This is a guest blog post written by Julie Hunt - an accomplished software industry analyst, providing strategic market and competitive insights.
As it becomes more difficult for companies to stand out from their competitors, a well-informed and agile sales team has taken on increased importance as a distinct differentiator for prospects and customers. Often the sales professional needs to serve as a business consultant and strategist to help customers solve significant business problems. To better respond to customer needs and to more quickly move sales cycles forward, sales professionals need real-time and mobile access to critical information that improves their ability to capitalize on opportunities.
In the age of instant knowledge on the Internet, customers expect immediate and accurate information to be available when discussing purchases with their sales professionals. Sales teams can bring the “back office” to customer meetings when companies integrate data from ERP systems with SFA / CRM systems on a real-time or near real-time basis, and make that data available as cloud services and on mobile devices. Such integration gives the sales professional a single view of the customer with the right up-to-date information for recent orders, relevant offers, product availability, and an accurate profile of the customer
CRM integration is especially critical—sales success requires seamless data exchange with corporate databases, ERP systems, and other key sources of customer information.
Sales opportunities can instantly happen, and sales professionals need to be instantly responsive with accurate, timely customer information, which is greatly helped by seamless data integrations between CRM systems and other key sources of customer information. The right data at the right time can prepare the sales professional for any lurking problems that may be at top of mind for the customer. The sales professional can avoid looking uninformed and poorly prepared in front of customers: sales can be alerted to recent issues with a particular customer and can be proactive in helping the customer connect to the right assistance.
The availability of real-time data can go far to streamline the sales cycle. Instant access to vital business information enables sales professionals to do more when they are away from the office, particularly with today’s mobile devices. They can manage all aspects of customer interactions, access critical data, and collaborate with various teams in the company to more quickly meet customer needs. These advantages translate directly into lower costs, more predictable revenue, shorter sales cycle, and high quality customer relationships.
Sales teams active at industry and marketing events can add critical real-time information to customer profiles. Customers often become interested in new offerings at events that deviate from the products and services they list on event registration or survey forms. Cloud / mobile access to customer applications allow sales teams to update customer information and then view refreshed information to adjust customer interactions and offerings accordingly.
Real value for the sales professional comes from the continual development of real relationships with customers, to devise new and innovative ways to better serve those customers. Real-time data capabilities allow sales professionals to be better informed and spend more time building strong, profitable relationships and exploring new directions for sales opportunities. Trust increases when sales professionals show that they know the customer -- because they have reliable, timely and correct data at their fingertips. The ability to respond to events and conditions in real time can provide substantial competitive differentiation. A sales team that has the time and resources to focus well on their customers gives a company distinct advantage – sales teams are empowered to truly exceed customer expectations and secure long-lasting relationships that result in repeat business, referrals for new business and revenue growth.
About the author: Julie Hunt is an accomplished software industry analyst, providing strategic market and competitive insights. Her 25+ years as a software professional range from the very technical side to customer-centric work in solutions consulting, sales and marketing. Julie shares her takes on the software industry via her blog Highly Competitive and on Twitter: @juliebhunt For more information: Julie Hunt Consulting – Strategic Product & Market Intelligence Services