CRM TOOLS TO GIVE TIME BACK TO YOUR SALES TEAM

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Increasing automation of customer relationship management or CRM systems offers salespeople great opportunities, but too few are taking full advantage of them

Pressure on salespeople is greater than ever. Increased competition between brands, customers expecting personalised, instantaneous service, and continuing economic and political uncertainty mean that the very people whose responsibility it is to drive revenues need to perform better than ever.

CRM systems such as Salesforce offer new opportunities for salespeople seeking to develop their potential and increase their revenues. Rapidly growing automation capabilities are speeding up administrative tasks, giving time back to sales reps so they can do what algorithms and software never can – develop better relationships with new and existing customers.

However, too few salespeople are taking full advantage of this opportunity, argues David Oates, vice president international at Conga, a Salesforce Platinum ISV Partner and application provider for companies looking to automate and enhance their business productivity.

“Putting together quotes, writing proposals, undertaking contract negotiation, trying to understand redlines in contracts, all these processes are still taking up too much of a salesperson’s valuable time because they don’t use available tools to make themselves more efficient,” he says. “Automation will never drive revenue or replace the skills needed to make a deal, but what it will do is to give you more time to focus on these things. It’s worth remembering that all salespeople are measured and paid based on activities that directly generate revenue.”

To benefit from the promising new opportunities offered by this evolving technology, companies are turning to solutions developed by Conga

According to Mr Oates, this failure to capitalise on the benefits of automation is due to understandable concerns about change. “Technology is changing so fast that people simply can’t keep up,” he says. “Added to this is the longstanding problem that too many salespeople regard Salesforce as an administrative burden and as a tool used by their manager to report on their activity, rather than a tool for improving their efficiency.”

The result is that many sales reps use Salesforce and other CRM systems simply as a database and that represents a very small percentage of its value, says Mr Oates.

“These databases are useless, of course, if you don’t exploit the data that they hold,” he says. “The database itself isn’t useful; it’s what it contains that’s priceless if you use it well. So the trick is to work out how to use that data effectively and employ the latest tools to maximise the benefit you derive from it. You need to identify those performance enhancements that give you your time back so you can spend it developing your new and existing client base.”

To benefit from the promising new opportunities offered by this evolving technology, companies are turning to solutions developed by Conga. The company’s customers include Hilton Worldwide, Sony and Qualcomm, along with some 8,000 others around the world.

Conga’s data solution ActionGrid creates the data insights that drive business growth, providing dynamic views so users can see, update and act on all relevant data on a single screen. This eliminates the need to click through various records or to update them one by one.

“You can then employ Conga’s document generation platform to generate proposals, invoices or contracts automatically. This takes the CRM data and puts it into a Word, PowerPoint or Excel template, almost instantly,” says Mr Oates.

“No one else has equivalent capability, providing document generation and management systems to go with it. It’s particularly important when salespeople are generating and sending out contracts. We’ve developed our Conga Contracts solution to help speed up the sales cycle, especially during negotiations when you have multiple, redlined versions going back and forth.”

Clients who use Conga Contracts have reduced their contract negotiation cycles by as much as a half. The solution eliminates common bottlenecks in the negotiation process and allows salespeople to compare document versions without ever leaving Salesforce. They can also enjoy the freedom to undertake negotiations themselves using terms within a framework pre-approved by their legal department, thereby saving time and preserving legal protections.

In addition, automation reduces errors and improves forecasting for better decision-making, while increased visibility enables salespeople to approve changes to business terms more easily and to maintain a full contract history within their Salesforce CRM.

Another increasingly popular contract solution is Novatus, a comprehensive contract management system that provides company-standard agreements, negotiation in a secure environment, version comparison, deployment of tasks and electronic signatures, among other features.

Unlike almost all other providers in this sector, Conga is a global business with offices worldwide and a team of more than 300 staff who can use local knowledge and expertise to provide service to their clients. The company’s global reach and its capacity to research and develop new solutions puts it in an ideal position to support its clients as they face the challenges of increasingly rapid innovation, and the political and economic uncertainty that lies ahead.

“Salesforce as a platform will only continue to get stronger,” predicts Mr Oates. “Any organisation that doesn’t exploit its growing potential to gain competitive advantage will be left behind. Companies also need to enhance their capability by introducing third-party applications. I tell salespeople: ‘You’ve already invested in this technology – now is the time to make the most of it’.”

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