For many years, a CRM software solution has been considered something separate from other vital sales tools—tools such as a sales process, email, web services and, lately, social media platforms. This prevalent consideration has been aptly illustrated by the fact that for salespeople, entering data into CRM was yet another cumbersome administrative task carefully designed to take even more time away from selling, instead of empowering sales reps as it should.
A CRM application should be precisely the opposite: for the sales force, it should be the central point from which to control and view all aspects of a sales cycle.
When a company has spent the considerable time and effort to work out their sales process, why would it then be something separate from CRM? A CRM software solution should precisely reflect the sales process; when it doesn’t, sales reps must resort to their own solutions to track sales through the pipeline. The degree to which a CRM application varies from the sales process is the degree to which it is useless for Sales.
On the other hand, when a CRM solution is patterned on that process, CRM actually empowers sales reps. Sales cycle progress can easily be seen, and data which sales reps have entered becomes highly useful to them.
A sales rep also relies on email and other communication channels. Email is still the most prevalent—yet the majority of CRM applications out there don’t make it possible for a salesperson to view email from inside CRM application. They must open up yet another application—in fact several applications, one for each email account they are using. Data from every relevant email message from a prospect or client must by manually entered into CRM—if the sales rep doesn’t get interrupted or forget to do so. An email message is also not viewed in context with the sales cycle to which it applies, which may mean its importance is not readily realized.
The same is also true of social media platforms, which have today become highly relevant in business activity. In B2C sales, social media could be of paramount importance; vital communication could occur in Facebook, on Twitter or elsewhere that could relate to any stage of the sales pipeline. For B2B sales social media is most important and should be integrated into your CRM software solution. Especially at or near the beginning of the sales cycle—but today so many individuals and companies are communicating on these platforms that a sales rep must also.
Yet with traditional CRM applications we find ourselves in the same place as with email: Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter or Google+ each must be separately monitored and managed within social media strategy for anything relevant to a sales cycle.
Web Services and CRM Software Solution
Another tool sales reps often use is web services: maps, news, statistics or others that are regularly checked in relation to various sales cycles. As with email and social media platforms, these must be separately checked outside of CRM, and any necessary context must be entered into CRM software solution as an additional task.
The Sole Sales Platform
A leading-edge CRM solution eliminates all of these issues by allowing a company to make it the central platform on which the sales force operates. CRM can be configured with the sales process, so that sales opportunity management becomes interactive, logical and intuitive. All email, from every account, can be viewed, responded to, and stored from within CRM, without ever opening another application. The same is true for social media; any post or tweet can be seen and instantly evaluated in context. Web services will allow web data to be displayed in CRM with respect to the prospect or customer—and the precise sales step—to which it applies.
It has finally come to pass that a CRM software solution has become what it should have been all along: the sole sales platform for monitoring and controlling sales cycles.
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