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Six Ways to Give Your CRM System an Extreme Sales Makeover

BarryTrailer_143Today's guest post is by Barry Trailer, a managing partner and cofounder of CSO Insights, a sales effectiveness research and benchmarking firm.


Digital consumers are more informed than ever, always online, and inclined to leverage their social networks for buying advice and to share reviews – anytime, anywhere. In order to compete in today’s digital world, sales leaders frequently emphasize the importance of engaging customers with personalized, timely insight that demonstrates reps’ understanding of current and future customer needs. Still, many sales organizations haven’t changed to enable sellers to easily glean this insight. Many salespeople continue to trot out canned information, memorize scripts, and respond to customers with standard and predictable comments. These teams are just pushing products instead of presenting insight. What’s behind this stall in sales innovation? Unfortunately, many companies are finding that their CRM system is not keeping pace with today’s demands, nor is it fulfilling the promise of boosting sales effectiveness.

The Challenges

Over the past several years, CSO Insights has researched and tracked increases in product complexity, competitive activity, and entry into new markets, as well as the endless information demanding buyers now have at their fingertips. Additionally, customers now expect relevant, immediate information about their market environment and a rapid response to their questions. Findings in our research demonstrate how much room for improvement there is in sales. For example, less than 66 percent of reps in the past decade have met and exceeded quota. Across industries, less than 50 percent of sales reps close deals in the time originally forecast. To achieve targeted revenue gains, increased focus on sales effectiveness across the enterprise – beyond the sales organization – is needed.

The CRM Extreme Makeover

Successful sales professionals surely know to respond when customers need to solve a problem; however, the proactive salesperson makes customers aware of opportunities they might be missing and offers perspectives on how they might grow their business and increase productivity. Delivering deep customer insight, recommending relevant solutions, and connecting the dots between your sales network and customers are just a few of the capabilities that many CRM applications don’t have.

According to new research from CSO Insights, giving traditional CRM systems an extreme makeover requires these six capabilities:

1) Mobile-first approach. Today, mobility in a selling tool means more than having access to your contact-management system on your smartphone. In order to be fully productive on the road, salespeople should have on their mobile device everything that they have in the office. The mobile devices used today by successful selling professionals have many social capabilities that a next-generation selling team can leverage. 

 2) In-context collaboration. Real-timesharing of best practices gleaned from other sales reps and internal experts means successful win techniques have an audit trail and can be replicated with similar customers. Additionally, you’ll provide customers with real value if you have a way to bring together the right people, conversations, content, and applications in the context of your sales process.

3) Complete view of the customer. New cloud solutions with native connectivity to your enterprise systems and external customer-information sources, such as social networks, Websites, and communities, make 360 customer-view capabilities plug-and-play, giving you not only the complete view of your customer but also the ability to engage your customer like never before. For example, if a field-based rep knows that a person in his or her network is connected to a customer because of a common interest listed in a social-networking profile, then that relationship is illuminated in real time and can be a part of the discussion needed to connect to key people during a sales call.

 4) Predictive analytics. With predictive analytics, salespeople can eliminate surprises and consistently deliver better outcomes by optimizing selling activities and replicating best sales behaviors.

 5) Guided selling. This is about helping companies unify the sales process and expose sales best practices within their CRM system. Guided selling processes act as your compass and sales assistant, illuminating best practices, the right activities, and the right experts.

6) Lead-to-cash orchestration. You want to ease the buying process, smooth the last mile of the customer’s purchase experience, and ensure that deals won become deals booked. Integration of business applications throughout your organization ensures that deals sold become booked revenue.

Customers today can complete much of their buying process – especially early-stage investigation – without salespeople.  When salespeople focus their effort on communicating product features, functions, feeds, and speeds, they are not adding value. Solutions such as SAP Cloud for Sales have the six capabilities outlined here to engage customers like never before. If you are truly interested in your customers’ success, as well as your own, you’ll engage your customers in new ways and create value that goes far beyond what they can find for themselves by simply surfing the Web. 


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Brad Hodson

Great suggestions. Just one question: where's Ty?

It really all comes down to making the right choice with your CRM software and taking advantage of its features to get insights and act on them intelligently.

Not every CRM is going to work out, all for different reasons, but the principles are true and there are tools that will help you have better relationships with your customers than you're having right now.

Some of them don't have all the features from above, but they'll still be a better choice than your current solution because any little bit helps to boost sales and retention.

It's all about relationships for sales and retention.

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