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Author's profile photo Dietmar Bohn

Has Your Cloud Sales Application Gone the Way of the Dinosaur? [Part 1]

If it’s Google-like, LinkedIn-oriented or a Facebook-simple Experience, I’ll Use It!


As a sales professional, you’ve been here before: you’re striving to provide value to all of your customers – your time is constricted –and you’re boss expects you to prioritize and focus on the customers and opportunities providing the most probability for success.  All the while, you’d like to cultivate an active community of advocates and reference customers to help you to scale the great work you’ve done.  There’s no time for yesterday’s sales user experience –

‘old’ SaaS means inconsistencies, hunting around for resources, let’s just say very ‘first generation’ in today’s social / mobile world.


You’ve got to be able to take your show on the road with equal and easy access to the most relevant information for you – at the moment that you need it.  Having “a complete view of the customer at your fingertips” takes on a whole new meaning – when you are at a customer meeting!   You have about 15 minutes to create the perfect value proposition – and the CEO throws out a new requirement just as she is rushing off to the next meeting.   This means that sales decision-making dashboards providing real-time insights should be quick to find on your mobile – just as they are on your laptop.  Or, your iPAD must respond – with even better-informed and more relevant views to show your customer in that instant.  And the views must be served up to a company who may have just announced earnings results, a new acquisition, or a product announcement – not yielding to yesterday’s news.


In a new report by EMA Research , sales professionals cite “natively mobile”, “social for sales”, “useful analytics” and “pleasure to use” as some of the main criteria they need in a selling solution.  So, why this – and why now?  As we all know, what has changed since the advent of cloud applications is the customer’s buying journey – EMA refers to these changes as SMAC: Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud – all of which play a role in how what and when information is, in fact, relevant for your customer.


Analytics to Out-Innovate Your Competitors

Whether sales professionals will learn to use social, mobile, and analytics to improve their understanding customers may be the difference between sinking or swimming.  Making better sales decisions to operate more effectively relative to your competition – is how you’ll out-innovate the sales rep who pitched your customer just before you did!

The EMA Research bears out: “the opportunity to identify sales strategies that directly align with business objectives has increased due to advancements in customer and market intelligence, and related analytics. Today’s adept  sales manager uses advanced tools to ensure that the sales team understands, is incentivized, and has the metrics to pursue the goals of the business.  In general, best-in-class salespeople and sales managers effectively use social, mobile, and analytics throughout their working day. Such sales professionals move through sales cycles with greater agility and efficiency, contribute more readily to wider sales team, and are out in front of red flags and hidden opportunities.”


A great example of how analytics may help to out-innovate your competitors is in enabling salespeople to easily classify customers, and to therefore make better choices for customer engagement and pricing.  The goal is to provide analytics that will help salespeople spend more time selling, but to sell with more customer insight and strategically.  All that plus pictorial clues such as Infographics or chart to pop out and expand – make it easily consumable for sales professionals and others associated with an account or a deal.


It should take a salesperson no time at all to “get it”

…To get what? Anything he/she needs to close a deal!   In order for sales to adopt a new way of working in a digitally-connect business world; everything that a sales professional needs in order to carry out the lead to cash process must be seamlessly integrated.   And that means that  other leading tools or apps are “baked-in” – allowing the sales rep to operate on all cylinders with all the relevant information at his/her disposal, from CRM and all other internal and external sources.


EMA Research characterizes the positive impact on sales agility, effectiveness, and accurate customer information of this integration as mission critical. Imagine a few examples such as order management, account data synchronization, pricing accuracy and quote generation, pipeline management and analytics.  Yes there are back end systems and colleagues within other parts of your organization who will need to be involved.  And that’s OK – the pre-approval processes and individuals needed to move forward can be fed directly to a salesperson or sales manager to make transactions possible.

The purpose of this piece was to share some of the findings of EMA Research’s “A Winning Cloud Sales Solution” white paper and to illuminate some of the key factors gleaned from the research in terms of what sales professionals are better able to do to leapfrog SaaS technology of yesterday to respond to today’s SMAC or social – mobile-analytics-and cloud-oriented consumers with relevance and agility to grow your business and sales insight.  In Part 2, you’ll dig deeper into the report to get better take on sales effectiveness, social selling, and the world of collaborative selling.

I’d eager to hear from you!  If you have comments or experience on the topic, feel free to follow me on twitter at @Dietmar_Bohn or share questions or comments below.

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