Include Sales in Customer Intelligence

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But the truth is that many are not. “Very often, if you didn’t start your career with those tools, you are less likely to start with them now or to fully utilize their capacity,” Arussy laments. “It’s the success inertia that makes those salespeople feel they already have a good formula for success.”

Bova agrees that highly successful sales reps don’t see much of a reason to change their methods and the tools they use, and their companies often don’t want to see them change too much either.

Meanwhile, many companies (and their sales managers) are also entrenched in the old ways of evaluating sales success.

The competitive nature of the sales job in general is also a factor. “Salespeople have to compete against other salespeople in competitor companies, but also against salespeople in their own companies,” Bova explains. “They compete on quota, which is measurable, and their managers might also measure them on the number of telephone or email contacts they make in a day.”

In that competitive climate, better customer tracking, better customer journey mapping, and more knowledge about how customers engage with companies all have great potential to improve sales performance, experts agree.

Additionally, companies can use any number of means to evaluate customer channels—such as which channel best facilitates closing a sale, which generates the highest basket price, and which produces the least amount of churn.

“Ultimately, you want to maximize sales while minimizing time wasted,” Arussy states. “This is the pinnacle of the effective salesperson. By knowing where to focus—who is most likely to buy, what they are most likely to buy, and when—you can manage your time to become most effective in your sales efforts. It eliminates a lot of the scenarios where we spend time on the wrong customer or the wrong timing.”

Sales channel intelligence and CRM systems can also help sales reps get the best returns from the sales contacts they make.

“Here’s how sales channel and also CRM intelligence can help you. Your manager tells you to contact at least 100 people per day via email. You also have a sales quota to meet. By using CRM and sales channel intelligence systems, it is possible for you to deduce who is the most likely to buy from you based on what the analytics tell you. These are the top prospects that you focus on,” Bova says. “By adding artificial intelligence and analytics to your sales efforts, this might enable you to reach a sales quota after calling the first 20 customers instead of the full 100,” she continues.

EVALUATING THE VALUE

However, for sales processes to work optimally, companies must also have sales reps “who are conscious of the value that is locked in the intelligence they are getting and who care about it.”

This is where many salespeople will object, especially if they have their own tried-and-true methods. Veteran salespeople are usually stuck in their ways. They don’t think they need new tools and often ignore them.

Many of these same sales reps also value the personal rapport and intimacy they have built up with their customers over time. They don’t want to see impersonal technologies erode that. They say things like “My clients do not work that way” or “I know them better than anyone else” whenever any improvement to the sales process is suggested.

“Because these salespeople deliver results despite not using the new tools, the organization leaves them alone and loses the opportunity for effectiveness and efficiency,” Arussy warns.

Another risk is that technology “will shift sales from relationship building to transaction facilitation,” Arussy says. “Because if the only time you speak to customers is when they are ready to buy, you will miss other opportunities and customers will perceive your efforts as very self-centric. It’s the fast track to becoming a commodity and selling on price.”

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