Forewarned is Forearmed: Understand your Customer before the Sales Relationship Starts

Knowledge is power. We’ve all heard the saying,
but the flip side of so much knowledge is that we
are no longer living in the Age of Information but
the Age of Information Overload. Today’s typical
customer knows all about your company and
services before they ever engage with you, which
means that you have to know as much about them
as possible before you engage. And increasingly
demanding customers may also expect that each
representative of your company is aware of all
details of their previous interactions with your
company—purchase history, likes and dislikes,
issues, etc. As I mentioned in my blog, Becoming a
Dynamic Sales Team, this rise of the empowered
customer is forcing sales executives to look for new
ways to equip their sales teams and help them stay
ahead of the competition. A new generation of CRM
tools is making it possible for organizations to arm
their people with the foreknowledge they need to
function in this new sales environment.
Thinking about CRM as going beyond managing the
existing customer relationship to managing the
future customer relationship can help your sales
people close deals with new customers—as well as
increase incremental customer lifetime value.
Companies that use CRM to bring together relevant
information in separate teams can extend
knowledge about a case, customer or scenario
beyond what is stored in the system of record.
Participating in communities and using always-on
tools, like Yammer and Skype, enables contextual
collaboration among sales staff and their peers in
the company at large. With this access to your
organization’s “tribal knowledge” or anecdotal
knowledge, your prospect and customer facing
teams are able to propose solutions to fit each
situation.
Take it a bit further by combining the information in
your internal systems with data from social profiles
and third-party data services to gain real insight
into your prospects and customers. Solutions such
as InsideView can be used to deliver timely,
relevant sales intelligence to sales reps when and
where they need it – in your CRM system. Serving
this information up in the context of the sales cycle
will help your people have more relevant and
targeted conversations. Better business intelligence
can also enable proactive selling. CRM tools today
are not limited to intelligence just on the customer
at hand; rich analysis tools and BI enable you to cut
across customers, segments, industries, or
geographies to identify trends or anticipate needs,
which can inform sales activities.
CSX Transportation originally deployed Microsoft
Dynamics CRM for sales and marketing, but as they
brought their other teams on board, they found that
they could collaborate on customer accounts more
effectively, thus establishing a much more
comprehensive view of their customers. For the
first time, their sales people can see the ‘who’ and
the ‘what’ involved in the service they have sold.
With this insight, they can engage all the way down
to the people who operate the trains and those
most familiar with the customer to collaborate on
accounts. CSX now does more team selling and
cross-selling across business groups, such as
intermodal transportation, to offer customers the
best fit of services.
U.S. Xpress Enterprises was able to recover as
much as $350,000 in lost-opportunity costs by
deploying Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Previously their
salespeople spent as many as seven hours
preparing for a sales meeting. Now they know their
customers even better than before and gathering
information takes minutes. They are able to
accelerate the sales cycle, giving them more time
to reach out to prospects and put deals in the
pipeline.
STIHL dealer network recently deployed Microsoft
Dynamics CRM and integrated it with business
analysis and enterprise resource planning systems.
The solution enables territory managers to analyze
and review sales data by dealer segment, drilling
down into dealer information, such as issues under
resolution, sales numbers, and sales targets. As a
result, territory managers can approach dealers
with just the right products and promotions, help
them reach their revenue goals, and more
efficiently meet their own sales targets. Likewise,
company leaders have a high level of insight into
market trends that affect dealer sales and can
adjust company goals accordingly.
With the purchase experience being a key
influencer of loyalty, equipping our sales people as
best we can will pay huge benefits—not just in
sales, but for the life of the customer-company
relationship. New CRM tools can provide them with
all the knowledge and insight they need, not only to
sell more effectively, but to become the chief
creator of the customer experience.
How does your company use CRM?

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5 thoughts on “Forewarned is Forearmed: Understand your Customer before the Sales Relationship Starts

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