Traditional CRM systems have been capturing information from sales teams to improve sales monitoring. These systems normally added more value to the sales manager than to the sales agents and therefore they were not always accepted in the field. This article is about using tools and swarm intelligence in a modern CRM system to help B2B sales teams achieve better results and therefore give them a real motivation of using a CRM system.
Selling is more an art than a science. Top sales agents are those that understand their customers, including their needs, motivations, fears, goals, values, restrictions, etc. (See also HBR 2016: “A portrait of the overperforming salesperson”.
The best sales agents are capable of building trust with their customers and add value to their business.
To understand the role of a CRM system in this environment we need to ask at least these two questions:
First, can CRM systems add value to the sales agents?. Second, can CRM systems foster the cooperation of sales teams so that the bottom 80% performers learn from the top 20% of performers and even give them something in return?
Algorithms aren’t biased.
On a regular basis, sales agents need to assess their situation opportunity by opportunity in order to calculate the weighted value of their pipeline and especially their possibility to meet their quota. As indicated by the 2017 World Class Sales Practices report by CSO Insights “the win rate of forecasted deals is 46.9% – less than half.” This means that aprox. Half of sales agents a too optimistic.
This is where modern CRM systems can contribute by calculating an additional win probability based on key factors such as the number of persons that still need to be convinced, the sales barriers that need to be overcomed and the own situation regarding the competition. This “objective” win probability per opportunity provides sales agents another perspective on their situation. Knowing that most sales agents evaluate their situation better than it actually is, this external view may help them to become more realistic and be better prepared to meet their goals. For those readers, who speak Spanish I recommend the article “If you want less biased decisions, trust the algorithms” from Harvard Business Review.
Facts are basis for improvement.
Each company normally defines the steps of a sales process giving each step a weighting value that helps to calculate the pipeline value per sales agent. A modern CRM system has data on the entire sales team and is able to compare the average total number of days spent by the sales agent to win an opportunity with the average number of days of the sales team he/she belongs. Without the involvement of the sales manager and maintaining their privacy, all sales agents can compare themselves to their teams and can evaluate if they need longer to make a deal in general or in specific sales process steps. Facts create the basis for personal improvement.
A team is more intelligent than an individual.
n the classical “AIDA” sales process the first two steps (Attention and Interest) are all about finding leads and qualifying those leads as real opportunities. In the last two steps (Desire and Action) is all about human interaction with the customer to generate a real and immediate “Desire” to buy. So, in the last two sales process steps the sales agent needs to convince their customers (buyers influencers, gatekeepers, etc.), need to overcome sales barriers (lack of budget, lack of credibility, etc.) and need to show a stronger value than possible competitors. Here is where a modern CRM system can capture from each sales agent the methodology they used to compete against a competitor and the process they used to overcome a sales barrier. This information is immediately available to the entire sales team, who can benefit when they compete against the same companies or have the same sales barriers. The advice comes from the swarm of peers and can be considered “swarm intelligence” for the benefit of the individual.
The results of “Thinking together” have always been better than those of the individual and this can be made very visible through the NASA Survival Game.
Market feedback influences strategy.
So far this article has provided three examples in which a modern CRM system can directly help a sales agent to improve his/her performance: 1) win probability of an opportunity, 2) visualization of sales process step durations, and 3) advice on sales barriers.
So, there is a real benefit for the individual sales agent to use the CRM system.
But, the strong adoption of a modern CRM system has also a side effect which is positive for the sales managers. By receiving information from the sales team on their competitive situations and the challenges the teams have to overcome to close a deal, the sales managers have a much better insight into the firms market situation and can take specific actions to improve the sales team training. In a time where information is money, real-time market information from the field can represent lots of money if the company can convert more opportunities into deals.
Is your current CRM prepared for providing advice to sales agents, foster collaboration, and provide feedback about your current market situation?
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