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2018

Customer relationship management (CRM) software, by definition, manages your customer relationships. It houses all the data points for your current and potential customers in one place. However, CRM capabilities extend beyond clients, and can also keep detailed data about partners, resellers, co-workers and more.

Satellite Offices

Large companies with satellite offices around the country, and even all over the world, have a lot of employees. If a person working in Phoenix needs to reach out a New York counterpart, a CRM system can make this a simple and informed process.

Resellers

Sometimes businesses work with similar companies that resell their products. Resellers would benefit from having access to a CRM-driven portal for registering leads and collaborating with salespeople.

Partners and Vendors

Similar to resellers, you frequently work with various people in different companies. From the person who restocks your coffee to a partner business, keeping a record in an easy-to-find place has merit.

Service Desks

CRM can also play a huge role in service desks. Do customers need a login to submit tickets? Do they want to see their past orders, or track the status of a current order? In an educational setting, where the “customers” are students, a CRM-like system might be used to manage courses or check grades.

In all of these situations, the goal is the same: Using all available data to create a 360-degree view of the customers. It doesn’t matter what the source of the data points come from — even third-party vendors can play a big role — the important thing is that all of this customer data is piped into a CRM system. The more robust the customer data, the better the relationship with the customers can become.

A CRM system can mean anything from a marketing-automation service to a back-end reporting tool for your customers and more. Learn your definition by checking out this informational white paper.

The Problem.

Reporting dashboards. They’re everywhere. They paint the walls of executive board rooms, they’re at the center of forecasting and budgeting discussions, and they sit persistently on the computer monitors of most managers.

They say, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” And trust us, there aren’t many who would disagree with that in our 21st century, data-driven world. But this obsession with sales metrics, and the visibility into those metrics, has led us to neglect the very reason we set out for that visibility: Improvement.

Take this scenario for example:
Jane, the Chief Revenue Officer of a global company, is responsible for 25% growth in new sales this coming year. She communicates this goal down the chain of command, from her national sales directors, to her frontline sales reps.

To improve visibility into this goal’s progress at each level, the company established a policy to make data entry mandatory: Enter everything you did into the Sugar or you don’t get paid.

Each quarter, sales leadership reviews these metrics, so the managers continue with their weekly reviews of each rep’s pipeline in order to report from the field. The national directors advise their managers to focus on selling the new product line, and the managers try to steer their reps in that direction. Due to this structure, the recommendations for course corrections trickle down from the top.

Sounds logical, right? Well, let’s check back in.
Most of the reps seemed receptive to the course correction ideas, but when it came time to engage with a prospect, they found themselves reverting to what is comfortable and easy to talk about: the old product. As the second quarter ends, sales managers realize they’ve become broken records. Each pipeline review is an uphill battle as they try to persuade their reps to focus on the new product line.

So, where did Jane go wrong? Nowhere, she just fell a little short.
Top down management and hierarchical reporting are fundamental in the business world, but are simply not enough in today’s hyper competitive landscape that all businesses face. It takes weeks, sometimes months, for these course corrections to be communicated effectively. With agility at such a premium in today’s world, that just doesn’t cut it

 

The Solution.

Now, no one is telling you to get rid of those dashboards—almost all of them are necessary. But they should only be used for strategic planning and direction. In addition, sales reps need a firm level of tactical support to execute this strategy. In other words, if Jane is looking for 25% revenue growth and relying on new product initiatives to get her there, relying on managers to bludgeon their reps over the head until the new product is sold is an archaic way to approach the problem.

To truly effect change on an organizational scale, each individual sales rep (who we all know is a creature of habit) must feel equipped to change him or herself. And with the modern workforce slowly adopting the millennial mindset, we must offer this equipment with a quick, easy, and consumable flavor.

What does this equipment entail and how should we deliver it?

  1. Information.
    If you want your existing reps to sell a new product or focus on a new vertical, they need to know how. If you want new reps to sell an older product or focus on an existing vertical, they need to know how. But in the world of instant gratification and shortening attention spans, they need to be served this information in bite sized chunks, in the rep’s moment of need. They need just-in-time pieces, rather than 6-month-long fire hoses of information and training. Also, the information must find the rep, because the reality is that most reps don’t want to change what they’re doing— never mind go look for that change.
  2. Real-time guidance.
    Retrospective course corrections are great, and they can happen every Friday at those pipeline reviews. But real-time guidance to steer the ship proactively is a true game changer. In context coaching, suggested next steps, and hyper-relevant training reinforcement materials can help the rep move the deal forward on Monday, making that Friday pipeline review, and those quarterly reviews, a lot more productive for everyone.
  3. Buyer Relationship Intelligence.
    We’re constantly searching for objective visibility into what our reps are up to, but wouldn’t it be nice if your rep had that same visibility into how their buyers were engaging. For a moment, think of your rep as a sales manager, and think of that rep’s champion buyers across the pipeline as their sales team. Painting a clear, objective, and comprehensive picture about each of these buyers is critically important for reps to maintain their pipeline. Because at the end of the day, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

In sum, the argument regarding sales strategy implementation methods should never be “top-down vs. bottom-up.” Instead, it should ask what tools and information can be implemented from the bottom-up to support initiatives that come from the top-down. Of course, the crux here is user adoption. It is important to roll out these pieces of support in a calculated fashion. Too much too soon, and your reps will be overwhelmed. Too little to start, and your reps might not be convinced of the value. With the Accent CRM Supercharger embedded in the Sugar platform, we can grow with you, giving your reps this support in strategic doses. The Accent modular approach to development paired with our crawl, walk, run implementation strategy, ensures your success at each step and brings your reps value with each phase.

If you wish to be successful in nowadays business, you need to both have effective lead generation machine and deliver positive Customer Experience. It's an axiom.

There are 3 typical destroyers of CX that are very often presented together with omnichannel lead generation processes:

  • Your customers get upbeat marketing messages even while they’re in the middle of a heated customer service issue
  • Your customers receive offers for products they already own
  • Your sales push customers who just "rejected" your marketing message

If you wish to deliver positive CX, you need to avoid such situation. It means you should integrate and coordinate your marketing, sales and service activities. Let's see all these cases in more detail.

  • Your customers receive offers for products they already own. It means that your marketing processes and customer information file are not integrated. You need to manage your target lists according to information about all customer's purchases by all existing channels. Don't forget about not completed purchases too, if the time from customer's "YES" to reflecting the data in the customer's file is quite long.
  • Your customers get upbeat marketing messages even while they have unresolved heated service issue. It means that your marketing processes don't use information about key service events. You need to add special trigger control for temporary excluding the customers with unresolved issue or case from the target lists. Don't forget to return these customers in the target lists after resolving the customer's issues, of course, in an automated way too.
  • Your sales team push customers who just "rejected" your marketing message. It means that your sales team don't have timely and convenient access to marketing campaign results by all channels. It's a typical situation when the customer communicates with the call-center (by chat, messenger or mobile app) after receiving marketing message by email. You need to integrate key events of marketing campaigns into sales dashboards for delivering the most up-to-date information for your sales people.

The simplest way to do all these improvements for small and medium business is to pass managing campaigns target lists to CRM system, collect & visualize all key events of marketing campaigns into CRM system sales dashboards. It resolves the challenge of omnichannels marketing but, of course, it presupposes some CRM system' customization:

  • bi-directional integration with you channel automation systems (email, messengers, push notifications, etc.)
  • implementation of some triggers into CRM system logic for including/excluding particular customers from target lists
  • visualization of key marketing and service events on sales dashboards

If you wish to know how it's possible to do it for Sugar and MailerLite, as an example of e-mail automation system, click here.

As the world continues to get more complex in every facet, we are starting to see AI become assistive to help people in their roles.  Utility companies can use drone imagery and thermal mapping in conjunction with AI data to detect and anticipate equipment failure. IBM Watson is helping doctors condense mass amounts of data into something digestible. Many companies are beginning to take advantage of the benefits AI systems can offer, but one thing remains the same, we are only scratching the surface.

 

For sales teams, there have been countless enablement tools that make big claims. Traditional AI tools typically use historical data to generate a “predictive” information analysis to help you shape future results. While that is a good first step, it falls short in a few ways. 

 

  • Not enough data to make a good assessment.

Data entry is not a highly motivating task.  While Accent Technologies allows for automated data entry, there may not be enough data in SugarCRM to make a good correlation to predict results.  That is not any one individual’s fault, it is a collective book of reasons why there may not be enough data. Nonetheless, the lack of data may be prohibitive in moving forward with today’s infant AI/predictive tools.

  • The world keeps changing.

Which means there might be enough data, but sales strategies are always changing. What is considered to be good business today may not be good business going forward.  Maybe the organization has paid for studies that are telling it to go in a different direction or focus in a certain industry or market. Or maybe you just need to make adjustment so your sales team can focus on more attractive business, low hanging fruit, more profitable business or beyond that. The point is that strategies change, and models have to allow an organization to create success first. Then machine learning can help amplify those successes throughout the organization.

  • Not having quality data.

For example, and as an exaggeration of the example:  if you had 100 sales people and they were all “A” players and they all forecasted deals 2 weeks before they were considered a “win” and subsequent closure of the deal, you may have bad quality data to be predicting future events on. This is, of course, an exaggerated example but it can go many different ways. Sales reps may be putting in more than what is real, potentially “forecasting” deals that may not be actually progressing. Additionally, reps might be successful in areas that may no longer be strategically valuable to the company. Whatever the case is, there needs to be a check for the quality of data.

  • The models are based only on historical quantitative big data (or just data).

What about the “thick data”?  The human insight that can’t be quantified.  Tricia Wang, a Technology ethnographer, discusses this at length and why it is important to combine big data with thick data so you can provide the lost context surrounding the quantitative findings.  This goes back to the point made in number 2. We have to allow adjustment of the models through machine learning or manual intervention.

 

The bottom line is predicting what might close and prioritizing opportunities are two separate endeavors. Probability should be taken into consideration, but other variables (both quantitative and qualitative) should also be considered. These variables can range from a number of different categories like sales productivity, sales performance management, compensation planning tools, optimization tools, coachability of the sellers, etc.

 

Accent Technologies has determined that long-term success requires short-term adjustments. We design our standard models with the capability to be flexible out of the box. This allows teams to make adjustments as they go through deployment or make strategic changes in the future. With a flexible algorithm that can be easily adjusted,  your human experts can inject that “thick” data into the equation which will ultimately bring you the most value . We also leverage different data sources to ensure there is sufficient quantitative data flowing. Understanding your historical data, where you want to go and how to get there, will lead the way in effective use of AI. Giving the steering wheel to the organization is a part of what we do and how we help companies execute their strategy. 

 

Come see a demo at SugarCRM’s Sales Kickoff!