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2018

In 2014, Accent Technologies set out on a mission to build an assistive technology that actually helps reps sell.  It wasn’t a mission to build a CRM but rather an extension of Sales Enablement and a dive into the Artificial Intelligence (AI) realm that would ultimately enhance the CRM.

 

With a few false starts Accent figured out a way to build out an AI system that can be diagnostic, descriptive, predictive and prescriptive (more on this one later).  Building out an AI system certainly takes time but a lot of thought was put into the approach we would ultimately take.  Here are a few things we discovered:

 

  • Leveraging only historical data is dangerous.

 

The approach many AI players take is purely predictive, leveraging only historical data, determining how a business succeeded in the past and how that would indicate what to pursue in the future.  This is standard data analysis - that tells you what you should pursue based on history.  This approach is short-sighted and there is a very big issue with it.  It solely relies on how a business may have performed in the past, but sales is a forward looking game. Sales reps spend a good deal of time identifying what works and what doesn’t work when talking to clients so they know how to better approach the next client.  They try to learn as much as they can from a client and position solutions that solve the problems, ultimately, wins that are attained have some common elements and those elements will be repeated.  But what if your sales strategy changes or the objectives change?  Your reps will follow the same pattern they are used to because they win with it.

 

  • Allow for input from the experts

 

So historical data is important but ONLY a piece of the pie for what is required.  Historical data doesn’t provide the business with an ability to identify the sales objectives. In other words, it never accounts for the “where we want to go” as a business.  Companies often hire consulting firms to figure out who their ideal customers are, what the ideal company profiles look like and that is driven by a multitude of factors like the marketplace, direction of the market, technology and human expertise, just to name a few.  So why discredit all that insight by using historical data to predict future business?  You can’t. And furthermore, you shouldn’t.  The sales leaderships experience, expertise and intent must be injected into the models and algorithms of a good AI technology.  Otherwise the technology will fall flat.  I know what you are thinking – That costs money and time for someone to inject that information into an algorithm, but have you considered the cost of not doing it?

 

  • Allow for adjustments

 

How does your organization account for the current sales strategy and a future one if you pivot? Meaning, how does the business get there? Essentially, you must operationalize your sales strategy.  With Accent’s CRM Supercharger, we help you operationalize the sales strategy.  Allowing for input into the models gives a business the ability set the course and direction for the sales team.  Now, the prioritized opportunities using AI models are not the ones the sales reps want to prioritize but the ones the business wants to go after. 

 

With Accent’s CRM Supercharger, we take a better approach and leverage historical data, sales objectives and sales strategy.  With machine learning algorithms the system can learn from the data it collects but add the ability to inject expertise, experience, intent and operationalize the sales strategy and you end with a winning combination. 

 

Andy - Accent Technologies, Inc.

The definition of gamification is incorporating game-like systems into non-game situations. Gamification makes it possible to turn boring, tedious tasks into compelling jobs for your employees. It’s not about turning work into a game. Rather, it involves bringing in the elements  we all love about incorporating games into work: challenges, competitions, and rewards.

Do you have team members who thrive on being “the best”? Are there employees who do their best when they feel appreciated by getting real-word rewards, such as gift cards or long lunches? Do you have anyone on your team who likes collecting things?

Splash for Sugar® incorporates all of these game-like elements into your CRM system. It’s a powerful toolkit for any company that’s looking to incentivize great results, even for the most monotonous and repetitive tasks.

But how does gamification actually work? Challenge workers with leaderboard-driven contests and show them how to unlock “badges” when they complete tasks. Then users can earn “coins” or “points” that are redeemable for real-world, virtual prizes.

Think of gamification in terms of your favorite childhood pastimes:

Scouts: Badges

As a Boy or Girl Scout, there was nothing better than littering your vest with merit badges. In a gamified CRM system, managers can create different badges for users to earn as they navigate the system.

Tennis: Singles Competitions

Like singles tennis, this game is one-on-one. Create challenges for your team and have them compete in them. Then you can both reward the users at the top of the leaderboard, and inspire the users at the bottom to step up their game.

Competitions can span from simply logging in each day to closing five deals by the end of the month.

Basketball: Team Competitions

Whether you have multiple sales or customer-service teams in your office or around the world, gamifying your CRM system can create team competitions. You can see which team is winning, and who’s at the bottom of the leaderboard.

Arcades: Real-world Rewards

As a kid, there was no greater feeling than hitting the jackpot at Skee-Ball or Whac-A-Mole, and seeing all those tickets pour out. Then you’d get to exchange those tickets for a stuffed animal or candy.

In a gamified CRM system, users can level up and get coins they then cash in for real-world rewards. Managers post the number of coins that a challenge is worth and assign coins to rewards. Whether it’s a $25 gift card at a local restaurant or a “free” PTO day, it will go a long way if you customize these rewards to offer what employees care about most.

Looking for more information about gamification? Check out our whitepapers: Gaming the System: Gamification & CRM and Big Data Games for Productive Employees.

Selling has always been a struggle and this is truer than ever in today’s highly competitive business landscape. This coupled with the uncertainty, the pressure to meet deadlines and need to always be ‘on’ can take its toll on anyone. Luckily, SugarCRM has got you covered! It comes out-of-the-box with all the essentials salespersons need to take their productivity to the next level without over-complicating the whole affair. Here are 5 ways in particular that SugarCRM is extremely useful for tackling the toughest sales challenges head-on.

Sales Prospecting

If you find prospecting to be the most difficult part of your job, then you’re not alone. More than 40% of salespeople say prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process (Hubspot). SugarCRM makes managing the whole affair significantly easier with a dedicated Targets module where you can easily keep track of all calls, meetings, emails, notes, and tasks against each record. Segregating prospects from the more sales-ready ‘leads’ also allows SugarCRM to function as an effective lead nurturing tool where sales and marketing department can easily collaborate and play their roles in the overall sales process. Furthermore, with SugarCRM Hint you can cut down on call preparation and prospect research times. With just a name and an email, Sugar Hint provides you with relevant customer contact and social network information so you may engage your prospects in a more informed fashion. This, in turn, will yield more meaningful conversations and hence conversions.

CRM User adoption

According to CSO Reps, less than 37% of sales reps actually use their company’s CRM system. Sales Reps are out on the road all day long, taking calls from leads and managing clients as they drive from one meeting to the next. Given these circumstances, It’s really not that hard to fathom why they might be reluctant to learn and adopt new technologies, especially one that aims to get even more work out of them. For your business to truly reap the benefits of a CRM, it’s important that your sales team actually gets around to using it. To get around this and put your user adoption worries to rest, SugarCRM comes with an award-winning and modern UX. It provides a clean, intuitive, and coherent experience that complements and augments the capabilities of its users instead of overwhelming them. This helps drive user adoption and increase productivity.

Recurring Manual Processes

SugarCRM Advanced Workflow is a robust enterprise-level business process management tool that allows anyone to design and deploy custom workflows in a matter of a few clicks. With its intuitive drag and drop canvas, sales reps can easily automate cumbersome routine processes which would otherwise need to be done manually. This not only ensures increased productivity but also allows them to focus on more important things such as providing value to and forging even stronger connections with their customers.

Monitoring Progress and Performance

Sales managers often struggle with effectively gauging rep performance. However, the robust reporting features in SugarCRM make gaining a holistic view of their performance easier than ever by consolidating and summarizing data from various sources. This allows them to unearth critical business insights and trends and gain a deeper understanding of their team in real-time. This way they can quickly identify and target any weaknesses that might hinder progress towards their targets. Similarly, personalized dashboards make it easy for sales reps to track and monitor their activities and metrics against defined KPIs, and strive towards building better customer relationships.

Sales Forecasting

Many find Sales forecasting to be a tedious task but with the statistical and graphical representations readily available in SugarCRM, you can do it all in the blink of an eye. SugarCRM’s intuitive pipeline management capabilities greatly simplify sales management and team collaboration using real-time sales analytics and insights for every deal and prospect. SugarCRM helps identify critical touchpoints and high-value targets allowing you and your team to focus your time and resources on sales initiatives accordingly. You can make data-driven decisions regarding even your most complex sales by customizing SugarCRM for your unique products, services, and sales cycles.

Mobile Insights

The importance of a mobile CRM for sales cannot be overstated in this day and age. Your sales reps need to be in touch with the right lead at the right time with the right information. This brings about the need for them to have access to critical data at their fingertips at all times. Fortunately, SugarCRM provides a comprehensive mobile CRM solution that enables your sales reps to access, lookup and update customer data on the go, allowing them to stay on top of every deal and ensuring they never miss a moment to engage with the customers.

The Bottom Line!

SugarCRM has everything you need to stay on top of your game and ahead of the competition. It’s perhaps the most complete and well-round CRM for sales that any rep would love to have in their arsenal. Its custom workflows, sales prospecting and forecasting capabilities and the other features mentioned above are only the tip of the iceberg. With the right tweaks and customizations, our certified SugarCRM experts can tailor this platform according to your unique needs and help you get even more out of it. Contact us today to get started!

 

Be sure to check out the original post here and please visit our blog for more content like this.

Learn three strategies to consider to get your sales and marketing teams more closely aligned.

 

Sales and marketing teams share one common goal – to increase a company’s revenue. However, the similarities stop there, as these two groups are usually very different, both in temperament and in job responsibilities.

Salespeople are relationship people with a focus on the operations and activities involved in promoting and selling goods or services. On the other hand, marketing people are a combination of analytical and creative and focused on the processes or techniques of promoting, selling and distributing a product or service.

The marketing department is also charged with generating high-quality leads for the sales team. Unfortunately, sales will often complain that marketing’s leads don’t meet their standards. This sales-marketing conundrum is a warning sign of what we call a ‘Half-Baked’ sales lead process, where there is no real strategy to manage lead transfers. To solve it, here are three strategies to consider:

  1. Break Down Language Barriers – Sales and marketing departments often speak two different languages. For example, each one has its own definition of a lead. A “marketing-qualified lead” meets certain criteria set forth by the marketing department, while a “sales-qualified lead” adds to the initial stipulations set forth by marketing to help find the highest value prospects. The first step in getting these teams talking to each other is to begin using a common terminology and agree upon what constitutes a marketing qualified lead versus a sales qualified lead.
     
  2. Break Down Technology Barriers – Typically, the sales team works with a CRM database, and the marketing team uses a marketing automation tool. Often, these two tools are not synched, creating information silos between sales and marketing. To efficiently and effectively work together, marketing’s technology must seamlessly integrate into the CRM system used by sales, and the CRM tool must feed data back into the marketing database.
     
  3. Break Down Methodology Barriers – There must be an agreed upon procedure for what should happen when marketing sends leads to sales. Marketing should also have a clearly defined method for scoring leads, and sales must have a clearly defined method for qualifying those leads

Adopt a ‘Fully-Baked’ Leads Management System

According to Aberdeen, 90% of marketers say that lack of sales and marketing alignment keeps them from reaching their marketing objectives. This can be remedied by adopting a ‘Fully-Baked’ leads management system that breaks down barriers in the form of language,  technology, and methodology – tearing down the information silos that exist between sales and marketing teams, helping your organization to achieve faster growth and higher profitability.

Need to get your sales and marketing teams more closely aligned?

Download our eBook, “Solving the Sales-Marketing Conundrum: 3 Strategies to Consider”.