The decision by Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s competition authority, to rule against Facebook’s plans to merge user data from Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram is hugely significant and perhaps the first step towards the separation of data from the digital monopolies.
Despite the majority of users viewing customer relationship management (CRM) tools as a mandate, a distraction and an administrative burden, CRM systems still form the backbone of the typical sales and marketing technology stack. It’s therefore no wonder that users of these systems often have poor confidence in CRMs value.
Many accomplished sellers spend way too much time on administrative CRM tasks, which reduces the time they have to build relationships with buyers.
The less time you have with buyers, the less opportunity you give yourself to educate them, provide insights, add value and cement a relationship.
The problem with traditional CRM
The reality is, that in most cases, a CRM is little more than a backward-looking system of record. Put into context, when did you last hear a seller say, “I would never have won that deal if it weren’t for my CRM system”?
Never? That’s because CRM tools were never built to drive sales.
In an attempt to address this deficiency, there’s been an explosion of sales and marketing technologies that surround CRM systems, all of which claim to help make these departments more productive and effective.
Some support lead generation and conversion, others support sales process management and productivity, or sales enablement content and training.
But the biggest challenge with all of this is integration.
In a recent CSO Insights report, only 31% of respondents had a joint process for nurturing leads and just 26% had a mutually accepted definition for lead scoring.
This is a serious alignment gap between sales and marketing. But both departments have the opportunity to become much more strategic, especially as these lead flow processes set the basis for achieving better and more predictable sales results.
Adopting a more strategic methodology
Another issue with implementing these new tools is that these solutions are often not backed by a strategic sales methodology. This is essential to help order the chaos. It guides the actions of sellers, helping them to:
- Prioritise deals
- Get coaching where required
- Improve time management
- Plan daily activities in order to develop a winning strategy for each deal to improve conversion rates.
Typically, there are 6.4 decision makers in every sale, so if I’m a seller chasing a deal, then I have to figure out who all the decision makers are, what role they’re in, and a whole other series of behaviours. A methodology organises all of that and tells you the next things you need to do in well-thought-out actions.
Having this structured and seller-first approach encourages sales professionals to voluntarily submit opportunity information and improve the reliability and usability of CRM data. As well as automating and providing insights into prospects’ behaviours, the information they input will also augment their behaviour.
Ultimately, this will help them to learn from past interactions and guide them with the actions they need to take, whilst providing advice on the next opportunity. In other words: it will them become better sellers.
Predictive analytics and changing behaviours
This next phase of CRM helps to change the behaviours inside of a deal for the most comprehensive view of what is happening in the pipeline. With analytics structured around seller actions, organisations can gain a more accurate view of where deals stand, why opportunities close, and how adopting methodologies correlates to winning.
Such predictive analytics allows sales teams to turn backward-looking CRM data into forward-looking insights. In this way, CRM will be transformed from an organisational tool to something that will actually enable sellers to win more by replicating past patterns of success.
And instead of viewing technology as a burden, sales teams will start to approach technology as a necessary resource because it will have proven it can help them do their jobs more effectively.
The adoption of forward-focused sales technology is also important because the buyers you’re selling to are turning to technology as well. Sales teams need to be better equipped to meet the expectations of digital native buyers to have a chance of influencing their decisions ahead of time.
Forward-focused sales technology enables sales teams to add value and differentiation at every stage of the selling process and develop new ways to forge relationships with clients.
Data can also be woven into predictive analytics to indicate the right time to contact a prospective client and help manage those longer and larger relationships. It helps to connect all the dots of the entire buyer journey and coordinate them based on a core methodology.
Managing customer information isn’t about filling out forms anymore, but a way to show and think over time about what can be done differently – understanding when to walk away from a deal, and when to chase it. Or helping you to understand that you’re losing 60 percent of the time when you don’t get a certain decision-maker’s buy-in, or that you used a certain piece of content when you won the last two times in a specific industry.
Fundamentally, the only thing that actually drives sales results is seller behaviour, and the only thing that can reliably change seller behaviour is a proven methodology for them to follow that is based on solid data and insights.
This formalisation of sales process combined with the integration of CRM into these workflows can only achieve better results.
Readying yourself for the future
Traditional CRMs are just not up to scratch when it comes to the new, disruptive business environment. It is far from the only tool that sales and marketing operations need to have access to in order to fully support the array of activities that fall under the scope of their responsibility.
The future of CRM will be insight-led and powered by sales processes and methodology. This approach will change the way CRM systems are used and become a place where sellers will look toward technology to help answer questions such as, ‘Who do I need to connect with next to close this deal?’.
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