Innovation in Sales Systems
Sales systems are everywhere! Most companies have one or indeed several different platforms that purport to be the “latest sales technology” that is “better than anything on the market” and is often peddled alongside irreverent terms such as “cutting edge”, “state-of-the-art” and “ground-breaking”. Whilst most of that would appear to be hyperbole, there are some genuinely useful innovations that have taken place in the world of sales technology in recent years.
If the mere thought of another technology-heavy article has not put you off already, then you may want to carry on reading and learn how to use the plethora of options to the benefit of your sales and marketing results.
Part 1: The CRM software.
Ah yes, the CRM, or Customer Relationship Management system. Has there been a more divisive piece of sales technology in the 21st Century? Viewed with wonder by Sales Directors and often with contempt by those who actually have to use them, the CRM promises so much: An ‘oracle of information’ that provides a ‘single customer view’ from which we can ‘report key statistics’ and ‘gather significant insight’. Who wouldn’t want the ability to capture such information and use it to their competitive advantage? Well, it turns out, most of those people to whom this sort of system is forced upon.
Traditionally, a CRM is the management-level solution, purchased and implemented at the request of sales directors looking to check-off the aforementioned terms from their business bingo cards. Often purchased based on the list of capabilities, there’s nothing the CRM can’t do. In theory, that could be the case; however,a CRM is only as good as the data that it collects, and who inputs that data? Is it the sales director who has chosen to implement it? No. It’s the sales team who are suddenly told to change everything they are used to and find a new way of working thanks to this new platform.
Making your job easier
Whilst it ticks all the boxes from a ‘can it do this?’ perspective, the question that should be asked is, ‘does this make the sales persons’ job easier?’. If the system requires users to enter endless information and check endless boxes, the answer is ‘no’. I’ve seen many a system sold on its ability to do many different things, when realistically, a lot of features are not relevant to what is trying to be achieved and so serve to clutter the overall platform. I’m yet to come across a scenario where an increase in ‘clutter’ hasn’t coincided with a decrease in efficiency.
So how do you make a CRM that people actually want to use? Firstly, put yourself in the users’ shoes. Build it from their perspective, in-line with the capabilities that the sales director requires. In this day and age, the “off-the-shelf” package is unlikely to be the best for your business.
Capture relevant information
Tailor your CRM to capture the data points that are relevant to you. Cluttered interfaces and obsolete fields (do I really need to be capturing a fax number in 2019?) all have a negative effect on user experience, so scale-back the system to only use as much space as is necessary. Freeing up space enables you to add in fields that are more relevant to your organisation, hence increasing productivity. Only with a clear idea of what you want to achieve can you put appropriate marketing automation in place.
AI is a buzzword at the moment. While there are still great improvements to come regarding the way in which AI can help your sales and marketing efforts, existing platforms are beginning to make use of computer-led analytics to help sift through the realms of data points that are being captured in today’s ‘Big Data’ world. Manually trying to identify anomalies can be a near-impossible task, but with the help of machine learning to identify not only the instant that an anomaly has taken place, but to prevent future occurrences, we can ensure time efficiencies.
Not only can we use AI as a trend-spotter, it can become every salesperson’s intelligent assistant. When is the best time to contact a prospect? How receptive were they to my last email? How am I performing this week?
Out on the road and want to update your prospect account? Dictate your note and enable the AI to type it out whilst updating relevant fields in your CRM.
Need a quick update on progress? Ask your question and let the system do the hard work, providing you with an answer.
The technology is there and we need to train our sales people to use it as support, not a distraction; becoming more organised and efficient we can free up some of our most valuable resource, our time. Whilst your sales and marketing platforms may already have these capabilities, you need to train your teams to use them.
Focus on what is necessary
Finally, every good CRM implementation process should take note of the particular needs of the organisation and all its’ stakeholders; from the directors who want accurate reporting right down to the sales team who want ease of use. Integrate only the necessary features, rather than cluttering an all encompassing platform with bells and whistles that only serve to add unwanted noise. Whether you are undertaking the implementation internally, or looking for an external consultant, make sure to focus on what is necessary and important, rather than a long list of features.
In Part 2 of the series, we look at some of these sales and marketing tools and how to build a functional digital marketing suite