• July 1, 2007
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Eat Your Vegetables

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Trying to convince a salesperson to use a CRM system is not unlike trying to convince a child to eat vegetables. As a child is told that vegetables are good for him, a salesperson is told a CRM system will improve the financial health of the company. Most of the time, neither one finds what's served to them appetizing. This can't be ignored. Companies can try the forceful do-as-you're-told parental tactic, but this will likely breed resentment, and, unlike children, salespeople can choose to leave the table. So what's the solution? It's simple: Approach your salespeople as if they are your best customers and focus on providing them and the company value. Traditional SFA applications are good at helping salespeople build customer databases and generate reports; however, these systems don't address many of the irritating, time-consuming aspects of a salesperson's job. Sales managers should concentrate on relieving the team's sorest pain points to encourage its adoption of CRM technology. If members of the sales team are frustrated because they spend too much time entering data into an SFA/CRM system--hence, not enough time selling--consider how to reduce data entry tasks. Several innovative applications alleviate this frustration by grabbing data the company or salespeople already receive. CardScan has a product, CardScan for CRM, that is well positioned to help salespeople do exactly this by enabling them to scan business cards into their computers to link the contact information to a variety of CRM systems, including Salesforce.com, Sage SalesLogix, ACT! by Sage, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. If salespeople are spending too much time prospecting or cold calling, InsideView's software locates the most promising prospects based on actual events and opportunities, not just company descriptions like market, size, and territory. The software finds key decision-makers linked to the company through reference customers, boards of directors, and current executives. The application already integrates with Salesforce.com and SugarCRM. Another innovative sales tool comes from nTAG Interactive. The company provides digital interactive badges for conferences and industry events to improve networking activity, session attendance and interactivity, and the ability to capture highly qualified leads at expo booths. If your company provides annual service or maintenance plans, it may be losing renewal revenue if salespeople aren't following up with clients before contracts expire. Look for a contract authoring and execution application, such as Oracle Service Contracts, that also automates renewals for recurring revenue. And what better way to reward the sales team for its hard work than to make sure it receives timely commissions and/or bonuses? Incentive management applications from Callidus Software, Centive, and Xactly do just this. Additionally, these applications will help to minimize overpayment errors on bonuses and reduce the time wasted by salespeople and accounting employees trying to resolve payment disputes. These are just some examples of the apps that provide value to sales professionals and the company. When combined, traditional SFA/CRM applications and helpful add-ons can be appetizing for sales teams and nourishing for companies. David Myron Editorial Director dmyron@infotoday.com
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