Selling my first CRM Project
I started selling quite late in my career. Having worked as a CRM consultant for around 9 years, it wasn’t until I founded S4G Consulting with my partners that I took on my first sales role. And I love it. Actually the proper thing to say is that “I love selling what I love.” (ie: what I believe in).
As everyone that has been in a sales role knows very well, selling is tough. There are a myriad reasons, but to summarise them I think that it is fair so say that the outcome of the process is not always correlated with the amount of effort you put in or the quality of your value proposition.
Sales, however, is often even more difficult when you do what I’ve come to call “honest selling”. What I define as honest selling is this (for solution selling):
- Make your number one priority to offer what is best for your customer.
- Put together the best possible team to deliver that proposal.
- Analyse carefully and be transparent about the risks of the project being undertaken.
- Don’t be afraid to show openly the cost of the value provided.
Reading this you might be thinking “this sounds quite reasonable, why does this make selling more difficult. Sure it isn’t!”.
Well, sometimes it is. This is why:
Make your number one priority to offer what is best for your customer.
Offering what is best for the customer should always mean offering more than is being asked for, not just what is being requested. If you do so by showing the added value in your proposal and the price for that added value separately, it will help the customer be able to compare apples to apples when evaluating against other proposals. A great customer will also see this proposition as a differentiator.
But doing this implies doing a thorough job and anticipating all aspects of the project. By doing so, you are preparing a professional, exhaustive and realistic proposal. Sadly, you might be competing against someone that is offering much less for less money. If your customer is buying on price rather than value, this might play against you. But again, there are some customers that are better left to your competitors!
Put together the best possible team to deliver that proposal.
If you want to deliver a top quality CRM project, you need a top team. Ensuring you have a senior team lead both functionally and technically is the best way to guarantee the project objectives will be achieved. It minimises the risk of project failure as well as deviations both in time and money.
However, a top team is not cheap. This can play against you when competing against proposals that are planning on using a more junior team and therefore are able to offer a lower price (for a more inexperienced resource). Which is not something unheard of, especially on large consulting firms.
Analyse carefully and be transparent about the risks of the project being undertaken.
Being thorough about risks and putting them on top of the table (along with a way to mitigate them) is something critical to successfully undertake a CRM project. However, this thoroughness and the mitigation tasks will mean you are often considering additional angles to the customer requirements. This will add additional effort that can harm the economics of your proposal.
Don’t be afraid to show openly the cost of the value provided.
A Senior team should have a reasonably high rate, and you must be open about this. In fact it is something that should play in your favour, not against you.
I do however often see customers very interested on the rate per role of the project’s team members and considering the price tag as something very relevant on their decision criteria, meaning they won’t consider you if your rate is too high. The problem?: you might find yourself competing against companies that are showing a lower price just because they are then stating things take more time than they really do to get done. After all, the cost of the work is rate times effort, so if your rate is 25% higher but you take half the time, you are not only cheaper, but also deliver faster.
Honest selling is tough, but a very rewarding experience that makes it easy to build long & lasting relationships with your customers. This is because great customers are able to perceive your alignment with their best interest and appreciate the value added proposition.
Lucky me, after all, if that wasn’t the case I wouldn’t be able to sell a single project!