The New CRM: Proactive Relationship Management

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CRM systems have certainly made some progress since the rolodex in the 1950s. But let’s face the facts: Today’s systems are still problematic because they are predicated on the end user logging in to whatever tool they’re working with to create and manage tasks manually. The information in a CRM is out of date the second it’s in the system because people are inputting past actions. Many companies are desperate to address this problem, but until recently, the only solution was for them to throw more money on a pile of add-on apps in hopes of making the tool less clunky, or at teams of consultants.  

Fortunately, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have made significant advancements and can now deliver on the promise to make your life easier. Do you enter names into an address book, or do you just save a number after someone calls you? What if the same concept was available for sales reps—with less manual input and also captured notes from the call or email?

The AI we’re talking about isn’t robots trying to replace human jobs, especially in the B2B sales world; people will continue to buy from people. That said, advanced AI technology shows great promise in B2B sales, helping highly paid sales professionals work more effectively and efficiently and providing sales leaders with critical insights into their pipelines. 

In fact, an emerging product category, proactive relationship management, is leveraging AI to revolutionize the relationship between salespeople and technology. Proactive relationship management is natively built on AI, and consolidates CRM capabilities, sales enablement, and analytics into a single sales platform. This consolidation allows the platform to extract meaningful data from interactions with prospects and then provide recommended next best steps and reminders to salespeople while giving sales leaders full visibility into their team’s activities for more accurate forecasting.

You might be wondering how a technology that doesn’t need to be “used” could improve visibility. It sounds counterintuitive, but this is where the power of AI really changes the game for sales reps and leaders. A proactive relationship management platform works in the background, automatically collecting data from emails, calls, and text messages to create contacts and opportunities and track and optimize engagement throughout the sales cycle. And it will email reps if information is missing or to ask how a call went, without requiring the user to “log in” to the tool.

Because the AI-driven platform is automatically collecting this data, it can collect up to 16 times more data than a CRM, giving sales leaders incredible visibility into their entire sales process. Full visibility into the sales team’s activity—and more importantly the prospects’ engagement—delivers two important benefits.

First, the platform is more than a superstar secretary—it becomes a personal assistant. Based on the data it collects, the AI provides a prioritized daily to-do list of AI and user-generated tasks that maximize output, as well as proactive recommendations on what the next best step should be. Sales reps can work their way through the to-do list, making one-click calls directly from the platform, capturing next steps and then moving on to the next, and reaching almost one-third more prospects each day.

Second, the technology provides sales leaders with the Holy Grail of visibility across the sales process. The platform delivers incredibly accurate pipeline forecasts because they are no longer based on subjective “gut feelings” of reps but on previous sales cycles and current prospect engagement. For example, one of my go-to reports is a “stalled deals” report. Based on the data collected, I get a clear picture of where deals stand in the pipeline, which opportunities are engaged, and perhaps more importantly, which opportunities are stalled.

Having a clear picture of your pipeline and forecast allows you to run the business intelligently. The AI-powered platform provides you with in-depth analytical data to look at every aspect of your sales process and funnel. This is where the power of artificial intelligence shines. Knowing which types of customers end up stalling, or become uninterested, helps you laser-focus on your ideal target customer instead of wasting time going after “everyone” who “might” be a good fit. Equally important, knowing who to follow up with, and when, helps your teams prioritize their efforts for the biggest impact to your business.

Having the ability to work closely with your sales team to analyze the sales data and determine how to best support their efforts is the recipe for success in B2B sales. Artificial intelligence isn’t going to replace your sales team. It does power platforms like proactive relationship management that will help your team work more efficiently. AI can free your team from being glorified data entry clerks chained to a CRM, letting them focus on selling more effectively and delivering unprecedented visibility to sales leaders.

Adam Honig is CEO of Spiro and is the driving force behind Spiro’s pioneering new approach to CRM. As CEO, he is focused on the company’s overall market strategy and vision. Previously, Honig cofounded a software company that he led through its successful IPO and sale. Afterwards, he founded Innoveer, one of the largest CRM consulting firms, which was successfully acquired by Cloud Sherpas (and then Accenture).

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