Many years ago I worked for Times Newspapers in London, selling classified advertising. The role involved driving around in a spanky Ford Escort, in my flared suit and kipper tie, cold calling on retail businesses and selling space on the back pages.
The Times was a Thomson title when I was there so our sales training was based firmly on the D.I.P.A.D.A. method; Define, Identify, Prove, Agreement, Desire, Action. It worked well enough back then, when few of my clients would have decorated their buying habits with the word ‘campaign’.
Training was ongoing and we held coaching sessions every morning, conducted by our Classified Sales Manager, Phil Woodall. These sessions invariably involved role-play, with one of us taking the salesperson’s part whilst a colleague represented the prospect. The point is that Phil was an absolute demon for linking features with benefits. If you made a feature statement such as – ‘we have a daily circulation of two million ABC1 customers’ – without a linked benefit statement – ‘which means that our readers can afford what you’re selling’ – he would bluntly interject with a loud ‘So What?’ Actually he used a slightly longer expression but one of the words was a very rude one.
I still apply that mantra today and it is just as valid now as it was then. For example I don’t care if some fashionable new phone is feature rich unless there are benefits that do something for me.
This situation is extremely prevalent in the CRM arena, indeed, I’ve just taken a quick look at the web site of one of the planet’s most popular CRM/Pipeline products and it invited me to tab into a whole area called ‘Features’. It’s very easy for any of us to become dazzled by features but we must take the time to stand back and ask ourselves, So What? What is the benefit for me?
The high-end, high-price solutions all have lots of really great features and all of those features will be of some use, to some businesses, at some point. But do they address the challenges that your business is facing? Will they deliver the unique outcomes required by your unique operation? The reality is that many of these vaunted features won’t. For example, the ability to send bulk emails to precise sectors of your database is a common and useful feature; unless of course sending bulk emails simply doesn’t work for your product or service. The next question then, is that if those lovely, shiny features are of no benefit to you, now or for the foreseeable future, why on earth are you contemplating paying for them?
Scoping your requirements in detail (closely involving your staff) to define what you actually need and would like in a CRM system means that you can measure your established criteria against individual CRM offerings. You are then in a position to choose the one that is the closest match and which must therefore represent better value.
Alternatively, and better yet, you could identify a supplier who will work with you throughout the discovery process and will then build a bespoke, future proof system that is an exact fit for your organisation, which is the best value of all.