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Successful Outcome of a Sale?

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  • Successful Outcome of a Sale?

    I've been keeping track of company sales in my project list but I can't find the best way to word the project title or list the successful outcome. I can't guarantee that the customer will commit, but I want to track where I am at with them which could be setting up a demo, sending a packet or DVD, making a call, waiting for a reply or just answering questions. I have each customer as a project, but I can't find the magic statement that will let me know that the project is complete since each customer may have a different outcome - an outcome I won't know until they decide. Some customers come and go and I never know quite when they're 'done' or 'on hold' for a while. I end up moving some of them back and forth from projects to S/M which bothers me. I want a definitive end, but I don't know what the end is. If I say the end is submitting the proposal, then don't I still have to add a next action to follow-up after I submit it? Where does it end?

    In many cases - the sale is not mine. The customer may be dealing with our sales rep and he reports back to me so I track it because I want to know what's going on. I am involved in setting up demos, reviewing proposals and other parts leading up to the sale so I need to be aware of dates and customer info for scheduling purposes. I may be tracking commitments that aren't necessarily mine, but since I am an owner of the business I feel a responsibility to stay on top of it. Any suggestions?

  • #2
    Sub-area of responsibility

    I think the relationship between you and your customer is more like "sub-area of responsibility" then project. Then within this "sub-area of responsibility" you can define manageable projects with clear, easy to define outcomes like "present persuasive product demo".

    As far as I understand sales business the main goal is to seduce the customer and never end the relationship. It is not possible to define the successful outcome for the customer because it would imply ending the relationship which is not your intention.

    The outcome defined as "keep the customer happy and make him buy your products" is not measurable and really sounds like "sub-area of responsibility" definition.



    • #3
      "I've been keeping track of company sales in my project list but I can't find the best way to word the project title or list the successful outcome."

      How about:

      [Client name] has made decision on [specific proposal name]. This project would capture all actions from developing the proposal to follow up for the decision.

      You might also handle the project as:

      [Client name] has received[specific proposal name]. Then you could use reports, like a sales pipeline report, as a future tickler to review the status of the proposals. As you follow up on the status of the proposals, additional projects could be developed based on your client's feedback.

      Hope this helps.


      • #4
        You got me thinking about how to express a "successful outcome" with this post, and here's my 2 cents worth.

        Successful outcome = "Customer (xxx) is an engaged, satisfied customer" This means there is an ongoing relationship of some type with the customer and they are currently satisfied with whatever is going on with that relationship.

        Now, when the customer asks for a demo, literature, quote, etc a new sub-project is launched which would include performing the demo, sending the lit, delivering the quote, following up on the order, asking for future business and/or references, etc. Each step in the process is working toward completing that sub-project but the ultimate goal is to keep the customer engaged for present or future business and inclined to deal with you. Having this definition as a successful outcome will drive many of the N/A's for the main project as well as any sub-projects.

        Also, if the customer isn't currently involved in getting a quote, demo, lit, etc, this definition makes you and your rep constantly ask youself these questions: 1) Do we need to check in on the customer?; 2) Do we know the customer will think of us first when a need arises? 3) Is there anything we need to be doing at the present to insure we are continually engaged and the customer is satisfied?

        BTW, I question whether a potential customer should ever be on a Someday/Maybe list, but that's just a bias I bring to the discusssion.


        • #5
          Originally posted by spectecGTD
          BTW, I question whether a potential customer should ever be on a Someday/Maybe list, but that's just a bias I bring to the discusssion.
          I agree with you, SpectecGTD. Keeping potential customers on the Someday/Maybe list is a perfect way to lose them. Any customer (current or potential) needs immediate attention if your relationship with him is promising and you expect it to be profitable.
          It is a waste of time to put potential customers on the Someday/Maybe list!
          Better forget about them.


          • #6
            Let me clarify what I am putting back on my S/M list and see if it makes sense. My customers are mostly churches making a huge investment in a product. Many times the response will get to the point where they tell me "we need to wait a couple months before we continue to pursue this" or something to that effect. In that case, the only action is to wait for that time to pass. I hate seeing a 'waiting for' hang around for that long. What I do is then move that customer project to the S/M list and date it in my tickler so I am prompted to review it and get back in touch with the customer at the right time.

            I also have a completely separate database that houses all my customer info including history and follow-up dates. This does not integrate into my GTD system in any way unless I manually copy over some info into my system. I do look at my customer database daily. Is there any software out there that would integrate better so I don't have data in two places? I'm using a palm T3 with datebk5 and Outlook XP on my desktop.


            • #7
              ShortTermWF and LongTermWF.

              In my opinion there is a fundamental difference between Someday/Maybe and WaitingFor folders. WaitingFor is for active projects and Someday/Maybe for inactive ones (many of them probably will never be active because you will change your mind). There is no agreement or promise connected with Someday/Maybes.

              Waiting for a customer response is an active project and I do not think it is simply "waiting". I think it requires periodic contacts to check if the customer is ready to buy.

              I would split your WaitingFor folder into ShortTermWF (reviewed weekly) and LongTermWF (reviewed monthly).



              • #8
                Not in sales, but this method works

                I agree with spectecGTD...

                Originally posted by spectecGTD
                Successful outcome = "Customer (xxx) is an engaged, satisfied customer" This means there is an ongoing relationship of some type with the customer and they are currently satisfied with whatever is going on with that relationship.
                I just finished a contract where my responsibilities were to "maintain and upgrade" a couple of software apps. Rather than just focusing on the small bug fixes and planned updates, I created a "super-project" that read like Product X is stable and bug free.

                This super-project helped me to "see" the other projects that hadn't come up yet from external sources. For example, when I noticed an area that could be improved yet was not actively causing problems for the users, I then was reminded to create a sub-project to resolve the issue. Likewise, when a planned enhancement would threaten the stability of the rest of the code, I felt obligated to address that issue.

                This was the first time that I had ever kept a high level project to help me focus on the final aims of the project and the response from the client and the users was phenomenal. I frequently heard praises about how proactive I was and the users never felt that they were neglected.

                YMMV, but it worked for me!



                • #9
                  If more people approached their jobs with your attitude, more companies could honestly say their "customer service" personnel actually provide service rather than just put out fires and expend enormous amounts of energy in meaningless finger-pointing.


                  • #10
                    Successful Outcome of Sale

                    I have used the Business Contact Manager in Outlook 2003 for a few months now and I love it. I used to use a separate CRM and found it tedious with integrating activity planning and synchronising with my PDA. The use of Outlook 2003 Business Contact Manager has made my weekly reviews very effective as well.
                    (I am not a Microsoft shareholder nor do I work for them)


                    • #11
                      Outlook Business Contact Mgr (BCM)

                      I'm interested in BCM. Are you using it to share info with other co-workers? That's what we need here @ my company. I'm looking for a better way to coordinate marketing and client calls with multiple co-workers.


                      - BG


                      • #12
                        I have found the Someday/Maybe list to be very effective for managing customers and prospects.

                        In a given week, I only have so many hours. So at the beginning of the week, I make sure I have next actions for the customers that I am currently working with or plan to work with this week. Everyone else goes to the Someday/Maybe list. If I find that I have more time that I thought, I go to the Someday/Maybe list and select my most promising prospects from that list and add them back into my active list.

                        I find that I make must more effective use of my time if I have a healthy Someday/Maybe list to work from when there are lags during the week. If I tried to work with everyone all at one, I would be overwhelmed. If I didn't have anyone ideas of who to work next with once I closed a sale with a customer, I would waste time figuring out what to do next. It's much easier to run a profitable business if you have an active pipeline going.

                        I've heard people say on this board before that customers do not belong on a Someday/Maybe list. I completely do not understand where those people are coming from. I have a hard time believing that they're in sales and they have any clue as to what it is like to generate leads in order to stay in business.

                        Nobody is someday/maybe when it comes to customer service issues. If a customer needs something, I take care of it right away. But as far as a prospective client goes - someone who I am not working with but would like to have as my customer if and when the opportunity presents itself, I think the Someday/Maybe list is perfect for those situations.

                        I find that if someone is on the S/M list, my subconscious mind works behind the scenes, and I am far more likely to spot a good opportunity when it occurs rather than afterward (when I can only kick myself).

                        You might argue that the Waiting For list is more appropriate, but with that you have to know what you're waiting for. You might wait for the wrong thing and then miss an opportunity for a sale. Planting a specific idea in your mind - like "waiting for customer to rause funds" puts limits on the situation, and they may end up making a decision without ever raising the funds you thought they needed because the real hang-up was getting everyone to agree on what they wanted.

                        So I definitely see a place for the S/M list in sales. In customer service, no. Does a hot lead go in S/M? No. But potential leads that are going away just because you don't act on them this week are perfect for the S/M list and can keep a business running consistently rather than in spurts.