I've moved twice in the last six months and three times in the last three years. Two of those were cross-country moves. Now, I like to think I’m a relatively smart and highly-organized person. Yet, I can promise you that no matter how perfectly I planned for those three moves, how meticulously I labeled boxes, or how thoughtfully I grouped similar possessions together, it still took me forever to sort through the chaos at the other end.
If you've ever moved, you understand. Stuff gets temporarily or permanently lost. You question your own decision-making skills when you uncover that strange hybrid box containing kitchenware, bath towels, and gym equipment (guilty!). You grumpily mutter to yourself when you have to lug all those boxes labeled "basement" back up to the third floor. And don't even get me started on what happens when you attempt to unpack a box that another family member originally packed. It's like untangling the various subplots on Game of Thrones without ever having read the books.
Trying to get your new home in order after a big move is a lot like trying to engage in any sort of meaningful sales conversation with a prospect based only on static data and a collection of records in your customer relationship management (CRM) or sales force automation (SFA) solution. That's because no matter how good your intentions were when entering that last opportunity update (assuming it was even you who did it), the reliability of that information is going to be affected by human error, lack of foresight, and changing situational context. (Think, free weights packed with hiking boots that end up in the mudroom when they really should have gone in the rec room box.)
But it's not just CRM data that's the trouble (check out our last post on making Sales Legends with better Customer Intelligence). It's how that data is presented, how sales reps must access it, how much time it takes them to keep it fresh despite how quickly things change, and the level of effort required to figure out how to translate that customer intelligence into a useful tool to actually generate sales. Without solutions for these problems, their CRM might as well be a free-for-all of random tasks and notes about random opportunities not associated with any particular account.
They might as well not bother logging into their CRM, let alone updating it.
The less valuable their CRM software, the less likely sales reps are to use it. The less they use it, the worse the intelligence contained within becomes. And the worse the intelligence, the less helpful it is, which reinforces their original tendency not to want to use it. It’s a vicious cycle. Plus, it’s really hard to find stuff in their CRM, and sales force automation tools don’t really actually automate anything — they just turn spreadsheets into applications.
As Larry Ellison so aptly pointed put it during the Oracle Cloud CX Virtual Summit: Sales automation software should help you actually sell more, not just provide better forecasts to your manager.
This dichotomy underpinned one of the oldest and unresolved conflicts in the sales profession. For sales management, a CRM or SFA system is not the magic bullet they may have hoped it would be. Reps perform poorly and churn out – or at the very least, waste a lot of time manipulating data and to-do lists into a format that they can manage. It creates bad pipeline info and missed forecasts. Not good for the business, and not good for reps.
Sales reps can excel (even in, and maybe thanks to the shift to virtual selling). It takes a lot of people, process innovation, and a bit of a reframing for what sales technology should be (not what it is).
The problem you face as a sales leader sounds simple: Get your sellers to use their CRM, and everyone wins. But to actually do that, you need to a multi-pronged approach.
1. Prescriptive guidance for sellers
This means machine learning and AI recommendations, but also critical insights from their marketing automation solution, and embedded guidance from rules-based sales execution systems, like powerful pricing and quoting tools they can use inside their CRM. 98% of sellers wish they had superpowers. Maybe they’ll never be able to actually read a prospect's mind, but AI can help give them an edge.
The Oracle Sales application delivers this prescriptive guidance in a few ways. First, we embed the AI capabilities right in the core application. For example, sellers can see in-line alerts next to their leads and opportunities that let them know when there's a mismatch between what they believe and what AI predicts is the probability of their deal closing. They then get a recommendation on the next best action to take to close the gap, and get predictive guidance on which leads are most likely to close, and thus deserve their attention.
2. A smarter and friendlier user experience
90% of sellers complain parts of their job take longer than they should. The top areas listed were entering notes in the CRM system (35%) and updating or working in multiple systems (34%). In order to re-invent how sellers work, we have to start with the basics: Eliminate mind-numbing data entry and endless clicks in the CRM.
Oracle Sales automates administrative work, enriches and masters data, and makes it simpler for reps to access records and complete actions — so they can spend much more time selling.
One example is the new Adaptive Search and Workspace User Experience™. It simplifies task and opportunity management by giving reps a one-page view of all their accounts, open opportunities, leads, and contacts — with an embedded global search that makes it really easy to look up specific data and drop-down actions so they can complete sales activities quickly. Say goodbye to hours wasted recreating to-do lists and sticky note reminders cluttering desks and monitors. Reps can dive into their Workspace right from their home-page UX, which is now filled with actionable Smart Lists and Infolets. That means less time on admin work, and more time to generate sales.
3. Tools carefully designed for how sellers like to work
It's silly for sales reps to have to copy information or re-enter data into multiple applications. But, if the CRM is going to truly be a CRM, it does need to have a master view of activities and interactions associated with accounts, contacts, leads, and opportunities. How can you reconcile those two opposing needs?
Oracle Sales empowers reps to work from the systems and devices they already use and gives them a simple path to access and update CRM data from these channels. Plus we make sure all their CRM info shows up in these channels so they don't need to go searching for it. They get to work with the tools they already know and love, and it’s all captured in CX Sales automatically.
For example, a new partnership with Microsoft Teams lets them collaborate with their entire team to help progress a deal. We're also redesigning our core sales tech so that reps actually want to use it. The new Oracle Sales Mobile Application incorporates Oracle's new Redwood design philosophy and elements, plus smarter design that puts the most important tasks and records front and center on the home screen.
Kayleigh Halko is a Principal Product Manager at Oracle.