Most people think “selling” is the same as “talking”. But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job. – Roy Bartell

It is not new that today’s customer comes to the table more fully informed and with a higher set of expectations regarding the quality of the selling engagement: expecting sales professionals to be well-prepared, knowing the customer’s needs and preferences, and being able to maintain a productive engagement. The immediacy in ones’ response and handling the modern day sales processes are table stakes. We see this play out in industries such as discrete manufacturing and high tech, as well as in automotive or aerospace supplier companies – in which commoditization of products or services have occurred. Today’s customers have higher expectations, but so too, do sales professionals. They want to spend more time successfully engaging with customers. Streamlined sales processes, devices of choice and modern sales software are some of the top asks of successful sales people. The more sales applications are directed toward specific outcomes and are combined with consumer-grade usability, the more apt sales professionals are to use it!

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Getting the Basics Right

Facebook, Google, WhatsApp and more influence the heightened expectations of sales professionals who want to use sales software productively. They should expect a useful application to offer tagging, flagging, in-line editing and arranging content or posts easily – while allowing sales people to personalize this experience to get quick access to the information they, personally,  need. Guided selling is a way to scale best practices, provide recommended actions and content for each stage of a deal. In the era of public cloud computing, applications are expected to provide enhancements without any delay. Sales tools need to be available on every device, and also cover other basic requirements like Outlook integration, process automation, social capabilities, collaboration and rich analytics.

Social Selling

It’s a given that today’s sales professionals leverage social media to get additional information about their customers and individuals,  listen and learn from them, or connect with them. They also identify and include the most suitable colleagues or partners to work on an opportunity or quote. However, leveraging social capabilities could also require behavioral changes that have implications for management and staff.  Let’s face it: sales people want to spend their time selling, and if social networks can facilitate that, then it’s a must.

Insight

Sales personnel are in need of analytic capabilities exposed within the context of the selling processes — turning insight to action and driving sales effectiveness. Building the complete 360 degree customer view and providing insights that lead to prescriptive action require back-end integration. Exposing internal customer information within the sales applications across the enterprise gives visibility into the entire customer journey, such as customer related marketing activities, complaints, open service tickets, order status, shipments and payments etc. Modern sales applications provide real-time CRM-interactive reports which could be easily modified and shared by the sales professional.  Analytics is expected to be provided in context, with nice visualization through dashboards and drill down capabilities. Plus specific analysis tools or even predictive capabilities, providing a unique advantage to sales professionals.

Industry-specific Capabilities

Most sales organizations in discrete manufacturing or other industries also need tailored or industry-specific capabilities, to successfully orchestrate their sell-from-stock, configure-to-order, manufacture-to-order or any other selling process. Think: configuration, install base management, complex CPQ, solutions selling for manufacturing companies, or design registration for high tech companies.

Key Benefits

Sales teams will adopt these modern sales applications if using it results in hitting or surpassing their sales target. The main impacts of rolling out these new solutions include the following improvements:

• Improved customer and employee satisfaction – through CRM system access from everywhere

• Enhanced productivity – through better usability, knowledge sharing, and sales effectiveness tools

• Insight into sales business and processes

• Improved sales enablement through process orchestration

• Connecting employees to customers’ key stakeholders and decision makers

• Connecting people, information, and systems for ad hoc problem solving and collaboration

• Increased alignment with marketing and service

• Relieving email of tasks that are not a good fit through social exchanges

Challenges

Over the past three years, CRM applications for sales have been significantly improved through leveraging various evolutions in technology: usability, sales effectiveness tools, analytics and mobility. However, sales organizations may be challenged to gain acceptance of new products given the organizational and process changes. E.g., to move to complete orchestration and also leverage guided selling, team members may need to decide on best practices — a process that could be challenging and will require management support. But it will be well worth it!

For more insight in today’s trends and requirements of successful sales organizations and how modern CRM applications cover these needs, check out the IDC Technology Spotlight “Increasing Sales Effectiveness in the Age of Insight, Mobility, and Social Business”.

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