02-11-2009 05:09 PM
I am relatively new to ACT but love its flexibility. I am a bit confused as to how to use it in my sales process because my industry is a bit different (whose isn't I guess). I do sports and school photography. I have a couple of "tiers" of customers. My main contacts are board members from sports leagues, they are who make the decision for the photographer. So I sell my services to leagues and schools. I have contacts in each organization, usually 1-5.
My products are sold to individual people that we don't track in our system because there are too many and we have too few staff to do so and it just isn't necessary currently.
Here is how I am currently doing things.
Since there are so many leagues and schools out there I do not put them into ACT until I have made contact with them. This is part of my problem now, I really don't have a good way of keeping track of the list of leagues or schools right now before I actually make contact with them. I have a feeling that is my first problem. I just don't know where to start with it. Should I be adding ALL schools and leagues that I hope to one day have as a customer to ACT? Do I add every league as a group? Then if I make contact they become and opportunity?
Currently, once I make contact with a person froma league, I then add the league to ACT as a Group. I track my emails and communication with the prospect or "group" and once they become a customer I covert them to a company. I have Groups and Subgroups as well as Companies and Divisions. A group would be "Baseball" and it would have subgroups of different leagues that are prospects. I do the same thing with Companies and Divisions. This allows my staff to easily find a league and since different sports are in certain times of the year, they do not have to sift through 100 football leagues during baseball season.
I don't use opportunities because they can't be converted once they become a customer, so I feel like I am having my staff retype everything again.
I am only a few months in, so if I am going to change this, I imagine I should do it now. I have a feeling that I am not doing this as I should. Even as I am typing this I know it is messed up. I don't forsee and ACT for School Photographers coming out any time soon
02-13-2009 02:55 PM
You have explained some of your process and some of your prospects, but what you leave out is critical to a process. First, if the board members make the decision is it one person or a team? This affects the type of "process" you use. A team or group of decision makers can have a strong leader or one person out of five can be so vocal they alone can kill your sale - maybe because they like someone else or they hate change. If it is one person then you focus on their personality and what they consider are your strengths vs. your competition. You use the fields in either case to determine what people think about you and your comnpetition. You use the fields to plan the sales steps you will use and you use the fields to plan sales actions with people who have similar situations - baseball, football - champions and leaders.
This presents the next situation. Do you want to travel over a wide area or do you focus on a region or zone to save time? This would have an impact who is in your prospecting program. Next, you don't mention how you contact people to get them to start a conversation. Do you have e-mails, a list of teams and organizations and where did they come from? Do you attend trade shows and get leads? What kind of referral program do you have?
Think of your prospects no matter if there are 1000 or 10,000 as people that you need to drip ideas a little at a time about yourself and your services. How do you know which ones are ready to change in a list of 10,000? You can't, so you need to be constantly contacting them. Leaving out people can cost you growth. Be prepared to spend moeny on building your brand with a quality marketing system - but you need not be wasteful.
Finally, you need to rethink some things like opportunities - if you sell someone this year how do you know they will buy next year? If they sign a contract for two years what happens after that? Your staff needs to stay in contact with customers in the same way you stay in contact with prospects - there is nothing worse or more expensive than a lost customer. So your database in ACT is both customers and prospects - usually segmented using the ID status. You will find tips on selling prsopects by what causes your customers to be loyal.
One more thing about your work - there are plenty of people in the sports industry that are not prospects but they could help you find prospects. One example is one of my customers, Baseball America, they are in touch with thousands of teams, coaches and players -could you use a company like that to help you?
When I consulted with Texas Instruments, we had a sales manager, for team apperal, that had 16,000 customers and prospects in his database...10 years ago. This man used a process to stay close to people all across the country via his laptop, his staff and his regional reps. All of them shared data and tips on what worked and what was not working.
Try using a big white board to get the big sales picture - so that instead of leaving people out of your vision you have a HUGE vision and chip away at it until you are happy with your situation.
Good luck - good selling
Brad Sandy - 800sell.com
02-13-2009 03:38 PM
Thank you VERY much for your reply. You have hit the nail on the head with a lot of things. Typically, the board votes, but I usually only have contact with one board member, who becomes my champion, if not, I find another contact on the board to get in good with.
I guess what I am trying to figure out. I focus on a regional area, southern California. Should I enter EVERY league I can find into the system? Sometimes I can find a league with a phone number but not a name (rarely). I haven't been adding them to ACT until after I actually make contact with someone. I'm guessing that is wrong because it is really hard to keep track of multiple spreadsheets, etc.
I get leads from trade shows, referrals, basically everything you list below. It woudl be like your guy at Texas Instruments but probably a smaller scale. I will shoot probably 30,000 to 40,000 kids this year, so a few hundred leagues, some of which have multiple shoots per year.
I see your point on the opportunity. I just met with a customer today from last year to resign them for this year, so that shoudl be an opportunity. So what should a "league" be, a group or a company? That is where I am confused. I just figured out the ID Status, field, and it makes sense.
I really appreciate your help.
I come from a strong sales background, I used to sell enterprise software to fortune 500 companies, but I just can't seem to get this system down. I'm trying to work "ON" my business rather than "IN" it, but there never seems to be enough time.
02-13-2009 05:10 PM
In regards to a league as a group - if the league votes to use you do all teams then use you or is it just a recommendation? If the vote gets you all of the work then the teams in the league can be part of a group or even a company. So the LA Little League is not 40 teams but forty people that you work with and schedule activites. Now you may shoot 30,000 but how much contact do you have with them? If you simply provide the team with 32 pictures of its players you still have a database of less than one thousand customers and if all those people really belong to only one league then you still are working with one, two or three contacts and a number of subcontacts. The biggest problem is location. They are not in a company if they are in twelve cities and have a variety of different names.
If on the other hand you can sell add on products to each person then you have a different need for Act.
By the way don't worry about having hundreds of tasks on your ToDo list or calendar you can use colors or priority to tell the difference between mailing to one thousand people today and actually making 100 calls for ten days or meeting with 6 leagues in one week to close sales. Put everything in Act you won't learn the dynamics until you see the patterns.
02-13-2009 06:05 PM
Leagues, schools, YMCA's, City Park & Rec departments are all what I consider customers. The majority of my customers are leagues, who have boards that may change from year to year. I woulld say 70% of my customers need to be sold again the previous year. I have quite a few long term customers who are always on the books every season or for multiple seasons, but I still need to stay in contact wtih them from time to time because this is a really competitive industry (as most are).
For the most part, the people actually buying my products are the parents whos kids play in the league. If I sign a league or school, or any customer, I do all of the teams on 1 picture day. We don't track the individual purchases in ACT, no need to.
FYI, I used to use MS Business Contact Manager, but just moved to ACT because of adding multiple users and flexibility, etc.
Let me give you an overview of a general scenario of the process when dealing with a league.
My problem now is that I do not enter any league into ACT until I actually make contact with them. I think that is a mistake because I am not able to keep track of when I last tried to, or if I actually did and forgot to enter it into act.
So basically, my customer is an organization like a league, a school, a YMCA, etc. My customers are not individual teams and I rarely shoot family portraits. However, I am looking to get my senior portrait business going, helps during the down time in the summer, etc.
I do need to setup something where 10 calls are being made a day, and a certain amount of emails, etc. I am assuming ACT can help me with that as well.
My main confusion is what do I enter each league as? All companies? That doesn't make sense to me unless they are a customer. I've been entering propects (leagues) that I have made contact with as groups then promoting them to companies when they become a customer. I can see how next year they can have an opportunity associated with them, which I should have happen automatically somewhere in my system.
Probably the best way to describe it is like I am selling a service (which I really am to the leagues) that then let's me sell a product. So it is a little different than the uniform guy because the league does the buying from him. I have some that do that (a whole other story), BUT the parents still buy from me on picture day.
See why I am confused?
02-13-2009 08:12 PM
Lets take the first idea you find leagues or suspects and you move them along until you make a presentation and then you get an answer yes or no regarding the opportunity to do the shoot. This is done by your staff. Now the staff could have a database on 1000 suspects and they work on them until they get some feedback then you move that company into an opportunity or your working database - this depends on many things like speed on your computer or the number of records you want to wrok with. Part of the staff work is to find what works to get to a starting place.
Next comes the work with the board you make a good point - "not as much as I should" - this is one key to the closing ratio. If you use the SELLING PROCESS correctly then you have a higher closing ration AND Act can help in doing or warning you about these actions. In addition the use of a Champion or Coach - someone who can give you native knowledge of the organiztion is important. This insider information is kept in the main record of the Group or Company. Then you keep the personal likes and dislikes in the contact record of the people you work with or have to sell. By watching for clues you know how much pressure you can put on them to accept your offer. In the Sandler Sales system they call it "the pain." You are trying to find the issues that will cause people to use you - because they are already doing something which includes competition or no pictures. In your industry it is usually one of three topics - price, value or timing. The question is do you know which is most important for each group and where do you see it in Act?
Finally about the 10 calls - 5 to prospects and 5 to existing customers happens at a set time like first thing in the morning or last thing in the day. You schedule these tasks on your calendar in the same way you plan for picking up supplies or having a meeting. It always helps if the call happens within a short time frame of correspondence.
Brad Sandy 800sell.com
02-13-2009 09:21 PM
You Rule! I appreciate your help.
Speed of computer isn't an issue for me. My staff does a lot of the initial hunting, which I used to do but it is getting too hard to keep up with all of it.
I think I need to put all potential clients into my system, at least any that I can get any decent data on. Maybe a "scrubbed" list could go into ACT.
Thanks again for all of your help!
02-14-2009 05:23 AM