Why have so many companies invested in CRM systems? According to the latest data from CSO Insights, the overriding goal for most sales organisations is to increase revenues - and yet only 19% of the companies surveyed believed that their CRM investments had achieved this. Here’s one reason why less than 1 in 5 CRM systems actually increase revenues - and what to do about it...
As CSO Insights point out, the B2B buying process has changed. Prospects are more educated than ever before about the potential solutions to their business needs. They are less reliant on (and less impressed by) your sales person’s product knowledge. What they are looking for is a better understanding of how your products and services could address their business issues.
Cut Out the Techno Babble and the Product Speak
They expect your sales person to speak their language, not some impenetrable product speak or techno babble. They expect your sales person to understand their industry and their business issues. And they expect your sales person to talk knowledgably and with confidence about how your company has helped organisations similar to their own to master these challenges.
They expect your organisation to support them in their information gathering and decision making processes. They will be far more likely to engage you if your organisation has a visible presence in the places and communities they instinctively turn to when they seek out information or look for advice. And for as long as they feel they are learning something, they will be happy to continue the dialogue.
CRM - a Failure of Intelligence
All this is well and good. But here’s the problem: 7 out of 8 sales managers rate understanding the customer’s environment as Very Important or Mission Critical. Yet only a third rate their current CRM system as being either very or extremely useful in helping them achieve this. Simply put, their CRM systems are letting them down in an area that is judged to be critical to their business.
There’s a critical market intelligence gap between what sales people need to do their job and what their CRM system is able to provide them. The smarter sales people are filling the gap by tapping into intelligence sources such as LinkedIn or OneSource. But for the most part this has been done in a fragmented, un-integrated way, with few opportunities to share best practice.
From Sales Administration to Sales Enablement
I’ve written before about the need for sales people to see their CRM application as a sales enablement system rather than - as they so often do today - a sales administration system. We have a chance to dramatically improve sales productivity - by serving up the information sales people can leverage from within their CRM environment, rather than from multiple disparate sites or applications.
Time to Cut Through the Clutter
We need to find ways of cutting through the clutter and helping sales people identify, observe and engage with more organisations that reflect their ideal prospect profiles. We need to help them to identify the trigger events that cause these prospects to start searching for solutions. And we need to equip them with market intelligence and tools that help them understand and facilitate their prospects buying decision process. It’s time from CRM systems to really help sales people to get smarter about selling.
An Idea Whose Time Has Come
The revolution has already started. Last night, I attended the UK launch of OneSource’s iSell product, a market intelligence solution that feeds sales people with relevant insights about their target markets, enables them to identify key trigger events within their prospects, and equips them to have intelligent business conversations about relevant issues.
iSell helps ales people to monitor their LinkedIn networks for the key changes that can mark the start of a potential buying process - and to filter market intelligence for relevance. According to OneSource, the UK edition will shortly be offering direct integration into salesforce.com and other CRM systems.
From the brief demonstration last night, it seems that iSell is an idea whose time has come. I believe that the goals and design decisions made by the iSell development team reflect the realities of today’s B2B sales environment. And I believe that iSell - and services like it - can help to fill the intelligence gap that bedevils so many CRM implementations. You can find out more about iSell here.
How much of a difference could services like iSell make to CRM adoption and effectiveness within your own organisation? And what other approaches is your organisation taking - or planning to make - to help ensure that your investment in CRM is really driving revenue?