CRM needs to become predictive to build sales

CRM needs to become predictive to build sales
Predictive analytics allows sales teams to turn backward-looking CRM data into forward-looking insights, says Matthews.
Published: 19 July 2018 - 10:06 a.m.
By: Mark Sutton

Sales teams need to update their approach to CRM in order to remain efficient, according to a new study from CSO Insights, the research arm of Miller Heiman Group.

The Sales Operations Optimization Study, which sampled 300 organisations around the world, shows that only 25% of sales personnel strongly believe that CRM aids their productivity, while 30% believe it doesn't significantly improve productivity at all.

In addition, only 28% of sales people report a significant increase in productivity due to the use of sales technology. Only one quarter of salespeople say they have confidence in their company's CRM data, which is impacting their close rates.

The study by CSO Insights, the research arm of Miller Heiman Group, highlighted that while implementation of CRM has reached high levels, adoption by the sales function is still lacking with 32% of organisations reporting less than 75% adoption, and only 45% have over 90% adoption.

Byron Matthews, President and CEO, Miller Heiman Group, said that traditional CRM systems do not support sales people in closing deals, and that many sales people just regard CRM as an administrative burden.

"Sales technology on its own does not help sellers close more deals. In fact, most sales reps view tools like CRMs as a distraction and an administrative burden," Matthews said. "For sales technology to be embraced, it must be backed by proven sales methodology that guides the actions of sellers on the ground and helps improve win rates.

Sales organisations need a greater deal of integration of CRM into sales processes, and formalisation of sales process to achieve better results, Matthews added, along with a shift of focus to make CRM a predictive tool rather than record-keeping.

Sales technology also needs better focus on CX and UX to ensure that sales teams are able to get the most from the data as easily as possible.

"Without the backing of a proven sales methodology, CRM is little more than a system of record. It lists past successes and failures, but offers nothing in the way of advice when it comes to deals that are still in motion. Because CRM data is backward-looking, sales teams have come to consider inputting CRM data as busy work, and often save it until the deal has already closed, rather than proactively entering the information in real-time," he said.

"Augmenting CRMs with predictive analytics, like Scout, allows sales teams to take that backward-looking CRM data and turn it into forward-looking insights. Remember, the only thing that actually drives sales results is seller behaviour, and the only thing that can reliably change seller behaviour is a proven methodology for sellers to follow. Once you integrate a methodology into your CRM, it will become more than an organizational tool; your CRM will actually help you win more by replicating past patterns of success."

Adding predictive analytics based on a selling methodology to CRM can help sales reps to develop better strategies for each deal, and apply methodology in a more actionable way, prioritize deals appropriately, improve time management and effectively plan their daily activities. Forward-looking sales technology can help reps to adapt behaviour and improve chances of winning deals. At the manager level, predictive CRM helps manages to intervene and support reps more effectively, while senior management gain better reporting, forecasting and insight, as well as the ability to replicate winning strategies and understand the RoI of sales assets.

The adoption of forward-focused sales technology becomes increasingly important as buyers are also turning to technology, meaning that sales teams need to be better equipped to meet the expectations of digital native buyers, and to have a chance of influencing their decisions ahead of time.

Matthews said that by adding predictive analytics to the sales methodology, sales teams will see better results and be more inclined to keep the system up-to-date, creating a virtuous feedback cycle, which can make sales analytics tools useful across many different areas of operations.

"In fact, we found that sales analytics tools can radically enhance many aspects of how sales organisations operate, with many experiencing double-digit increases in their win rates and average deal sizes, plus similar decreases in sell-cycle lengths."

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