Among the main objectives of listed in a recent survey of sales professionals conducted by CSO Insights with companies of various sizes and market segments, we find:
– Increase sales effectiveness
– Increase revenue
– Capture new accounts
The revenue increase goal is not surprising. After all, in our business environment this has always been the main driver of a company’s commercial activities. In times of fluctuating economic activity like those we are going through now, it is normal for companies to turn to their customer base where they feel more comfortable to deal with the difficulties that arise in these periods.
To meet the growth demands coming from shareholders and the market itself, it is not enough to act on existing customers. It is necessary not only to maintain and, if possible, to increase business in the customer base, but the main focus has to be on acquiring new customers. However, closing deals on new accounts requires more effort and more commitment from the sales team.
One of the methods used to address this challenge is to create compensation plans that encourage the sales force to seek new businesses and new customers. But this is still not enough and can cause problems with current customers.
In the past, the focus of most organizations was to increase the efficiency of their sales teams, allowing them to spend more time with their customers, make more visits, more calls, and less paper work, among other actions. It was the decade of using CRM as a tool for automating sales processes where efficiency was the pursued and achieved objective.
Now, it is no longer sufficient to interact more with the client, you need to interact better. It´s not enough to sell more, you need to sell better. The success of the strategy to capture new customers has to depend on sales team’s effectiveness in conducting and managing their business competently. That has to be your new slogan.
To increase revenue, to open new accounts, to sell more, and to sell better are goals that challenge sales teams to be more effective in the development and management of opportunities; either on existing customers, or on new prospects. While CRM helps efficiency in matters like lead generation optimization, customer loyalty construction, and up-selling and cross-selling actions, sales teams still find the tools in CRM programs that support their performance improvement inadequate in opportunity management.
Even with CRM 2.0 bringing improvements in enabling access to information in front of the customer through the use of tablets or smart phones, in many cases facilitating faster negotiations and closings, there is still a huge gap in the lack of consistent sales methods and processes that, through a more effective portfolio management, yield to better results.
In this same survey, it was evident that among the leading companies, those with low adoption of structured sales processes and methods showed low performance, while those having a high adoption achieved superior performance.
The analyzed scenario highlights the urgent need for organizations to revise their sales models and metrics, enabling the teams to improve their performance and increase their action effectiveness. It is necessary to provide sales professionals with the tools that implement efficient models that optimize and automate activities like:
- Sales opportunity tracking and prioritization.
- Sales pipeline transparency.
- Improved forecasting.
- Sales time and resources management (team selling).
- Real-time coaching resources.
This is what is expected from sales automation in years to come, now and in years to come.