The personalized CRM: Why current tools aren’t giving sales reps the insight they need, and how an improved CRM changes the game

Traditional CRMs haven’t kept pace with the changing buying process. A look into how current tools are failing, and how a more personalized CRM improves insights.

Date published
July 23, 2019 Categories

In our day-to-day lives, we expect our Amazon Prime histories to contain a complete record of everything we’ve ever bought and provide recommendations of things we might like to buy in the future. On mobile, our news algorithm offers up only stories we might be interested in based on past clicks, and even the ads we see on social media are specifically tailored to our individual interests. Personalized communication based on our entire history is what we’ve come to expect in our online interactions as consumers — what about in our interactions as employees? 

Personalization in the B2B world is far behind its B2C counterpart. But let’s take sales for example — imagine if a CRM were able to offer sales teams a complete, cohesive overview of the customer. How much more attention and energy would those salespeople be able to offer prospects and clients?

Currently, individual elements of the sales process are often managed by different departments, which employ cumbersome, slow, and even manual methods. At the center of the sales process is the CRM, but the traditional CRM hasn’t kept pace with the changing climate of the buying process. 

Content produced in collaboration with SAP.

Here are a few ways old-school CRMs aren’t cutting it — and how an improved, more personalized CRM might make a huge difference

CRMs are too passive

The first customer relationship management tools widely available to businesses completely revolutionized the ways we understood our customers. Most businesses went from pages and pages of tedious spreadsheets to having at-a-glance, easily searchable information at their fingertips. 

However, for too many businesses, CRM technology has petered out at the digital Rolodex stage, which means missed opportunities for both marketing and sales because customer data is often disconnected and incomplete. 

While the CRM has evolved to support and integrate with other sales process tools in an attempt to deliver value to the sales rep, the experience is lacking. Disconnected sales tools attempt to create a complete customer view, but lack the intelligence to analyze the collective data. That leaves reps scrolling through account, contact, and opportunity records to piece together the puzzle of the customer.

Instead of housing disconnected bits of data, the CRM should actually act as the central nervous system of the sales process, meaning it should house your sales rep’s hottest leads, along with what points those leads visited on your website, what solutions customers currently use, what other solutions they’ve tried, and what engagements they’ve had with an organization. 

An AI-based CRM can take these insights one step further, offering recommendations that will help sales reps augment the art of selling. 

Sales forecasts aren’t a priority

Having an outdated CRM that seems like simply a storage spot for customer information with no real, connected insights into customer behavior is frustrating.Not just for sales reps who are trying to identify and contact new leads, but also for sales leaders hoping to make accurate sales predictions. 

Currently, the sales forecasting process relies mostly on “gut instincts” — a sales manager sitting down with a rep and reviewing deals in the pipeline using the often incomplete pictures painted in the CRM. But there’s a better way. 

Imagine a CRM that offers rich visualizations to show what’s changing in the forecast, in real-time — enabling your managers to coach their teams on the best next steps in their deals to increase close rates and speed up cycles. AI-based CRMs combine human insight with machine intelligence. And that combination might just mean the difference between a defined roadmap for sales and a shot in the dark. 

Sales teams don’t have all the information they need

It takes more than talent to be great at sales, and even the best salespeople need some help by way of a streamlined, company-wide process for selling. According to an evaluation of over 700,000 sales associates, a full 74% of salespeople were determined to be “failing.” The study suggested that the main factor was that “most people who go into sales have no formal training about how to sell,” as well as a lack of established company processes. And all too often, our sales coaching process is focused on backward-looking metrics such as quota, as opposed to real-time key performance indicators.

Instead of reviewing footage the day after the big game, sales coaching that relies on real-time metrics could give sales associates a better look at what’s going wrong and what’s working in their approach to sales. 

A relatively simple fix for coaching sales teams through the process is to set up sales enablement portals. By combining all the documentation and content needed to guide the rep through the sales process in one dedicated area, much of the improvisation and disjointedness prevalent in more traditional sales approaches is fixed. 

Managers armed with technology-enabled real-time data about their reps’ progress can conduct periodic coaching sessions that are focused on actual improvement. Constructive, AI-assisted coaching uses real data to shed light on the current state of a rep’s progress and focuses ahead to help foster an atmosphere of proactive improvement.

For more information on how you can use technology to transform your sales process, download SAP’s white paper “Change the Sales Rep Experience, Improve the Customer Experience.” 

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