Skip navigation
All Places > Partner Corner > Blog > 2017 > March
2017

If you’ve been paying attention to tech over the past few years, you might have noticed that Artificial Intelligence is emerging as the largest disruptive force in both consumer and business technology.

Tech giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and many others are working collaboratively through open source libraries to develop their A.I. systems, and one of the most popular use cases for A.I. has become sales.

So it’s no wonder that sales leaders everywhere are asking the question: Will A.I. be replacing B2B sales reps anytime soon?

 

Well in 2015, Forrester analyst Andy Hoar stated that he believed one million sales jobs would be displaced by 2020. This can be a frightening at first. However, sales can't be viewed as a monotonous, generic, single-sided, single-colored industry. It has many different facets and pockets. So in other words, all sales jobs aren’t equal.

 

In fact, we see at least four types of salespeople across B2B Sales:

  • Order Takers
  • Navigators
  • Explainers
  • Consultants

 

It is true that Order Takers, Navigators, and Explainers may see job losses over the next few years. However, the consultive sales person’s (aka Challenger salesperson) job prospects will increase over the next few years by 10% according to Forrester. Instead of taking jobs away from consultive sales people, A.I. will enhance the ability for these people to educate and challenge buyers. Let’s take a look at how.

 

Sales reps will spend more time consulting, building relationships, and challenging

Today, the average sales rep only spends about 33% of their time selling according to CSO Insights which means about 67% of your sales reps time is devoted to non-selling activities like answering emails, gathering information, creating content, and *shudder* data entry.

 

Going into the future, we imagine salespeople spending much closer to 100% of their time selling and consulting decision makers, and A.I. will be the driving force behind this. The first time waster that is being eliminated by technology is data entry. Though they are not yet A.I. products, tools like Collabspot are already saving sales reps more than 4 hours per week while increasing data accuracy and completeness. Sales people that utilize tools like Collabspot are already able to focus on less replicable activities, such as interacting with the customer, building strong customer relationships, solving customer needs, and improving the business.

 

The next shoe to drop will be predictive analytics solutions that will analyze the accurate and complete data in your CRM and help sales reps understand what their next best action should be. Sales reps will have custom playbooks for each prospect that will let them know when to reach out, what message to send, and how to send it.

Soon it will be commonplace for B2B sales organizations to leverage A.I. to highlight at risk deals, build prospecting pipelines, and create razor targeted forecasts.

 

A.I. will likely act as the perfect sales assistant, guiding the sales people to take the “perfect” actions at the perfect time.

 

How can my company take advantage of A.I.

So now we’ve established that A.I. is going to turn your sales organization into a legion of super sales soldiers. But, how can you start to implement this tech into your organization?

 

Well, it all starts with data and infrastructure. AI requires an immense amount of data that it can learn from which will allow it to make accurate predictions and appropriate decisions.The more accurate, clean, and up to date data that you have, the better A.I. is going to work for you.

 

So the #1 thing that every sales organization needs to be doing right now is collecting data. This extends beyond simple contact information and firmographics. Intelligent A.I. systems will be able to recreate the best conditions for your team to close a deal. To do that, it’ll need to know what opportunities you won, which opportunities you lost, when did your team members communicate with the prospect and what was said?

 

The B2B sales organizations that will win over the next ten years are going to be the ones with the most robust data which allows them to pinpoint their activities the best.

 

So yes, technology will transform the B2B sales industry just as it has every other industry, however that doesn’t mean the occupation is going anywhere anytime soon. Sales people will be required to be more consultative, and technology will help them to educate and challenge their prospects more than ever.

So I for one, welcome our new A.I. sales overlords, and you should too.

Do you want to make customer support a better experience for your customers and save your organization money?

 

It may sound like searching for a needle in a haystack, but there are solutions in the world that focus on achieving both those goals simultaneously. And online customer communities, pared with data from your CRM, are a great way of increasing customer satisfaction and helping your organization win. By working together, the two platforms create a seamless customer support experience for any type of customer, solving a myriad of problems.

 

Today’s world is more competitive than ever, making customer retention vital for organizations. That means customer care and support are crucial - and it’s important that you have a system that integrates all the tools necessary to create a frictionless experience. Let’s dig into how combining your CRM and customer community can help you achieve these goals.

1. Faster response times and better answers

Any extra minute of customer frustration is bad for your organization - so the faster you can solve issues, the better. But what happens if crisis strikes a customer when your support team is off the clock?

 

Unlike individual people, your customer support community never sleeps, especially if it has users across time zones. Just because it’s after hours or your support team is overwhelmed by other cases doesn’t mean your customers can’t ask each other questions and collaborate online.

 

But it doesn’t stop there. Over time, as customers work together to solve problems, they essentially build a searchable, ever-updating manual that any user can access. So, even if a user doesn’t get a response right away, chances are someone else has already asked a similar question and they can simply search the community for the answer.

 

This kind of collaboration is extremely helpful for current customers who are using your product every day, but it’s also incredibly illuminating for prospects. Imagine if you’re a prospect and you see this type of transparency and help. It doesn’t matter how good your sales team is - your community and your current customers also can help sell your product. All of this information automatically writes back to your CRM, ensuring you always have the clearest picture of your customers.

 

You also learn who your biggest advocates are. By observing your community and tracking engagement, you learn which customers are your product champions. Don’t let this knowledge go to waste - cultivate your organization’s relationship with them by creating customer advocacy programs and gamification. When you have a new product, ask these people for feedback, or include them in the welcoming process for new customers.

2. Integrated with support systems

Unfortunately, customers can’t always help other customers. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Customer communities are great at helping people figure out smaller problems, which leaves more time for your support team to work on larger issues.

 

Many community platforms integrate with ticketing and support systems, in addition to integrating with your CRM. That means customers can easily create a support ticket with the click of a button - and the support team can see the entire discussion thread. That way they can get to the meat of the issue rather than rehashing suggestions the customer already got from fellow customers on the community.

 

Some people worry that communities will make customer support teams obsolete, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Instead, it’s important to see the community and the support team as partners, tag-teaming to give customers the best experience possible.

 

By integrating your customer community with a support system, you become more than ‘just a support system.’ You also create a more data intelligent environment regarding how your customers use your product. That data is valuable product feedback and can help improve the overall customer experience. It’s a chance to recognize and help customer advocates and champions succeed, which in turn helps new and not-as-involved customers get help and shine, too.

 

You don’t need to be a data scientist or have someone on staff to make sense of the numbers and find value in them - even tracking basic metrics, such as discussion activity and comments, can help your organization make important business decisions.

 

Communities give you both excellent qualitative data and a glimpse into your customer’s thoughts, but they also give you excellent quantitative data, especially when you integrate your community with complimentary platforms and software. Unlike free platforms, like Facebook Groups or LinkedIn, when you integrate your private customer community with your CRM or support system, you own that data and know exactly what’s going on.

3. Learn what to fix and where to expand

Beyond creating a better in-the-moment customer experience, communities give your organization something very valuable - a ton of data - especially if it’s integrated with your existing CRM.

 

First, you can learn a lot about your customers, by seeing who participates. Second, you can learn a lot about how they use your product and services by seeing how they participate and watching discussions. How do they solve problems? Is there a process that continually stumps people, or a feature that’s constantly being requested?

4. Leverage data to its full extent

Communities help your customers solve problems and connect with one another. But they also help customers connect with you and interact in a space that writes data back to your CRM, giving you the clearest picture possible of your current customers.

 

Data is powerful - it allows you to make informed business decisions and steer your company in a positive direction. What better way is there to get data about your customers than from a platform they go to for help and collaboration?

 

Want to learn more? Contact us or check out listing on SugarExchange to learn what our solution can provide for you.

Sales have always been about building relationships and adding value. Sales acceleration and automation tools truly help streamline selling activities, but nothing will replace the impact of authentic interaction and building trust over time.

 

This is why sales organizations must always seek to level up their connection with prospects, leads, and customers. Letting them know they’re valued should be top of mind in all interactions with sales reps.

 

To keep this chain of value-giving rolling beyond the initial call, a way to level up meaningful conversations and continuously add value is by taking down detailed notes.

 

This is key especially when you’re working with larger accounts in B2B sales that would require multiple touches before getting to the closing stage. Coordinating efforts to build trust and add value can only be done if call notes are accessible to everyone, keeping the team on the same page.

Value of note-taking in sales

Sure, sales reps might say that they are able to retain all important details from calls and diligent note-taking is another blocker that hastens their process. However, looking at note-taking as an insignificant activity puts your team in threat of dropping potentially long-term clients and larger deals which would need multiple follow-ups -- and follow-ups are where these notes shine.

 

Any sales rep who knows that phone conversations trump other channels of communication will attest that in order to warm up calls, you need to have at least some information from the prior call, even if it was brief. A single piece of information–even the prospect’s previous comment about the weather–can change the mood of a call, impacting its outcome.

Important notes to take:

  • Actionable follow-ups

  • Changes in the lead’s contact record

  • Key pieces of contextual information

  • Feedback on product, sales, or customer support

 

Connect Sugar to your phone system for better call notes

 

Updating entries on Sugar can be drastically improved by bridging the gap between your phone and your computer. Computer-telephony integration tools like Tenfold connect SugarCRM to any existing phone system you might have, allowing you to take call notes right on a floating UI (screen pop) that appears each time there’s an outbound or inbound call.

A lot of information often falls through when a rep has to transfer notes to the CRM because they manually took them down on Notepad or TextEdit, not to mention the lost time spent on manual data entry. CTI solutions automatically log call data on Sugar and also allow reps to not have to pull up a separate application when a call comes in or is made. 

 

To see how a solution like Tenfold can help you take better notes among other benefits, you may schedule a free demo with us.

 

Final thoughts

The importance of note-taking in driving the sales process cannot be overstated. As a tool to make it happen, CTIs let your team leverage the details and efficiencies of saving all prospect and customer information combined with the strategic change of ensuring the whole team is up to date on the status of a deal. Taking notes and doing it efficiently at scale will turn more prospects into customers.

Overview

Manufacturing industry has witnessed a dramatic transformation over the years. Previously, a manufacturing company responded to whatever a customer required.   It has now evolved and become more customer centric. Instead of waiting for the customers to tell them what they need, companies are now forecasting what will be in demand in the coming months and making use of techniques like lean production and automation to meet that demand. In these dynamic times, the role of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has never been more important. Here we list five reasons how a CRM with the quintessential manufacturing features can add value by creating a leaner organization that anticipates customer demand and meets it quickly and efficiently.

 

1-Accurate Demand Forecasting
This feature is extremely useful for firms operating in fast-changing industries such as high-tech, electronics, retail etc. CRM Solution can help manufacturers cut the time required to develop a product from the concept phase to market delivery by enabling more accurate demand forecasting along with improved production information. By adapting faster and acting smarter, companies can get products to market before their competitors and gain competitive edge.

 

2- Improve Product Quality

To stay in business, a manufacturing company has to keep producing high quality products consistently and efficiently. Faulty or defective products will not only tarnish the brand image but also result in unhappy and unsatisfied customers, leading to reduction in sales and revenue. With a CRM in place, a company can gather and analyze data from multiple sources and figure out process errors in real-time that contribute to product defects.

 

3- Intelligent Supply Chain
Failing to simplify and optimize business operations can result in overly-complex and costly implementations which can have a detrimental effect on the company’s desired ROI. Deploying a CRM can give manufacturers detailed and useful insights about operations, inventory management, order processing, warehousing and distribution chains. Having an intelligent supply chain can deliver phenomenal results as it empowers firms to manage production schedules, maintain materials supply and move products quickly from site of production to the market.

 

4- Enrich Customer Relationships
Safe delivery of a product and after sales service are as important for a manufacturing company as closing a new deal. A CRM system will help keep track of any warranty, repair, or service issues and manage day to day questions, inquiries and service calls. This will result in fewer delays and penalties and more follow on sales.

 

5-Win More Business
CRM software is a valuable marketing tool to gain followers and customers.  It enables marketing and selling departments to make detailed reports taking into consideration customers' behavior. It lets the customer support staff help the customer immediately and provides valuable insights that help improve product quality and operation processes over time. This streamlines business operations, lowers costs and increases profits.

We're Here to Help!

Still not sure whether your manufacturing firm needs a CRM? Contact us to get a free consultation session and find out how we can provide you with the optimal CRM solution.

Disruption Series: Collab

Posted by mweitzel Employee Mar 16, 2017

I had the opportunity to share a coffee with Carlos Vasconcelos, CMO of Collab, in a busy Munich restaurant, to discuss how their approach to re-envisioning a modern contact center is disrupting the industry. Built from the ground up in the cloud, Collab's Nubitalk Cloud, integrates artificial intelligence through "predictive quality assurance"--helping managers determine which calls should be listened to as well as learning algorithms that match humans to agents. Collab's investment in bot technology lowers the overall cost of your contact center by adding a new layer of self service. You can get started with Nubitalk by simply enrolling on their web portal. And the best part? Enter your Sugar URL when you sign up and voila! You have an integrated contact center! 

Have your own story of disruption? Reach out to Mark Weitzel or Donna Ewart to learn how to be featured on our blog.

Disruption Series: Xperido

Posted by mweitzel Employee Mar 14, 2017

Closing deals is hard enough. As sales professional, it's important to get accurate information in front of the customer. Generating the transactional documents that you need should be quick, easy, and intuitive--not a frustrating time sink. And it should be possible on all your devices. In this episode of our Disruption series, Erwin Buggenhout, Xperido's Channel Manager, sits down with yours truly to discuss how they are changing how documents are created and managed in Sugar. 

Have your own story of disruption? Reach out to Mark Weitzel or Donna Ewart to learn how to be featured on our blog.

Disruption Series: AddOptify

Posted by mweitzel Employee Mar 10, 2017

Today's customer is more savvy than ever before. With almost unlimited information about you--and your competition--at their fingertips, it is paramount to deliver an extraordinary customer experience. To do this, you need to understand and map out the customer journey--then you need to operationalize it. In this latest post in our Disruption series, Martin Schneider sits down with Kristian af Sandeberg to discuss the Customer Journey Plugin and how visualizing and operationalizing the customer journey will increase adoption of Sugar and drive more business.

Have your own story of disruption? Reach out to Mark Weitzel or Donna Ewart to learn how to be featured on our blog.

Disruption Series: Riva

Posted by mweitzel Employee Mar 7, 2017

Disruption comes in all shapes and sizes. Often, disruption starts by simply doing things in a better, more efficient way. As these changes add up and momentum builds, before you realize it, you've been disrupted! SugarCRM's partner, Riva, is driving change by bringing together two of your mission critical systems: email and Sugar. Check out Martin Schneider and Trevor Poapst as they discuss Riva's powerful email integration. It's long overdue that the way we manage email is disrupted. 

Have your own story of disruption? Reach out to Mark Weitzel or Donna Ewart to learn how to be featured on our blog.

How many emails do you get per day? If you are like me, this number is staggering. Many of these emails are from potential partners--my "prospects" if you will. In order to manage my business effectively, it's important for me to be able to capture the information from my email directly into Sugar. Also, when corresponding with a partner, I want the latest information from Sugar right at my finger tips. Collabspot provides a seamless integration with GMail (and soon O365) to bring Sugar into your inbox. What's more, the team at Collabspot is looking ahead and beginning to disrupt the industry by leveraging "email analytics" to provide greater insight to your sales and support teams. Listen to Martin Schneider's interview with Brandon Sellers to learn more.

Have your own story of disruption? Reach out to Mark Weitzel or Donna Ewart to learn how to be featured on our blog.

At the heart of disruption is innovation. Often, that innovation is a result of seeing things differently--recognizing patterns and trends before your competition--and being agile enough to act. In our latest post in our Disruption series, Dale Price from IBM talks about how the combination of marketing automation and Watson analytics drives better engagement by bringing more intelligence and insights throughout the marketing and sales process. By bridging the gap between marketing and sales, IBM & Sugar accelerate your ability to close more business.

 

Have your own story of disruption? Reach out to Mark Weitzel or Donna Ewart to learn how to be featured on our blog.

Sales is hard. Especially when selling to someone you don't know. You don't have that context to help break the ice and frame the conversation. That's why a warm introduction is critically important. TrustSphere's "Links Within" is an application that helps you understand the real relationships that your organization has to your customers and prospects. In the latest installment in our "Disruption" series, Martin Schneider and Brian Lebahn discuss "Links Within" for Sugar.  As the saying goes, it's not what you know, it's who you know. With TrustSphere, you get to know a lot more people. 

Disruption Series: PandaDoc

Posted by mweitzel Employee Mar 1, 2017

There is nothing as frantic as the end of the quarter. How many times have you been rushing around searching for that last email to make sure your prospect has the right case study, customer reference or the most accurate proposal? How would you like to have that whole process aligned on a clean "buyer journey" where the information is immediate, relevant, and tailored for the prospect? Jared Fuller, VP of Sales and Business Development for PandaDoc, talks with Martin Schneider to discuss how PandaDoc is disrupting how businesses close business.