Sales professionals and customer service reps today have access to more customer data than ever before. But the reverse is also true: before they come anywhere close to buying, customers today know a lot more about what a company does and what it sells. That makes them a lot savvier, which can bring new challenges as well as new opportunities for the process of customer relationship management and effective use of CRM software.
The fact is that customers often conduct extensive research and do comparison shopping before they ever speak with a sales rep or make a purchase. They expect to be able to use multiple channels and a variety of ways to get in touch. We have transitioned into a world of omnichannel sales, where it's important to provide a seamless shopping experience for customers, whether they are shopping online, by telephone, or in a physical store. Customer service and sales professionals must also be ready to interact with customers in multiple ways.
Recent research from Global Web Index, for instance, found that today's average digital consumer owns 3.64 devices -- everything from smartphones and tablets to laptops, wearables and streaming sticks. Even customers who don't buy online do their homework online before going to stores -- 72 percent, according to recent numbers reported by Salesforce.com.
Only 32% of Time Spent Selling
Whether they're used at the office or on the go, mobile and cloud-based CRM applications -- like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics -- are vital for today's sales and customer service professionals. Even so, studies have found there's still plenty of opportunity for organizations to reap more value from their contact management software.
Last year's "State of Sales Productivity Report" from the sales and marketing specialist Docurated, for example, found that sales and marketing professionals spend only 32 percent of their time actually selling to customers. The rest of their time is spent on administrative tasks, CRM reporting, searching for content, and other tasks.
"The good news: Many minor tasks eating up salespeople's time can be automated, streamlined, or simplified," Salesforce content innovation lead Heike Young said this week in a blog post.
In its e-book titled, "5 Secrets of the Most Productive Salespeople," Salesforce suggests salespeople download important documents to their phones so they can work even when they're on the go or offline. Other tips include using mobile apps like Salesforce1 to handle multiple tasks from one device and application; and finding ways to automate more tasks and better manage time spent answering e-mails.
When implemented properly, sales automation software and CRM systems can take a huge amount of administrative burden off salespeople -- giving them more time to focus on satisfying customer needs and boosting overall sales.
Looking for Immediate Engagement
"Improvements in the ease of mobile connectivity, mobile-friendly Web sites, and the Internet of Things have all helped to put the customer at the center of everything," according to a whitepaper on digital business released earlier this month by ConsultCRM, an arm of Advanced Business Solutions.
Today's customers expect to get the information they want quickly and easily -- whenever and however they want it. And, if they don't get what they need, they'll simply "move their affections" and their business elsewhere. ConsultCRM says, "The phrase 'the customer is always right' has never been more apt."
Providing the information that customers want and need, however, requires multiple channels of communication. With online shoppers now more than three times as likely as offline consumers to buy, it is increasingly important for companies to integrate their selling process with data and tools from social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Customer service and sales professionals are well aware of the impact social media is having, according to a survey released last year by business software company Capterra. The survey found that sales and service reps have been asking for social media tools to be integrated into their CRM software, more so than any other tools.
"Why would customers want to engage with brands in a place where they communicate with their friends?" business expert Jeffrey Hayzlett asked today in a blog post on Salesforce's site. "Because of the quality of the experience and by the almost immediate engagement they receive, which is leaps and bounds better than the typical automated hell we're used to."
Social media companies are leveraging their power to drive sales, increasing their advertising options and rolling out new services like Facebook's Messenger for Business, with a focus on boosting customer engagement.
The bottom line? Today's customers require more everything -- more information at their fingertips, more timely response, more personalized service. It's up to the folks who build and implement CRM systems to help sales and service people keep up with the demand. Mobile CRM, cloud CRM, and CRM systems that integrate social media channels are all a step in the right direction -- using high-tech, high-touch solutions to boost customer satisfaction and overall sales.
Posted: 2016-02-28 @ 7:05pm PT
Agree with you when you say less time selling. That was my biggest pain when I was using some big names. I actually needed something more simple, for managing contacts, lead tracking, deal / opportunity management, understand what my sale pipleline is and forecast better. The key goal was I spend minimum time with the system and maximum time closing deals. I found this online customer relationship software called TriumphCRM I can say is extremely easy to use CRM and no nonsense CRM software, pricing and support.
Posted: 2016-02-26 @ 4:30am PT
How about integrating CRMs with application in other business functions? Isn't it important to align Sales with others like Accounting, Customer Support or Marketing?
How are sales folks today integrating their data between these apps ?