be well served by strong-arming Loblaws into removing French’s ketchup from Loblaws shelves with the threat of making numerous other Heinz products unavailable to the Grocery Store giant.  The speed at which Loblaws relented to Heinz was nothing short of amazing, especially considering the fact that they were all of a sudden selling a lot of ketchup regardless of manufacturer.  Well, as it turns out, Loblaws would like to back up that bus on that story and suggest to you this, “We’ve heard our Loblaws customers” and they would like you to know that they are reversing their decision to discontinue selling French’s ketchup.

I believe that Heinz is way out of line by employing their strong-arm, borderline coercion tactics in making sure that their products continue to fly off of the shelf. With that being said, I think the real offending party in this ketchup caper is Loblaws themselves. Loblaws has no interest in listening to their customers however, the were definitely listening to MPP Taras Natyshak calling for a complete boycott of Loblaws, and the grocery retailer knew first hand that the traction surrounding the story on social media was unstoppable. In panic mode, Loblaws quickly changed their tune.

Grocery stores as a whole are overly self righteous and empowered. Quite a statement I know,  before you roll your eyes at my submission, consider this… what business, aside of a grocery store, penalizes you for spending more money? If you have $200 worth of groceries in your cart, you are forced to wait in line with the rest of the big spenders while you watch the “VIP” customer, buying a lone loaf of bread and a lotto ticket, whiz through the “8 items or less line”  You also better be ready to pay $0.05 per plastic bag for all of those expensive groceries as well.  You  had better dig out that credit card fast because you also may have to bag those groceries yourself sucker.  Come holiday season you will see the big cardboard box just past the checkout lines with a sign asking that you kindly donate some non perishable items to the foodbank or the less needy. I would assert that donating goods to the needy, while Loblaws charges you full price, means that you’re giving to the needy while Loblaws is making 100% of their standard profit on the item. I would be far more compelled to help out if Loblaws reduced 50% of their profit from an item provided you donate it, making it cheaper for me to contribute, and Loblaws could spin this into a contribution on their part as well.

I live in a quaint little resort ski town and we are surrounded by farms. I have easier access than most when it comes to availability of fresh foods from Curry’s farmers market and I try to do the bulk of my produce shopping there. This year I will try even harder and I will be taking my packaged goods grocery business elsewhere. I don’t see Loblaws being able to provide me with anything that isn’t available anywhere else. Imagine my recent joy in discovering the brand new Foodmart 400 meters down the road from where I work. They also have lots of French’s ketchup however the chilli I had from the deli was cold. Be informed and aware as to where you shop and who you give your business to. Today’s consumer is more informed than ever before and each of us should consider our business and shopping dollars rare.

M.Joe Steeves, Director of Sales and Marketing, Lead Assign

How to use Lead Assign with Contact Form 7 on your WordPress site

Contact Form 7

One of the most robust an easy customizable contact form plugins for WordPress is Contact Form 7. Pairing Lead Assign with Contact form 7 gives your site the capability to send leads as SMS messages to someone on your team within seconds of the user filling out the form. Here’s how:

Once you have opened a Lead Assign account we give you an email endpoint, something like “[email protected]“.

This is the email address you need to enter in the “To” field within Contact Form 7:

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Adding predetermined tags

You can also route different email forms to different agents by adding some predetermined tags directly into the email template. For example, lets say you have a page on your website highlighting the many upsides to living and working in Springfield. The page has a contact form to get more information, and you need to make sure the request goes to the right agent.

Within Lead Assign you have an agent that deals with Springfield. Simply add a tag named “Springfield” and associate it with this agent.

In Contact Form 7 simply add the word “Springfield” to the bottom of your email template (the email that gets sent once the form is filled out). When the form gets submitted Lead Assign will pick up on this word, in addition to picking up on keywords that the user has typed in, and send the lead to the right agent.

In this example you would just add the words “Springfield” into the form template within Contact Form 7 like so:

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Approach your CRM like a Rabid Dog. Your job depends on it.

Having worked in sales roles for most of my adult life I have seen a lot of things change over time. Of all of the things that have had a positive impact on the Salesperson’s role I think it would be a fair bet to say that technology has been a key factor in the way today’s Salespeople conduct business. With just a few keystrokes we can now, almost instantly, virtually search the globe for customers that were previously far beyond reach. We can use readily available applications to search out people or tools to help us get to the finish line quicker and of course we have social media to build our networks and reach new people every day.

For me personally, the tool that I have come to rely on most that wasn’t prevalent 20 years ago would be my CRM.  There are many CRM solutions available to sales people out there. CRM’s can vary in size and features. From the pricey behemoth Salesforce, to the smaller, often free applications. Across the board there is a lot of latitude between functionality and price. I have used many of them. Today’s CRM’s are vastly different and far more sophisticated then they were just 5 years ago let alone 20.

One thing that has remained constant since their inception however is this….If you don’t use your CRM like a rabid dog, as if your life depends on it, your output becomes meaningless. Think about it, are you walking into your sales meeting with all of the answers? Even the most basic CRM will allow you to print an instant summary of all of your activity by day, by week, fiscal quarter or year. Some CRM’s will utilize infographics, others will export everything to an detailed .xls or .csv file and others will beautifully format data into easy to read charts and summaries. The power of the CRM is almost endless when properly used by both the Salesperson and the person responsible for the sales team. I can assure you that every time I accept an incoming  phone call or make an outgoing call, send an email, reach an opportunity benchmark or meet someone new who may help me to my end goal, I immediately enter the relevant data into my CRM. Any excuse to do otherwise could only be based solely on laziness or the desire to sabotage what you are doing, there is no other answer. Using your CRM religiously is all upside. If you are committed to being in the 12% that I mentioned yesterday (anyone who follows up more than 3 times) you are already using your CRM quite effectively, you’d have to be. If you don’t know exactly how many current prospects you have in your funnel and how many times each has been contacted, along with where they are in the sales cycle, you are likely not making good use of the tools you have available to you.  Like I said, there are many free and inexpensive solutions available to you. I myself have been using a CRM called Pipeline for just over a year and so far it seems to suit my needs quite well. I believe its price is somewhere in the neighbourhood of $15.00 per month and as a small but growing startup it seems to provide me with all of the horsepower I currently need and has some nice basic features like Mailchimp integration and an exceptionally easy to use interface. Many larger corporations opt for Salesforce’s solution ($1000’s per month in most cases). Salesforce can be a beast and when configured and used properly. I imagine it’s quite effective for many however, I will mention that I have had used Salesforce with 2 different employers and I would call my experience in both cases less than spectacular. I don’t really blame that on the software itself. I believe that in both cases it was rolled out to users far too early and with completely inadequite training.  My opinion aside, I can still assure you that expensive or free, any CRM is only as good as the info that you put into it. Make the commitment to track it all, every call, every email, add activities that are date sensitive and stay on top of it like a rabid dog. Customize everything you can to make it relevant to your business. Once you have mastered your CRM, the benefits go beyond what you’re doing with it. The executive to which you report to will be able to use the CRM for forecasting based on probability metrics from sales team input. HR will see who’s taking their role seriously based on team activity vs. individual activity. A good CRM for your business will encourage transparency, identify gaps and issues, and get you to your goals as efficiently as possible. Be the rabid dog, you’re as rare as hen’s teeth