Episode 13: The Art of Closing Sales with the Deals CRM

ActiveCampaign's Deals CRM is a powerful organizational tool for sales and business processes


The Deals CRM can help you get organized. Director of Education Chris Davis interviews Jay Quiles, Account Executive, to learn his tips and tricks for using the Deals CRM in his daily sales process. Learn more about this unique and visual CRM, that can manage your contact interaction in a new way.
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Chris Davis: Welcome back to another episode of the ActiveCampaign podcast. [00:00:30] I’m so glad you joined me and I’m especially glad today because we get to go over one of the most strongest features of ActiveCampaign. In fact, this feature alone is what really sets us apart from being an email marketing or an email marketing automation platform and puts us in the realm of true marketing automation for your entire business. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about how to [00:01:00] use the Deals CRM to close more sales in your business and I am joined with no other than Jay Quiles. Jay, how are you doing?
Jay Quiles: What’s up, Chris? I’m fantastic.
Chris Davis: All right. So glad to have you on the podcast for two reasons, Jay, two reasons. One is because you are a master at your craft here, at ActiveCampaign.
Jay Quiles: Thank you, thank you.
Chris Davis: We’ll get into that in a minute, and you are an avid podcast listener.
Jay Quiles: This is also true, [00:01:30] this is also true.
Chris Davis: Everybody, you are in for a treat and we’re going to jump right into it. Jay, what’s your official title here?
Jay Quiles: Sure. Officially, I am an Account Exec. I was actually the first official sales hire here at ActiveCampaign.
Chris Davis: Wow.
Jay Quiles: Yeah, Adam Tuttle and I, who I think was on a previous episode, pretty much started the sales team and now I believe we’re up to about 11 people.
Chris Davis: Wow.
Jay Quiles: Doesn’t sound like a lot but in terms of where we’ve grown, yeah, we kind of started from the bottom and shout out to Drake, now we’re here.
Chris Davis: Now [00:02:00] we’re here. All right, so what is your day to day look like as an exec?
Jay Quiles: Sure. We’re in a very fortunate situation where the majority of our leads are coming to us. This is the first time in my career where I haven’t had to go out and hunt for sales opportunities.
Chris Davis: Oh, wow.
Jay Quiles: We’re getting trial signups, a couple hundred thousand a day or so from a couple different, I think 120 some odd countries, so most of the time it’s spent responding to new account trial signups, trying to interact with them upfront during that [00:02:30] 14 day period to educate them on how to use it, teach them practical applications for their business and then of course there are people that come to us directly for demos and pricing requests, so mostly dealing with that sort of inbound traffic and then working with the people that we’ve already previously engaged with.
Chris Davis: Got you, got you. What were you doing before you were here at ActiveCampaign?
Jay Quiles: Nothing really to marketing whatsoever. I worked for a company called Aspect Software. If you’ve ever had to call into your [00:03:00] bank or your utilities company, chances are the dialing or inbound calling software that they were using to make sure that the appropriate customer service agent was given a call was our software. We sold primarily to Fortune 1000, Fortune 500 companies with their call center type of software.
Chris Davis: Definitely. But there is sales background there, right?
Jay Quiles: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. A variety of sales background.
Chris Davis: Yeah, just sounds a lot different than a dynamic [00:03:30] like fast pace, very flexible environment that we’re in now here at ActiveCampaign.
Jay Quiles: Most definitely.
Chris Davis: I want to jump right into it. Jay, the Deals CRM, I’m going to confess, all right? I was what you would call, I thought I was a power user of ActiveCampaign before I started here, and then when I started here, I had the … Before I started I had the light plan, and then when I started here I saw this tab that said “deals,” [00:04:00] and I treated it like the bastard child.
Jay Quiles: Right, absolutely.
Chris Davis: It’s like, “Yeah, I know you’re part of the application but you go over there. That’s for a specific case.” It wasn’t until I started using it, of course, it would only be fit for the Director of Education to know all of the features.
Jay Quiles: Right, to be educated.
Chris Davis: I was blown away. Man, I was blown away by the power, so I figured I’d have you on to help give [00:04:30] people that experience so that those who don’t have it have an incentive to upgrade and then those who already have it in their account will start using it, because it really is powerful.
Jay Quiles: Absolutely.
Chris Davis: So if you could, if you could summarize the power of our Deals CRM in one word, what would you say?
Jay Quiles: I would say continuity, and the reason I would say continuity is in most business environments, the marketing [00:05:00] and sales teams KPIs and things that they’re measured on are drastically different. Marketing is more geared towards driving traffic to the website, capturing leads through whatever sorts of signups, whether they be webinars or whitepapers or any sort of things like that. Their goal is to drive traffic by any means necessary, through social media, through all these other avenues, and as the sales team our job is to take those potential leads and close them and make them our customers.
Where there’s often a disconnect [00:05:30] is really truly understanding on the sales teams’ part, what is it that marketing is doing to attract those potential customers? Often times you’ll have … I’ve had this in a lot of companies that I’ve worked with where marketing is focused on attracting a certain type of customer, let’s say, with certain types of material that they deem is something that the users or potential customer base might be interested in digesting, and often times that’s information that the sales team wants to know, but often times sales has an opinion on what maybe more [00:06:00] relevant to the existing user base. So, what I like about our CRM is that because there’s a combination of email marketing and automation, and the sales side of things, those two things can kind of come together in continuity, right?
I didn’t want to use the word like fusion, or any of the other typical corporate words, but in any case I want people to understand that the beauty behind having marketing and sales in one platform and making it easily digestible to your sales team makes your sales team even [00:06:30] more powerful. If your sales team can look at the activity log of an existing account and see that they interacted with this link on this campaign that your marketing campaign just sent and they know what that link is, that’s a subject that they can bring up in conversation, that’s an opening line that they can talk about and say, “Hey, I saw that you opened up this link about segmentation [inaudible 00:06:48] automation. Why don’t we set up a 30 min call and I can show you some of the things that you may be looking to do?” Relevancy is what ActiveCampaign is all about so being able to tie all that together is what I think is invaluable, really.
Chris Davis: [00:07:00] Yeah, and I’ll piggyback on that. When you start using it, everything that you just said becomes more apparent, like it’s this flow, it’s just an ease to it and it was required and I’m glad you said what you said because it gives all of our listeners background in why it exists. We weren’t trying to create another Salesforce or another Sugar [00:07:30] CRM. They have their place, but for most small businesses that don’t have a large team of sales associates like 50 or more, it is very critical to be able to tie that marketing activity and sales and just be able to have both of them talk back and forth. Then, the fact that it’s visual just makes it even.
Jay, I tell you man, I’ve been in pretty much [00:08:00] every marketing automation platform and when it comes to the sales automation, the pipelines, it’s all like drop downs and text, options that you have to … There’s no way to visually see where people are and so I’m really excited about getting the word out about this, and what would you say, I mean you’ve been using it for a while, I mean you’ve been using it since its inception.
Jay Quiles: Yeah, more or less. I think I got here maybe six months after [00:08:30] it came out so pretty much in the infancy. The way it looks now is quite different from when I started here. Not drastically, but the UI is definitely different. I actually like it a lot more. I think it goes back to what I was saying before where it ties everything together into one UI. For those of you who have been using it for a while, you may remember that the Deals page was a separate page, the contact personal information was a completely separate page. We then merged those together and created some continuity, changed it too, but yeah, I’ve used a lot [00:09:00] of CRMs, so I used Salesforce at my old company, I sold Dynamics, I’ve used Nimble, I’ve used Pipedrive, I’ve used HubSpot CRM, I’ve used a lot of … Inside Sales, proprietary CRMs which are always the worse, but in any case, to your point, our platform is so easily digestible.
One of the things that I think is often difficult for a sales team or even for sales management, I think one of the drawbacks to our platform or at least the CRM is there isn’t a clear sales admin or sales executive page [00:09:30] and a sales person page.
Chris Davis: Oh, I got you.
Jay Quiles: That seems to be some of the drawback of our platform right now, where you can get that kind of stuff with a Salesforce or some of these other more …
Chris Davis: With deeper needs, deeper CRM needs.
Jay Quiles: Yeah, and I think for whatever it’s worth, those CRMs have been around much longer than our CRM has been around so we’re getting up to that point, but with that being said, when I was using those old CRMs, the other CRMs that I was using, time management and prioritization is so difficult with some of those platforms. One of the things that we try to teach our sales people and try to [00:10:00] encourage them to get better at is time management and prioritizing based on where they are in terms of quota attainment, where they are in the month, so earlier in the month or towards the latter portion of the month, if you’ve already hit quota, of course we want to encourage you to continue to pursue opportunities but also focus on filling the pipeline for the following month.
Same thing beginning of the month, fill that pipeline so it trickles down towards the end of the month, and then towards the middle half, latter half of the month, focus on the back half of your sales [00:10:30] process. What I like about our CRM is that these stages are so clearly defined where you can see, “Okay, I’m going to build pipeline. All my first couple of stages, the intent there is for me to build funnel for the latter portion of the month,” as I approach the latter portion of the month, “These are the deals that I prioritize because they’re towards the latter portion of my sales cycle which means they’re closer to closing.” You don’t get a lot of that with a lot of CRMs.
You don’t clearly get to see the actual sales process as it unfolds, and there’s a lot of other intricacies in our CRM that people don’t really know about in [00:11:00] terms of being able to filter by certain task types and change the UI so that you can just … Some people just don’t want to go through tasks. They don’t really care about where they are in the sales cycle, they just need to get caught up, and we provide that level of functionality but I really do like the ability to easily digest and easily see where I am in my sales process because it makes it easier for me as a sales person to then prioritize my time.
Chris Davis: Yeah, and for all of you listeners that are like, “Oh, this sounds amazing, I think I know what this means,” [00:11:30] Jay is referring to first off, let me take a step back and I guess give a definition of Deals. Deals, we do our sales automation a lot different than other platforms. Many platforms or most platforms automate contacts going through stages in a pipeline. Our automation is deals through stages in a pipeline, and deals are attached to a contact record. Now, somebody might say, “Hey, well why did you do that?” Well, let’s [00:12:00] think about it. Think of a deal as an admission ticket to a stage and as long as the contact has the deal on their record, they can go through stages.
Now, ActiveCampaign, we have the ability to add unlimited pipelines, unlimited stages. Thus necessitates the ability to have multiple deals on one contact record, so just in saying that, I just opened a box of unlimited [00:12:30] possibilities really, and to your point, with it being visual, I think one of the things I really enjoy about it is that it’s not boxed in to only sales. I mean, we’re talking about …
Jay Quiles: Right, no question.
Chris Davis: … Any internal process, any process in your business, forget internal/external, any process. In fact, internally I use our Deals CRM for scheduling the podcast. I’ve got stages, “Have you requested time? Have you recorded?” Each stage, [00:13:00] I either manually move the cards because it’s … For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s very Trello-esque. You’ve got cards that are horizontal and within those cards you have these items which are deals and you can just drag them over to each stage. I can do that manually or I can setup automations that based on particular criteria or certain criteria, moves those deals for me and when you layer that on our deep data approach that our initiative for this year, you’ll soon [00:13:30] be able to get really in depth analytics about how people are progressing through your deals. I mean, there is in fact, as I’m talking Jay, this may make sense to have a follow-up with the unusual use cases.
Jay Quiles: Yeah, I’m already thinking. I mean, even hearing you talk about the way you use it, I have a lot of customers who use it for non-sales related activities. I’ve worked with people who run coaching businesses and there’s really no sale per se, because the sales already been made.
Chris Davis: Exactly.
Jay Quiles: You sign them up as a coaching client, but there’s a process [00:14:00] and there are milestones that they have to hit in that process so that’s like one use case. I’ve seen other people use it primarily for post sale activity or handling tickets. Even though we’re not necessarily a ticket platform, you can set up an automation that says, “When I move this to this stage, this assignment is now Chris,'” it falls under his pipeline so I’m going to reassign that deal via an automation the moment that I move it to the next step in the process. There are a lot of different outside of the box use cases that are not necessarily traditional CRM [00:14:30] use cases, but to your point …
Chris Davis: Absolutely.
Jay Quiles: … The keyword and maybe this should have been the word to summarize it is organization. I mean, it just keeps everything clear and easy to understand and easy to organize.
Chris Davis: Yeah, I would agree. I would agree with that. What was good is I had Adam on in a previous episode and he got to give, just like a sneak peek at how we use our tool internally, and I think you can never, [00:15:00] I mean, I personally would never buy a tool where the owner or creator doesn’t use it …
Jay Quiles: Right. You have to eat your own dog food.
Chris Davis: … At a high magnitude. You know, like it’s okay, don’t tell me you have an account and you’ve got a couple things going. I want to see your business depend on the software you’re selling me, and that’s true with us, so what would you say with all of the accounts that you work with as well as all the inquiries, the inbound inquiries, what would you say are some of the … Well, not some. Let’s [00:15:30] say what do you think the biggest hurdle to really getting started with our Deals CRM is?
Jay Quiles: Some of the beauty in the organization that we provide is that it is easy to digest. However, a lot of times smaller organizations haven’t taken the time to really define their sales process, and I can tell you that from experience …
Chris Davis: Wow.
Jay Quiles: … Because when we first started using the CRM, we didn’t know what our sales steps were, we didn’t know what our sales cycle were. We just knew that people come in, we tell them about it, they buy it. We didn’t know really what the steps were so one of the biggest issues is truly [00:16:00] defining … This is what I always tell my customers when I’m working with them on how to set up their CRM. Think about the milestones that you have to hit with each customer in order to convert them. How do they first come in? What happens next typically? Are you scheduling a call immediately? Is there some sort of consultation involved? Or, are you trying to continue to get in touch with them until you can schedule a consultation?
Defining the milestones of your sales process, understanding what’s involved makes it much easier to not only design [00:16:30] the stages of a pipeline, but also maybe even distinguish if you need a second pipeline. To the point you were making before, you could have … Let’s say you’re a service based business, let’s say you’re … Maybe there’s an AC repair person that’s listening to this podcast right now. You might have AC, you might have heating as two different types of sales, two different types of products and services that you provide. The process that you follow for an AC sale is potentially different than the process you might follow for a heating [00:17:00] related opportunity.
Being able to distinguish one pipeline versus another and making it just clean and easy to digest, again, taking the time to really understand it and really jot down what you go through to make a sale makes it a lot easier once you figure that out. That way, you can actually implement it. I would say that often times is one of the bigger challenges, is really truly understanding your sales process is just a huge challenge.
Chris Davis: Yeah I love that. I love that because [00:17:30] it’s this theme, honestly, throughout all users of our application. When you look at that profile, that success profile and say, “What are they doing that nobody else is doing?” It’s not always clear just looking at automations and everything, and numbers of contacts. All of that stuff doesn’t mean anything until you probe a little deeper and when you sit down and talk to these business owners, they know what they want to do. They just needed a tool to help execute [00:18:00] it for them. They know the steps.
Jay Quiles: I always say there’s freedom in structure, there’s freedom in …
Chris Davis: There’s freedom in structure.
Jay Quiles: … A structure, right?
Chris Davis: That’s good.
Jay Quiles: Often times, these businesses are using some CRM, maybe, often times they’re not using any CRM. They’re just kind of shooting from the hip and it’s just the Wild Wild West, where you can give them a software that they can easily understand, that they customize to their own needs, but it also provides some sort of structure, all the guesswork that goes into the sales process [00:18:30] is thrown out the window. There really is a lot of freedom when you clearly define what’s involved in the sales process.
Chris Davis: Yeah, that’s good.
Jay Quiles: It keeps you within … I’m all for improvisation, but it keeps you within a foundational setup that makes it easier to replicate, because a lot of the businesses that we work with have these aspirations, like ourselves, of scaling. As I mentioned before, Adam and I started with two people. We needed to develop a sales process that was scalable for 7, 10, [00:19:00] 20, 50 sales people, potentially 100 sales people in the future, so the ability to change … I mean, we’ve changed our CRM process probably four times since Adam and I started because we added a new type of sales position so that dictated a different pipeline.
Then, there was different types of sales opportunities that needed their own separate pipeline, and then we realized that there were certain stages that we had that were being underutilized or weren’t really necessary or redundant so we got rid of them. Being able to on the fly quickly adjust your [00:19:30] sales cycle without completely shutting down your business is, I mean again, it’s just invaluable. It allows for scalability long term.
Chris Davis: Yeah, definitely, definitely. What would you give Jay, as we finish up here … Listen, I know all of you, I know this is a really good one as you can see and I hope your creativity, I hope we’ve sparked it and you’re looking at your business as you listen to this like, “Oh, my gosh, I never thought of that process or that process.” I would like [00:20:00] to issue a challenge. Whatever process that you’re using, that you can’t quite imagine automating with our Deals CRM, give us a call, give us a call, and pose it. Pose the question to us, I guarantee you if you know what you’re doing we can automate that process. But in closing Jay, what would you say, what would tips would you give our listeners, our users, our watchers from afar, what tips would you give them to be successful [00:20:30] quickly using our Deals CRM?
Jay Quiles: Sure. Yeah, so I would say to hammer it home, and I’ve said it a bunch of times so far, but clearly define your sales process. Understand what your sales process is, lay that out. You can always change it later, but at least have some sort of foundation to get started. From that, determine how you want your sales people to operate so if you have clearly one product, then one pipeline is the ideal setup, and you may have six, seven, eight stages involved in that process, but the [00:21:00] sales process might be the same. You might have a pre-sales team, a post-sales team, you might have like us, a business development team and an account executive team. Those teams might be handling different types of sales opportunities, they might be handling different types of sales processes.
Maybe your business development team is solely focused on qualifying for your account exec team and your account executive team are just closers. Those are two completely different sales processes, so understand the differences in your sales teams, or even post-sales teams. I would say the last [00:21:30] thing is, like you said before, maybe we could do a separate episode on this but get creative. Don’t assume that the CRM is solely for sales teams. There are so many other use cases. Just keep in mind, because we do have a lot of people that come assuming that they need a CRM and what they really need is contact management. They need to be able to see all their contacts, and if they get a customer service inquiry they can put a note really quick on Chris Davis’ account say that we spoke to him, this was the ticket, so on and so forth.
Understand that the CRM really is intended for organization [00:22:00] with individuals. There doesn’t necessarily have to be some sort of one to one interaction or one to many interaction, but keep an open mind. There are so many other use cases for the CRM. The sole goal and the sole use of the CRM is really just organization as a whole.
Chris Davis: Yeah. I like that. Organization through easily displaying your process visually, all right. [00:22:30] I would say my pet peeve in the space of marketing automation is those who don’t take the time to get organized. You’ve got tags all over the place, your custom fields have no rhyme or reason, you’re just scattered, so yeah, I agree. Jay, oh man, this was great man, so I appreciate you being on the podcast. Any parting words for our listeners?
Jay Quiles: This is just scratching the surface. There are so many other use cases [00:23:00] for the CRM that we didn’t get a chance to get into today. I would just say explore, explore, explore.
Chris Davis: Explore.
Jay Quiles: If you come across something that you don’t understand, our sales team is always open to speaking with people, our support team is always welcome to speak with people. The entirety of the organization is open to helping and assisting with use cases, but there’s so much more that you can do with the CRM. Get familiar with the sales automation triggers and actions in the automation as well. You might come up [00:23:30] with an idea that I never come up with, so just to keep on exploring and yeah, we hope to hear from you, we hope to hear success stories.
Chris Davis: Yep. Explore and I’m going to take your words in my parting words, and say there’s freedom in structure.
Jay Quiles: Amen.
Chris Davis: Freedom in structure. All right, Jay, thanks so much. See you next time. You will be back.
Jay Quiles: Can’t wait.
Chris Davis: All right, Jay. If you enjoyed today’s episode on the Deals CRM [00:24:00] and the art of closing sales, please make sure that you’re subscribed to the ActiveCampaign podcast. You can subscribe to our podcast via Stitcher, iTunes, Google Play, and any mobile or desktop device that you use to listen to podcasts. We are there. Our Deals CRM truly is one of our best features and as I mentioned, it’s a differentiating feature in the space of email marketing and marketing automation. [00:24:30] Just being able to automate your sales process, automate any process, if anything, use this episode, rewind it, listen to it over and over again and let your creativity go free. Any process that you’re currently doing manually in your business, I’d encourage you to look at our Deals CRM and investigate and explore the possibilities with ActiveCampaign.
If you have not left [00:25:00] us a review, please do so. Five star rating in iTunes, or a comment review, let us know how we’re doing, let me know personally how this podcast is helping you in your marketing and your business and however this podcast is helping you positively. This is the ActiveCampaign podcast, the small business podcast to help you propel and scale your business with marketing automation. [00:25:30] I’ll see you in the next episode.