Age of Unified Communications (UC) and Your CRM

Author: 
Stephen Davis

Any salesperson knows how important it is for a business to have access to the right tools and the most useful data to carry out their role efficiently. It wasn’t that long ago when salespeople had only a basic phone and a notebook with prospects’ and customers’ names – and had to sit at a desk to schedule appointments. To get orders customers either had to fax over a purchase order, mail it or a salesperson had to pick it up.

A lot has changed over the years, including the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud-based solutions, mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), which in turn has ushered in the “always-on” employee. Of course, these changes have allowed sales tools to evolve, too.

There was also a time when a customer relationship management (CRM) tool was nothing more than a glorified electronic Rolodex. But with the rise of CRM solutions from companies like Salesforce.com and SugarCRM, the functionality of these types of tools has dramatically changed. Now, a salesperson can use a CRM solution to not only manage his or her prospects and customers, but also manage pipeline, forecasting and integration with marketing automation tools. It can even provide visibility into orders through integration with back-end systems. This level of functionality is important not only to the sales team, but to the entire business.

The evolution of CRM tools becomes even more interesting when you consider that business phone systems have changed a lot as well. Over the last seven years businesses have adopted Voice over IP (VoIP) phone systems, which are typically much easier than their analog/digital counterparts. This is especially true if you need to run reports and have application program interfaces (APIs) integrate with other applications. Increasingly, companies are also seeing the benefits of a full Unified Communications (UC) platform. UC provides a way to funnel voice and instant message communications (and other advanced features) through one “unified” system, and connecting internal and external people no matter where they are physically located.

A good UC solution with APIs can push data to a CRM to provide screen pops so a salesperson knows who is calling, before answering that ringing phone. This is a huge advantage for a company’s sales, customer service and support teams.

More Productive Conversations
What about other benefits for a company’s road warrior sales teams? Do they sometimes struggle to log customer calls while away from the desk? CRM platforms are now utilizing mobile apps so that when a salesperson places or receives a call, it can prompt him or her to log a task record about the conversation.

The UC platform can also be set up to give “one number finds me.” That means a company no longer has to worry about where the salesperson is when a call comes in – the call will find the salesperson. The salesperson just gives his or her direct inward dial (DID) number, and the call will then ring their desk phone, the home office and the mobile phone (or whatever series of phones is set up to ring). The sales rep can even look at either the computer screen or his/her mobile phone for additional information on the caller. Not only do they know who is calling, but they can see an order history for existing customers, or maybe even additional information specific to that person, like the customer’s birthday. The value is twofold: the salesperson has immediate access to information that leads to a more productive conversation; and the customer feels important because the salesperson appears to know the customer and his/her history with the company.

Boosting Marketing Performance
Not only can integrating CRM with a phone system make a sales team more efficient and accessible, it can also impact the marketing team. Have you ever wondered what impact an inbound phone call makes on the sales funnel? Talk with anyone responsible for lead generation and they would love for the UC platform to associate contacts to lead campaigns. With the API and a bit of code, the marketing team can see a new level of campaign influence and a true 360 view of their marketing efforts.

What about making it even easier for prospects and customers to contact a business online? Web development and marketing automation teams can add call-to-actions (CTAs) on the site, such as “Click to Chat” and “Let Us Call You” buttons.

Prospecting and lead response representatives want to know who they need to dial next and a way to make more calls faster. With features like click-to-call, it is easy for sales representatives to power through call lists and have metrics on how many attempts it takes to reach prospects as part of their CRM reports.

Having access to this detailed information by integrating CRM tools to a phone system means sales teams can have more productive conversations with customers and prospects. As Salesforce and other CRM solutions continue to evolve, companies should make sure that their business phone system can keep up, too.

Stephen Davis is a sales operations analyst for Digium, a business communications company based in Huntsville, Ala., that delivers enterprise-class Unified Communications. He has experience administrating and developing in Salesforce.com and Pentaho Business Analytics/Data Integration, and has a background in sales and customer service. Connect with him on LinkedInand follow him on Twitter @SDavis1112.