Improve Sales Results with Better Forecasting and Sales Intelligence in CRM 2011

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Sales teams that consistently increase annual revenues to exceed quotas and expand market share spend more time on client-facing communications and selling activities rather than organizing and searching for data or manually calculating forecasting figures for potential deals. This summer, Peter Ostrow of Aberdeen released a new report entitled “Chance Favors the Prepared Mind – Understanding the Science of Sales Intelligence” that echoes this sentiment in many cases. Key findings of the research related to CRM include the following:

  • Only roughly 20% of top-tier companies have achieved strong sales performance without the utilization of CRM.
  • 100% of sales reps with Best-in-Class outfits spend less than half their day searching for data on clients and prospects; a much lower 76% of sales reps at Laggards can say the same.
  • 81% of Best-in-Class companies leverage systems offering sales analytics and forecasting functionality; a mere 34% of Laggard firms claim to do so as well.
  • 75% of Best-in-Class firms currently or intend to integrate a sales intelligence solution with their CRM system; only 58% of Laggard firms fall into this category.

Aberdeen’s survey results demonstrate that a strong enabler of sales performance is to have a centralized CRM data repository, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, that is easily accessible by Sales, Marketing, and Executive Management personnel. As all critical information on prospects, clients, accounts, and sales opportunities is stored and updated in a single place within CRM, sales reps can easily reference, mine, and segment the database to pinpoint lucrative up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, track deal competitors, produce quotes, and record any customer call history, meeting notes, and email correspondence throughout the sales cycle. Also, sales reps can instantly monitor their progress in relation to user or team-defined sales goals and analytics. Moreover, Sales Management can pull up real-time sales performance and sales activity dashboards and in-line visual charts by rep, team, region, or the entire firm. Estimated revenue, close probability, and close dates can be reviewed for accuracy.  Likewise, sales pipeline building efforts can be scrutinized to ensure consistent sales production by the team and to eliminate potential future lulls or valleys over the course of the year. Furthermore, sales and marketing teams can collaborate more closely as marketing campaigns, lead sources, and trade show activities can be recorded, tracked, and ranked based on revenue generating effectiveness. Having such business development and strategic partner insights available within CRM will benefit the firm because sales and marketing departments can focus on becoming more tightly aligned with their most profitable lead generation and referral sources.

Additionally, Aberdeen indicates that Best-in-Class organizations constantly deploy and rely on business and sales intelligence tools. Sales intelligence applications used in conjunction with CRM help sales reps have a deeper knowledge of their market, region, and clients. In particular, social media aggregators can provide sales reps with the latest news on company financials, expanding offices, strategic initiatives, executive hiring/turnover, org structure realignments, competitors, and industry trends. The incorporation of breaking news and social media profiles on key account contacts results in sales professionals being more prepared for their next sales presentation with senior decision makers. As sales reps have more background on their prospects, they should be able to have more productive conversations that result in an accelerated sales cycle and more closed deals.

In conclusion, in order to achieve optimal sales performance and to maximize sales rep productivity, it is essential to arm sales reps with a flexible and scalable enterprise-wide CRM Sales/Marketing/Service suite that includes sales analytics and sales intelligence tools, such as the powerful CRM 2011 solution.

Post by: Kevin Wessels, Customer Effective 

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