For sales reps and sales leaders alike, technology, like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, will become increasingly important as we move toward the future. Many organizations have already invested in CRM systems and much has been written about how these systems have not delivered on their promised results. Fortunately, the CRM industry is evolving with new innovations that will help drive better returns on sales force automation investments. custom crm solution

The Purpose of CRM

The idea behind CRM implementation is to improve the productivity of the sales organization by leveraging better information. Salespeople can enter the latest plans and actions related to a contact, opportunity or account, and this information can be shared with sales management and other parties involved in the selling process. Because the data is updated in real-time, teams have the most current information. The result is that the right hand knows what the left is doing–and the action plan for that customer becomes a coordinated effort.

In other words, CRM can make the selling process more efficient and collaborative, allowing everyone involved in the sales process to benefit from individual reps’ knowledge as soon as it’s inputted into the system. With the information gathered together, the output data is more robust for planning purposes. “Collaborative selling proponents claim it helps companies realize higher close rates, shorten the sales cycle and gain higher-value deals,” writes Lisa Picarille in “Market Watch: Collaborative Selling” (DestinationCRM.com, Dec. 1, 2003).

The Disconnect

It sounds good–but in the past, the introduction of technology into a sales rep’s tried-and-true methodology often met with resistance. The reason? Frequently, implementation of CRM systems didn’t result in anything concretely positive for salespeople.

In the past, “CRM was a repository for data, and it still is, to a certain extent,” says Chris Hens, COO of the San Mateo, Cal.-based White Springs. The salesperson put data into the system, and that data might be valuable to the organization as a whole, but the salesperson never really got to see the benefits. “That’s the way of the past.”

“What gets customers excited [about the future of CRM] is the way that a CRM platform or its attendant applications can deliver something back to the salesperson,” Hens says. “A computer is supposed to help you, but it can’t do that if it doesn’t have enough–or correct–information. The goal is creating enough information that the computer can give salespeople suggestions.”

 

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