A Hopeful Response to COVID-19

[VIDEO TRANSCRIPT] Hi everyone, it’s Carter with Closing Commander here. I want to quickly provide you with information about our COVID-19 response and plan. We are monitoring the situation closely, and are staying in regular communication with the vendors that supply the backbone of our service and operations. We do not anticipate any service interruptions, but we have continuity plans in place should this change. Our team is now working 100% remotely, and we are following all the recommended “Safer at Home” guidelines provided by the CDC and federal government agencies. If any of our team become ill because of the virus or for any other reason, our organization is robust enough to shift resources and temporarily cover essential roles and functions to preserve service for our users. So in short, we are prepared for the worst, and hoping for the best.

Which leads me to share with you on a more personal note. I have had the privilege of talking with many of our users about conditions on the ground and inside their businesses. Some of you have had to make difficult short-term decisions. Many of you are contemplating those decisions even while watching this message. As someone who has spent years in sales and marketing, and even started successful businesses during the bottom of the last recession, the one thing I know, to the very core of my being is this: The number one thing that is needed from you as a leader, as a service provider, and as a business owner right now is communication. That’s your number one job in this moment, to communicate with clarity and purpose, and if you do that job well, you WILL make it through this, and you may even be surprised to see that you not only survived, you thrived. In times of crisis, a lack of communication is all that is needed to create conditions for a runaway downhill slide. When employees and customers don’t know what to expect, they will start to tell themselves a story to fill the gap in information, and their story is not going to be nearly as accurate as the one you can provide for them. Right now, there is almost no possible way to overcommunicate. If you had to say things multiple times on a good day, then you have to at least double your efforts in extraordinary times. And if you do that consistently and regularly through this, your business will be on solid ground.

So quickly, here is a framework for thinking about what you should be communicating, how you should be communicating, and when you should be communicating it.

First, the WHAT. And this is simple. You should be communicating any decision you make that will impact others, whether employees or customers or suppliers.

Next, the HOW. Whenever possible, communicate with empathy and compassion. Your employees are scared.  The word you say and the tone you say it with can make the difference between sustained confidence and utter panic. Not used to choosing your words carefully? Now is a good time to get in the habit of running the message by others you trust, sticking to a script, and even rehearsing it to get it right. The more effort you put in to the HOW, the less time and energy you’ll spend clarifying and doing damage control in the days to come.

Lastly, the WHEN. And this is essential. You should be communicating always right now. A good rule of thumb for world-class communication is: Tell them what you’re going to do, then tell them what you’re doing, then tell them what you’ve done. If you’ve made a decision that will impact employees, customers or suppliers, do your best to prep them first by telling them what you’re going to do. Once the moment arrives, tell them what you are doing now. Once the decision is enacted, follow up by telling them what you have done. This kind of clarity is what military leaders practice in the heat of battle, and it not only saves lives, it brings clarity and reduces panic.

I know it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders right now. But I want to assure you that you are equal to the tasks ahead. You will navigate the challenges you are facing, and when this is over and done, you will be a better leader than you were a few weeks ago. Our job is to provide tools and ideas to help you succeed with the task of world-class communication, now and in the future. Thank you for your support.

Best,

 

Carter Harkins
Founder, Closing Commander

Introducing the New Team Stats Dashboard for Owner Accounts

Introducing the New Team Stats Dashboard for Owner Accounts

Drum Roll, Please… 

This may be one of the most requested features of 2019 – and we are so pleased to announce it’s finally here! 🎉

If you have an “Owner” account then you may have already seen the updated team stats dashboard in your account this week. (What’s an Owner account? It’s usually the first user account created for an organization with multiple salespeople, but we can also assign a salesperson account to be an “owner” to access this new dashboard, just ask us)  Cool, right? Just watch the 90-second video below to see it in action now!


Why is this so important?

Using Closing Commander to manage a team of salespeople who each use their own team account to manage their own customers and follow-ups has been more difficult than it needs to be. Until now, there hasn’t been a way to “see into” a salesperson’s account, and monitor how they are using it (or even if they are using it at all). Well, that’s all ancient history now. Because with the rollout of this update, you now have a quick and easy way to jump in and see your team’s top-level performance at a glance.

What can you do with this new dashboard?

  • Use the stats as a team follow-up leaderboard.
  • Use it to initiate coaching interactions with salespeople who may not be utilizing this important closing tool.
  • Use it to make sure team members are adding the right customers for follow-ups, and doing it in a timely manner.
  • Use it to see how well Closing Commander is performing for everyone.

Feedback welcome and appreciated!

Whether you’ve been telling us you need this feature, or you never knew you needed it until you saw it just now, we invite you to play with it, and then provide us with your feedback in the chat inside your account. We want to make sure it’s giving you all the goodness you deserve. Enjoy! 😊

iOS Update for non-Gmail/G Suite Users

iOS Update for non-Gmail/G Suite Users

September Update

We’ve been hard at work, bringing new improvements to our service, and there’s even more to come!

But today, I wanted to make sure you know about one improvement for our iOS mobile app users. With the newest release out this week, non-Gmail/G Suite users can log in and use the app as well.

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This update has been a long time coming (overdue, quite frankly), but changes to Apple’s policies with the release of iOS 13 have made the previous obstacle to this update much easier to clear. So if this would be useful to you, go download the app from the Apple app store!

COMING SOON:

This Fall, we are working on a general feature release that will include the ability for owners and managers in organizations with multiple salespeople to be able to see statistics for those salespeople with the release of your own team dashboard! It’s too early to show a sneak peek or announce the date, but we wanted to let you know we’ve heard you, and it’s coming.

More soon…

A Company Sales System isn’t Complete without Follow-Up

A Company Sales System isn’t Complete without Follow-Up

Go through any good sales training for field service employees, and it will outline a general sales process that looks something like this:

  • Arrive and Assess
  • Diagnose
  • Present Options
  • Close
  • Fulfill

Some systems have useful acronyms to help you remember where you are in the process, but in all the ones I’ve seen and evaluated, the process is functionally the same, no matter what each point in the list gets called.

No doubt, this is helpful. Field service techs have their hands full, not to mention their heads. Including selling in the technician’s job description is undoubtedly a good idea in most businesses, but it also adds a layer of complexity and task-shifting that has to be trained well, if it has any chance of success.

The problem is, none of the sales system training I’ve seen for technicians goes far enough. They all deal with the service call exclusively. But how many customers aren’t prepared to accept the options presented, or make a purchase decision on the spot? The answer is: sometimes a lot, sometimes a few, but always more than none.

It’s just a fact of sales that there will always be customers who, for one reason or another, will want to take additional time to make a decision.

But does that mean these dawdlers aren’t worthwhile to pursue? Of course not! In fact, every salesperson worth his hire will tell you that it is often the bigger, more profitable jobs that need a little extra time and coaxing.

Why sales follow-up doesn’t happen

The issue in most service businesses is that when the customer needs more time to consider, who should be responsible for following up and closing the sale? Many commission-paid service techs are happy to sell while in front of a customer but don’t feel like they have the time or system support to spend their time daily tracking and following up with a list of people. There are just too many new service calls each day for that. And so the task of following up is often shuttled off to office staff, who already have more than enough to keep them busy. And so sales follow-up simply falls through the cracks. It isn’t because we don’t understand the importance, we just don’t have the support and systems to reinforce the habit.

Making sure follow-up gets done

Whether field technicians or office staff ultimately bare the responsibility of following up on open proposals and estimates, one thing is clear: the business needs to support the activity as part of a well-defined sales process.

  • The responsibility for follow-up must be clearly communicated.
  • The time to do it must be sanctioned and allowed for.
  • The results of the effort must be tracked so everyone understands how well it is working.
  • Responsible employees must be trained in and follow the process.
  • Responsible employees must be equipped with the tools for making sure it happens uniformly every time, for every customer.
  • The system for following up should make it easier to do the right thing every time than to skip it or do it inconsistently.

 

Big returns for companies that systemize sales follow-up.

Just like every other area of your business, finding a way to standardize a process or procedure eliminates confusion, reduces waste, saves time, creates consistency, increases profits, and improves job satisfaction. We believe this can be done with sales follow-up activities, automating it so effectively that it goes from being the part of the sales system that always fell by the wayside to become a central strategy for driving higher revenues every year. After all, can you really even call it a complete sales system if it doesn’t include a process to make sure you’re closing big opportunities after the technician has left the site?