I recently wrote about how to drive great sales performance with sales force automation (SFA) technology. While many small to medium companies have invested in SFA to help automate the sales cycle, challenges involving the business culture—the people and the process—may still exist.
Any initiative to build a better sales culture must take these human factors into account. The technology must match the way your sales people work, if it is to be fully effective in driving better performance.
To that end, here are my six recommendations when shopping for an SFA system:
The value of sales force automation in the cloud can be seen in many ways: time to value, user experience, and cost savings are among the benefits of modern Software as a Service (SaaS). Looking deeper, most organizations will realize the long-term value and scalability of modern cloud-based SFA when all processes are connected in a single platform for a unified experience that drives peak sales performance.
Salespeople must be able to leverage sophisticated technology to execute strategy. Because modern consumers are more likely to forgo talking with a sales rep, the best alternative is to arm customers with the information they are seeking across their buying experience. To do this, businesses must strategically place their brands in front of customers early and often. Arming customers with information is the next step in a modern cloud-based SFA strategy that helps not just sales reps but the entire organization to sell more. This puts focus on the following:
A modern partner relationship management (PRM) program lets you engage, manage, and develop business partners. It allows companies to customize and streamline business processes as well as develop and manage partner portals. The primary benefit of PRM in the cloud is that it delivers the scalability needed to drive successful partner channels by improving onboarding programs and streamlining deal registrations while decreasing the number of stalled opportunities and channel enablement challenges.
It is also critical to look at configurability and customization. As older PRM technologies become outdated and less effective, companies are looking to PRM providers to act as strategic partners, advising them on their top channel enablement decisions. According to The Forrester Wave™: Partner Relationship Management (PRM) Platforms, Q3 2016, “The PRM market is growing because more B2B channel professionals see these platforms as a way to address their top challenges—and these channel pros increasingly trust PRM providers to act as strategic partners, advising them on their top channel enablement decisions.”
All too often, businesses focus only on the key elements of SFA, such as managing opportunities, analyzing sales forecasts, and gaining a complete view of the customer, and they neglect to implement a solution that fosters the performance of their salespeople. While improving and streamlining processes, businesses should consider an end-to-end SPM solution that’s fully integrated with their SFA so all required business functions are working together seamlessly. An end-to-end solution should include territory planning, quota modeling, incentives and games, sales coaching, and more. Leveraging SPM technology in the cloud lets companies better manage performance, motivate behaviors, and mentor the best practices of the organization.
Data empowers better performance, and the delivery of this data needs to be clean, consolidated, and complete. Sales reps must be able to access partner and customer data in real time wherever they are. And they need to trust the quality and source of that data. Having a scalable solution that allows sales teams to consolidate account and contact data originating from multiple sources, verify addresses, resolve duplicate record issues, and ensure a “best version” customer profile that can be trusted is the true value of an integrated CDM solution in the cloud. The more knowledge that sales reps are armed with, the more likely they’ll self-serve and sell more.
Customers today are doing their own research so that by the time they contact a sales rep, they’re focused on price, not value. In fact, according to InsideSales.com, 50% of deals go to the supplier that responds first. Businesses challenged with a lack of data integration in reporting, forecasting, and quoting typically see deals drag out and volume and margins drop. In turn, this causes sales reps’ motivation and productivity to dwindle. Modern CPQ addresses these concerns by providing faster, more accurate quotes, which can significantly reduce sales cycles and increase margins. High-performing sales teams also integrate CPQ with their enterprise resource planning systems, preventing human error or time lost to confirming what’s in stock. Having this flexibility with a CPQ cloud system to integrate with other applications helps organizations streamline processes and gives them a competitive advantage.
Sales organizations are not lacking in customer data. This is the good news, because data can hold the key to improving the sales pipeline, increasing wallet share, and building customer loyalty. The bad news is that data is only as good as the timely, accurate, relevant, and practical intelligence it can offer. Sales organizations need real-time, useful, and predictive insight into every sales opportunity at the point of customer contact. Through a modern sales analytics solution in the cloud that provides a 360-degree view of accounts, identifies patterns in purchasing history, and predicts the most profitable products to recommend to customers, businesses can accelerate sales, make informed decisions, and help reps better achieve their quotas. According to CSO Insights, sales teams that use analytics increase their quota attainment four times faster.
Evolving demands for access to real-time information, personalized customer engagements, improved channel performance and better intelligence in sales decision making are forcing organizations in all industries to look beyond traditional SFA technology. Considering these six key areas as part of your digital sales transformation will set you on a path to peak sales performance.