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Many cloud CRM systems have been around for over a decade and although innovative at the time, they’ve fallen behind in what sellers need to understand, engage and proactively guide customers through the buying journey. 

As part of your 2014 sales plan, now is a good time to evaluate whether your current CRM system has kept pace with what your sellers need to be successful.

As noted in Part 1 of this post, user adoption and user experience are easy litmus tests of whether your sales organization is getting meaningful value out of your current CRM system.  Does at least 90% of your sales organization actively use your current system on a daily basis? Does it have a beautiful user experience designed around the clean, consumerized approach that we all love to use in our personal lives? If your answers are “no” or “sort of” to either of these questions, it’s time to re-evaluate your CRM system as part of your 2014 sales planning.

Part 1 of this post also discussed Mobile and Collaborative Selling.  In Part 2, we’ll cover the three additional must-haves:

  • Complete View of the Customer
  • Real-Time Sales Analytics
  • Guided Selling

In CSO [Chief Sales Officer] Insights’ recent publication on Next Generation CRM, they identify key trends which have contributed to the shift to the next generation or ‘new wave’ of cloud applications for sales. If you look at next gen CRM as simply augmenting first wave cloud CRM, then you’re likely barking up the wrong tree!  Cloud solutions today should be designed from the ground up to boost sales effectiveness, where a core tenant is “what’s in it for the sales rep?”

Delivering deep customer insight, recommending relevant solutions, and connecting the dots between your sales network and your customers are just a few of the capabilities that yesterday’s cloud CRM applications were not designed for.

So let’s walk through the remainder of the 6 capabilities that sales organizations need to be effective today.

Complete View of the Customer

In yesterday’s CRM speak, we would talk about front office and back office, knowing well that different systems meant integration issues and siloed information.  New cloud solutions with in-context social collaboration AND native connectivity to your enterprise systems make “360 customer” capabilities plug-and-play, giving you not only the complete view of your customer but also the ability to engage with your customer like never before.

This new “understand and engage” approach brings nuggets of insight that mean:

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  • Better understanding of preferences, objectives, sentiment and trusted advisers
  • Recommendations on best practices, new approaches to addressing business challenges and the appropriate solutions
  • Seamless orchestration of the last mile of the buying process, by reducing the friction of closing a deal
  • Being more relevant and proactive in every customer interaction

CSO Insights speaks about the four R’s of this 360 degree customer view:

  • Recognize me
  • Respect me
  • Remember me
  • Respond to me

…and when we say ‘me’ we mean it very specifically: your customer in his/her role – in his geography, his industry, his business climate, his economic, environmental, political and social situation, and his personal channels of engagement.  A complete view of the customer with a next gen CRM system is the best way to make personalization and transparency in today’s dynamic business a reality.

Analytics

According to CSO Insights: “Firms providing analytics outdistance non-analytics firms by wide margins.” Their findings corroborate this in the areas of:Sales-Dashboard-resized-for-SCN-grey.png

  • Customer loyalty
  • Renewal of existing customers
  • Farming additional business
  • New product introductions
  • Cross sell / upsell

What does it mean for your sales reps to have access to such analytical tools and insight?

It means that they can eliminate surprises and predict better outcomes by optimizing selling activities and replicating best sales behaviors, being ahead of the curve on leading indicators and offering early warning signs on attainable revenue and other measures.

Meaningful analytics brings a level of permeability to sales and customer data which would otherwise be static, flat and largely focused on looking in the rear view mirror, rather than anticipating and planning for what’s ahead.


Guided Selling

Another must-have in sales today, “guided selling” is about helping companies unify their sales process and expose sales best practices within their CRM system. Sales professionals see recommendations at every step of the sales cycle and can navigate through the worst “fog” in a customer’s journey.

Guided selling acts as both your compass and your sales assistant, illuminating best practices, the right activities, the right experts  and the most relevant content to leverage at each stage.  It “… knows where you are in the sales process, and it presents next action steps to advance the sale. ”

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With sales coaching as a real discipline now, commercial sales methodologies and best practices that  are ‘baked-in’ to a next gen cloud sales application provide additional rigor and help sales professionals get over hurdles quicker and anticipate the smart moves to be strategic and proactive with customers, rather than reactionary.

So, what does this all mean? What it all boils down to is delivering a great experience throughout your customer’s buying journey which not only helps you close more deals but also keeps your customers coming back.


To learn more, check out CSO Insights: SAP Cloud for Sales Delivers Next Generation CRM here to get deeper insight from sales effectiveness experts Barry Trailer and Jim Dickie.


Comments always welcome below or reach me on twitter @ArianeLindblom

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