The Sapient Salesman: Abandoning Ship

Jan Sysmans —  January 7, 2011 — Leave a comment

Editor’s Note: The Sapient Salesman began as a series of internally-focused sales coaching pieces written by SugarCRM team member Erin Fetsko. While initially focused on “selling Sugar,” Erin’s advice and wisdom have proven useful to Sugar partners, and well, anyone in the business of sales. Thus, we are happy to add her insight to the Sugar corporate blog. You can read all of Erin’s musings at The Sapient Salesman.

Have any of you ever seen Starved or even (my personal favorite) Better Off Ted? Overwhelmingly the answer I receive is no, and that’s a shame. Classic examples of major networks abandoning ship before a series ever really got off the ground. In the case of Better Off Ted, ABC didn’t even bother to air the final two episodes. I’m most bothered by the fact that, more often than not, the shows that get prematurely canceled have the best writing. Why don’t the networks understand that given all the crap they sling at us it might take the more refined segment of the public some time to pan for gold?!?

I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that our customers, even our partners, often behave with the same haste that modern media demonstrates. Today’s vast market provides so many similar alternatives it becomes quite easy, acceptable even, to simply dismiss a software solution, because you didn’t “get it” on your first try. So how we combat this knee jerk tendency to hate change, blame the tool, and save us from premature defenestration?

It takes 21 days to make (or break) a habit, so first we must gain commitment from our clients of a desire to change; confirm further that they have a desire to improve. We already do this during the sales cycle, but we often belittle the volume of effort involved to succeed with this plan. Why? It’s not as if people can’t relate to the struggles of breaking old habits. Ask them to recall when the last time a New Years Resolution of theirs made it out of February, then further encourage them to take advantage of services we offer to better their odds of success. But that’s only the first step.

Step two requires us to act like a sponsor and advocate for our customers success. This requires us to understand the best practices associated with CRM deployments and to bear them in mind during every interaction we have with customers. When a client reaches out to their account manager we can’t simply supply them with a superficial response when we both know the question’s roots run far deeper. Support should also take the opportunities they are afforded to review a customer’s implementation and steer the veering back onto the road of successful adoption and deployment.

So this year, let’s try to remember that we are in the business of renewals and consequently the selling doesn’t stop at the sale, and as we venture with our clients through the labyrinth of possible implementation paths embrace the lesson of Jim Henson: you can’t take anything for granted.

Jan Sysmans

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Jan Sysmans brings 20 years of marketing and product management experience, including particular focus in the software-as-a-service segment, to his role as Senior Director of Product Marketing at SugarCRM. In this position, Mr. Sysmans is responsible for all global product marketing programs for SugarCRM. Mr. Sysmans speaks on behalf of SugarCRM about the value, benefits and future of commercial open source solutions at customer and industry events around the world. Prior to assuming his current role at SugarCRM, Mr. Sysmans was the Enterprise Marketing TME (Technical Marketing Engineer) at Cisco WebEx and Director of Marketing at WebEx Communications. Earlier in his career, Mr. Sysmans held product management positions at PlaceWare, Ensim, Narus, XO Communications and Concentric Network Communications. He also served as the chairperson of the Marketing Communications committee on the SaaS Executive Council of the Software Information and Industry Association (SIIA) from 2006-2007. Jan Sysmans holds a Bachelor of Science in commercial and diplomatic relations from the HUBrussels Business School (Belgium), and a Master of Business Administration in intercultural management from ICHEC Brussels Management School (Belgium). He speaks English, Dutch, French, German and Spanish

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