• March 1, 2021
  • By Jim Dickie, research fellow, Sales Mastery

CRM at the Top of the Sales Funnel

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AS WE ENTERED 2021, the input received from most companies was that their revenue targets for this year were higher than what they achieved in 2020. That then raised the question: What are firms planning to do to hit those new revenue targets? To start to answer that question, Sales Mastery surveyed 250 sales enablement leaders, asking them to share the top three sales objectives their firms had for this year. A summary of their responses is seen in the chart.

We all have techniques that we use to process data, so let me share mine as I absorbed this chart. As I started to consider what prerequisites and co-requisites were necessary for the top two objectives on this list to happen, the importance of objective No. 3 got magnified. If we do not optimize lead generation and conversion to get in the game in both new and existing client accounts, we will not have a chance to win the game.

The second thing that occurred to me is that what we have here is a list of what sales organizations want to do. But knowing “what” does not mean we know “how.” Reflecting on that brought an observation from Albert Einstein to mind: “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.” So what would a new lead management optimization consciousness look like?

It needs to start with using CRM to take the creation of an ideal customer profile (ICP) to a whole new level—going beyond simply determining if there are certain industries, firm sizes, geographies, etc., where a given sales organization tends to be more successful than others. Technology needs to dig deeper to see if certain skill sets, company culture factors, other implemented solutions, and a myriad of other factors will give your sales teams a greater chance of connecting with and ultimately closing deals with a certain class of companies.

Second, we need to remember that companies don’t make buying decisions, people do. So we need CRM to go further than persona analyses of the various roles and job functions within prospect and client firms. It needs to provide direction as to which specific individuals need to be part of the buying process to make something happen.

And third, it is not enough to know who salespeople should want to talk to. They also need CRM to provide them with insights into why those people would want to talk to them. What motivates each of those stakeholders, and what value can sale teams bring to the table to help those individuals achieve gain or remove pain for themselves and for their companies?

The need to do all of the above is not lost on the CRM solution provider community. For example, Leadspace, based in San Francisco, is formulating and analyzing embedded data to create a new ICP awareness. Boston-based Aidentified provides insights into not just stakeholders’ role in a company, but also into their personal details. Salesforce’s Einstein takes successfully determining what an existing customer may need next to another level entirely.

Leveraging advanced analytics and artificial intelligence, we can create a new data-driven culture to help sales professionals engage the right accounts (and the right people) with the right messaging, to create the right motivation, to get them to take action right now. 

Jim Dickie, is a Research Fellow for Sales Mastery, a research firm that specializes in benchmarking case study examples of how companies are leveraging technology to transform sales. He can be reached at jim@salesmastery.com or on Twitter (@jimdickie).

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