Today's post is by Lisa Clark, vice president of marketing at Qstream.
Companies invest millions in their CRM, yet, when it comes time to close deals, research shows that most achieve less than 50 percent of forecast on average. That’s because CRM systems don’t drive buying decisions – people do.
CRM systems are suited to capture sales activity and manage account data. They are less equipped to be engines of sales execution. The prevailing focus on add-ons designed to accelerate sales processes has left a gaping hole in our thinking on the human skills required to close deals.
Information and marketing content tools can help, but, alone, the only thing they enable are rote sales presentations in which your salespeople are answering questions the customer isn’t necessarily asking.
Knowing what reps are personally prepared to bring to every client interaction is the missing link for sales leadership today. Emerging data-driven solutions are changing the game – with a new class of insights designed to proactively and predictively manage the capabilities of your salespeople.
Imagine you are looking at a forecast for an upcoming quarter. Your CRM dashboard reveals a solid deal flow, and you’re feeling extremely optimistic. Then you bring up a view of sales force capabilities. In a matter of seconds, you see that your sales team’s understanding of the new discovery and qualification process is weak.
Now, how confident do you feel?
While process-based data – revenue numbers, quotas, and sales pipeline figures – give you a picture of what is happening or has happened, qualitative data on sales capabilities gives you the confidence to identify and correct issues before they can negatively impact revenue.
When you look at the richness of sales force data available today, we are still only scratching the surface. New solutions based on behavioral science and native integration with CRM systems are disrupting traditional sales enablement approaches.
New sales performance solutions for CRM not only move critical reinforcement closer to the point of need; they also provide continuous real-time management updates, trends, and comparisons that help sales leadership:
- Measure and manage team capabilities throughout the sales cycle – with engagement and proficiency metrics against any KPI
- Access timely management reports and graphical sales fluency heat maps that highlight performance to increase forecast confidence
- Act on targeted coaching insights that accelerate time to productivity and reinforce new selling methodologies, product and competitive messages for better quality customer interactions.
Let’s face it. The sales function today is in need of massive change to help reps sell contextually, at higher levels. More than one-third of enterprise sales reps – even those with extensive market and product training – arrive at sales calls unprepared or unable to apply the critical context needed to successfully sell into their markets.
CRM can help, but these tools are intended to align with the demands of sales processes, not salespeople or customers. And, if your team isn’t prepared to execute, it’s more likely that your competitors will become the disruptors – not your technology investments.