Ensure Your Survival with Flexible, Connected Sales Tools

The new COVID-19 world, our approach to business and customer interactions is very different today than only a few months ago.  As we move into this new world of selling, flexibility in our approach is key to ensuring our survival, growth and success.  Here are a few ideas to help ensure your survival.

By Tracy Larson

Since March 2020 – when life as we knew it came to a halt – the security industry has seen a dichotomy between those companies who have been able to quickly pivot to a remote sales model and those who have struggled. Sure…we’ve all had the advantage of being identified as essential businesses from Day One, but when customers can’t, or don’t want to, meet in person (and in many cases, neither do we), being able to continue selling and supporting customers remotely has been a lifeline.

Why have some businesses been able to make this transition so easily while others have not? The answer lies in what they chose to do long before this pandemic began, when today’s reality was beyond our wildest imagination. Then, their focus was on supporting a flexible and mobile sales team, not one that’s locked down in their homes. These companies invested in a “connected” sales management software solution.

While their leadership certainly expected a return on their investment, it’s unlikely they anticipated the many ways that their sales management platform would rise to the occasion in supporting today’s new “work remotely/sell remotely” paradigm. And rise it has! The software’s ability to share data and workflows company-wide across a centralized platform, facilitate collaborative selling, automate calculations, create comprehensive quotes, and generate and sign e-contracts, is tailor-made for our current reality. In fact, its flexibility and access-from-anywhere interface has never been more valuable.

Here’s what a “connected” sales management solution can do for your business:

Centralized Database:

A centralized database, accessible from any standard computer browser, is the heart of any connected sales management platform. Once data is entered, it’s there to be shared, eliminating duplicate and triplicate entry by salespeople and different departments. In addition to reducing busywork, this cuts down on documentation errors and miscommunication between individuals and departments, saving plenty of time, money and frustration. Automated, cross-company communication is particularly important in a virtual environment, when water cooler chats and lunch breaks no longer provide casual opportunities for information sharing, collaboration, and sanity checks between different team members and departments.

A centralized database has also proven to be essential for supporting remote sales personnel who need constant, current access to the most up-to-date catalog of parts and pricing. When parts, packages or pricing change within the centralized database, those changes are populated immediately within the very tools that are used by salespeople during the quoting process. There’s no need to disseminate new catalog spreadsheets or other pricing documentation. Everyone is seamlessly on the same page. During this pandemic, when supply chains may be disrupted and a higher-than-normal quantity of parts may be unavailable or discontinued, keeping catalogs 100% current and accurate prevents salespeople from the awkward situation of selling solutions they subsequently can’t deliver.

Automated Workflows:

In “normal” times, automating your organizations workflows keeps people and processes on track. It cuts down on the need for meetings and makes the ones that happen more focused and productive, keeps communications flowing, makes sure that shared data is accurate and timely, and eliminates needless and risk-filled busywork. But what happens when the workplace, and workforce, are thrown into the uncertainty of today’s COVID-19 crisis? Automated workflows keep your virtual office running as efficiently as your traditional one.

Take quoting, for instance. Empowering salespeople with mobile tools that automate calculations – including parts, packages, labor, chargeable items, RMR services and even commissions –– is the first step toward equipping your sales team to sell remotely. Companies can rest easy, knowing quotes are accurate and conform to pricing policies, and product and service offerings. Automating approvals is next. In a virtual office, where employees lack the ability to physically track down supervisors, a software platform that pushes quotes and documents to the right people for sign-off prior to providing to prospects or customers, moves the sales process forward and bridges organizational gaps in ways that phone calls and clogged email systems cannot. And automated signing, made possible through integration with common and trusted electronic signature platforms, helps seal your deals in the most timely and “touchless” manner.

The benefits of automated workflows continue post-sale. When contracts and winning sales information are seamlessly routed to the home office upon signature and integrated with the accounting system, all the back-end work can immediately begin to ensure installation is scheduled, parts are ordered, and financial management happens quickly and accurately.  This is the connected process end-to-end. All aspects of the company can easily do their jobs through technology automation.

Collaborative Selling with Site Surveys:

Digital site surveys let salespeople upload drawing, floorplan, or photo images of the property and then search, drag and drop icons of the actual security parts in place, showing the location of card readers, cameras, sensors, motion detectors, smoke and CO detectors, control panels…whatever’s included in the system, while in the background, the software automatically builds the quote. In “normal” times, you’d have created these surveys on your tablets while conducting an on-site walk-through. Today, if a sales call must be handled remotely, common screensharing software enables you to still work collaboratively with customers. Set a floorplan of their facility on the digital canvas and through video chat, you can conduct a virtual walk-through, whereby project space and specific areas can be seen, vulnerabilities identified and locations for devices selected together. It’s easy to make project and device notes so that you, your customer and other project resources identify and can deliver on specific needs.  Working together, you can design a security system plan that truly addresses the customer’s needs, site security risks, while leveraging the most effective solutions that also meet the project budget. Once complete, the survey can be emailed to them as a printable PDF, and included as part of the sales proposal.

Site surveys are also invaluable during and after the sale, providing the engineering and installation team with the clearest possible direction of how the system has been designed, thus creating a connected internal process as well.

Professional Branding:

Let’s face it. When it comes to closing deals, it’s not just your solutions and pricing that matter – it’s your interpersonal skills. Your professionalism, confidence, sales expertise, and charm make a lasting impression on the customer, encouraging them to do business with you. In today’s sales environment, much of that goes out the window. It’s much harder to establish a rapport with customers when all communications are handled remotely. Even in person, masks and social distancing take their toll. Smiles are covered up. No handshakes. When a customer is left with three proposals to choose from, how do you increase the likelihood that yours is the one that made the most lasting – and positive – impression? Your proposal just became a whole lot more important, not only in the solutions it offers, but in the way it represents you and your company as a whole.

Sales management software automates the proposal process, generating comprehensive documents that feature your own company’s professional branding through-and-through. Cover design, page layouts, logos, fonts, colors, images and boilerplate verbiage are all consistently applied to proposals of all types and lengths. Whether you company typically presents short, succinct quotes or much more complex documents that may include Scope of Work, Company Background, Team Member Biographies, Terms and Conditions, Proposed Phases and Timelines, Payment Schedules and more, sales management software ensures that the professional, consistent appearance, accuracy and thoroughness of your proposals leave behind the most positive impression of your organization and what it has to offer.

Real-Time Reporting:

How do you manage a sales team that you no longer see in person? Or run a business, for that matter? For companies with a mobile sales force, this challenge is nothing new. Many security salespeople have always covered remote territories away from the corporate office, reporting to managers located elsewhere. Or, they may be local, but mobile sales tools have allowed them to spend the majority of their time on the road, minimizing trips back to the office. These sales models thrive thanks to connected sales management software that provides real-time reporting.

In today’s world, all security companies need this capability. Sales management software makes reporting and sales visibility easy.  Understanding how full the pipeline is, the most effective prospecting activities, what and where deals are closing, are just a few of the many insights that sales teams can glean from live reporting. Especially in such uncertain times, where long-standing sales trends may suddenly shift in unpredictable ways, real-time sales data is vital to salespeople as they find their balance and pursue new avenues to succeed. It’s even more vital to company leadership steering the ship.

Not Just Surviving; They’re Thriving 

SAGE Integration is a national security integrator that serves enterprise clients from coast to coast. The company uses WeSuite as its sales management platform, creating a “connected” workforce that’s dedicated to delivering best-in-class security solutions. John, Nemerofsky, SAGE’s Chief Operations Officer, says, “One of the pandemic’s byproducts was the impact on our company’s Vertical Market Leaders’ ability to meet with potential customers face-to-face. The pandemic forced us to revisit traditional sales methods and prepare our team as we enter a “new normal.” WeSuite provided us with the tools to develop a strategic plan to research, target and engage potential customers remotely.” 

JMG Security Systems is Southern California’s premier security system company, offering full-service, commercial security solutions that include intrusion detection, fire detection, video surveillance, access control and 24-hour monitoring. The company launched WeSuite in January 2019 as its sole platform to process jobs through its accounting system, SedonaOffice. Gil Ledesma, Vice President Sales and Marketing, says, “Who would have known that a year later, we would all be working from home, with hopes that we could continue doing business and sustaining workflow? WeSuite has allowed us to do just that. With over 16 people in our sales department, producing an average of 175 work orders per month, we never missed a beat. Our order processing person has been working from home since March. Had it not been for WeSuite, we would have had to continue coming to the office and chancing transmitting the virus to each other. Thankfully, we’ve all remained healthy. Thank you, WeSuite!”

How Are You Staying Connected?

How is sales management software keeping your organization connected and productive in today’s challenging times? We’d love to hear your story.  

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