A lot of businesses have some form of telephone-based sales and marketing function, and most will make use of CRM technology to support their activities. In this post I wanted to highlight a number of ways that companies can potentially use their CRM systems, beyond the basics of logging conversations and call-backs, to improve the effectiveness of these teams:
Social profiles – understanding a potential customer’s social context can provide a useful means to better understand and sell to a prospective customer. A lot of CRM systems allow users to track LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Facebook and other social profiles and activities, which can be hugely helpful in researching and approaching potential customers.
Telephony integration – most CRM systems can be integrated to the phone system, but surprisingly few organisations choose to do it. One of the big advantages of joining the two up is that outbound calls can often be automatically logged in the system which increases visibility of activity and can substantially improve productivity.
Managing collateral – making sure that staff have the right sales collateral to hand such as price-lists, brochures, white papers or case studies can make a big difference. Many CRM systems allow you to manage and maintain collateral within the system ensuring that it’s easy to email out, that users have access to the most current versions, and are not sending out something happens to be on their hard drive and is three years out of date.
Integration with marketing automation software – marketing automation applications can automatically track a prospect’s visit’s to your website and provide additional functionality such as lead-scoring which rates the prospective customer’s likelihood to buy based on the frequency of visits and content accessed. Many CRM applications have integrations with marketing automation packages, and being able to see within the system which prospects are engaging most with your content, can be a very effective means for the telephone sales team to focus their attention on the potentially most interested customers.
Integration with mass email marketing tools – in the same way that sales staff can benefit from seeing how their prospects are engaging with their web content, integration with email marketing applications can help them see who is opening emails, which links they are following, and the content they are subsequently viewing. Again, this gives the sales team vital clues as to who their most interested prospects may be.
Dashboards and reporting – while most organisations set up some level of reporting it’s surprising how few set up the range necessary to fully support their processes. Most businesses can benefit from building out their reporting and dashboarding capabilities. This may include sales activities completed, leads generated, sales pipeline, sales conversion rates, and progress against quota. It’s also useful to ensure that reports are set up at both the traditional management level but also in a way that helps individual sales people understand their own progress and identify what they need to do to enhance performance.
Quote management – a lot of systems allow salespeople to generate standard quotations and proposals from within the system. This has a couple of key benefits. Firstly, it helps address the problem whereby salespeople are using their own individual templates which may well be of varying quality and conformity with corporate standards. Secondly it provides better visibility and tracking of the resulting quote which might otherwise go off the radar saved on individual hard drives.
Social collaboration tools – since Salesforce.com launched its Chatter functionality many other CRM vendors have released similar social collaboration capabilities. Using these tools in a telephone sales setting can be a very effective way for users and teams throughout the business to work together to open up and develop opportunities.
Data enhancement – with many CRM vendors providing services that allow companies to acquire new data and enhance existing data, the opportunity often exists for businesses to easily extend their pool of potential customers as well as target their activities more effectively.
Workflow capabilities – again many CRM applications have workflow capabilities which allow actions and activities to be created automatically. This gives huge scope to remove previously manual updating of the system and increase employee productivity, for example, using workflow to automatically create follow-up calls.
These ten items are just a subset of the many potential ways that your CRM system can often be better tuned to support phone-based sales and marketing. And tuning can be well worth doing. Given the principle of the aggregation of marginal gains, even modest improvements in productivity and effectiveness, can add up to a very big difference to the bottom line.