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2017

Systematicity is a necessary factor for business growth as it presupposes replicating, managing and continuous improvement of processes. Implementation of Business Processes Management (BPM) tools ensures systematicity so far as BPM tool leads a user along a defined in advance algorithm and collects data for managing and improving.

But how can one provide an individual approach? The answer to this question is very important in sales processes. Here are some typical situations that are an integral part of an individual approach. Each one can be described in BPM tool with huge difficulties or can’t be described at all:

  • You don’t know in advance how many times you should communicate with a prospect and if a call is enough or a meeting is required as well. If it is, then how many are required: one, two, …? Who knows.
  • You don’t know in advance how many times you need to prepare and discuss an offer with a prospect and with your colleagues.
  • In spite of your standards, a prospect requests a standard contract prior to discussion.
  • Your prospect asks you to make an alternative offer at the final stage of negotiations and you need to return to the previously executed steps.

In sales there is a wide list of “uncertainties” that can’t be defined in advance and assembled into algorithm. But it doesn’t mean that one can’t provide systematicity of sales processes and individual approach simultaneously. To make it possible we must:

  • Split sales cycle into stages. Usually each company has it as stages of sales funnel. The main issue of sales funnel is a subjective definition of the current stage that makes sales funnel a bad source for sales forecasting
  • Define intermediate results and artefacts that need to be achieved at each stage. It allows reducing subjectivity in sales stage definition. Exactly at this point one could meet (and one is going to meet for sure) some difficulties, because the list of results and artefacts depends on a lot of factors (who a prospect is and which products he/she is interested in, what an opportunity amount is, etc.)
  • Define the set (but not strict sequences!) of steps that should be executed to achieve particular results. Any particular step can be defined as a separate process inside BPM tool if it’s appropriate.
  • Provide prompts on how to execute a particular step in the best way with a possibility to collect feedbacks from your personnel for continuous processes’ improvement.
  • Provide your staff with a possibility to decide which steps should be executed and their execution order, including the possibility of returning to previous steps that have been already executed.
  • Control the speed of moving forward, because the “pending processes” are a reverse side of decision’s making freedom.

It will be appropriate to say that you need to carry out the analysis of both actions (who, what, when and under what conditions executes/skips) and feedbacks from the employees (what should be added or changed) on a regular basis in order to improve the processes continuously.

In order to support such an approach, you need to use a special tool. Sugar add-on “Check List” by Integros can be an example of the abovementioned tool for CRM system based on Sugar platform. If you have plans for implementing such tool for lead/sales management, you can get a webinar recording where we will show how it works.

From enterprise-level companies to SMEs, CRM software adoption continues to grow at a staggering rateparticularly in mobile and cloud-based CRM system technology. And with good reason: sales teams with mobile CRMs achieve their sales goals at twice the rate of sales teams without mobile CRMs. In fact, 91% of companies with more than eleven employees now use some kind of CRM for sales, research, and customer satisfaction. However, initial CRM implementation does not necessarily mean complete CRM adoption. In fact, discrete departments (i.e., sales teams, marketing teams) often fail to fully adopt CRM software completely or integrate it into their sales practices, which means that data and research can be largely incomplete. If your sales reps forget to enter data, then the CRM is less useful for the sales, marketing, and research teams, and can affect your business more broadly.

However, enterprise-level companies are uniquely poised to drive CRM adoption. Larger organizations, with a lot of moving parts, multiple geographic locations, and distinct operational units, are best positioned to reap the rewards of a more comprehensive CRM adoption. Large businesses can most effectively benefit from shared data between accountants, sales reps, marketers, insurances providers, and the like. Even after products have been delivered, CRM software can still track communications, contracts, and invoices across distances. 

More specifically, why should your company push for universal CRM adoption? 

B2B and Enterprise Sales

A quality CRM system is the cornerstone of business-to-business sales. A sophisticated B2B CRM can closely monitor your sales funnel and make up a crucial element of your B2B sales strategy. B2B sales have many different strategic elements, from initial research and specialized contacts to contracts to customer relations that join sales, marketing, manufacturing, and management. A universally adopted CRM system can track sales from their first inauguration to long-term customer service. In addition, it can share opportunities between departments, illuminate areas of possible expansion for your sales team, and standardize customer support.

 

In addition, full CRM adoption can support innovative modes of sales. CRM adoption gives sales teams data from which valuable insights and potential buyer motivations can emerge. These insights must be accessible to a myriad of teams simultaneously, without interrupting the sales cycle.

 

Large-scale enterprise sales have a lot of significant variables. Broadly speaking, your CRM should be able to track large transactions for management, everyone who works with customers, and the customers themselves. Enterprise sales CRMs are designed with large, complex businesses transactions in mind. A fully integrated CRM can have a significant mobility function, working outside the office, which can be key for a larger sales organization. Cloud-based, mobile CRMs effectively take the office on the road, to the sales force, and to the customer base.

Full adoption of your CRM is a vote for customer-centricity

Deloitte and Touche found that business that work to be customer-centric were 60% more profitable than those that are not. Companies that adopt a customer-centric approach tend to be more insistent on a positive customer experience and more successful in retaining long-term clients. A universally adopted CRM allows your business to be more customer-focused and provide that positive customer experience. An integrated CRM prevents functional silos, which prevents data management and sharing. More broadly, brands must commit to central analyze, plan, and implement a clear customer policy. In order to create this policy, all of the distinct departments of your company must be able to view the full needs and histories of the customers to provide that better experience.

Increasingly, customers are demanding more seamless interactions across different channels, with web chat, social media, and mobile apps are increasing becoming the mechanism of choice for younger professionals. A sophisticated, well-integrated CRM can provide a cross-channel customer experience that is smooth and consistent.

Enhancing the customer experience even further

A solution like Tenfold which pulls data from all systems of record including your CRM, your digital analytics dashboard, ERP, and support management program into a single unified view can help you provide a seamless and retention-driving customer experience.

However, the quality of service and engagement you can extend to your customers can only be maximally enhanced if your data is complete and accurate. By automatically logging all data, without the need for manual entry, Tenfold ensures that you have the best numbers to base your decisions and interactions on. Your CRM is only as good as your data–and Tenfold helps you not lose anymore data while showing you info as needed. 

Conclusion

CRMs are the most productive systems to manage sales, collaborate between departments, analyze data, and provide a customer-centric experience. However, CRMs can be unproductive or even a hindrance if they are not properly implemented. It is crucial not only to find the right CRM for your company but to assimilate it completely into your large-scale business strategies.

There are several simple but effective strategies that can make this universal integration easier and more effective for your business, including demanding significant employee training, creating guidance materials, and maintaining high-level user involvement. While it may take some time to sync the CRM to your business goals and management style, the long-term payoff will be efficiency and customer satisfaction.

 

Data integration has come a long way over the last couple decades. In this three-part series, we'll provide a brief recap of the history, a perspective on how data integrations are being disrupted today, and how businesses can best take advantage of the disruption to drive effective sales and marketing operations through Sugar.

Part 1 - A Brief History of Data Integration

Data integration is a powerful concept which, believe it or not, pre-dates the Internet. It’s a history full of acronyms and with far too many protocols and platforms to thoroughly document here, so our intent is to give you a good sampling of its evolution over the past few decades.

 

We’re in the midst of a true breaking of the status quo of data integration. As all of the evolution over the past decades has been about “building a better mousetrap,” but all the while focussed on IT as the gatekeeper for data integration.  

 

Our history builds to that today, for the first time, integrations can be managed by business users. We’re breaking through the “IT as the gatekeeper” paradigm.

 

Our history starts with:

 

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)

Data integration pre-dates the Internet as a mechanism for the structured exchange of data between two computers. The origins of EDI are attributed to developments in military logistics. A key moment was the 1948 Berlin airlift where large volumes of data and information about transported goods required transfer over a baud teletype modem.

EDI exchanges remain in place today, typically for highly secure, high-volume data exchange between business partners. They tend to support larger enterprises and require ongoing management from IT teams to oversee data exchange and uptime.

 

ETL (Extract, Transform, Load)

Early data integration methods, dating back to the 1970s, used the extract-transform-load process for data integration. These are heavily structured data integration processes with three discrete, sequential steps:

  1. Data extraction - bringing in data from multiple data sources
  2. Data transformation - adjusting the format and structure of the data to prepare it to be queried and analyzed
  3. Data loading - moving the data into a final target database, such as an operational data store, data mart, or data warehouse  

ETL is an IT-intensive process with powerful but complex tools from vendors such as Oracle, IBM, SAP, SAS, Cognos, and many more.  

Because of the rigid sequence required to get data into an accessible format, ETL systems face challenges around scalability and real-time data access. There are also strong dependencies on system and process design, as improperly designed ETL systems run into significant issues.

 

SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol)

SOAP became a standard protocol for web services, leveraging XML to integrate systems in the early 2000s.

SOAP was originally designed by a team at Microsoft lead by Dave Winer in 1998, and version 1.2 of the specification became a W3C recommendation in 2003.

SOAP became a common method for developers to write data connections between systems using a common XML data format. Generally speaking, SOAP is effective for building a one-to-one bespoke integration (e.g. inter-bank communications) but is not optimal for scalability or speed of implementation.

 

REST (Representational State Transfer)

Computer scientist Roy Fielding introduced the term representational state transfer in 2000 as part of his doctoral dissertation at the University of California, Irvine. In between 2008 and 2010, REST reached a tipping point in popularity where it exceeded SOAP and has dominated SOAP in popularity since.

REST has become the standard for most publicly available APIs due to its scalability and speed to implement. REST web services are stateless, which delivers performance, reliability, and scalability. REST services re-use components that can be managed and updated independent of the greater system, even while it is running - a significant advancement from the rigidity of ETL.

That said, the stateless nature of REST also represents a challenge for how it is implemented in connecting systems. REST has no memory, so it relies on the connecting systems to manage audit trails and data history.

 

iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service)

Over the past five years, iPaaS emerged with dozens of vendors providing integration tools to IT teams to develop, execute, and manage integration flows between multiple disparate applications. The technical breakthrough for iPaaS was allowing IT teams to leverage standard cloud services so that they don’t require hardware or middleware to manage their data integrations.

iPaaS represented an advancement in the data integration space, although it’s one whose benefits were largely directly at mid-sized to large IT teams who gain efficiencies through using iPaaS technology instead of developing their own customer integrations through the aforementioned protocols or many others.

Integration Platform for Business Users - Automated Integrations for Marketing, Sales & Support

The alphabet soup of acronyms leading up to this point represent an evolution in the capabilities around integrating data, but they remain in the old paradigm of requiring IT resources to manage data integrations.

 

Empowering business users to manage their data integrations breaks - dare we say, shatters - the status quo of data integrations.

 

Marketing, sales, and support users prefer not to be reliant on IT to create and update integrations for the systems they use every day.

 

Is there a new system feeding leads for the SDR/BDR team? Or a new data field that you want to give sales visibility to for context around leads? How about a new data field tracking the effectiveness of marketing programs through to sales results?

 

These are all adjustments these business teams want to make themselves. Businesses are moving too fast to be stuck in IT development queues for updating their data integrations.

 

In our next article on Breaking the Status Quo of Data Integration, we’ll share our perspective on what it takes for an automated data integration to work for business users today.

Overview:

You have deployed a CRM system but are not getting the desired Return on Investment? Or you initially thought that CRM system was easy to implement and administer and would require little to no maintenance after installation but that is not the case.  Majority of businesses do not utilize their CRM to their full potential which leads to decrease in productivity, efficiency and customer satisfaction. To reap the full benefits of your CRM system, you either need IT experts in your business or get help from an external service provider. Here we list four reasons why a business needs to get in touch with a CRM consultant who can help you meet your business goals.

 Low Customer Satisfaction

A successful business wants to invest in its customers but sometimes they cannot figure out how. If customers report dissatisfaction, it is a clear signal that you need a CRM with analytics. The need to collect data about customers and turn it into useful information has become more important than ever.  With CRM analytics, you can target individual customers, know which customers lead to most profits over time; compare various product development strategies in terms of success etc.  CRM analytics leads to improved customer relations and customer retention. But the main challenge is integrating CRM analytics with your existing system. Here you need the services of a professional CRM consultant who will guide you step by step how to integrate this powerful and dynamic tool with your existing CRM.

 Insufficient IT Resources

Your company might not have the people who have the right combination of skills and knowledge required to handle a CRM project. To implement a CRM project successfully, you need experts who know how analytical data needs to be organized and used to drive the customer experience. The IT department might choose a CRM that does not cater to the needs of the business. It might lack some attributes or have misaligned workflows. Moreover, internal resources will probably take more time to implement a CRM package than outside consultant. Until and unless a business realizes that a CRM project has different requirements from an IT project, it will struggle to achieve optimal results.

Operational Issues

Senior management is preoccupied with the day to day affairs of the business and cannot pay attention to the strategic issues the company is facing.  A business might lack clear executive strategy for supporting CRM software and tracking its use throughout the company or a CRM project might go over budget due to unexpected implementation costs, hidden licensing fees, or unanticipated operating expenses.

Third-party Software Knowledge

A CRM consultant is better informed and has a great deal of knowledge about available third-party add-ons & plugins. There are many CRM systems that come with an app ecosystem which has hundreds of different apps that a company can use to operate more efficiently. Tapping the expertise of an outside consultant is a great way to find apps that companies can use to make their CRM systems better.

A CRM consultant can help you provide better service to your customers and close more deals by bringing objectivity, strategic planning, technical mastery and effective use of CRM technology.

We're Here to Help!

If you feel you are not leveraging your CRM, contact us for a free consultation session and find out how we can optimize it for you.

In a great post on the SugarCRM blog last month, Andrew Staples highlighted five ways to drive revenue from your CRM. He stated that only 17% of customer relationship managers believe their CRM is generating revenue. I co-sign Andrew’s premise that CRMs should absolutely be helping you drive revenue growth, and want to take it one step further. As the central hub of your revenue teams, your CRM needs to be supporting your revenue growth. A critical step to making this happen is connecting your marketing, sales and support systems with the CRM as the central platform.

Connecting Sales, Marketing & Support Systems Drives Growth 

Here are some of the ways connecting data to your CRM helps you driving revenue growth.

 

Visibility helps sales reps be more effective

The bar for a quality sales rep conversation has become increasingly higher. Prospects need to get value from sales reps in the context of the most important challenges they are facing, for prospects to give up some of their time and engage with a rep.

The key to this engagement is relevance, and sales reps stand the best chance to be relevant by having the right visibility on how a prospect has engaged with their company.

How did they discover you? What topics did they engage with on your website? What content did they look at? This type of engagement has a direct impact on conversion rates for leads to opportunities, which in turn impacts pipeline and revenue.

 

Closed loop reporting helps managers optimize the end-to-end sales & marketing process

Another key to driving revenue is having a pulse on what sales and marketing activities are leading to pipeline growth. By identifying underlying growth drivers, you can double down on those things to accelerate more growth. You want to answer questions like:

  • What are the top sources of business that result in pipeline and revenue?
  • Is this being driven through specific partners channels, through the website or through outbound marketing programs?
  • To what degree is the website contributing to pipeline growth, and which areas of the website are contributing?
  • What marketing program investments are yielding growth?  

 

Aligning data across departments builds more effective acquisition, up-sell & retention programs

Sales, marketing and support are three legs of the stool supporting your revenue growth. The more you can align data across the three groups, you will have a stronger your integrated view of the business. Some of the revenue driving initiatives that will now be possible include:

  • Target new customers based on what your most successful customers are doing with the product
  • Identify successful customers to be part of customer advocate programs
  • Identify successful customers for a certain product line who are strong candidates for upsell to a second product line - and then engage them through marketing programs

Five Keys to Getting Your Data Right

There is one fundamental key to executing this, which is getting your data right in your CRM.  Here are five tips for getting this right. We call them our CRM DQ (Data Quality) tips.

CRM DQ Tip #1 - Create a standard mechanism for tagging your marketing lead sources

Your closed loop marketing reporting is going to require consistent data that is clean to roll up and analyze. Look at all the ways data is getting into your CRM and apply standard definitions for the tagging of this data, for both automated and ‘human’ processes.

CRM DQ Tip #2 - Avoid manual data uploads

To make point #1 more feasible, connect your data automatically to your CRM wherever possible. Phase out manual spreadsheet uploads. Phase in automated data connectors whereby you can map data once between your CRM and data sources such as marketing automation systems, websites, event systems or webinar systems.

 

CRM DQ Tip #3 - Take a “less is more” approach to making data visible to sales

When identifying which data you want to make visible to your sales team, take a “less is more” approach. Salespeople will take a just in time approach for talking to their leads. So the data that gives context to sales calls needs to be easily absorbed.

 

CRM DQ Tip #4 - Be diligent around processes to ensure your data is de-duplicated

The rubber often hits the road for the accuracy of your reporting and the use cases we discussed above with the question of - is your data de-duplicated?

Use cases start to fall apart when there are multiple records of a customer, or a prospect, or a company.

Throw closed loop reporting out the window. Forget about drawing insights by connecting support to sales to marketing. This is why it’s so important to invest in having the right process to review and cleanse duplicates and ensure you have that true unified data set for your commercial team.

 

CRM DQ Tip #5 - Leverage your CRM reporting infrastructure

Your CRM system gives you the reporting infrastructure to drive the revenue growth use cases we’ve discussed in this article. Rather than reinvent the wheel, configuring the reports in your CRM gives you a trusted, “single source of truth” for your teams to align around and leverage to drive revenue.

 

This will get the job done provided it’s supported by the right data feeds and data quality processes.

Key takeaways

  • To support your revenue growth, your CRM needs to be your connected platform across marketing, sales & support
  • Sales visibility, closed loop reporting & creating programs with aligning data across teams are three specific steps you can take
  • Data quality is a critical underpinning, and we share five tips to ensure you have clean and consistent CRM data supporting your growth initiatives