How Come You Just Do SalesLogix? (Part 3)

Part 3 – SalesLogix Makes a Lasting Impression

When SalesLogix declined to bid on the project, I called the SalesLogix salesrep and asked, “Why?”. He told me they weren’t willing to do and spend what they’d experienced two of the other contenders would do and spend to cinch a big deal. At the time, I didn’t understand their answer. I appreciated their transparency, candor and honesty – whether it made sense or not.

The final selection and negotiation process taught me just how sound their reasoning was.

I’d done so much digging into the features, functions, benefits and costs of the SFA tools I was reasonably confident that SalesLogix should have won the deal.

The same person, Pat Sullivan, developed and brought to market both SalesLogix and ACT! (both are still a big players in the CRM market). What he learned developing and promoting ACT! he brought with him to the development of SalesLogix: Specifically, a ton of knowledge about what sales and marketing needs to do their jobs AND about how to put it all together into an easy-to-use, easy-to-configure, extensible package.

Their total cost of ownership, return on investment and payback were the best of the bunch – hands down. For what they were asking, they had the least expensive, most powerful and flexible solution. I say this because the SalesLogix architecture was just as powerful and just as elegant as the winner’s; yet it was about a third of the up-front cost and about a sixth of the total cost of ownership over time.

Nevertheless, I had to respect their decision. Who can say whether they’d have won or not? The eventual winner did many (IMHO) cheesy things to make sure their bid was always on top and engaged in some “very creative” shenanigans that certainly swayed the final decision in their favor.

Quite a project.

Ten years later, we used everything I learned to select a strategic CRM offering for MBI Systems and our customers.

That strategic offering is SalesLogix. It’s still a bargain.

Fast forward to today. We recently attended the worldwide conference for partners and customers of SaleLogix’s parent company, Sage Software. As expected, it was a grand event, and from a seminar and workshop content point of view, it was exceptional. But that’s not why we went. We attended to make sure we’d made a smart decision to remain committed to offering only SalesLogix as MBI System’s CRM offering.

I’m pleased to say, “Sage confirmed our decision”.

Sage Software continues to commit the right resources to improve, market, sell and service SalesLogix. They still don’t spend quite as much advertising their product as some of the firms listed in Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant”. Nor do they step outside the bounds of defensible ethics or common sense to close a deal. Instead, they’ve put together very capable sales, marketing, channel management and consulting teams who genuinely seem interested in providing real CRM value and provably cost-effective solutions. I personally appreciate the way they stick to telling the truth even when it’s not in their best short-term interest. We returned from the trip assured we’ve made a good business decision at MBI Systems in our commitment to represent only Sage SalesLogix as THE CRM product suite we choose to sell and support.

Treating our customers the way we’d want to be treated remains our most important business mantra.  SalesLogix helps us do that.

I’ve seen a lot of products come and go. Sometimes for good reason and sometimes not. While I can’t predict the future, I understand small and mid-sized business and have developed a good feel for what helps them succeed. Since SalesLogix fits the bill in all regards, we’ll stick with it as our only CRM offering for the foreseeable future.

Just seems like common sense to me.

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How Come You Just Do SalesLogix? (Part 2)

Part 2 – Why do we believe SalesLogix is the best solution?

In 1998 I helped develop software requirements for a comprehensive computer based selling solution for a major US retailer. I then guided them through an intense request for proposal (RFP) and selection process designed to produce an apples-to-apples product comparison of the (then) top 25 sales software offerings in the “Sales Force Automation” (SFA) market. We used the apples-to-apples product comparison to rank, select and negotiate the eventual 3500 seat SFA software license. I saw the down payment check for $3,000,000. Quite a deal!

At the time, some of the top SFA contenders included:

  • GoldMine Software (now FrontRange Solutions)
  • Market Force (out of business)
  • Oracle (now owner of Siebel Systems)
  • Pivotal (now part of CDC)
  • Scopus (acquired by Siebel Systems during our RFP process)
  • SalesLogix (acquired by Sage Software)
  • Siebel Systems (now part of Oracle)

… and a host of names I can no longer find.

After running the vendors through a 130+ page RFP that included a review of their business viability, software features, functions, architecture, core languages, logical and physical data models (and then some), I saw two very clear distinctions between superior products and the “also rans”:

  • The first distinction was data architecture. Superior products had one; the others didn’t.
  • The second distinction was whether or not the developing company used their SFA offering internally or not.

A “yes” answer to the questions, “Was your SFA solution architected?”, and “Do your use the tool yourself?” immediately cut the list down to five players.

Honestly, each of the top five could have done the job. The difference was in how, using what development tools and at what cost. Among the remaining contenders, there were huge price differences and surprisingly few important differences in what the software could do.

During the negotiation phase of the project, the top five list was whittled to three contenders. One firm was acquired by another; another declined to bid.

Cost per seat of the eventual winner was easily twice as much as all the others. Their sales team spent a fortune convincing the executive team that their solution would help everyone keep their jobs. So what if it cost the most? The tool was elegant and sophisticated, the IT guys loved it because it was “state of the art” and the winning firm spent an awful lot of money closing the deal. The eventual winner was not the best solution in my humble opinion.

The best solution was SalesLogix, and SalesLogix declined to bid. 

Why?  The story continues in Part 3.

How Come You Just Do SalesLogix? (Part 1)

Why just SalesLogix?

Often, when we participate in a CRM evaluation, someone asks us, “How come you just do SalesLogix?”

 
Fair question.

 
Short answer is: It’s all most businesses need.

 
It isn’t because SalesLogix is the only tool we’re familiar with, it’s because we did our homework and realize SalesLogix handles 95% of all typical sales and marketing automation needs, runs like a well-tuned Ferrari, costs like a mid-sized Honda, and works equally well for any type and any sized company.

 
Its price point makes it accessible for even small firms, you can effectively add seats into the thousands, and its flexibility makes it workable for even the most unique selling situations. Not only that, SalesLogix has a capable, established partner channel, a well-run parent company (SAGE software) and a design flexible enough to deal with any sales or marketing need I’ve ever heard about.

 
Every other CRM tool we’ve investigated either costs more, does less or has major flaws you’ll never hear about until after you’ve plopped down your money. More specifically:

  • SalesLogix works on smart phones.
  • SalesLogix works on your laptop pc.
  • SalesLogix works on your office pc.
  • SalesLogix works on servers.
  • SalesLogix works with Excel.
  • SalesLogix works with Outlook.
  • SalesLogix works with Open Systems tools.
  • SalesLogix works in the cloud.
  • SalesLogix works for the sales team.
  • SalesLogix works for the marketing team.
  • SalesLogix works for the call center.
  • SalesLogix works for the operations team.
  • SalesLogix works with or without an ERP and gives businesses a lot of flexibility and choice.

If you sell or market for a living – SalesLogix just works….

 
That said, who helps you implement it will make a HUGE difference in your opinion about all that. I probably shouldn’t admit it, but for many organizations – you can work with us for a day or two using the free SalesLogix cloud demo and get 80% of what you need in a CRM tool done for little more than the price of the software licenses.

Coming up in Part 2 – Why do we believe SalesLogix is the best solution?

Hats off to John Jantsch (and Inbound Marketing)

The Paradigm

My partners and I attended a SAGE software conference in Washington, D.C. last week.   There, I had the pleasure of attending a marketing “SuperSession” conducted by Duct Tape Marketing founder, John Jantsch.  A double pleasure because a marketing mentor of mine, Dawn Westerberg, also attended and we had a chance to visit and trade notes.

I’ll confess I wasn’t too keen on attending this particular session.  My lack of interest had more to do with the dirty secret I’m about to reveal and my years of experience with marketing in general than either John Jantsch or the subject matter.  I knew of John Jantsch and his Duct Tape Marketing approach and respect them both.  Lucky for me it was the only session that remotely interested me during the time slot, else I might have missed it.

Since I’m confessing (and you’re still reading), allow me a much bigger confession (and the real reason why you may benefit from reading on):

The Dirty Little Secret

I have secretly hated sales and marketing for more than forty years.  I still suppress a look of disdain or suspicion whenever anyone confesses to me they’re in sales or marketing.

There.  I finally said it out loud.

I’ve hated both sales and marketing with a burning passion, in spite of the fact that I met my incredible wife in a sales and marketing fraternity in 1975 and have been involved in sales and marketing up to my nose ever since.  I’ve hated them in spite of the fact I work hard to make the lion’s share of my living coaching and working with small business and large businesses to improve results from their:

    • business planning and execution
    • customer relationship management (CRM) tools and processes
    • call centers
    • data warehousing and data management
    • DotNetNuke websites
    • marketing
    • sales
    • sales force automation
    • SalesLogix software
    • time and priority management  

with

The Paradigm Dilemma

At the risk of watering down the intensity of my emotion and for the sake of clarification – I don’t so much hate sales and marketing as I love the golden rule

Until John revealed the beliefs underlying his approach to marketing and some of the new tools and techniques he’s been experimenting with, much about sales and marketing made me feel like I had to ignore the golden rule to be a successful salesperson and marketer.  It’s seemed interruptive and manipulative.  And for most of my adult life, I’ve struggled to make myself do marketing.  The advent of selling for a living has actually made me physically sick when I seriously considered it.  Even when I clearly identify my ideal candidate, understand their wants and needs, create strategic and tactical marketing plans, reduced selected techniques into a calendar, justify to myself that I’m offering a tremendous gift, write an unsolicited anything and put my foot down on the gas (marketing execution), I always have one foot on the brake – a sure way to achieve less than mediocre results.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a simple guy.  I love the truth, and I love the golden rule.  I’m goal-oriented and purpose driven.  I make plans and work them.   People tell me I know how to get more done in less time than anyone they’ve ever met.  If true, it’s because I work hard to focus and remain focused until I finish what I start.  Because I so value the golden rule, I find it incredibly difficult to treat anyone in a way I don’t like being treated myself.  Because sales and marketing results SEEMED to REQUIRE me to step outside myself and be what I consider interruptive, pushy and disingenuous, I’ve had a real self-limiting dilemma:  I am who I am, won’t be someone I’m not, yet realize every successful business MUST DO marketing and sales.

Arghh!!!  Internal Conflict!  Go?  Stop?  Change?  Be Consistent?  Arghh again!!

Blessedly, I realized some time ago that I don’t hate EVERYTHING about sales and marketing.  Just:

    • Anything sales or marketing might do to/for me that I wouldn’t do to/for myself or others
    • Bloated promises
    • Disrespect for the value of your (or my) time
    • Disrespect for native intelligence (again – yours or mine)
    • Half-truths
    • Interruptions
    • Lies
    • Manipulation
    • People who pretend to like you until they find out you have no money or aren’t a buyer
    • Talking to someone when they clearly don’t want (or have time) to listen
    • Talking more than listening
    • Taking permission before its given
    • Useless complexity

As I’m checking my spelling, just saying I hate these things seems an understatement.  They REALLY tick me off!  To me, interruptions are all nuisances unless I make myself see them as potential opportunities.  Generally, I completely ignore uninvited interruptions altogether.  I open my mail over a recycle bin outside my office.  I screen 100% of unsolicited calls, circulars, emails, letters, messages, post cards, text messages, warnings, etc.  I mute commercials, accept communications ONLY from people I know AND want to hear from, and took enough self-defense to reflexively discourage people who tap me on the shoulder from behind.  If you doubt this and don’t know me, try calling me sometime or sending me an email or a post card, or a cleverly disguised advertisement made to look like a dun letter from the IRS – See if you connect.  Lie to me and see if I ever forget (I said forget; not forgive).  Do any of the other stuff to me and see what, if anything good, it gets you.

Interestingly, as I’ve forced myself to experiment with the interruptive marketing tools in my roles as business owner, dad, entrepreneur, friend, investor, sales and marketing process consultant I’ve learned that most people share most, if not all of my hate list.  And yet – (I’m told) these are things one must do to succeed with sales and marketing.

The Paradigm Shift

What I was expecting from Mr. Jantsch was at least SOME if not much more of the outbound, interruptive, sometimes less than 100% truthful stuff that often accompanies sales and marketing that I detest.

What a pleasant surprise.  John shared nothing but good stuff.  Stuff I can use to market and sell more WITHOUT FORSAKING the person I am and want to be!

Let me begin by saying that what I liked most about John Jantsch before I met him was his ability to reduce the complexity of marketing processes and systems into his seven, extremely simple, common sense, understandable categories.  They are:

    • Know
    • Like
    • Trust
    • Try
    • Buy
    • Repeat
    • Refer

Every marketing tool or tactic I’m aware of clearly fits into one or more of these categories.   I don’t want to steal his thunder here, so I won’t elaborate.  I do want to encourage you to look hard at John’s marketing materials and how-to whether you’re a beginner or an experienced marketer.

On to what I learned.  Again, without stealing John’s thunder – I saw the “inquisitive, quality-minded, details guy” side to Mr. Jantsch that isn’t at all obvious in any of his materials I worked with to date.  OK, that’s not fair to John.  The “inquisitive, quality-minded, details guy” things are there.  I just didn’t see them.  He’s reached a marketing mastery level where he’s so good at explaining things and speaking plainly- his work “seems” casual.  No, it’s insightful, visionary and well written.

Somewhere during the tools and techniques, new buzzwords and marketing knowhow John shared during this four-hour session, I had an epiphany.  I saw the very real possibility of doing improved marketing and sales at greatly reduced costs WITHOUT ANY OF THE STUFF I HATE!  As a golden-rule minded, serial entrepreneur, I can’t tell you how much this excites me.

With the ubiquitous internet, emerging B2B social networking tools, unrepentant buyer behavior that literally thumbs its nose at any of the sales and marketing techniques that I (and all my good friends and customers) hate, marketing and sales may now become what I and many others have wanted them to be all along.  In fact, it is now possible for me (and you) to be exactly who we are, genuine and candid about it (without giving away the farm), find, qualify, convince and sell new prospects simply by being straightforward and real.

When our good friend and sales Vice President died, I secretly doubted we’d be able to stay in business as neither me nor any of my partners are good at the requisite prospecting, interrupting, qualifying, persuading (or manipulating) it sometimes seemed necessary to be a really good sales person.  In sales parlance, Ed was a great hunter; all the rest of us are farmers.  We’re all good closers and break our necks to take care of customers because we like honest people and just tell the truth to the best of our ability.  People who like honest and candid want to do business with us.  People who don’t, run away – and that’s OK with us.

I came away from John Jantsch’s presentation relieved and excited.  I’m now convinced we’ll not only do well in our business with this new sales and marketing paradigm, I suspect we may even excel – Even without our friend and salesperson.  Perhaps even more exciting for the altruist in me – Anyone who’ll take the time to embrace what some are calling the “inbound only” marketing approach may excel in sales and marketing.

I could (and will if anyone’s interested) write more on this new way of marketing.  Let me know if you’re interested.

Effective Project Managers

Over the years, I’ve managed hundreds of projects.  Some small; some large.  For profit; not-for-profit.  Software development, sales process, customer relationship management, construction, hardware development – a bunch of stuff.  I have a bent for analysis, detail and strategic thinking, but to say I learned project management the hard way would be a laughable understatement.  Nonetheless, learn it I have. 

Along the way I made many mistakes and made note of what does and doesn’t work so well.  Though I’m still learning, and because I haven’t given up the ghost yet, I’m jotting down the most important principles that do work consistently – in spite of the nature of a project and in spite of what circumstance dishes out.  These principles underpin what I call Common Sense Project Management.

I hope they’ll keep you focused on and accomplishing your dreams.

An effective project manager:

  1. Listens actively.  You repeat what you hear from each project participant in your own words and then listen for validation and corrections.  Repeat until each participant nods their head up and down – the universal signal that “you got it”.
  2. Plans meticulously and still understand that plans generally become useless as they’re being printed.  Your planning process prepares your mind for many possibilities, but what happens happens.  The best plans help you focus and refocus on what’s most important when the inevitable surprises occur.
  3. Keeps detailed project plans with dates and times to yourself.  You know perfect execution rarely happens and how long it takes someone(s) to get from A to B is dependent on many things.  When you do show your detailed plans to others you’re careful to remind them often that you know the only things GUARANTEED wrong on every project plan are dates, durations, costs and planned completion dates.  This doesn’t mean deadlines aren’t important; truth is the opposite – they’re what drives what you ACTUALLY DO and how you do it in a press.
  4. Understands deadlines and target dates are different and understands the importance of those differences.  If you have a deadline, you’re honor bound to hit it or let EVERYONE know you might not, can’t or won’t as soon as you have good reason to believe you’re off target.
  5. Remembers the dates don’t change.  Just because you do or don’t hit a milestone when you originally intended, you’re honor bound to hit the next one sooner to catch up or at least give yourself a way to do a better job of estimating next time.
  6. Plans for surprises by working around them and building slack into plans whenever feasible.
  7. Models the fact project management involves honest relationship and demonstrates that relationships build on trust, common interest, loyalty and candor.  Common interest can be missing, but trust, loyalty and candor may not.  Trust and loyalty take years to develop and a second to destroy.
  8. Understands project MUST be constrained by the client approved balance among time, money and resources.  This “constraint triangle” defines the boundaries of what you can and will deliver (deliverable scope of work) in exchange for the area of the time, money and resource triangle you negotiate.
  9. Always treats everyone in a project as if your roles were reversed AND you both knew what you were doing.
  10. Understands your MOST IMPORTANT roles are clear and effective communication of the truth and maintenance of a project environment conducive to successful accomplishment of the desired result in the desired time at the desired cost.
  11. Begins each project developing a crystal clear vision of the desired result as it appears in the minds of the paying project stakeholders.   The more clearly you can describe the end result of a project to the project “sponsor”, the better and more cost-effective your result.
  12. Establishes clear lines of authority, channels and acceptable methods of communication, planning tools and reporting specifics.  To the extent possible, you’ll use what works best for your client.
  13. Creates and communicates boundaries that describe:
    1. what you will do
    2. what you won’t do
    3. Anything important to you or your client’s health, well-being or core values
  14. Monitors commitments and let people who know best how to carry out a task set their own due dates and work methods
  15. Manages expectations constantly.  You start as you’re negotiating a deal and you continue throughout the life of the deliverable(s).  You always want to underpromise and overdeliver and that doesn’t just happen – it requires constant observation and constant communication.  Remember:
    1. Telling someone, “I don’t think that’s possible” is MUCH better than saying, “Sure” and then failing to deliver
    2. Saying, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out” is MUCH preferable to guessing or stretching the truth
    3. Spend as much time as necessary getting clients and delivery team members to clearly understand and agree on a scope document that they all help to write and markup.
  16. Oh yeah…  And remember to have some fun.  Life’s short.  Who you work with, how and why are much more important than what you work on.