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Prospect Development Management for On-Demand CRM
Can these new tools solve sales teams' old problems?
Posted Nov 1, 2006
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In an effort to make your sales team more effective, you invest a chunk of money licensing a new on-demand CRM system. The result? Your reps don't use it, or they use it just for forecasting because they are required to. So you spend more money buying market intelligence from a variety of data providers. The result? Your reps have to search multiple online and offline sources for the details they want. And because there's no simple way to input their research into the CRM system, the market intelligence information never makes its way there either--therefore losing its value. So once again your reps invent their own hodgepodge systems of researching and managing prospects to be successful and make their quota. This results in wasted time, overspending, and loss of valuable market intelligence and prospect information that resides in multiple applications. And ultimately, when the sales reps leave, so does all that valuable data, because there's no easy way to retain intelligence within the company. Lots of new applications and good intentions on your part, the same old problems and challenges on their part. Sound familiar? This is a typical scenario within sales organizations, so you're not alone. Lack of user adoption is cited as the primary cause for 70 percent of failed CRM projects. The truth is that sales vice presidents across every industry are scratching their heads, wondering how to increase user adoption of CRM and at the same time make their teams more productive and motivated. While there are lots of prospect development tools out there that address these problems, a new generation of automated tools specifically for on-demand CRM has recently emerged. In a category we've named prospect development management, these products integrate seamlessly with on-demand CRM and are designed to help sales teams work more effectively by identifying and enriching leads with data from best-known intelligence sources, then scoring, sorting, and ranking the leads. The promised result is improved user adoption of CRM and, of course, higher conversion rates. And higher conversion rates means higher commissions, which means motivated sales reps. Another stated benefit of these tools is that as your reps increase their use of CRM, you will have a better understanding of your target customers. Until now that has been easier said than done.
But while there are many choices, not every new tool is right for your company. So how do you evaluate the options? First things first: Listen to your sales reps. What are their biggest challenges? Why aren't they using your CRM? What are the most common problems with the leads they're getting? More often than not the following pain points will surface:
  • data quality
  • ability to qualify and prioritize records
  • getting to the right people Keep these in mind when calling potential vendors, and demand candid, honest answers to the following questions. If you do, evaluating the myriad tools on the market will be much easier. Will the product help you identify the prospects that exist within your database? Many databases are incomplete, inconsistent, and ill maintained, with experts citing that 70 percent of records are inaccurate, duplicate, or incomplete. With the half-life of most contact databases just 18 months, it's critical that you find a product that can cleanse your data and keep it clean. If you don't start off with high-quality data, you'll lose your reps' buy-in before you even begin. Does the product qualify and prioritize leads based on criteria important to your company/group/individual reps? Studies show that B2B enterprises utilize less than 10 percent of sales leads because they just don't have the time and resources to sort through them all. And qualification is a subjective exercise. Being able to rank and prioritize leads based on the criteria you choose (e.g., industry, geography, size of company, revenues) is critical. What good is a huge list of companies to a rep if she doesn't know which ones are in her territory and are also the right size? Will the product connect your reps to the right contacts? With just a fraction of most database records classified as executives, many reps waste a lot of time trying to sell to the wrong person or trying to find the right person. Make sure the vendor you choose can give you the information your reps need to effectively approach and connect with key contacts, whether it's details on previous education or employment, recent news, or a full resume. A name and title just won't do. Is the product easy to use and seamlessly accessible via your CRM? If you provide your reps with "just another tool outside of CRM," chances are they'll "just say no" to using it. Trust me; if it's not extremely easy to use, sales reps will not use it. And in today's world of Web services, integration is no longer a scary word. So if the prospect development management tool you're considering requires substantial IT administration to install and maintain, run for the hills. The bottom line for your bottom line The data your reps need to be successful is out there. Increased use of your on-demand CRM system is just around the corner. But if there's one undeniable truth about sales, it's that having lots of data means nothing if you don't know what to do with it. Make sure the prospect development management solution you choose provides your reps with the right set of names, with relevant information they can use, when they need it. Identify the leads. Qualify them. Then connect your reps with the right people. It's as simple as that, if you do your homework before the call. About the Author Timothy Ramos is president and CEO of Before the Call. Please visit www.beforethecall.com
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