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Lessons learned: That warm, fuzzy feeling

 

July 9/16, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 2

By Tom Jennings

 

I have long felt that before you can be a good service provider, you must first be an aware service receiver. There are lessons to be learned daily regarding the correct way to treat customers. Allow me to share an example.

Recently I needed to travel from Kansas City to Phoenix on short notice. In order to get flight times that would accommodate my schedule, I had to book flights on two carriers. The price quoted for each flight was the same, but the experiences could not have been more different.

On the outbound flight, I was greeted at the counter by a friendly attendant. I had two bags to check. I was advised this was not an issue as they could be checked at no charge. Once onboard, I was served a soft drink and a snack—again, complimentary. I was even asked if I wanted a refill. The pilot came on the speaker system to advise us of an anticipated smooth flight. He remarked that we had a great team of cabin attendants onboard that would take care of us. He then stated he realized that many of the passengers would like to work or sleep during the next two hours, so he would keep interruptions to a minimum. I thought to myself this man knows who his customer is.

The return flight was a very different experience. When I scanned my credit card to check in, I was immediately charged $60 to check my two bags. When I booked the flight, I was notified that seats would be assigned at the gate. Since I fly dozens of times yearly, I knew this wasn’t a good sign of things to come. I was then advised by a rather indifferent gate attendant that since I didn’t have priority status with this carrier for the fee quoted, only middle seats were available. He could, however, assign me to a “preferred window seat” for only $22. Being a large person, a middle seat isn’t a good option for me or the person on either side of me. I had now spent $82 and hadn’t even left the counter. I was really starting to feel special.

Then, finally, as we prepared to land in Kansas City, the pilot pointed out the university I attended was visible out the window on the left side. Since it’s a competitive school, he announced that anyone from my school would have to get off last. I realize that he was trying to be cute. My skin is not that thin as I have heard this banter for years. My point is that it’s never a service provider’s right to infer any type of bias that might offend a customer. The outbound pilot came across as professional. By comparison, this pilot looked like a clown. I assure you he thought that he was doing me a favor by flying the plane when, in fact, I was doing him the favor of providing a paycheck for his family. This airline seems to have forgotten that fact.

The lesson to be learned from this is that ultimately a customer’s feelings about a business seldom have much to do with the product offered. Both airlines got me safely to my destination. Both were on time and had my bags waiting for me. Based upon the product offering only, they were exactly the same. In my eyes, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Always remember that customers may forget what you said or what they paid. However, they will never forget the way you made them feel. How do your customers feel about the possibility of doing repeat business with you in the future? How do the services you provide make them feel?

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Marketing mastery: A marketing system can work wonders

July 9/16, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 2

By Jim Augustus Armstrong

 

(First of three parts)

In a previous column I outlined the differences between dealers who are hunters and dealers who are ranchers. Most dealers are hunters, meaning they are transaction oriented. They spend their time, energy and money hunting down the next customer—bagging it, skinning it and then hunting for the next one.

There are three big problems with hunting. First, it is very hard work. Hunters wander in search of game. Sometimes they get it; other times they don’t. Dealers try to get good at hunting, but, in reality, customers are price shopping and beating them up about how some box store down the road is offering free installation.

Second, hunting is unpredictable. One day there’s game everywhere, and dealers have all the customers they need. The next day they disappear. The showroom is empty; the phone is growing cobwebs; dealers wonder where all the game went.

Third, hunting keeps dealers stuck on the hamster wheel of doom. They work more and more hours hunting down customers, only to make the same or less. If they do manage to grow, hunting takes so much time and energy that they’ll most likely wind up working harder than necessary.

Ranching changes all of that. A rancher’s job is to round up a relatively small herd of the right customers and live in style. Ranching is easy and predictable compared to hunting. When a herd of customers is rounded up and fenced in, dealers don’t have to wonder where their next one is coming from. Ranching lets dealers escape the wheel of doom, work fewer hours and increase their income.

To help dealers transition from hunter to rancher, I teach them the ultimate floor marketing system. It’s a simple, three-step approach that enables them to round up a highly profitable herd of customers and sell to them for life.

The first step is “Before.” This is what you do to round up lots of new customers before they’ve done business with you.

“During” is the second step, and it’s what you do during the sales process to wow the customer, position yourself as a trusted advisor and close more sales. A strong “During” gets you out of spending all your time preparing and delivering proposals to customers who don’t buy from you. Instead, you put yourself in front of high-quality prospects and get them to say yes.

“After” is the third step. This is what you do after the sale to dramatically increase your repeat and referral business. It lands their next projects for you in a virtually competition-free zone and produces ongoing referrals to their friends and family. This is done using a strategic outreach and messaging process to stay in front of your past customers week in and week out.

The “After” step supercharges your results because you stay connected with your past customers in a very personal way and build real relationships, so you can generate a consistent stream of sales. The Before, During and After system is like having a 12-foot, razor-wire fence to keep your herd of customers in and poachers out.

In the next installment, I’ll dive deeper into what goes into the “Before” step, so you can more effectively round up a herd of high-quality customers.

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Lisbiz strategies: Is your call center the weakest link?

July 9/16, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 2

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

Every business has someone answering the phone; technically, this is your call center. Your call center is a crucial personal connection your customers have with your business. There’s a company I often do business with called Harry and David. They are an American-owned, premium food and gift producer and retailer. Their employees are so well-trained, they almost act as your party planner. They even go back into old catalogues and look up specials for you. Nice, huh?

How many times have you called a business but were frustrated by the person who answered? Did you have to ask them their name? Did they sound like they were put out by your call? Did you feel they were multitasking and you weren’t part of their important conversation? You might have felt you were actually being rude by interrupting their day.

What I’m reporting is way too common and it’s a huge financial drain on business, maybe even your business. Unless you are actually monitoring the calls, the only feedback you ever get from your employees is someone called and needed information. You don’t get a sense of the emotions between the caller and your staff. It’s just as important to know what’s not said.

It’s because we believe everyone inherently knows what to say on the phone that the call center gets overlooked. However, phone skills are a highly valuable tool to have in your employees’ skill set. Call-center training will give your employees these skills.

Teaching your employees these valuable skills will make them more confident, improve sales and help gain new customers while retaining your current clientele. A more confident employee is also one who is happier, and happier employees will produce more happy customers. This will lead to higher productivity throughout your organization. A business needs to gain customers, not lose them.

So, what is a good call-center strategy? As the owner, it’s your responsibility to determine how you want your phones answered and to make sure it gets done through your management-coaching system. I suggest using my SMARTER system, which is an updated version of the SMART system. As a refresher, SMART is commonly attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept. I have improved the SMART acronym to include “Evaluation” and “Review.” Having metrics you can evaluate and review with your employees will ensure they reach their highest potential.

If turnover is keeping you awake at night, getting your call center up to speed will fix that. The use of a monthly service to monitor your calls may be a profitable consideration. Oftentimes, it’s important to have another way to look at your problems. Call-center monitoring gives you another avenue to keep up on the vital signs of the health of your business. I had a client in New Jersey who set up a monitoring system to listen to her calls. We would discuss the content and the emotional consequence of the conversations. She said listening to the calls exposed what was going on between her employees and customers.

These are things I have in my bag of tricks gained over decades of fruitful experiences from business owners like you. I’ve worked with the best and the worst and, like you, I know the difference.

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Dear David: How to say motivated in running your business

July 9/16, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 2

By David Romano

 

Dear David: 

Is losing interest in running my business normal? I have been in the flooring industry for nearly three decades and as the years go by, I find myself less interested in going to work and every idea I hear on how to make things better seems like too much work. I feel trapped because I cannot sell the business, but I need to earn an income.

Dear Burned-Out Owner,

You are not alone. In fact, if anyone who owns a business has told you they’ve never experienced this feeling, they’re lying. The key is to find that one thing, or combination of many things, that provides your “chi.” The drive to not only keep going, but the motivation to own a better version of your company each year.

Here are some things that have worked for me as well as some tips from Forbes and the Harvard Business Journal.

Schedule personal time to recharge.Too often, business owners don’t allow time for themselves. Ask yourself what you’ve always wanted to do that you’ve never done, and what you have done in the past that has given you joy. Then go and do it and don’t feel guilty. After all, there is quantifiable evidence that owners who take more than a month off each year run larger and more profitable companies than their peers.

Seek out a mentor.No matter your age or experience, there is always someone who knows more than you. You can hire a business coach, reach out to someone in your network whom you’ve always admired or connect with people in your field through industry organizations and/or social media.

Delegate parts of your business.Consider assigning the work you don’t enjoy to someone else. Sometimes it seems easier to do it yourself, but the long-term effects lead to burnout.

Focus on your relationships.When you start losing that loving feeling for your work, you may start pulling away from the people around you. But that’s one of the worst things you can do. Those relationships are what will help you feel energized and inspired.

Introduce innovation.Disenchantment often stems from monotony. If you’ve been doing things a certain way at work from the start, think about how you can introduce innovation.

Throw yourself into marketing.If work has been boring, maybe you need to challenge yourself to find ways to attract new business. Perhaps because you haven't been trying to bring in new customers, you’ve been going through the motions.

Stop doing the parts of your job you hate.Maybe you love interacting with customers but hate number crunching. Perhaps you need to unload some of the grunt work you've taken on so you can work on more of the big-picture tasks that will help your business grow. No matter what activities your business requires, you can always find a way to do more of what you love.

Take up a hobby.If running your business seems to be a 24/7 venture, maybe you need to carve out more of a life outside of it. The Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology came out with a study of about 350 people with a variety of jobs and hobbies, as well as a second group of 90 U.S. Air Force captains, and found the more people engaged with a hobby, the more likely they were to be better problem solvers.

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Al’s column: There’s no substitute for face to face

July 9/16, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 2

By Scott Perron

 

As I thought about the content of this article, a vivid memory from 1989 flashed into my brain. I was 24 years old and our family had just opened a new store in Connecticut. I was determined to talk my father into purchasing a thermal fax machine for use in our business so we could stay on the “cutting edge.” My dad was a couple of years older than I am now, and he could not wrap his brain around the need for sending electronic documents through this silly, $789 contraption. Nonetheless, he caved and we purchased the fax machine.

Fast forward almost 30 years and look at how we operate today. Can anyone imagine a day where you do not deal with dozens or even hundreds of emails, texts, Google searches, Facebook or other social media platforms? All this while continuing to use the scarce, antiquated art of live telephone or face-to-face conversations. We now have mobile devices for estimating and invoicing jobs on site with electronic signatures, credit card swipers utilizing e-documents that allow us to be more efficient, more organized and, with any luck, more profitable.

While all of these new tools and methods of doing business have become essential in our everyday lives, I am concerned about the lack of personal interaction, not just in business but also as a society. This movement toward impersonality favors automation and reduces the need for human contact. It’s so easy to hide behind text, email and social conversation when discussing business and human interaction. Think about it: We find (and break up with) our mates, friends and even business associates via text, IM and email rather than in person.

When training our people, however, we still insist on telephone as well as electronic follow up on all quotations, sales, etc. It has become increasingly evident, however, that the new consumers—especially those of a younger age—lack the desire to be “live” in their communications. I often observe my own teenage children texting in a room full of kids, stopping only to snicker, share a video or make a quick comment and then it’s right back to the tech-talk.

I have long believed that if everyone is running in one direction, an opportunity often lies in going the opposite way. This got me to thinking about how valuable the art of cold calling, belly-to-belly interaction and in-person solicitation will become for those who can master it as we sink deeper into a device-driven world. Over the past few weeks, my team has been calling, visiting and playfully challenging prospects and customers to speak with us live and in person. It’s still early, but I’m finding that people are refreshed and encouraged to speak rather than tap their thumbs—provided, of course, there is a benefit for them to do so.

In our interactions with customers, we routinely explain how personal the purchase of new flooring really is to their home. It’s about functionality, aesthetics and it’s also an expression of their personality. We have posted a series of videos on our products and services designed to educate and inform clients. In the near future, we plan to create new videos that encourage consumers, especially millennials, to take a calculated look and personal stake in the purchase of flooring while highlighting the added value they will experience.

I am convinced we will someday return to personal interaction with each other. What I am not sure of is how, when and what the result will be.

Only time will tell.

 

Scott Perron is the president of 24-7 Floors and Floor4Pros based in Sarasota, Fla. He is also an industry trainer and motivational speaker. He can be reached at scott@24-7floors.com or 860.250.1733.

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Al’s column: The art of closing the books

June 26-July 2, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 1

By Roman Basi

 

The majority of my clients in the floor covering industry are classified as S corporations. The S corporation is an entity typically used by small businesses for its pass-through form of taxation, which is different from C corporations
 (i.e., Walmart, Apple, Microsoft, etc.) However, S and C corporations do share some similarities, primarily in the form of ownership and stock control that dictate the company model.

If you own stock in a corporation, you are an owner—and at some point owners may want to sell their stock in the company to “cash out.” In other situations, owners may be approached by another company looking to acquire it. When one company seeks to acquire another, or the
company’s stock is
being sold, it can
create several questions concerning S
corporations: (1)
What happens if the shares are sold mid-tax year?; (2) What happens if the company holds an election to close the books?; or (3) How do you break up the income on taxes if a shareholder is bought out? Let’s take a closer look at each of these individually.

With 365 days in the calendar year, the likelihood of a shareholder being bought out or the company being sold mid-tax year as opposed to the end of year is high. One might ask how you allocate funds in a mid-year buyout or acquisition? Well, the general rule requires the funds to be split among shareholders pro rata on a per-share, per-day basis. For instance, a 50% owner of an S corporation bought out March 31 (end of first quarter) would be entitled to 12.5% of the yearly funds. The funds always follow whether a profit or a loss exists. This method is standard when the company chooses to forego change in its corporate structure at the time it’s acquired. Instead, the company chooses to close the books and make changes at the end of the tax year.

But there might be a better way. Another method to handle an S corporation shareholder buyout is to hold a special election deemed a “closing of the through form of taxation, which books.” This method allows a company to halt the profits or losses on a specific date to provide the subsequent income tonew shareholders in accordance with their ownership. Take the previous example where the owner of 50% of an S corporation is bought out March 31 and the company holds an election to close the books. All new owners vote a unanimous “yes” to close the books wherein the company’s accounting method ends the first quarter, then continues the second-through-fourth quarters separately for the new owners. The 50% previous owner would take his share of profit or loss for Jan. 1 through March 31, then take nothing during the following three quarters. The departed partner would not retain any subsequent taxation after the closing date. However, depending on the company’s margins at the time of the vote, the closing of the books method could create a benefit or detriment to the previous owner and new owners as far as personal income taxes are concerned. Thus, it’s wise to speak to a tax or accounting specialist to determine which method is better for your particular situation.

Another alternative is the “reasonable method.” Here, federal tax regulations will allow a partnership to allocate the taxes pro rata for departing partners, while also allowing the partnership to collect some profit for the rest of the year on income they may have contributed to. For instance, if a partner departs from its law firm but contributed to a case that will be settled six months later, the firm can opt to pay him or her from that profit and still have the new partnership structure remain the same.

 

Roman Basi, an attorney and CPA, is president of The Center for Financial, Legal & Tax Planning. An expert on closely held enterprises, he writes frequently on financial and legal matters impacting small businesses.

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Lisbiz strategies: Incivility can lead to a hostile environment

June 11/18, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 26

By Lisbeth Calandrino

 

While a training program on workplace manners and courtesy may seem like overkill, the reality is this: Rudeness is an epidemic costing industries millions a year. For nearly two decades, Christine Porath, acclaimed business professor at Georgetown University, has studied and observed a sharp rise in rudeness, emotional harassment, bullying and other toxic behaviors that can cost companies financially and employees their health and well-being.

Civility represents social norms and rules that must be followed to positively and productively relate to others. More than ever before, people are feeling disrespected at work. Employees feel they’re working in a toxic culture with insensitive managers and being treated disrespectfully based on gender, race or religion.

Oftentimes, this incivility leads to more serious forms of harassment. All incidents of harassment require employers or managers to respond quickly and appropriately. If issues are left unaddressed, a hostile work environment can develop, which can expose employers to further complaints and lawsuits. What society seems to be gaining in terms of both knowledge and technological advancement, it’s losing out on basic social values that directly impact the bottom line.

To address the growing problem of incivility, a company must make it a top priority. Everyone must understand the concept of civility, its importance to a company as well as its typical causes and effects.

Skills needed to effectively practice civil behavior, as well as different ways organizations can systematize civility in the workplace, need to be discussed. The benefits to civility in the workplace are countless and will pay off immensely in every aspect.

When Porath asked people in one survey why they were uncivil, more than 25% blamed their organization for not providing them with the basic skills they needed, such as listening and giving feedback. If your employees aren’t behaving well, and you’ve already gone through the trouble of hammering home the organization’s civility message, ask yourself, “Have I also equipped them to succeed?”

Don’t assume everyone instinctively knows how to be civil. When coaching employees, focus on helping them learn to listen, give and receive feedback, work across differences and deal with difficult people. Don’t just impart information; be explicit about your organization’s values.

Make civility a part of your mission statement, posting it somewhere visible. Engage your team in a dialogue about what your norms should be, then make it clear to your employees they need to hold their managers and colleagues accountable for living up to your norms of civility. Be explicit about your organization’s values.

One great reason to practice civility, you’ve heard this before—no man is an island. No matter how talented or indispensable you are to your business, you need to rely on suppliers and other people to get things done.

It’s worth noting—civility goes beyond good manners.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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Lessons learned: You can have it all

June 11/18, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 26

By Tom Jennings

 

During a business trip to Dallas not long ago, I found myself staying in a large, iconic downtown hotel. Throughout my stay, I kept asking myself how my reservation had been accepted as it seemed as if the hotel’s entire population consisted of Mary Kay Cosmetics representatives. My visit proved to be an eye-opening experience.

If enthusiasm is contagious, everyone in this property was quite exposed. Everywhere you looked you saw hugging, cheering and successes being celebrated. The ladies were all dressed in their finest and their faces were aglow. When I contrasted this with how the average flooring salesperson looks and behaves when they drag into work each morning, I could only say wow! I didn’t know what was in the Kool Aid that they were drinking, but I sure wanted to find out.

Being a typical male, I had certainly heard of the late Mary Kay Ash, but I didn’t possess any real knowledge of what she was all about. I decided to do some research by reading her book “You Can Have it All.” My goal was to see what common traits could be woven into the floor covering business.

Following are three key reminders and take-aways from a marketing master:

Give praise. Ms. Ash, founder of Mary Kay, Inc., said, “Sandwich every bit of criticism between two thick layers of praise.” First, remember we all had a first day on the job—just as we had a first baseball game or piano lesson when we were young. Many of us had a teacher, or a coach, who believed in us and encouraged us to practice and improve. They celebrated our doing something “approximately correct” while learning. If you didn’t have this positive influence, you probably soon lost interest and gave up.

The same is true when building sales knowledge and ability. The successful sales trainees have a mentor who monitors their progress, offers encouragement and celebrates their victories as their careers grow. As Ms. Ash wisely said, “Everyone has an invisible sign hanging around their neck that reads: ‘Make me feel important.’ Never forget this message when working with people.”

Appearance is everything. Mary Kay knew that in the cosmetics industry, appearance trumps all. She extolled the value of being a lady and encouraged her beauty consultants to always be prompt and to only speak positively. And they should always have their “faces” on. “Nothing happens until somebody sells something,” she said, adding, “Who’s going to buy makeup from a slob?” I can’t imagine why buying a fashionable floor for your home could be viewed any differently. Your presentation cannot be convincing if you appear as if you are anything less than fully prepared to help your customer achieve her desired results.

Reward success. The enduring philosophy of Mary Kay, Inc., is rewards and recognition will motivate sales. With mink coats, diamonds and, of course, the famous pink Cadillacs, Mary Kay motivated her team and thanked them for their accomplishments. “We treat our people like royalty. If you honor and serve the people who work for you, they will honor and serve you,” she said. It was, and still is, a winning combination of incentives and inspiration that awakened hopes and dreams.

The foundation of Mary Kay, Inc.’s achievements has long been turning normal, everyday people into sales stars by enabling them to believe they have no limits to being successful and to understand that with both great products and a great attitude, all things are possible. A lot of managers in our business would be wise to follow suit.

Tom Jennings is vice president of professional development for the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA). Jennings, a retail sales training guru, has served in various capacities within the WFCA.

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Dear David: Affordable perks to offer millennial employees

June 11/18, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 26

By David Romano

 

Dear David: 

I just spent the past couple weeks interviewing people for two retail sales positions. Most of the people I interviewed were less than 30 years old and a lot of them asked some very weird questions about benefits. I know you owned a recruiting company for the flooring industry and I was wondering if you could help me. Do I really need to give employees free food, memberships to gyms and be so flexible on hours worked? It seems pretty silly to me because I didn’t need any of that when I was that age and neither did my older employees. 

Dear Owner,

What you experienced in those interviewers is what all companies are now facing. The mix of benefits desired by today’s workforce is much different than past generations. The time to get on the bus and change how you think is now. In fact, according to a study conducted by Deloitte Consulting in 2018, 66% of millennials expect to leave their organizations by 2020.

Companies are at risk of losing a large percentage of their next-generation talent if they fail to adjust. That’s why cultivating workplace culture and incentives that keep employees happy and productive is critical.

One solution to consider for overcoming the millennial retention issue is company perks. Perks pack the potential to attract new and retain existing millennial talent. In the same Deloitte study, it was found that 64% of millennials care about company benefits (compared to 54% of Generation X and 51% of baby boomers). Perks and benefits are the No. 2 thing behind culture and values that millennials want to know about a company. According to Perkbox, 69% of 18-to-24-year-old millennial employees say company perks are crucial to job satisfaction, compared to about half of baby boomer employees.

Following are what millennials listed as important perks.

Travel perks. According to a study led by Harris Group, 72% of millennials prefer spending money on travel and social events. Allowing your employees to travel for vacation will make them love working for your company. They will also feel less stressed.

Flexible hours. Millennials value personal time. According to a recent study on The Cost of Millennial Retention, 45% of millennials chose flexibility over higher pay. There is no reason to have your entire sales staff come in at 9 a.m. and leave at 6 p.m. Let some come in later and some work from home.

Offer free food. Many companies are picking up the tab for meals. Other companies also found that free food during meetings and on Fridays encouraged more employee productivity and attendance.

Training and team-building. Millennials are proud to describe themselves as life-long learners. Team-building activities are ways to relieve stress and keep work relationships strong. Sandler Sales classes, bringing top sales associates to education day events at conventions and staff bowling nights should help.

Gym membership, spa or yoga. A healthy employee is a happy employee—and happy employees get the job done. Millennials are one of the most health-conscious generations. If you want to keep them, wellness programs will help.

Off-site charity events. Many millennials believe companies should contribute toward a good cause. If your company hosts off-site charity events from time to time, you’ll likely attract millennials and generate good press at the same time.

David Romano, formerly the founder of Romano Consulting Group as well as Benchmarkinc Recruiting, is currently the director of Dallas-based Romano Group. You can contact David at david@romanogroup.com.

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Al's column: Overcoming objections to new software

June 11/18, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 26

By Jason Goldberg

 

One of the most challenging parts of investing in new lead management software is getting your sales team to adopt it. It is never easy to convince people who are set in their ways to completely change the way they operate on a daily basis. To most salespeople, integrating new software into their sales process is only going to slow them down and give them less time to sell, which could eventually lead to less money in their pockets.

However, I believe this assumption is incorrect. In fact, the right lead management system can put more money in your salespeople’s pockets. Following are some ways you can handle your sales team’s objections to your new lead management software investment.

It will save you time. Most sales teams waste hours each day managing their leads on paper or in an Excel spreadsheet. A good lead management system enables them to store all of the information related to a lead (contact details, tasks, appointments, products of interest, samples, diagrams, quotes, notes, etc.) in one organized place that can be accessed by other salespeople and managers. Sales managers do not have to interrupt their salespeople to ask them what they are working on. Rather, they can log into the system and check their salespeople’s workloads themselves. And while it might take a few days to master new software in the beginning, the time saved in the long run far outweighs the time required to invest up front. In addition, that time saved can be spent talking to customers and closing more sales.

It will improve the level of service you offer your customers. How many times does a salesperson answer a call from a customer and spend minutes digging through papers on his/her desk to find the details of that customer’s project? Those minutes are valuable to both the customer and the salesperson. The sooner an RSA can answer a customer’s questions, the higher level of service he/she can provide, resulting in a happier and more satisfied customer. The less time the salesperson is spending searching for answers, the more time he/she has to invest in nurturing other leads and closing sales. With a lead management system, it only takes a matter of seconds to find the specifics of a customer’s flooring job, so both the salesperson and customer will appreciate the increased speed and efficiency.

It will increase the effectiveness of your marketing. Most lead management software can capture data about the marketing sources that are driving leads to your business. This data is very valuable to the marketing team and can help marketers determine which advertising mediums are the most impactful. For instance, if a lot of leads are coming to your business from Facebook, your marketing team might decide to allocate more funds to Facebook, which should result in more leads for your sales team to pursue. More leads represent more opportunities for your salespeople to—you guessed it—make more money.

In summary, if you are planning to invest in a new lead management system, it is important to demonstrate to your sales team how, if used properly, it can dramatically increase their efficiency, improve the level of customer service they provide and convert more leads into sales. These three things combined will increase your salespeople’s close rates and eventually lead to bigger paychecks. No salesperson would object to a bigger paycheck, right?

Jason Goldberg is CEO of Retail Lead Management, a CRM software system designed specifically for the flooring industry. The company has sold more than 1,000 user licenses to flooring retailers in North America.