Who's Who in the How of Sales
In my August column
I noted that CRM vendors were getting the message that their tools needed to do more to help salespeople perform specific sales tasks more effectively (what I referred to as the how of sales). I went on to say that several vendors were releasing new capabilities to optimize sales rep performance. That observation generated a slew of emails from people asking for examples of this. So this month, I'll share with you some of the CRM firms that are positioned to lead the charge in 2005 for helping salespeople improve how they sell.
How to Do Strategic Account Planning:
OneSource aggregates data from 2,500 external data sources and makes it available to salespeople via the company's existing CRM application framework. With a few clicks of a mouse, OneSource's tools can segment a sales territory, highlight the strategic goals for the companies being targeted, view who all the key players are within that account, and prepopulate most of a strategic account plan with current, accurate data.
How to Generate Better Leads:
A technology sales executive turned me on to an innovative way to produce more leads. His company implemented a system from Eloqua that monitors who is on its Web site, and notifies call center reps when a "great prospect" is visiting the site. The system then guides the rep through how to start and effectively conduct a live chat with that customer. Using this approach the firm has seen leads generated per rep rise from one a day to five plus.
How to Do a Complete Needs Analysis:
MobilePoint and Proscape are two CRM firms that have been reinventing themselves to take advantage of the Tablet PC. They offer tools that allow a rep to do a comprehensive needs analysis, and then detail the product to a customer as effectively as any product manager, completing the process in one versus the previously multiple calls required.
How to Generate a Comprehensive Proposal:
Providing prospects with a solid business case is an absolute must today if you expect to close the deal. Pragmatech and iCentera are two firms that provide CRM solutions that allow salespeople to create highly focused, customized proposals to clearly explain what they sell, why the prospect needs it, and where the ROI is to justify the expense.
How to Access Best Sales Practices:
The buzz-phrase this year has been "sharing best practices," as many of the traditional CRM vendors have added varying degrees of support for this process to their applications. Some of these systems, such as Street Smarts from Involve Technology, provide a Googlelike interface for sharing and accessing sales insights, allowing reps to tap into the knowledge of the entire team to help them sell more effectively.
How to Sell Effectively in a Vertical Industry:
The number of vertical solutions continues to rise: FirstWave for sports marketing, Salesnet for commercial lenders, imMEDIAte for media sales teams, FiServ for banks, Dendrite and Siebel for pharma, SellTis for industrial sales reps, etc. These systems are each targeted towards the unique sales challenges reps face in their specific industry, and give them the tools to deal with those issues.
The sheer number of these firms validates the fact that the CRM marketplace is indeed making the shift from increasing sales reps' efficiency (giving them more time to sell) to sales effectiveness (maximizing the use of selling time). With this transition we should see noticeably more CRM project ROI success stories in the coming year.
Jim Dickie is a partner with CSO Insights, a research firm that specializes in benchmarking CRM and sales effectiveness initiatives. Contact him at email@example.com