CRM Optimization: 4 New Ways To Increase The Value Of The Inside Sales Team

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In this last of my series on CRM optimization and the evolving needs of our clients, recall that I began by writing about the shift in focus and expectations regarding CRM systems. It is amazing to see the changes an organization undergoes when they stop seeing their CRM as an administrative tool, and begin to see its value as a functioning asset, aligned with their organization’s goals. The results are remarkable as these organizations are actually realizing superior outcomes, as many of our clients have experienced, due in no small part to the discovery that their CRM system can actually help them achieve their goals. This shift translates, not only into improved customer relationships, but optimized and efficient business practices, along with creating an all-around better experience for all users.

The focus of this concluding post is to highlight how a business-aligned CRM solution can provide new ways to increase the value of the inside sales team, by improving the user experience, increasing productivity, and driving more profitable revenue.

So why should you care? Most organizations (both product based and services focused) have their business defined by territories. Within these territories, there are internal and external resources assigned to provide support, products, and/or services to businesses/organizations within the defined region. The majority of CRM systems in place today focus on “managing the opportunity” within the sales process, but many do not have a focus on “growing the relationship”. It is impossible to grow a relationship when you are unaware of the most recent encounter, or the needs of your customers. Do you really know how your customers view you? Who can gather all that critical information?

Consider the challenges faced across your organization; “Do more with less”; have information and answers at the ready when our prospects/customers/clients make requests – regardless of who they asked; provide coverage and hit quotas for each period’s revenue; provide account management and relationship services; and above all, provide exemplary customer service. For these reasons and more, it has become necessary to have a system that can help you proactively advance both the client relationship and your business goals simultaneously.

Some industry insights for consideration:

  • For many industrial companies, it can take up to 39 hours for a field rep to follow up on a web inquiry, and that delay causes a significant drop in lead engagement – re-enforcing the “early bird gets the worm” analogy.
  • The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-25% depending on the business, but selling more to an existing customer can be as high as 60-70+%.
  • The lifetime value (in revenue, not profit) of a customer who deems you to be a strategic partner, can be up to 10x more than a single product/project/deal customer.
  • Most existing CRM systems focus on reactive tracking, for activities and activity planning, by sales teams individually; they do not proactively assist the team with system generated suggestions and prompts, automatically added to task lists for easy execution.
  • Organizations implementing digital transformation (CRM solutions) can generate up to 8% more operating income than peers that have not made the change.

All too often, our internal sales team members spend the majority of their time “taking orders” or chasing down an issue when their time should be spent working with your top tier “A” and “B” customers, and supporting the team’s high value prospects. So instead of ensuring these customers are experiencing the quality interactions and support necessary to grow the relationship, the sales team can quite often get mired in tactical transactions, navigating next steps, and extinguishing fires. This ultimately cheats them, the organization, and your customers out of time that could have been spent generating quality results. Additionally, this time could also have been used to provide support for the field team, resulting in a stronger, more effective, strategic sales team.

Here are 4 examples that illustrate how an advanced CRM solution can provide the vehicle to assist the inside sales team to generate superior returns:

Example #1: Using the system for customer proactive “prompts” to improve the relationship

  • Make the inside sales team the receiver of all internet/web leads; provide a rapid response approach that can use a pre-defined script to gather information, and pre-qualify the lead as soon as it is received.
  • Provide prompts for activities to be taken by internal sales teams if a customer has not been contacted recently, changes order patterns, or changes business (adds locations, product lines/services, has staff changes).
  • Use marketing integration to provide “unique” landing pages and follow-up that can walk a prospect, or customer, through preliminary sales steps while maintaining a personal feel. This will generate an automatic prompt to an inside sales resource directing them to connect with the contact and inquire about interest, at which point the sales team member can engage the proper resources based on need/desire.
  • Provide visibility to marketing on changes in customer activities – even prompting for marketing activities, should certain events occur (thank you for a large order with inside sales follow up, growth, business change, etc.).

Example #2: Provide visibility to all team members

  • Share information affecting the relationship in real time, allowing all Internal departments access to the customer interactions so that they may be knowledgeable and able respond appropriately to inquiries.
  • Develop prompts to help the inside sales team gather needed information about a customer, contact, transaction, creating a broader picture of the organization with which your team interacts (or should be interacting with) to continuously cultivate the relationship.
  • Consolidate activities for better customer interaction, and gain valuable insights for creating larger, or cross sell, opportunities among sales teams; this allows the inside team to assist in the sales process.
  • Reduce internal administrative time spent searching for information, or asking for a customer status update, and returning the focus to proactive activities, while facilitating rapid, accurate inquiry responses.

Example #3: Generate tailored communications that provide specific value to the recipient

  • Provide customized messages based on role, customer type, season, products/solutions targeted, then integrate activities for the inside sales team to follow up with the customer (this is significantly more than the “monthly specials” blast followed by a list of call downs).
  • Share and track customer service, warranty, and other non-sales communication faster and easier using the same system – with full visibility for all team members.
  • Single platform team communication based on your customer’s desired communication preferences (phone, letter, e-mail, text, social).

Example #4: Gather/track information on customers and their competitors to provide insights to better serve these customers and help them remain competitive

  • Track information on key customers and prospects, build talking points for upcoming interactions, with multi-level visibility, by using integrated business intelligence and reporting tools.
  • Build a key customer “customer and competitors” list, designed to track their activities and identify common points of interest/access that may benefit your customer contacts.
  • Track press wire and news updates on customers and prospects, so all team members can see the information and be able to use it in their interactions.
  • Track industry trends that can be reflected in messaging, and interactions, to highlight benefits of the relationship to the customer, as well as noting additional value or opportunities, depending on the trends.

It has become critical to use your systems to their full potential. Many of your competitors have systems that were implemented three, four or more years ago, and have not been updated or maintained. By providing the tools and processes your team needs, they are able to communicate with and support your prospects/customers/clients, giving you the competitive advantage necessary for success in today’s fast paced, ever changing environment.

If you would like to discuss how your team could benefit from realigning your CRM system with your business goals, please contact me here and I’ll be happy to coordinate time to talk with you and your team.

Moving your business forward faster.

Read the other blog posts related to the Affiliated series on CRM Optimization:

The Benefits of Optimizing CRM Visibility within your Organization

How to Optimize CRM Team Work & Collaboration

CRM Optimization:  How to Improve Marketing & Communication Integration

5 New Ways to Grow Exisiting Customer Relationships

4 New CRM Optimization Strategies for Inside Sales

Why Affiliated for your CRM Implementation & Integration

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