How can SMB Partners sell CRM to SMB?

My old buddy Albert Einstein once said “If you can’t explain it Simply, then you simply don’t understand it well enough”. Al kind of sums up CRM selling pretty well right there. CRM is a complex and powerful beast, and even seasoned CRM Partners are sometimes challenged to “Explain CRM Simply”.

But if you can’t explain CRM in simple terms, you will never sell it to SMB. This is the crux of the selling problem, for the Non-CRM Partner in particular; I mean if the CRM Pros struggle, how can you hope to get the message across?

The secret is applying a filter

It is tempting to dazzle a prospect with features. We are in a SaaS world today where the products are so cheap that features have become the new battleground. If you actually understand all of the features, and are talking to a prospect who might make use of a significant number of them, that is one thing, but if you are not a CRM Partner, and are talking to an SMB prospect who has no need for the vast majority of those features, how would you approach that? Simple… don’t talk about features. In their efforts to educate Non-CRM Partners about CRM, Microsoft has done an excellent job of scaring non-crm partners away with feature overload. Is CRM powerful and complex, yes, but it doesn’t have to be, and neither does the sales conversation.

Move along, Nothing new to see here

In it’s basic form, CRM does not introduce any new concepts to most customers, particularly SMB, rather it provides a more efficient and reportable way to deal with things they are already doing. Every customer has leads, or they won’t be around very long.  Every customer has deals they are moving towards a contract of some kind, or they will run out of money and also not be around very long. Every customer has companies that they work with as well as people within those companies, and every customer has post-sale issues to deal with.  THIS IS CRM 101, everything else is optional fluff. This is important to understand in selling CRM, as the conversation is really rather simple if you can avoid vomiting features all over your customer.

Sizzle does not sell anything

Many sellers I have talked to in the past have bought into the Sizzle Sells fallacy. Even Microsoft must think this, as they heavily promote the Sizzle (aka features). While Sizzle can make for a wowing demo experience, why then do so many, and I would say most, CRM deals end up in No Decision limbo? Because the wow demo is a runway fashion show. My wife is a nut about all of these fashion reality shows and can ooh and ahh over the runway model outfits, but she would never buy or wear any of it. Feature laden demos or conversations are runway models, or in more masculine terms, concept cars. It’s fun to imagine yourself behind the wheel of that 2 seater BMW concept car, but where will you put your groceries? If you are selling features, when the fun of imagining those features fades, what is that customer left with to decide on? While you are pitching that awesome feature, and the customer seems very excited, even egging you on, what they are really thinking is: “We will never actually use this”. The customer knows that they are already very busy doing whatever they already do for a business, and also knows that they simply will not be able to carve out enough bandwidth to activate those features… maybe later on… way later on, if ever. They will smile and nod all the way through your extravagant show, but end up doing nothing. In fact, features really just end up obscuring the legitimate value of CRM to a prospective customer.

“When the customer says Yes, shut up and leave”

If you have been in any kind of sales, you have probably heard that saying from some old codger salesman. There’s a reason that old codger is still successfully selling, he learned this lesson from an even older codger years ago. I have witnessed salespeople who had a customer ready to buy in the first 10 minutes, insist on continuing through their mental script and literally move that “closed deal” over to “no decision”. “But Steve, you say, the competition is selling features, we can’t ignore them”. It’s not about ignoring them, it is de-emphasising features and emphasising the basics. If a customer mentions some whiz-bang feature that CRM also has, don’t get suckered in. Simply respond that, Yes, we have that also, almost minimizing it, and circle the conversation right back to the basics. Basics win over Sizzle every time, because at the end of the day, when all of the sizzling demos are done, the customer is going to throw their head back and think “Where am I going to put the groceries?”

BTW, I am not blogging for my health, I also want you to check out our RapidStart CRM Deployment and Adoption solution for partners. We built this to surface the basics, while obscuring the sizzle for later. If you don’t at least check out what we are doing, you are not allowed to read any more of my posts. Sorry, but we really need to crack the whip on this.

Add your thoughts below, just don’t pimp your stuff on my blog 🙂


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