Maximizing Your Company’s Investment in CRM

By Dave Stein, CEO and Founder, ES Research Group, Inc.

When ESR seeks to understand why our clients’ sales organizations aren’t performing to expectations, we see the same inhibitors again and again:

•  Unqualified people in sales and sales management positions

•  No demand creation and/or generation process

•  An absence of tools, value messages, competitive information and playbooks

•  A tactical approach to sales training, coaching and reinforcement (if they exist at all)

•  No institutionalized approach to selling — no sales process.

And that’s just identifying a few.

The bad news is that, even though $18 billion was invested in CRM systems in 2012, many sales leaders continue to struggle to get value from their CRM investments. They believed they could overcome a multitude of selling challenges simply by purchasing and implementing a CRM system. It hasn’t worked out that way.

The good news is that there is a family of proven applications, fully integrated with CRM, that provide compelling enough value for salespeople to use every day, simultaneously giving management what they need to get their jobs done (pipeline reporting, for example) and sales reps what they need to win more business. No more carrots or sticks are needed to induce reps to input their data. Salespeople do it willingly, because these applications are light years ahead of the automated Rolodex, which is how many companies use CRM presently.

Intelligent coaching

Dealmaker® is an intelligent suite of software applications from The TAS Group, a leading sales performance improvement firm (and a subscriber to ESR’s research). Dealmaker provides coaching during each phase of the sales process to guide the salesperson in developing the correct strategies and identifying the right tactics to win more opportunities, and to maximize revenue from key accounts.

Dealmaker provides learning, advice and intelligent coaching in the real-time context of the deal. I call Dealmaker intelligent because it literally interprets the data provided by the salesperson and responds accordingly in the form of questions, coaching, learning and other sales enablement components. Dealmaker embeds the key factors that are required for sales performance systems in 2013: mobile and cloud support, a social and collaboration platform, context-sensitive learning, sales analytics, full integration with CRM, and visual and motivational gamification.

White Springs is another sales process optimization application provider. The company’s vision is to put a sales organization’s prospects in the palm of their reps’ hands, enabling them to access all news, data and opportunities about their prospects from one easy-to-access and easy-to-navigate interface. The rep can choose to do some last-minute reading on a client’s background or revisit a particular sales technique before a meeting quickly and easily, wherever they happen to be physically. This is crucial to 

optimizing the sales process to its full potential and enabling an organization to maximize its success rate.

The White Springs solution includes such integrated components as visual and dynamic sales process maps, sales planners and tools, eWorkbooks, contextual digital learning content, and intelligent analytics. White Springs has drawn a line in the sand; no longer can sales organizations be expected to use multiple, disconnected applications to access the technology they need to win. Salespeople need all of their client and process information in one place, accessible at any time and from any device.

A third provider worthy of mentioning is Atlanta-based Revegy, which, like other providers, is spot-on in overcoming the standard challenge: “Thirty days after training, our people aren’t using the tools/methodology.”

When Revegy is approached with that complaint, it combines the client’s (the selling company’s) internal process and tools with whatever the client’s methodology vendor has provided, to make the process and methods operational. The Revegy solution enables sales teams to collaborate more effectively, and provides a platform for management to measure usage, adoption and the value that the new combined methods deliver.

One Revegy client used one methodology for pre-sales people, another methodology from a different vendor for sales reps, a (home-grown) third process for account planning, and yet another training vendor’s approach for coaching. Each methodology used different terminology and different paper-based tools. So Revegy’s challenge 

was to automate, integrate and manage those different elements into a single, operational system, and then measure the outcome. Pulling it all together is one of the major benefits of a sales process optimization application such as Revegy.

What’s the real value from these technology-enabled selling tools? They reward salespeople for following the company’s sales process by providing what they need to win more business sooner at higher contract value. Learning more about these tools, the sales methodologies they each support and what kind of impact they will have on your team’s performance is an investment well worth your time.