Our lives revolve around data from our computers to mobile phones to wearable technology, they tell us the time, what we should be doing, and help us find our way in a busy world. The reason we love this data is it’s easy and we don’t have to do much more than set it up and forget it. It’s seamless and effortless, everything we want when it comes to technology.
So, why has this concept taken so long to come to our essential business technology like CRM?
It would make sense that we want to ease the burden on our sales representatives to allow them to focus on building customer relationships but instead, our research found that sales only spends about 54% of their time selling. The rest of the time, sales is left to work with customer data, updating the technology that should be enabling them, and spending time on administrative lifts associated with traditional CRM. The result is lost revenue—to the tune of an average of $5.5 million USD per year for each mid-market company. No matter who you are, that number hurts.
The reality is that traditional CRM systems are hindering rather than helping our sales professionals. They are focused on data maintenance rather than building those relationships that are so vital to any sales pipeline. The good news is this problem is absolutely solvable both through technology and enabling a better mindset.
Focus on Relationships, Not Technology
While sales can collect and utilize every hack in the book, at the end of the day a successful sales professional leads by building relationships. It’s those relationships that enable customer understanding and builds the much-needed trust of the vendor-customer relationship. Simply, relationships close deals.
When sales is focused on data or the technology they use to enable sales rather than learning more about their customers and listening, they are wasting their talent and we are back to where we are today—not selling. It’s essential to find a technology that not only intuitively collects data from sales conversations but enhances conversations rather than distracting from them. Sales needs to be met where they’re at too, which means that they are not always going to be logged into their CRM as their primary screen. That means that CRM needs to aggregate and collect information from places like email, phone, and chat plus be available anywhere. It allows focusing on meeting the customer where they are, an essential tactic in the age of customer experiences.
Gain Insight, Not Another Report
CRM is an essential sales tool, but it needs to enhance a sales representative’s life rather than burden it. Often, it’s only sales leaders and e-staff that benefit from the information within a CRM because they want pipeline visibility and an understanding of customer profiles. The time for that information only to apply to leaders is far from over and we need to move from simply generating reports to generating insight.
CRM needs to not only collect the information that sales needs during the customer relationship process but also to provide direct insight on what the next best action is, which accounts are likely to close, and which customers need some extra attention. The data for these insights are directly within the CRM, it just needs to be found. Utilizing a system that shows these insights are key to enabling your sales team and removes the burden of trying to uncover the insight from another report—which we are poorly equipped for. Artificial intelligence-powered CRM is a great way to find this insight and unlocks the ability to enhance the productivity of sales by allowing them to focus on where to go rather than deriving information from another report.
There’s a lot of information within the CRM that can actually distract from the customer. You can know everything about the customer but that can never replace the connection you have with them. No CRM system, artificial intelligence, automated cadence, or piece of technology is designed to replace the customer-sales relationship. Humans need trust and no matter how exceptional your product or how competitive your pricing, customers will use the intangible aspect of the relationship quality they have with sales and your organization.
Time and time again, what has closed business is the fact that companies met customers where they are and partnered with them to find a solution. This is what sales should be focused on instead of gathering a plethora of information that CRM solutions should do. To further your pipeline, focus on having sales representatives increase the quality of their relationships with prospects and listening to customers.
Focus on Customer Experience
The point of relationships above feeds directly into this—customers should be the focus of any sales effort. Too often the conversation focuses on the organization’s product and solution rather than listening to the customer’s entire problem. Not only does this distract from building a solid relationship with customers, but it also doesn’t allow you to learn those important cross-sell and upsell opportunities. That’s lost potential revenue and lost opportunity for your organization to grow your relationship with that customer. When sales is distracted by gathering every point of information on a customer, they aren’t thinking about how the customer is feeling but detaching themselves so they can gather information. Technology should do that, not a sales representative.
But it also goes back to the point that we are competing now based on customer experience. How you make the customer feel is just as important as what you sell them. Customers want to be heard, like they are taken seriously, and feel like they are your number one priority. It’s essential to make sure that customers feel this way, not only through the sales cycle but through onboarding and customer care. It may start with sales, but it’s something that is everyone’s job within your organization.
At the heart of this, the idea of why sales is only spending 54% of their time selling is because they are hindered by traditional CRMs and focused on the technology rather than the customer. The technology can be fixed, but it also needs to go deeper harnessing the power of relationships and building the customer experience.
Because, at the end of the day, what organization wants to leave $5.5 million dollars on the table?