LeadfabricIn a previous post I explained why B2B CRM systems are not the best friend of sales teams, according to Leadfabric’s Koen De Witte. In this post a look at how Koen thinks B2B CRM systems…can become the best friend of the sales team.

Remember how we looked at how the main problem in today’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and SFA (Sales Force Automation) tools is that they seldom or never add value to the customer interactions? How can that change? According to De Witte success can only be achieved by having another approach.

The 3 stakeholders in the CRM/SFA approach

There are three main stakeholders that should be considered in this exercise, Koen De Witte says: the customers, the sales people and management.

A successful B2B CRM system offers a well balanced approach towards the desires of these three target groups according to the founder of Leadfabric.

1. The sales rep: management reports do not necessarily increase productivity

From the viewpoint of the sales person a system should meet two priorities. The first one is an increase of efficiency, regarding time and resources.

In other words: how can the sales rep find prospects, provide solutions and make an offer faster and easier? The second priority is one of quality and relevance: how can the interactions with the customer be as relevant as possible and remain relevant so that the conversation with the customer keeps on going?

The combination of both increases productivity. An SFA or CRM system that supports sales people results in more opportunities, shorter sales cycles, larger deal sizes and more win rates. If a sales rep knows that he can get that from a system, it’s easier to motivate him to use it. In exchange for that management receives the monitoring and information it so badly wants.

2. The customer: buying cycles versus sales cycles

This is something we have already talked about earlier on this site. The times that companies purely sell are over. With the Internet as a major change agent, the focus should be more and more on the buying cycles.

The reason is simple: the customer has much more control over that process than he used to, thanks to all the tools and channels he disposes of to inform himself, prior to the actual buying. It’s a bit what I explained in my post on the ‘pull customer’. As you know every customer goes through a buying cycle. Selling successfully today means knowing where the prospect is in that buying cycle. This knowledge enables the sales rep to offer the information the future customer needs. Technologies like SFA can strongly support this.

3. Marketing: information is the fuel of the modern selling process

Koen De WitteAt least if we define sales as guiding the customer through his buying process. Knowing what to offer when in the conversation is crucial. Marketing can support this with the help Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP).

Such a system must be able to offer the sales people the information that they need to provide to the right customer at the right time. This means that sales should dispose of a well varied source of information that they can use with the SFA or CRM tool for every stage of the prospect in the buying process. Today this information, if existing at all, is dispersed across a variety of silo’s, far from these systems.

To conclude, the next generation SFA or CRM application should provide a mix of customer data (profile, pipeline, status) and at the same time should provide sales with sales supporting information. Thanks to Internet and SaaS many of these possibilities already exist but that’s for other posts.