Too often, a company chooses a CRM/SFA (customer relationship management/sales force automation) solution that just does not fit. Each company has unique sales and marketing needs, so a "One-Size-Fits-All" CRM solution is not the best approach. An expensive Armani suit is worthless if it is not tailored to fit your body. The same is true for a CRM/SFA solution. It must be personalized to meet your company's specific sales and marketing needs. Buying "out of the box" CRM software may seem like a simple solution. After all, finding and implementing the right CRM application requires a good deal of time and energy. In the long run, however, such an approach will not only diminish the ROI (return on investment) of the software purchase, it will also decrease the effectiveness of a company's sales and marketing force. Typically, the solution will be blamed when, in fact, the real culprit is the lack of customization. Flexibility Is Paramount The key to a successful sales force is … [Read more...] about Customizing Your Sales: Familiarity Breeds Success
The revolutionary changes in the buying process mean that the sales process seems to be shrinking while the marketing cycle is growing. How do we then stay engaged and determine when the time is right to strike? We need to get involved early -- when the buying process begins -- by providing educational content that creates a positive image in the buyer's mind. We also have to stay in touch with potential buyers, regardless of their time frame to buy -- and we need to clearly identify when a company is ready to buy, so we get involved with the right decision makers at the right time. This new approach is demand generation, and email is the driving force in nurturing leads from realization to revenue. Imagine your marketplace is like a bunch of pots filled with water. Your marketing people provide the heat builds up until the water starts to simmer. When it gets hot enough, bubbles start to reach the top, and it begins to boil. The pots can be different sizes -- and they can be filled … [Read more...] about The Shriveling Sales Process, or Who Left the Stove On?
FACT: 80 percent of leads generated by marketing are never contacted by a sales person. What a frightening statistic, and what an enormous waste of time, money and resources. "The problem is not that marketing departments are delivering such high numbers of leads that follow-up is impossible. And it's also not that sales professionals are willfully ignoring good opportunities passed their way," explains Dan McDade, CEO of PointClear, in his recent article, "Why that Mountain of Leads is a Molehill to Sales." So, what's the problem? Quite simply: lead quality. Generating revenue is a team effort between marketing and sales. On the front end, marketing's role is to attract and nurture leads until they are ready to be turned over to the sales person. Sales then completes the sales cycle by closing the deal. Both departments must be able to communicate to the buyer. Marketing accomplishes this in a bulk manner, but needs to make those larger scale interactions feel intimate. Sales must … [Read more...] about Driving Revenue Across the Sales and Marketing Divide
Configure/Price/Quote (CPQ) tools provide companies technology-enabled processes by which selling organizations manage their opportunity-to-order (or lead-to-win) methodology with automated tools that impact the speed and accuracy of developing quotes, proposals, contracts and products. As sales organizations endeavor to escape the constricted economy of the 2009 recession, one of their most significant barriers is stagnant progress regarding bringing their sales cycle under control. Recent Aberdeen research published for "Inside Sales Enablement: Let Them Drink Coffee!" (December, 2010), reveals that not only did under-performing companies see a year-over-year increase in their sales cycle of 12 percent, but even the Best-in-Class -- or top 20 percent of performers among over 500 companies surveyed -- experienced a slight (1 percent) lengthening of their own lead-to-win time frame. As top-performing selling teams continue searching for ways to reduce this window as well as to … [Read more...] about The Sales Team’s Automated Backbone
By Corinne S. Bernstein Dec 9, 2002 10:28 AM PT Focusing on information, not just automation, Siebel Systems' sales force automation suite helps users share data across sales teams, manage sales pipelines, rapidly create customer quotes and proposals, configure products and services to meet the needs of each customer, and provide after-sales service and support, the CRM vendor says. Customized for 20 different vertical markets, Siebel Sales enables field sales organizations to sell collaboratively across different regions. By gaining greater visibility into the sales pipeline, Siebel maintains, users can determine how to focus on the right deals at the right time, better manage opportunities and bring them to rapid closure. "Today, sales organizations must be focused not on just efficiency but on effectiveness, for example, in forecasting, lead management and territory assignment," said Ken Rudin, vice president and general manager of the Siebel Sales line. "We're selling business … [Read more...] about Siebel Sales Force Automation
Of all the CRM subsector technologies, sales force automation is the most mature. Expecting dramatic change in this category, therefore, would be akin to expecting the radical realignment of a general accounting ledger package. Yet, over the last year or so, dramatic change is exactly what has occurred, as a new generation of providers have entered the marketplace with their own approaches to sales force automation. To be sure, many of these changes build upon developments that have been in the works for some time -- such as more intuitive user interfaces, for instance. In fact the entire sales process may soon experience a total realignment to include a broader range of tangentially related functions, thanks to a handful of new applications. A Second Wind Users have taken notice of the new functionality and have begun to reallocate IT budget dollars to this segment, Sheryl Kingstone, a CRM analyst with the Yankee Group, tells CRM Buyer. " A lot of what I see are redeployments … [Read more...] about Sales Force Automation 2.0
The pressure to increase top-line revenue growth is uniting sales and marketing executives to focus resources on aligning their two groups. In October, Aberdeen Group surveyed over 250 companies to identify the strategies, capabilities and enablers that Best in Class (BIC) companies are using to improve sales and marketing alignment. BIC companies achieved year-over-year improvement in key metrics in the top 20 percent and employ the best currently available practices, compared to the middle 50 percent (industry average) and the bottom 30 percent (laggards). The research reveals that BIC companies have implemented organizational processes that support automation technology adoption and allow sales and marketing to collaborate and achieve customer-centricity. Both the sales and marketing groups realize they must improve their alignment to increase top-line revenue growth. Indeed, management can't just wish away the historical conflict and finger-pointing over unqualified and … [Read more...] about Giving Sales and Marketing a Single View of the Customer
Incentive compensation is often the first place where management makes adjustments in efforts to improve sales productivity. Many organizations have departed from the straight commission model in favor of plans that prompt the sales force to target high-profit deals. However, when a salesperson is paid a flat percentage of top-line revenue, it is easy to project what the commission check will be and plan accordingly. Straight commission plans are also less burdensome for the back-office staff to administer. More complex plans require process adjustments, often provided for in the form of a sales compensation management solution. In the recent Aberdeen Group benchmark report, "Sales Effectiveness: Getting Sales Back to Selling," 60 percent of Best-in-Class companies surveyed indicated that they currently use an incentive compensation management solution. Nearly half of all companies are tying compensation to performance metrics, as shown in a survey for an upcoming benchmark report on … [Read more...] about Driving Sales With Compensation Management
As the advent of new customer-facing technologies (such as social media platforms) changes the way consumers gather information about a particular company's products or services, sales representatives are challenged to sell to a customer base that better understands the competitive landscape. As a result, companies realize that they must enable their sales force to work smarter, not harder, to acquire and retain customers. In August 2008, Aberdeen surveyed 218 companies to understand how top-performing companies are positively affecting top-line revenue growth through improved sales performance strategies, capabilities and technological enablers. The report, publishing on Oct. 1, examines how top performers (the Best-in-Class companies) put their sales representatives in a position to succeed through a focus on overall sales structure, lead management and cross-functional integration. You Call That a Lead? To properly assess the best practices resulting in improved sales … [Read more...] about Five Steps to Best-in-Class Sales Performance
The term "marketing automation" is perhaps one of the most widely used, ill-defined and ambiguous terms in the marketing and sales technology landscape. Ask 10 different people how they define marketing automation, and you'll probably get 10 different answers. As an analyst, I thought it would be appropriate for me to dispel some of the myths and haziness that shroud the marketing technology landscape, particularly the use of the term "marketing automation." In my opinion, much of the uncertainty and ambiguity has stunted growth of technology that will be critical for every company to embrace in order to maintain a competitive foothold in the market. The research I have conducted has consistently shown that marketing automation technology has a direct impact on bottom-line cost reduction and top-line growth. However, before we tackle that, let's define "marketing automation." First, a disclaimer: I do not seek to provide a new standard in the market for defining marketing automation. … [Read more...] about What Is Marketing Automation and Why Should You Care?
In November 2008, Aberdeen published a study titled, "Lead Nurturing: The Secret to Successful Lead Generation." The survey captured the challenges and strategies from 213 organizations and found that on average, 16 percent of the total leads that are deemed "sales-ready opportunities" actually close. That's a fairly alarming number. The difference between a successful company and a mediocre company lies in how the remaining 84 percent of already qualified opportunities are handled. These are real opportunities that have a good chance of closing (albeit in the long-term), but without processes to nurture and retain opportunities, it's easy for unrecognized revenue to slip through the pipeline. However, it seems like everywhere we turn there are whitepapers, articles, webinars and research studies on "lead nurturing," which exclusively focuses on the front of the pipeline; but there is very little on the value of nurturing across the entire lead life cycle, which includes nurturing for … [Read more...] about Building a Leak-Proof Sales Pipeline
It's long been discussed that marketing and sales need to "get along." But the reality is that marketing and sales actually need to work smoothly together along a defined lead management process. The lack of this cooperation costs companies more than wasted leads. It increases sales costs and reduces revenue growth. I'm not suggesting that sales and marketing can become best friends, nor am I even suggesting that there's no friction at all between them. However, it's apparent that the legacy marketing-to-sales process most companies have let evolve is flawed. Today's buyers, equipped with the Internet, have changed the way they reach decisions about products and services. There are two main components needed for establishing a smooth lead management process between marketing and sales. The first component requires extending marketing's role by moving it further into the sales funnel and evaluating its effectiveness based on the quality, not quantity, of leads. Second, sales teams can … [Read more...] about Fixing a Fundamentally Flawed Marketing-to-Sales Process
BPM provider Pegasystems has taken its various sales-related applications and vertical offerings in the category and created a comprehensive sales force automation application it is calling "Pega Sales Force Automation." Customer demand was the driver behind the SFA application, said Steve Kraus, Pega's senior director of product marketing for CRM. Focus on Agility "Our customers, who tend to be large, complex organizations such as banks or insurance providers, would be frank when they told us there were other tools out there, such as Salesforce.com," he told CRM Buyer. However, there was always some additional process or step these tools didn't offer, usually in the form of offline manual steps a company had to take to integrate the data to rest of the corporate database. "Companies were also struggling with effectiveness features, or lack thereof," Kraus continued. A typical example would be an SFA app that helped the rep suggest complementary products during a call, he said. … [Read more...] about Pega SFA Update Homes In on Processes
For companies seeking a sales automation solution, Salesforce.com offers a system that is 100 percent cloud-based and can help companies make smarter decisions, Scott Holden, senior director for product marketing at Salesforce.com, told CRM Buyer. Cloud computing represents a massive industry shift that is happening now. All Salesforce.com customers are seeking the cloud, Holden pointed out, and some of the largest banks, technology companies and security firms are using cloud software. Companies are beginning to understand that cloud computing can be more secure than on-premises software because of the stringent security measures cloud-based companies like Salesforce.com have put into place, he said. As is typical with cloud-based software, Salesforce.com uses a "per user per month" pricing model ranging from US$5 to $250. Different editions offer different functionality. 'Poster Child for Innovation in CRM' A lot of companies are now trying to move functionality to the cloud, … [Read more...] about Salesforce Democratizes Sales Automation
Oracle offers the industry's widest and deepest range of sales force automation functionality as either an on-premise product or a cloud solution -- or a hybrid of the two, according to Anthony Lye, senior vice president of Oracle CRM. Oracle integrated the capabilities of several CRM product lines, including Siebel, PeopleSoft CRM, and JD Edwards CRM, Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research Group, told CRM Buyer. Now, 95 percent of Oracle sales are Siebel CRM, he estimated, and most customers want the on-demand solution. "That's probably the most comprehensive, complete CRM product in the marketplace," Wang said. With Siebel CRM, Oracle can support the lead-to-cash process across many industries, Lye explained. With Oracle CRM On Demand, the company's comprehensive cloud-based CRM solution, Oracle provides unparalleled ease of use and rapid time to value for both sales executives and sales teams, he added. Every Human Process Oracle's CRM solutions are designed to … [Read more...] about Oracle CRM Sales Automation: All About Information Access
A wave of change is now making its way through the front office with uneven results. CRM is moving from a data capture and retrieval solution to something that supports end-to-end processes -- and as with ERP, data analysis is helping to improve what once were purely manual processes. Data is the fact that a person with certain demographics bought something. Information comes from knowing that a high percentage of people in this demographic buy the same thing. Knowledge comes from understanding that such a person is standing in front of you describing a need for that product or service. Process applies knowledge consistently. The Knowledge-Driven Process In the front office, I'd say we're about 20 percent of the way toward improving or building new front-office processes, and -- as is typical at this point -- our progress is uneven. The marketing automation trend of the last few years is all about deploying better, knowledge-based marketing processes. Much the same can be said for … [Read more...] about Big Data and the Process Revolution
The proliferation of marketing channels represents a key challenge for every CMO seeking to optimize return on marketing investments. Today, the marketing department is tasked with maximizing return across dozens of marketing channels. Most organizations have become intimately familiar with the need to leverage multiple technologies in marketing -- search engine marketing, marketing automation, Web analytics, affiliate marketing, e-mail marketing, lead management, etc. The use of multiple technologies results in silos of valuable information that could be useful to both marketing and sales. The challenge is figuring out how to deliver actionable timely information to end users in a way that aids consumption and use. Recent research from the Aberdeen Group, "The Convergence of Sales and Marketing Technology," explores the current and planned integration between sales and marketing technologies among organizations of all shapes and sizes. Sixty percent of organizations in the December … [Read more...] about Is Sales and Marketing Tech Integration Worth the Trouble?
Companies are now in the third stage of "economic downturn syndrome." Having passed through Panic and Denial, they're firmly in Acceptance. Panicky knee-jerk responses such as cost-cutting, layoffs, tightening budgets and resources are a thing of the past. Most companies have had a quick breather and segued to the stage of a more carefully considered response: monitoring processes and taking steps to improve efficiencies and productivity. The pings and misses in the old economic engine are more noticeable, now that the flurry of Panic has subsided. It's time to tune the system, clean out redundant processes, and make the machine run more efficiently and smoothly. So long as we're at it, why not also gear up for the rebound, and be ahead of the curve when the economy rises? Automation technology offers practical ways to reduce costs, at a price that's surprisingly well-tuned to the times. Why Automate? In the last decade, cost-saving measures usually required a substantial … [Read more...] about Automation: A Lube Job for a Sluggish Economy
The cloud helps make business services more easily available, but what about making those business processes from a variety of service origins part of a cohesive workflow or complex objective? What's still needed is a way for those closest to the work itself to create business process integration, extension, and coordination regardless of the services. This discussion examines a case study that shows how account executives for a financial services firm are integrating their sales and fulfillment efforts across Salesforce.com customer relationship management (CRM) resources, as well as a diverse set of expanding cloud and legacy services. Hear how it's done from the IT director and the marketing director at PSA Insurance & Financial Services as they build greater control and management of diverse and dynamic sales and consulting processes using Cloud Extend for Salesforce, a new solution from Active Endpoints. These managed processes, built on a range of business development and … [Read more...] about The Ties That Bind Business Processes
Sales Force Automation Software Review Why Use Sales Force Automation Software? Sales force automation software saves your business valuable time, money and productivity by providing lead management tools and automating the sales process. Using this software, you can manage and record different stages of sales functions. Sales automation software, which includes Salesforce, Base and Oracle CRM On Demand, allows you to nurture and convert leads and build stronger, longer-lasting relationships with your customers. Sales automation software usually includes a lead-tracking component, where a sales lead is tracked from first contact to follow-up after a sale is completed. Other functions of sales force automation software can include sales forecasting, call automation, proposal creation, product modeling, order management and email marketing. Now more than ever, organizations are searching for full-service, comprehensive sales force automation software and CRM solutions that integrate all … [Read more...] about The Best Sales Force Automation Software of 2017