It’s no secret that today’s customers want to make purchases any way they choose. They want choices that include price and product configurations, new buying models such as subscriptions, and prefer brands that know when to offer hands-on help, especially as digital and sales-assisted buying experiences continue to blend.
Great sales teams are advocates for their customers, and being a great advocate starts with getting better recommendations, not just better customer records, from your CRM. With a system of recommendation in place, sales teams can spend more time selling and less time preparing. When they can understand their buyers on a deeper, more meaningful level, they can work harder to cultivate a personalized buying experience that leaves customers happier and drives more revenue.
To better understand their target buyers, sales teams have historically relied on customer relationship management (CRM) systems to hold data about prospects and customers. Integrations with other systems link other customer data such as marketing campaigns, service interactions, purchase behaviors, proposals, and more. When all key data is entered, cleaned and deduplicated, CRM acts as a powerful “system of record” that informs sales forecasting, commission modeling, outreach prioritization, and other areas of business.
However, for CRMs to be useful, they must have good data. This is easier said than done because, in reality, sales reps typically have to spend time manually entering data, a task which they hate! This means that data entry is often deprioritized, thus CRM data becomes stale and reps are less likely to use and update their CRM. When contacts are outdated, company profiles lack context, and pipeline/funnel data is incorrect, the value and influence of CRM plummets, and the vicious cycle compounds.
Today’s customer buying journeys are less formulaic, more complex, individualized, and curated. Therefore, sales reps don’t just need data; they need to be able to access and leverage incredibly timely and relevant insights that empower them to better sell and serve customers.
According to recent SiriusDecisions research, “Improving sales rep productivity must be an ongoing pursuit for sales operations, sales enablement and sales leaders. However, sales organizations should move beyond a focus on increasing activity (e.g. “sending more emails and making more phone calls”) and seek to add insight and intelligence to buyer and customer interactions (e.g. when to send, what to send, how to send, whom to send to).”
Data-fueled AI can introduce automation that minimizes the time sales reps waste on non-valuable tasks like documenting follow-up activities. It can automate manual tasks like data quality and enrichment and improve the data set that drives its very own effectiveness. The result is things like surfacing recommendations that resonate with customers at the exact moment they are most likely to engage with the brand.
Modern sales teams need a “system of recommendation.”
At Oracle, we apply a few key lenses to develop sales tech and applications that prioritize the needs of sales reps so that they can advocate for their customers.
Pretty soon, you may not recognize your CRM. Sophisticated selling organizations are taking a closer look at how richer data, better automation (actual sales automation), revenue operations, machine learning, and major updates to user experience can give CRM a fresh new identity.