In the B2B sales marketplace, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has achieved broad adoption and utilization. Seasoned sales representatives generally view CRM as a giant leap forward from spreadsheets and manual tracking of leads and opportunities.
The evolution from isolated contract management software to integrated sales productivity suites doesn’t just benefit the companies, government and non-profit organizations which rely on them. Integrated CRM also enables salespeople and their cross-functional colleagues to:
- Generate stronger relationships with clients, prospects and business partners
- Be more productive, both in the office and in the field
- Increase forecast accuracy, delivery accuracy and customer retention
- Manage the full sales lifecycle, from suspect/prospect to customer/client
- Communicate consistently, across the company and over time
- Better leverage analytics and reporting
Is your organization is looking for ways to build a business case for integrated CRM, increase CRM adoption or get more value from your investment? Here are five sales strategies your sales team can take to the bank.
1. Foster Stronger Relationships
When a sales representative is assigned a new territory, or they are new to a company, the best resource you can offer is comprehensive data. This information should include key contacts, interactions, contract insights and purchase histories.
A capable sales professional will leverage this information to confidently introduce themselves to clients, partners and prospects. This will ensure there is continuity from one account manager to another. Further, it helps sales support personnel, such as telesales, presales and project managers to be better informed about what is happening within an account.
Integrating your Salesforce automation solution with applications such as e-mail, inventory and contract management makes your customer-facing team better equipped to initiate and maintain stronger relationships based on a deeper understanding of a customer’s full lifecycle of interactions with your business.
2. Enhanced Productivity
It’s 5 p.m. on a Sunday evening, the night before the due date of a lucrative proposal for an account Beta Enterprises has been pursuing for years. Jeff, the Beta account manager, received a set of requirements which were critical to winning the business. He saved them in a Word document on his company-issued laptop. Unfortunately, he left his AC adapter in the office, and he will have to scramble to complete his proposal in time to deliver it by noon the next day.
Sara, Jeff’s counterpart at competitor ACME Corporation also received the requirements and stored them in ACME’s cloud-based CRM application, along with the proposal, proposed Master Services Agreement and contract terms. Sara completed her proposal on Friday night, and was able to share it digitally with the prospect immediately, a full weekend before it was officially due.
This is just one example of how an integrated CRM could increase sales productivity. Salesforce.com research found that CRM applications increase sales productivity by an average of 29 percent and forecasting accuracy by an average of 40 percent. Sales productivity is the primary challenge for over two-thirds of B2B companies.
3. Increase Forecast and Order Accuracy
For B2B transactions with long sales cycles, many details can change between an initial quote to the final order. Product quantities often change, and product SKUs may swap in and out based on a customer’s changing requirements. Instead of estimating opportunity revenue for products, services and discounts, dollar values can be calculated dynamically, based on local currencies and promotional pricing.
Integrating your CRM Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) system with critical business functions like contract assembly and eSignatures ensures forecast accuracy in the late stages of a sales cycle. Further, it ensures the customer will receive exactly what they signed for in the deal. For recurring contracts like SaaS subscriptions, this accuracy will carry through to time of renewal, and ensure there aren’t any surprises which could impact customer satisfaction.
4. Consistent Inter-Channel Communication
There are few things more frustrating for customers than inconsistent communication from a service provider. Most customers will interact with three or more company channels (web, chat, phone) for a single service requirement. A consistent thread of communication from channel to channel builds trust and loyalty.
Broad use of a CRM suite among everyone in your company is “singing from the same songbook,” including sales, customer service and finance.
5. Improved Reporting and Analytics
Working with spreadsheets and other ad hoc reports works for a specific period of time, but they don’t represent long-term trends, or tell the full story. CRM analytics dashboards have evolved to a point where sales operations teams can access real-time insights about how a company is tracking against their sales goals.
A McKinsey study of high-performing sales organizations found that over half of those surveyed said they used analytics very effectively. They reported using CRM analytics primarily for:
- Lead generation and scoring
- Product and service pricing
- Territory and personnel management
- Customer retention and cross-selling/upselling to existing clients
Are you building a business case for investing in a CRM application to integrate with key business functions like proposals, contracts and invoicing? Or have you already invested in a CRM suite such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, Salesforce.com or Netsuite, and you’re looking to drive more productivity and higher profitability from your sales department?