Just like all the crises so far have passed, so will this one. Still, the current situation in the business environment is far from ideal. It is completely clear that we will feel the results of this crisis for a long time to come.
I expect that for a certain time period much more effort will be needed in order to achieve the same sales results as in the years before. But the question is – should we work more or just smarter? Or is the truth somewhere in between?
Digital transformation has enabled us to measure absolutely everything. This is true now even more than before, when most of our business communication happens through digital channels.
In my opinion, new generation sales and marketing team leaders will need to have a better understanding of the client data and how to analyze it. This is not just a trend, it is the way of doing business from now on.
Their goal will be to continuously improve processes which bring your company new clients. In order to do that, you have to define the processes and measure them.
The key tool which enables structured tracking of every interaction with your client and makes sales and marketing team leaders’ job easier is Salesforce. The whole idea behind this platform is putting your customer in the center – all relevant info on your client is stored in one place.
In most companies, important information is scattered around different systems. Sales uses ERP most of the time because of transactional data (offers, bills, outstanding balances…). Customer support uses a separate app for managing complaints. Marketing uses one or more different apps (for sending newsletters, managing social media, tracking digital advertising, and so on).
Even though each of these apps is perfect for the intended task, working in various apps brings your team to practical problems.
For instance, a salesman who goes to a meeting with a key client will not be aware of a problem their customer support is working on with the same client. Also, they will have no idea what their reaction was to a campaign sent by your marketing team, so they won’t be able to use that information in a conversation with the client. Marketing will not know a lot about client’s habits which will make it impossible to communicate personalized and relevant messages. This can mean lower results, but it can also lead to completely losing the client’s interest by bothering them with irrelevant information.
All of this leads to a poor customer experience for your client. Also, useful information on client’s habits, which is scattered around different apps, will not be of use to your sales and marketing teams which could lead to losing good opportunities.
A centralized place for all the relevant information on your clients can be Salesforce. Your employees will get a “360 customer view” – this means they will have all relevant information in one place whether that’s a marketing campaign, transactional data or inquiries made to customer support. Also, your sales team will have a place to store all the data related to communication with the client, all the emails, meetings of phone calls.
Sales, because of its monthly and quarterly goals, is seen as a short term function, while marketing is a long term one. Its goal is to promote your brand and build your position in the market.
In crisis, the management will usually cut the budget of long term functions such as marketing. This mostly happens because marketing costs are transparent and specific, while the results and successes are usually hard to measure.
Marketing has two equally important key roles. One is the promotion of your brand and building the position of your company. Even though it is not impossible, it is very hard and expensive to measure and track these results. The other role is to bring new clients, so called leads, to your sales team. This one is possible and important to measure.
Once, social media likes were the measure of a quality digital marketing. Your sales team can hardly compare likes and their quarterly targets. They are interested in quality leads who approach your company.
Salesforce enables tracking the data on a potential client through their journey, from their first contact until the final sale. For each source (eg. LinkedIn advertising, or advertising on a local news portal) the marketing manager will, alongside advertising cost, have information about how many leads that channel has generated and how much income that has brought. In that way, they can decide on cutting down or increasing investing into certain channels – not based on a feeling, but based on relevant criteria such as lead source cost or, even better, ROI. This will result in smarter investment of resources and directing them into most profitable channels. In other words, achieving better results for the same amount of investment.
Even though CEOs and heads of sales quickly recognize the benefits of Salesforce for their company, sometimes the implementation never reaches its full potential. The key factor for a successful implementation is actually using the app. Usually salespeople resist using the platform, especially if they haven’t used any similar solution beforehand. They are worried about various things, such as additional administrative work (eg. entering conclusions from a meeting in the system, updating the data, and so on). Also, they are often worried about how their superiors will use the data stored in the system, such as the number of activities they do towards a client.
For these reasons, during the implementations, we tend to pay a lot of attention towards automating everyday activities of a salesman, but also to educating the management how to use the given data in the right way. Clearly, they have a common goal and the manager needs the help of his salesman in order to achieve their plans. And vice versa.
The Head of Sales is here to improve the work of their team, and in order to achieve that they have to have an insight into the activities of each employee. In my experience, it rarely happens that the reason for underperformance is the lack of effort from a salesman. The cause is usually more complicated than that – for example, some salesmen will spend too much time on unpromising leads or simply target the wrong audience. The manager is there to analyze the team data and define the perfect customer for the product, as well as the perfect sales process, and pass on the knowledge onto the team. In that way they will achieve better results together.
This is all I can say for now.
Wishing you health and luck in the months to come!