Chances are, your sales team already uses a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution to automate their workflow. And most likely, they pretty much hate it. Because instead of making a salesperson’s life easier, many CRM apps – on the contrary – make it more difficult.
What exactly frustrates sales teams about CRM software?
- CRM software usually requires manual input of lead details, which is time consuming.
- CRM software doesn’t help sales teams analyze customer behavior and intentions and make data-driven decisions.
- CRM systems are usually designed for sales managers, not for the sales team, meaning that reporting and collaboration features are often quite basic.
We have several CRM design ideas that we believe can make a CRM system that’s truly beneficial for your sales team.
Populate Your CRM Lead Profiles Using Social Network APIs
As we know, sales teams search for leads to turn them into opportunities and deals. Sales representatives must save and update many details about their leads. Several years ago, sales representatives would manually enter all client data into a CRM. Here’s a short list of information that sales representatives typically have about their clients.
- Personal data:
- Email (main and alternate)
- Social network accounts
- Phone number
- Location (country, state, city, zip)
- Behavior in social networks
Sales teams wasted a lot of time entering this data, which hampers their productivity. But as social networks have become widespread, CRM vendors have successfully obviated the need to input all lead data by hand. Full-box CRM solutions offered the best experience for sales teams.
If you integrate your CRM with social network APIs, you’ll get the following benefits:
- A system that tracks social activity and creates lead profiles automatically.
- Less time spent entering lead data into the system.
- Your CRM can create leads not only based on client interests, but also based on sentiments and intents.
All top CRM vendors have integrated social networks into their CRM software. Generally, CRM providers develop a separate product that contains ready-to-use client data. If we look at Salesforce, for instance, we’ll see they provide Data.com, which offers a сombination of two tools – Clean and Prospector. With Clean and Prospector, sales representatives can communicate with automatically created leads and schedule automatic cleanups and updates of those leads’ profiles.
Nimble is a great example of a CRM that integrates data from social networks. Nimble has developed a Smart Contacts App that allows you to link business profiles with social media and email accounts. For sales departments, this means less time spent logging data. Other notable examples of social-based CRMs are DemandBase and Klout (Lithium).
If you want to get the most out of the CRM solution for your sales team, you need to combine the CRM with social networks APIs.
Use Artificial Intelligence Algorithms to Make Better Sales Decisions
Artificial Intelligence is the modern silver bullet for Customer Relationship Management software.
Just integrating data from social platforms into your CRM isn’t enough to make it really convenient for your sales team. A CRM must also be intelligent.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help you organize a genuinely effective workflow for CRM users. Machine learning, predictive analytics, Natural Language Processing, and other forms of AI allow a CRM system to automate many tasks and give as much context as possible to a salesperson. Your sales team can rely on AI algorithms instead of, for example, manually searching for the most probable leads and calculating profits.
Here’s what a CRM can do using Artificial Intelligence algorithms:
- Automatically gather and analyze huge amounts of client data in real time;
- Provide accurate insights on clients based on that analysis;
- Rank and prioritize leads that are likely to turn into opportunities and deals;
- Automatically send emails to potential clients; and
- Recommend next steps to sales professionals.
The CRM market has been inundated with Artificial Intelligence solutions lately, as CRM vendors actively develop their own AI assistants. Below, we’ll introduce several examples of recently developed AI assistants.
Salesforce, the current CRM market leader, developed their AI tool called Einstein on September 19, 2016, to enhance productivity of sales teams. Microsoft has also developed a series of AI tools, such as their Relationship Insights and Customer Insights, with sales professionals in mind. SAP, the German software development company, provides their Real-Time Offer Management software to reduce time spent by salespeople on making decisions.
But enterprise AI solutions aren’t the only ones on the market: smaller CRM providers also develop AI tools. Conversica, Base, Spiro, LeadCrunch, and Crystal are a few examples of smaller CRM development companies. They’ve each enhanced their CRM offerings with self-learning AI engines to recommend the most promising leads to contact next.
In short, Artificial Intelligence allows a CRM system to automate many tasks so sales team can throw their efforts into making sales. You can couple your own CRM system with a third-part AI such as Microsoft Dynamics, for example, or develop your own custom AI engine for your CRM.
Implement Collaboration Features to Make the Sales Process More Efficient
So far, we’ve suggested that effective CRM software must integrate Artificial Intelligence and data from social networks. But there’s another issue that hinders sales representatives from being effective, and that is collaboration.
Propeller CRM is a great example of a CRM that helps sales professionals collaborate effectively. Instead of building a separate full-featured CRM system, Propeller CRM’s developers used Gmail as the base for their CRM solution. They allow sales teams to create custom tasks and assign them to any sales representative in a company directly from Gmail. All data is securely saved in a single place, so sales managers can track the activity of their team members.
Here’s what you should simplify in your CRM system to make your sales team happier:
- Data sharing;
- Communicating via calls and email;
- Passing tasks to team members;
- Synchronizing workflows within the team;
- Receiving notifications;
- Updates on key sales activities.
How can a CRM system implement this suggested list of improvements? You can use several solutions to ensure effective collaboration. First, consider building an advanced calendar that will allow sales managers to plan their workflow. You might consider integrating with Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange, or Apple iCloud.
Another feature you should consider adding is automatic reporting. CRM software can gather statistics from multiple pipelines for every sales representative and present this data as readable graphics. This relieves the sales team from the obligation of gathering sales results data and creating PowerPoint presentations to show to sales managers.
To make your CRM convenient for sales representatives, build a tool that automates as many tasks as possible. Reporting, managing lead accounts, and deciding which leads are the most promising are three of the most time-consuming tasks. If you can relieve your sales team of these tasks, they’ll be able to perform much more effectively.