How To Use Act! for Your Sales Training #ActCRM

Act! Insider Business CardsCharisma, a strong network, blind luck, or skills: what explains great sales results? Like any complex activity, it’s easy to throw your hands up in frustration and say all of the above. That’s defeatist thinking. How can you make your sales training give you the best returns on your investment?

Use Act! as a support system to track, report and encourage your staff to implement what they learn.

1) Check Your Beliefs About Sales Training

“All business skills are learnable.” – Brian Tracy, sales expert

In her bestselling book Mindset, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck defines two mindsets that shape results. The fixed mindset believes that skills and capabilities do not significantly change: a weak sales professional isn’t likely to change. In contrast, the growth mindset emphasises change and development. This is a critical distinction if you are going to improve in sales training. With a fixed mindset, you’re more likely to give up before you develop proficiency in new skills. The growth mindset, you believe you can grow and research finds you are more likely to persist and succeed in learning.

Adopting a growth mindset will help you get the highest value out of sales training.

Attitude matters – skip it at your peril!

Action Step: Take the quiz on the Mindset Assessment to see which mindset you have. If you have the fixed mindset, ask yourself if that perspective is helping you to reach your goals.

2) Complete A Sales Training Program And Track Followup Afterwards

Truth be told, there are multiple sales training methods that work.

Buying a sales training program, attending a sales seminar or using online training all have the potential to work. For sales professionals in the B2B environment, two popular options include SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham and The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. Once you choose a sales training program, how do you ensure you get results?

If you get the opportunity, see if you can get the opportunity to attend an inspirational presentation by one of Act!’s co-founders, Mike Muhney.

Often people are excited and galvanised by a sales training course but, unfortunately, these effects can wear off without regular maintenance and monitoring.

Set up a tracking process to reinforce the principles and processes of the training for a set period. For example, schedule a weekly 30-minute meeting for three months to review the key points you learned. You might focus on prospecting, managing stakeholders or the art of landing large sales with Act!. Many traditional professionals like accountants, lawyers and doctors are required to take training regularly to keep their skills sharp. Why not apply that idea to the sales world?

Action Step: Select and attend a sales training program if you have not taken one in the past 12 months. Next, set up series of weekly meetings to track whether you practice the principles.

3) Set Sales Lead Indicators In Act!

You want closed sales at the end of the month, quarter or year. How can you increase the odds of hitting that goal?

The answer lies in tracking lead indicators for sales - measures that tend to predict the future. For example, a few common leading measures in sales include: number of meetings held, number of proposals sent and number of prospecting actions per day.

To train your sales staff in how and why to use lead indicators to close more sales, ask them to identify the best lead indicator for your sales process. For example, your sales process may look like this:

  1. Call 1: you introduce yourself to a prospect by phone.
  2. Initial Meeting. If the call goes well, you arrange a meeting with the prospect by phone or in person.
  3. Needs Assessment. Determining the client requirements and scope of the project.
  4. Proposal Presentation. If the previous steps go well, you are invited back to present a proposal.
  5. Negotiation. Sorting out the final details and payment.
  6. Close. You ask for the order and get a YES!
  7. Sales Fulfilment. Payment Received. Your CFO sees cash in the bank and you can supply goods/services.

Steps 1-4 are promising candidates for lead measures. I recommend focusing on steps 4 because it will ensure prior steps are carried out with quality. If you choose steps 1 or 2 as your lead indicator, quality may suffer.

To aid you in tracking this measure in Act!, choose a lead indicator involving calls, emails or in-person meetings. Those interactions are almost always a requirement to win business and Act! is well set up to track those activities. In the past, sales professionals used notebooks to track this kind of information. That works but it is a lot of effort to keep up.

Sales Training OpportunityCreate Opportunities for your sales in Act! and link the activities to those Opportunities. Then use Act! Insight, Dashboards, or some reports to make the measuring and monitoring a simple task.

Action Step: Meet with your sales representatives to choose a lead measure that you can track in Act! and which predicts ultimate sales success.

Resource: For more insights on using lead indicators to accomplish your sales goals, read “The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals" by Chris McChesney, Jim Huling, and Sean Covey.

4) Sales Managers: Monitor for Success in Act!

Sales Training InsightSales managers: this step is for you. Choose a schedule – weekly and monthly are good options – and monitor your staff’s performance at each stage of the sales process. Recognize who wins in terms of lead indicators and sales!

Action Step: Speak to your Act! consultant to help you in customising Act! and generating reports on the metrics you need to track this data.

Want to improve your sales efficiency with Act!? Contact me today for a free consultation.

Fix: Issues when installing .Net Framework 3.5

microsoft_net_framework3.5One error that sometimes occurs when installing/upgrading Act!, and many other products, is during the install/upgrade of MS SQL Server.

For Act! installs/upgrades, the typical error you might receive is as per this knowledgebase article: "Act! pre-requisite has encountered a problem and needs to close." When Installing Act!

This error is not an Act! issue, but an issue installing MS-SQL on Windows operating systems from Windows 8 onwards, when the .Net Framework v3.5 isn’t enabled or has a problem with its setup.

You can also get similar issues updating SQL Server 2014 or adding Roles when the .Net 3.5 install lacks the right service pack.

The first step is to try enabling the Framework manually via the Control Panel.

Installing .Net 3.5 via Control Panel

As per this Microsoft article, you can enable the .NET Framework 3.5 through the Windows Control Panel. This option requires an Internet connection.

  1. Press the Windows key Windows Windows logo on your keyboard, type "Windows Features", and press Enter. The Turn Windows features on or off dialogue box appears.

  2. Select the .NET Framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0) check box, select OK, and reboot your computer if prompted.

Dotnet-Control-PanelYou don't need to select the child items for Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) HTTP Activation and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) Non-HTTP Activation unless you're a developer or server administrator who requires this functionality.

Troubleshooting .Net 3.5 Installation Failure

During installation, you may encounter one of these errors 0x800f0906, 0x800f0907, 0x800f081f, or 0x800F0922.

Or you might get the error “The following feature couldn’t be installed, The source files could not be found”.

Or, on Server 2012, you might get “Do you want to specify an alternate source path? One or more installation selections are missing source files on the destination server”

Microsoft covers some of the basics in this article. However, as it misses fixes for some of the errors and is, in my opinion, incomplete, I thought I would document my preferred solutions.

Check the System and Security Action Centre

  1. Hold the Windows Key and press R
  2. In the Run dialogue, type: wscui.cpl
  3. If you see any warnings, you should resolve them.

Using DISM and an SFC/DISM Scan

Try installing via DISM to enable the .Net 3.5 Framework:

  1. Open a Command or PowerShell Prompt as an Administrator – Press Windows Key + X to open Win + X menu and choose Command Prompt (Admin) or PowerShell (Admin) from the menu.
  2. When the Command Prompt starts, changing “X” for the drive of your Windows ISO.
    DISM /Online /Enable-Feature /FeatureName:NetFx3 /All /LimitAccess /Source:X:\sources\sxs
  3. The operation will now start. Keep in mind that it can take a while to finish, so don’t interrupt it.

If that fails, perform an SFC scan, by doing the following:

  1. From an Administrator Command Prompt
  2. sfc /scannow and press Enter.
  3. SFC scan will now start. Keep in mind that SFC scan can take about 15 minutes to finish, so don’t interrupt it.

Once the SFC scan is finished, try to install .NET Framework 3.5 again.

If it doesn’t work, you might have to perform DISM scan as well.

To do that, just follow these steps:

  1. Open Command Prompt as administrator.
  2. Now run each of the following commends:
    1. DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
    2. DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
    3. DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

The scans can take more than 15 minutes to complete, so be sure not to interrupt them

Once you complete the DISM scan, reboot and try to install .NET Framework 3.5 again.

Installing from a Clean ISO

Sometimes, the Windows files you have can be damaged. In that case, you need to follow these steps

Download the Windows Media Creation Tool

  1. For Windows 10 users, download the Windows Media Creation Tool, which is a tool that helps you create a Windows 10 ISO. If running Windows 8.1, download the Windows 8.1 Installer.
  2. Use the Windows Media Creation Tool to create a Windows ISO image locally.
  3. When the download is complete, mount the ISO by double-clicking on it.

For Windows Server 2012 R2, you can download the appropriate Evaluation ISO

Copy the SXS folder

  1. Open the mounted ISO, and go into the Sources folder.
  2. There should be a folder named sxs.
  3. Copy the folder to another location on your computer.
  4. Right click on the copied folder, and choose Properties from the drop-down menu.SXS Properties
  5. When the Properties window opens, click on the Security tab.
  6. Select your username from the Group or user names box; check if there is a checkmark next to Read and Write in the Permissions for [Your Username] box. You could also add “Everyone” or “Domain Users” if wanting to store and run from a network share.
    SXS Security Tab
  7. If you do not find the check marks, you should click on the Edit button, select your username, and check both the Read and the Write box.

Edit the Group Policy

Press Windows Key + R and enter gpedit.msc. Now press Enter or click OK. Keep in mind that this tool is available only on Pro versions of Windows 10, but there’s a way to run Group Policy Editor on the Home version of Windows.

  1. When Group Policy Editor starts, in the left pane go to:
    Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > System.
  2. In the right pane, double-click on
    Specify settings for optional component installation and component repair.
  3. A new window opens.
  4. Select Enabled.
  5. In the Alternate source file path, enter the address of the sxs.
  6. Then click on Apply and OK.
    Gpedit - Specify settings for optional component installation and component repair
    Optional: Check Download repair content and optional features directly from Windows Update instead of Windows Server Update Services.
  7. After making these changes, you just need to start Command Prompt as administrator and run gpupdate /force command to apply the changes.


Now it should install from an Admin Command Prompt with the command:
DISM /Online /Enable-Feature /FeatureName:NetFx3 /All /LimitAccess /Source:X:\sources\sxs
Remember to change “X:\sources\sxs” to the correct location of the sxs folder.

It’s also advisable to backup your system and, if you’ve had issues like this, you might also consider:
Repairing your Windows Image

Please post to the comments if these worked for you, or if you’ve encountered this problem and these solutions didn’t help.

Act! Certified Expert – Sanctioned by Swiftpage #ActCRM

Act! Certified Expert - Santioned by Swiftpage #ActCRMOver the years, Mike Lazarus has been the recipient of many unique awards and certifications related to his work in Act!, including:

In another first, Mike has just been sanctioned by Swiftpage as an
Act! Certified Expert

As indicated in this previous blog post, Working with Act! Again, Mike has been working with Swiftpage for some months to identify and resolve outstanding issues and to improve the stability and functionality of the product. Now he is connected with the QA and Development teams in testing some of the enhanced and new features expected in 2018 before they go to beta and then release.

Some important ones regarding Office integration have been announced in this December 2017 Letter from Swiftpage’s President, Lorcan Malone to registered Act! users.

Please respond in the comments with any areas or bugs you think need additional testing.

What CRM Experts Don’t Tell You About Winning Large Sales


Large sales, enterprise accounts, the big fish.

It’s all about the large accounts that increase profits and prestige overnight. Ever since SPIN Selling was published, sales experts have recognised that work in small sales does not transfer to large-scale deals. I will assume your team has robust sales skills once they are in the room with the prospect. Optimizing performance before and after the meeting will be our focus.

1. Preparing For Major Sales Meetings With Act!Act! Premium - Opportunity Tracking

You’ve decided to pursue a large, well-known, corporation as a client for your business. You know that landing that account will bring instant credibility throughout your region. Through networking, you have managed to identify a few managers at the company. How will you convert this information in a productive meeting?

  • Do your pre-call research. Get on the phone with your customers to find out what software they are using and problems they have experienced. If you are selling technology, market research tools like BuiltWith may be helpful.
  • Opportunity Notes in Act!. As you prepare for the meeting, include links to resources and notes in an Act! Opportunity for future reference. Significant sales can take weeks or months to close, so it is helpful to have these notes available beforehand.
  • Hold a pre-call meeting. This step is critical if your major sales involve team presentations and coordination. A few days before your first sales call, organise a short meeting to outline what you have learned and what you plan to cover.

Sales Resource: Read Fanatical Prospecting by Jeb Blount for additional insight on prospecting. Blount makes an excellent point with his 30-day rule. If you are disappointed with your sales results today, check your calendar from 30 days ago. For example, if you take it easy at the office in December, you will have to work extra hard in the new year to catch up!

2. Improving Major Sales Follow Up With Act!Act! Premium - Activity Tracking and Alerts

After you hold the major sale meeting, you leave with a signed contract! Well, that might happen if you are lucky to meet an exceptionally hungry buyer. If you are seeking to close a large sale, the process takes time to close.

Disciplined follow up makes all the difference. There’s just one problem with that suggestion. Sales professionals know they need to follow up. Yet many of them get distracted with other work and sales opportunities and never get around to it. Use Act! to augment your follow up discipline.

  • Set reminders. Remembering to call the next day is easy – doing so a month after a meeting is more difficult. Using Activities associated with the Opportunity in Act! helps you stay engaged with the sale.
  • Connect with multiple stakeholders. Did you notice that some technical experts at the prospect’s company objected to your solution? If so, document those points in Act! and work on developing answers for them. Link all the client contacts to the Opportunity in Act!Act! Premium - Emarketing Call Lists
  • Use email marketing. After your initial introduction to a major sales contact, they may be interested but simply not ready to buy. Using drip-marketing or inviting them to sign up for your email newsletter are excellent ways to sustain the connection.

3. Growing and Keeping Customers Loyal With Act!Act! Premium - Insight

So far, I have focused on bringing new customers in the front door. That’s critical for growth especially if you just starting our breaking out of a slump. Landing new accounts is not enough. Keeping current customers happy and doing more business with them matters as well. Analyse your customers in Act to find cross-selling opportunities such as:

  • Analyse your most profitable accounts. Some customers are more profitable than others. Use 80/20 analysis to identify the outliers in your profits. How can you reduce the burden generated by a high maintenance client?
  • Document client review activities. Some sales professionals are good at “farming”: growing an existing account over time. To encourage this practice, ask staff to document their efforts to network and meet other people at the company. If this activity is neglected, you may lose the account if a single manager or executive leaves. Don’t wait for a problem to happen at a loyal customer before you pick up the phone.

What The Other CRM Experts Aren’t Telling You.

Why aren’t you landing more major accounts? You probably lack one of three disciplines: sales goals (you are not shooting high enough), sales strategy (you have no idea how to land the big fish) or process (you do not have the right techniques or tools). I can help you with the last of these … However, no technology can fix the other problems associated with landing big sales.

Contact me to discuss ways we can use Act! to improve your company’s sales processes and efficiency.

If you would like to help other Act! users, please post your best strategies for landing the big deals as a comment to this post.

How To Improve Customer Service With Act!

Act! CRM v20Keeping a customer engaged with your business is one of the best ways to keep your business in good health. Once your company grows beyond a few people, consistent customer service becomes more difficult. One person may consistently go the extra mile with customers while others neglect the basics. Find out how to use Act! to improve your customer service and keep customers coming back for more.

Customer Service In The News: Complaints, Competition and Attention

In a world where low prices grab our attention, does customer service matter? The answer is yes. A brief review of the press highlights the consequences of customer service.

  • Avoid negative word of mouth. A quick look through your Facebook news feed, Yelp or Twitter will turn out at least a few complaints about companies. In our era, disappointed customers tend to vent their feelings quickly. A British study found: “One in four social media users in the UK has used platforms to complain within the last three months.” Preventing such complaints by improving your service standards is well worth the effort.
  • Easier To Do Repeat Business. If a customer has a good experience, they are more likely to do business with you again. Take note of this example from the hotel industry: “When Leslie Ciminello arrives at the Hotel 1000 in Seattle, she knows milk and cereal will be waiting in her room’s refrigerator. Lactose-free milk and gluten-free cereal that is. It is one of the small but significant ways the hotel has kept her coming back.” (Hotels Go to Extra Lengths for the Repeat Customer). If you neglect customer service, you may be left behind by competitors eager to grow.
  • Earn positive attention. Would you like your company profiled in The Sydney Morning Herald? That was a benefit American Express earned by providing top customer service. The best part? The customer service in question was delivered to someone who cancelled their service. Gaining good press even when a customer leaves you – that is a significant benefit.

It is clear that excellent customer service makes a difference. How exactly can you improve customer service? Just asking your staff to impress is one approach. What should you tell them to do? You can use Act! to devise the details of your customer service program and continue improving.

Improving Customer Service With Act!

Use the following techniques to improve customer service with Act!. Tailor these methods to the value of your customer. In the Hotel 1000 example above, they are looking for business travellers who spend significant time in hotels. Such customers deserve extra attention.

1) Identify your top customers for extra care

Your employees have limited time so you cannot afford to treat all customers in the same way. Establish a few criteria (e.g. easy to work with and highly profitable) and then make a list. These are the customers who will garner extra time and attention.

Act! Application: Add an ID/Status, Favourite check or other field for your top customer records indicating “Gold Customer” (or whichever term you prefer), so you can find those customers easily with a search.

2) Set up recurring processes to review customer feedback

McKinsey & Co is one of the world’s most successful consulting firms. Client feedback is a core component of the firm’s success. According to Herbert Henzler’s book “Pushing the boundaries: Recollections of a McKinsey consultant”, the firm’s engagement performance review is varied out every three months and includes:

What was the quality of the analyses? Did you make good use of McKinsey resources? What was the client feedback? What was the team members feedback? Which improvements were necessary and how could these be implemented?

By using this process, individual consultants and their management never go long without taking customer feedback into account. For managers, records in Act! will give you additional input to consider in assessing your staff. If your team know you will review Act! as part of your management process, they will be more likely to use it.

Act! Application: Write short Notes or History after each customer service interaction in Act!. That way, you will have the opportunity to provide feedback to your staff.

3) Design long-term customer service improvements

Some customer service issues are trying to improve in an ad hoc fashion. For instance, you may have to use a new vendor to enhance the quality of your packaging. With limited resources, how do you decide where to focus your quality improvement efforts? Take a closer look at Act! for customer service failings and opportunities.

Act! Application: Create a method to list any unresolved customer complaints or those that required management involvement to obtain a solution. Use this information to look for systemic improvement opportunities.

4) Understand why customers leave

All good things come to an end, and that includes customer relationships. When customers leave, ask your staff to find out why they left. Once you collect data for a few months, schedule a meeting to review the findings. Look for ways that improved customer service could make a difference. As a starting point, consider the most common customer service complaints according to Business Queensland:

  • Faulty product. It is not enough to understand that the product broke – seek for more information so that you can make improvements.
  • Incorrect descriptions of the product. If customers cannot trust you on the basics such as size and weight, how long will they keep doing business with you?
  • Poor client service. This can be reduced by implementing a rotation program.
  • Slow delivery. Fast delivery service from companies like Amazon have increased customer expectations.
  • Inadequate response to information requests. This factor covers inquiries about account status, delivery status and beyond.
  • Rude staff. Even if your product is perfect, rude or rough treatment may be all your customers remember.

Your next step:

Meet with your sales team this month to review customer service levels. Use the four points outlined in this article to prepare examples for the discussion. If you find insufficient information in your customer files or disorganised information, implementing Act! may be the solution. Contact an Act! Certified Consultant to help you implement it.