Leading CRM solutions provide the core elements needed to coordinate lead, opportunity, and account management across a multichannel sales environment.
Posted Dec 22, 2003
Customers are a company's most valuable asset. Keeping these customers loyal and happy requires more than just delivering a quality product; it requires real-time insights into buying behaviors and trends to anticipate the customer's needs. But with today's multiple sales channels--online, direct, OEM, and resellers--this can be a complicated process. Customers can use one channel to purchase a product or service and use another channel for a different need, leading to missed cross- and upsell opportunities, and impacting revenue potential. To increase sales and remain competitive, enterprises must manage and coordinate leads through the sales pipeline across all channels and not only close the deal, but also turn each sale into a profitable, ongoing customer relationship.
Leading CRM solutions provide the core elements needed to coordinate lead, opportunity, and account management across a multichannel sales environment. Channel partners can collaborate on everything from customer-needs assessment and competitive analysis to product specification and quoting requirements, driving higher customer conversion rates and increased profitability, while reducing cost of sales. With collaborative, multichannel selling anyone interacting with the customer will know the customer's purchase history and preferences, no matter which channel they used for purchasing or when the transaction took place. Technology is now available for companies to advise customers on the best solutions, stay focused on the most profitable opportunities, and improve the bottom line.
The core processes within the sales cycle--manage, qualify, advise, and close--are ripe with opportunities to increase sales force effectiveness and turn valuable leads into profitable deals. By examining how these processes work at a hypothetical real-time enterprise, which we'll call Global Business International (GBI), we will see the advantages of collaborative, multichannel-selling solutions.
GBI wants to streamline the lead-to-conversion process to ensure no customer slips away during the sales cycle. The first step in accomplishing this goal is to move from reactive to strategic territory management, enabling GBI sales managers to optimize territories and assign new leads quickly. GBI sales managers access online, real-time multidimensional analysis of criteria like forecast type, industry, product, currency, opportunity status, and region. Armed with this information, sales managers can allocate resources more effectively to maximize revenue, while keeping customer response levels high. The GBI sales force uses precision forecasting to accurately predict revenues for different sales channels based on credible, real-time information. Sales management can now identify and minimize risks that can impact revenue projections by evaluating the utilization and performance of the sales force, and by interpreting the behavior of prospects in the pipeline. Managing the front end of the sales process ensures that valuable leads are turned into lasting customer relationships.
In the qualify process GBI funnels a lead into the channel. The lead is directed to the channel that best serves the customer (e.g., online, telesales, direct, or indirect). At the same time, information to better understand the customer's needs and requirements is gathered and the sales strategy is planned.
And, with a rapidly expanding business, GBI sales representatives are empowered to access enterprise information and seize sales opportunities quickly, without relying on downloads, plug-ins, or physical restrictions. Whether visiting a customer site, waiting for a connection at the airport, or driving to the next appointment, mobile users are only a click away from the information they need to gather new leads, assess initial needs, and qualify customers. By providing untethered access to relevant customer intelligence and easy synchronization when connected, GBI sales representatives are able to maximize their effectiveness and responsiveness to customer needs, improving the company's competitive advantage. With global access to real-time information, GBI ensures that its sales force turns every qualified lead into a promising customer relationship, no matter where the customer is located.
GBI understands that the more a company knows about its customers, the more the company can influence buying decisions and increase sales, which is especially important in a complex, multichannel selling situation. Customer satisfaction is increased as GBI sales representatives effectively recommend offerings that are relevant to customers' most current needs.
CRM solutions that enable enterprisewide collaboration will empower the entire sales team with the same 360-degree view of every customer. Armed with a comprehensive understanding of its customers, GBI can:
Personalize offerings to close more business, faster
Identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities for targeted selling
Manage the simplest to the most complex customer relationships
Deliver the products and services customers want, when they want them, through the channel that serves them best
Customers typically know their own requirements, but have no way of knowing the vast array of offerings available to them from each vendor. By pointing customers to products that meet their specific needs, GBI sales representatives recommend products and services that are more likely to generate a purchase and create a positive experience. With CRM, GBI offers truly superior customer service and differentiates itself from the competition in a cost-effective manner.
After GBI identifies a lead, qualifies the customer, and recommends products and services, it closes the deal with on-target pricing and product offerings. GBI standardizes and improves the quoting process with capabilities that include product configuration, upsell and cross-sell offers, and integration with order-management business processes. Predefined templates save time by allowing sales representatives to print or email quotes directly from the order capture screen and moves the customer one step closer to closing the deal. GBI then finalizes the order, confirming that all information about the customer and the sale is accurate. The contract is made official and GBI begins to nurture the customer relationship.
Said again, customers are a company's biggest asset. And leveraging the right multichannel CRM technology can ensure that a company improves the customer experience and increases sales.